Work training (and dodgy host)

Finally I’m going for my work training next week. The training is in Portland which is a small town in Dorset and the closest train station is Weymouth. It takes place on Tuesday and Wednesday so I have to go there on Monday as I wouldn’t be able to get there on Tuesday morning, it is around 4 hour journey. I am quite excited I must say, finally being able to start a job and I’m really glad I chose live in care over working in a care home.

As I suddenly got discount code for my email yesterday, I had this idea: why not stay in Weymouth on the way back for a night or two. Probably two as I noticed, if I only stay somewhere for one night, I end up doing loads of running around and not much relaxing. The Boyfriend really likes Weymouth so I asked him if he can join me, even though it’s a bit tricky as he’s having some major home improvements being carried out right now. He said it would be nice to go but he can only confirm closer to the time so I thought, as the discount code runs out today, I’ll book double room as it will be similar price to a single room without a discount code.

I don’t like staying in hotels, I prefer guesthouses, B&B, hostels and apartments. Hotels feel so impersonal to me. I didn’t really have many choices for a smaller budget but I found a guesthouse that was offering double room for 106 pounds for two nights. The same room for a single person was 80 pounds and what I think I should have done would be to book for a single person and then say that my partner may join me but he’s not sure yet and I’ll confirm later.

But it felt to me that if I do that, The Boyfriend won’t be able to come. You could say it’s magic thinking but for me it makes more sense to say that I imagine that I live in a system where everything is connected, so if I don’t make space for The Boyfriend, he won’t be able to come.

Just a few minutes after I confirmed my booking I received a long email from the host explaining all his rules and stating that if I have any request, I need to contact him directly as he sometimes don’t get the emails sent through From the general tone of the email I had the impression that he’s a bit fed up with but obviously doesn’t have any other choice than to be on the website. I found this communication a bit unusual but also quite refreshing and what I did was, I contacted him on the email provided to ask if I can change the booking to one person only and then change it back to two when my partner knows if he’s coming or not.

I even stated in my email that I found his direct communication really refreshing. Oh well…

I didn’t get response to that and after a while I started wondering if I didn’t make a mistake by contacting him directly. If something goes wrong it will be like I don’t have any evidence.

The booking was non refundable but I had three hours to cancel it, so I did after two and half hours. And then, guess what, the host answered my email almost immediately! That was a bit strange already but then the words he used were really scary: ‘It’s really quiet next week. Why don’t you call when you know what you need?’ And I thought, yes, right, I’ll go there and he will be sexually harrasing me. Or the room won’t be ready. Or he will not be in at all. I don’t know, it all become obvious suddenly to me he’s doing something dodgy and I didn’t want to have anything to do with him any more. So I ended up booking a single room somewhere else. The Boyfriend won’t be able to come, I don’t think. I’m much more spontaneous than he is and I wouldn’t want to go away during the time when I had work being done around the house – at this time you just want to be in to make sure that everything is being taken care of and to resolve any emergencies.

I do wonder though if neurotypical person would react differently to that first email that the host sent me? I suppose taking it on face value was a bit naive, but then I am naive, I suppose. Autistic people are naive. But somehow I don’t end up being taken advantage of (except of the fact when the mortgage advisor applied for a mortgage for me behind my back) and a lot of autistic females complain about exactly that. I guess what I do is, I behave naively but as soon as I see the slightest sign of someone treating me like if they want to take advantage of me, instead of being understanding and supportive, I back off. I guess my naivity is part of my coping strategies. I don’t know why not everyone can cope the same way though.

On being normal

Ok, that will be a quick post – let’s hope. I was feeling a bit funny the last couple of days again, which I believe was caused by me trying to work out how to work with visual patterns. I believe psychotic state is when we focus on patterns too much and miss their meaning – I’m not sure this is exactly what happens, that’s what it felt too me, but then we need to remember that neurotypical people also experience psychosis. I wonder if for them it works any different.

As I stated here before, I’m on as required olanzapine – an antipsychotic – which is not how it is normally prescribed (it is long term medication) but it works for me this way. If I take it early enough after feeling a bit strange, one tablet is enough to correct it and I don’t have side effects. I don’t have problems with the fact that I may need the script for the rest of my life but it is a bit scary in a way. Psychosis is not a normal state but also ‘normal’ people don’t reach out for medication to correct their mental state when they’re stressed. So it feels to me that just the fact that I’m on meds means I’m allowing myself the chance of having another episode. Does that make sense?

That was the reason why I left my psychosis support Facebook group – it was an extremely supportive community and I felt that my insight allows others to make sense of their experiences (that includes families of people who experience psychosis). And yet, after a few months in that group I felt that just being a member there it’s a notification for my autistic brain that it’s ok to have another episode. I guess neurotypical people don’t experience things this way.

So what I did yesterday, instead of reaching for the tablet, I had 3/4 of bottle of wine. It’s what normal people do to destress, wouldn’t you agree? And it was my birthday.

I feel I need to take a few days off from my digital art now and perhaps focus on blogging. Or possibly cleaning the kitchen! I still have some unwashed dishes after Christmas dinner. I really wish sometimes that I could find balance in life more easily. Yes, doing art based on patterns is great, but possibly I don’t need to spend 11h a day on it? Perhaps this dedication was what allowed me to make a quick progress, but now it feels like I can’t do it any more. I tried today and it was really strange: I was using the same tools than every day but couldn’t get anywhere. I guess the part of brain that works out patterns needs a break but I always believed that progress should be steady and if it’s not, that means one has no talent.

As I stated before the purpose of my blog is to record how I feel and think as an autistic person, so I occasionally allow myself a bit of rambling. But I guess that’s enough for now.

I’m such a lucky girl!

After publishing my last post – that one about punishment – it was brought to my attention that possibly what I am describing (recognising punishment where there is none) is not caused by my ability to recognise patterns but by my difficult childhood experiences. I’d like to discuss that further here.

I did mention here a few times that my dad had mental health breakdown when I was little and he never recovered. His mental health problems were making him difficult to be around and he was physically aggressive towards me and my brother on more than one occasion, but then, I personally know a couple of people who were treated worse by at least one of their parents even though the parent wasn’t going through mental health breakdown, and, considering this is not something that people discuss openly and I’m autistic so I’m not someone who people easily confide in, yet I was told about them, so that makes me think that those situations are probably not as rare as we want to think.

Before my dad had a breakdown he was actually my favourite parent – I much preferred him to my mum. Also my mum never punished me, not even by using natural consequences, so punishment is definitely not something that I experienced a lot in life. Yet, I recognise the pattern easily.

For comparison I will discuss the pattern of ‘luck’ here, that I also seem to recognise very easily, even though I experienced it even less than I experienced punishment.

So, first of all, let me ask you, what do you think luck is? If someone was born in a wealthy family and their education and wellbeing was being taken care of, they are obviously much more lucky than someone who’s parents were struggling to make the ends meet, but they were not more lucky than another person of similar background that they will probably associate with, so what is seen as luck by poor people will be normal for those who are born to it.

What is a lucky event then? It’s something that is positive but also extremely unlikely to happen. If something positive keeps happening to you over and over, you will not see it as luck any more. Possibly it’s a result of a hard work or certain qualities that you possess or just something that you see as normal (like maybe your parents giving you £1k every month – yes, you are lucky to have parents who can afford it and are willing to support you but if you get it every time it’s not luck any more – I hope that makes sense).

I disclosed here a while ago that a few years ago I received a larger sum of money from an unusual source. It allowed me to buy two bedroom flat with only small mortgage, that I already paid off. So in this way I see this as luck, obviously, but the money was not something totally unexpected for me (like a lottery win would be, for example), therefore I didn’t see this as extremely lucky event.

When I think about it, I only experienced two extremely lucky events in my lifetime, and yet, I recognised them as luck straight away and they made me extatic for a few days on both occasions.

First one was during biology test in secondary school. I was not very well prepared, I knew a couple of subjects very well but others not at all. Students in Polish schools sit in pairs of two at the same table, so what teaches often do during tests, to prevent cheating, is to divide the classroom into two groups: lefthand side is group A, righthand side is group B – and each group gets different questions. And what happened during that test was, my group only received questions from subjects I knew very well, while the other one only from those I had no idea about! How lucky that was??? I got 5 (equivalent of A) and if I sat on the other side of the table, I wouldn’t even pass!

I mean, I get it, that didn’t have any impact on my entire education and career but it was positive and extremely unlikely, yet it happened to me. Possibly that is not how neurotypical people see luck, but for me the element of probability is very important.

The second extremely lucky even happened around three years ago. I was walking around a supermarket looking for a particular sauce that I needed rather urgently, and it was not there and there was no staff around to ask. Finally I just decided I’d go somewhere else next day to look for it. It wasn’t a big deal as I generally like shopping, so didn’t mind going to another supermarket but I felt a bit deflated. When I went to the self service check out, I suddenly found it there – it looked like someone abandoned it so all I had to do was scan it and it was mine!

How likely it is that from all the items the supermarket has in stock, exactly what I needed was abandoned and it didn’t get tidied away before I got there? Extremely unlikely, you need to agree on this! And yet, it happened to me – so that made me feel like the luckiest person in the world (well, ok, winning a lottery would probably feel a bit better).

So what I am trying to say here is: even though I didn’t experience many extremely lucky events in life, on both occasions I recognised the pattern instantly. How? Lucky events are often featured in films or are being discussed in social gatherings – so I didn’t need prior personal experience to recognise one. Therefore the same could probably be said about punishment – the fact I recognised the pattern doesn’t mean I experienced a lot of it.

It now makes me think that, possibly, we as society should abandoned the idea of punishment entirely, not only for autistic people. I’m just suggesting it here but it may be worth at least a discussion.

Anyway, it’s my birthday today and I believe I’m 44. I did mention before I’m not into dates and anniversaries, didn’t I?

Punishment – a bad idea

I had a lovely Christmas with The Boyfriend – I will not be describing how our Christmas are different from neurotypical people Christmas as I think it would not really add much to understanding of our needs, but possibly, when I become an established blogger I may add a few words on that, if somebody asks.

The Boyfriend left yesterday morning and I spent pretty much the entire Boxing Day playing with patterns in PicsArt: I found it really fun and obviously the more I do that, the easier it gets and I am now starting to believe that every Redecor design can be turned in a nice pattern, depending on what tools I use.

Before Christmas I promised I’ll write a post about why I believe punishment shouldn’t be used to get autistic children (or adults for that matter) to behave certain way: it is because we, autistics, fit everything that happens to us into patterns that we already know and also, we instinctively believe that everything around us is connected in some way. I say, instinctively – logically we are perfectly aware that it’s not but our instinct tells us otherwise.

So, as you may remember, I did some shifts in a supermarket before Christmas, it was hard work but I really liked working on groceries when it got busy, which is strange because as a client I hate busy supermarkets.

On 22nd after work I did my own shopping and bought a few items to treat myself. It wasn’t much but I bought things I really fancy. After the checkout I put mulled wine and apples into my rucksack and marinated artichokes, cambozola, lactose free yoghurt and mini courgette in oil went to a canvas shopping bag. It would all fit easily into my rucksack but the glass would all bang with every move and I’d find it annoying.

The entire journey home I kept telling myself to remember about the shopping bag, especially that it was navy – almost the same colour as bus chairs. I could have hold the bag straps actually, but I didn’t. Oh well…

When I got home I realised I didn’t have the bag on me. Can you even imagine how that felt? It really wasn’t about the couple of pounds that I lost, it felt like the entire Christmas has been cancelled for me! It’s been good few months since I don’t have permanent job so I stopped buying those fancy food items and now, when I bought some to treat myself for Christmas, I lost them! Those items were a symbol of having good Christmas and they’ve been taken away from me by the Universe – that’s how it felt.

What is punishment? In its more civilised form is an act of taking away something that one values as a consequence of bad behaviour – as I stated above, we, autistics, fit everything that happens to us into the pattern that we know. And we instinctively believe that everything around us is connected somehow. I was running around a busy supermarket for the entire day so that other people could get what they wanted for Christmas, while I didn’t get have what I wanted!

What was the conclusion that I came up with?: it was the Universe punishing me for not working hard enough. Of course I knew it wasn’t true but that’s how it felt, so please don’t say I shouldn’t be thinking this way (which is an expression a counsellor used once with me) because this is how I think. And why I said the punishment was for not working hard enough? I was really trying, but the truth is, with our black and white thinking it may sometimes be difficult to establish what is and what isn’t good enough. I can possibly say that, if I didn’t pass out at the end of my shift I could have work harder – I guess you can see some logic in this thinking.

So the result of punishing us by taking things or activities away from us could be that we decide that we need to always be on our best behaviour to succeed in life, our intentions have to always be pure and we can never put ourselves first. And then we see neurotypical people who are not like that at all and they get what they want. How does that feel?

Let’s take the example of Home Group again. If you only just started reading my blog, I’ll quickly explain what happened: Home Group is a large housing association and disability confident employer. I worked for them between 2015 and 2017. I was bullied by a colleague and, because bulling happens to autistics people more often than to neurotypicals, I asked my GP for autism referral diagnosis and then the diagnostic centre to bring my diagnosis forward due to work situation, which they agreed to do (big mistake!) and, as that didn’t stop the bulling, I left and took Home Group to employment tribunal where they claimed my diagnosis was private and they paid for it. I could have won easily, if I didn’t end up in psychiatric hospital. Oh well…

I realised that I’m autistic in September 2015, sometimes between my interview for Home Group job and the starting date. The job was meant to require loads of contact with people and, as I applied for it I was hoping to use that to learn how to be more social – which is not unusual expectation for undiagnosed autistics. When I realised I’m autistic, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. But I needed a job and also, I was hoping that maybe, with better understanding of myself I’d be able to apply some coping strategies that make working there possible for me.

At the time I didn’t want a diagnosis and if I wasn’t being bullied I’d probably still not have it till now. But believe me, I used to wonder so many times that possibly what happened to me later was a punishment for the fact that my intentions weren’t pure and I didn’t reject the job offer on realising I’m autistic.

The person who was bulling me got promoted to a manager position and now, Mark Henderson, the CEO of Home Group, doesn’t even bother to answer my emails and I never even heard ‘I’m sorry’ while Home Group continues to take government money to support people with mental health problems.

Yet, it was me who believed that I deserved to be punished. Does that make any sense to you?

That’s why I really do not think punishment should ever be used as a way to deal with autistic people. I don’t know what can be used instead but possibly there are researchers out there who can answer this question.

This is post number 300 (I feel rather overwhelmed)

I was actually thinking that yesterday post, about Cambridge University blocking my incoming emails was 300, but it turned out that it was 299. But at least it makes sense, so that doesn’t bother me. If this one was 300 and yesterday was 273 for example, I would be really concerned and wouldn’t know what’s happening around me.

So I am rather overwhelmed as I said. The realisation that Professor Simon Baron-Cohen may be a narcissist, and then writing it all down in a way that would explain how I got there, required loads of mental effort and I think it put my mind into a bit of an overdrive mode. I had to take olanzapine yesterday evening and I think I may need one today too, just in case. It would be very silly to put myself at risk of another psychotic episode only because of one twat.

Disclaimer: I am not saying Professor Simon Baron-Cohen is a narcissist, I’m only saying that’s how it looks like.

I have an interview in a couple of hours, over an online call, I hope it will goes well. Possibly it will help me focus on something different, because for now I really can’t take my mind out of what I found out. I feel a bit like when I read Home Group response to my employment tribunal claim, where they stated my autism diagnosis was private and they paid for it. At first I thought their lawyer hired a hacker to break into NHS IT system to alter my medical record. As silly as this may seem, especially for someone with bachelor degree in computer science, it seemed like the most likely explanation. It took me three days to realise that what must have happened instead was, my manager, bullied by The Lady (yes, you may get bullied by the narcissist even if you’re a manager) put fabricated documents into my file and Home Group head office didn’t even check them before submitting their response because they simply thought I’m crazy. Why they hired an expensive lawyer, a partner, if they thought the case is so trivial remains a mystery to me, however I did notice that similar behaviour is sometimes what neurotypicals do. They focus on how things look like on social level rather than on following the right procedure.

Realising what really happened there didn’t bring me peace and was what triggered my first psychotic episode, I was going over and over various events in my head and also tried to understand what may happen later on as a result of this lie and how I’ll manage to convince people to believe me when I couldn’t even speak straight… I just couldn’t switch off this thinking!

And that is how I’m feeling now: I’m wondering how much better the support for autistic people could be, how much better the understanding could be if Professor wouldn’t disturb it all with his constant attempt to twist what we are saying into what suits him. And what suits him? Possibly, I guess, to imply that we, autistics, are so difficult to understand that it just cannot be done. No one can ever work us out, therefore there cannot be any changes in research politics and as a result he can keep his privileged position.

I’m so upset about that, you can’t even imagine. Therefore I’m not attaching any image. Where’s my diazepam, anyone knows? I really need to calm down!

What I know about neurotypicals (I think Cambridge University blocked my incoming emails)

So, basically I used to worry that the longer I blog, the less I will have to share. It seems, however, like the opposite happens: the more I write about autism, the more I notice about myself and the more it is to report, I need to prioritise some stuff over other and therefore the explanation why I needed to see testing nipple before being able to speak about it with my gas supplier will never get a separate post. As I don’t want to leave you wondering though, I’ll quickly mention that it’s due to the fact that I imagine new situations as jigsaw puzzles, so I needed to know how to visualise the nipple (I mean the testing nipple on the gas meter – if you think I’m visualising nipples because I’m autistic you are a real twat!).

So, this post (can someone suggests to me how can I start talking about a new concept without the use of word ‘so’ or the expression ‘so, basically’? This is not due to a language barrier, believe me, that must be an autistic thing)… this post is about… oh well, this is not going very well at all. Let me start over, but I won’t be deleting this paragraph as I used the word autistic in it (that is twice now) and I want Google search engine to pick up on that.

I did mention here multiple times about my struggles to communicate with Professor Baron-Cohen. I found it very difficult to move on from this situation, I possibly got a bit obsessed, which is totally an autistic thing unfortunately and I tried to convince Professor that he needed to make more effort to improve his communication with us to ensure the quality of his research. It did seem at some point he took my suggestions in his stride, that was very short-lived though. I was trying to make a complaint about Professor but the problem with that is, there’s no one who is a better autism specialist (or at least that’s what they say) so no one can investigate it.

After, finally I asked Professor about his understanding of a certain autistic behaviour and he got it totally wrong, I got a little bit upset, oh well… I think I even used the f***k word, and I normally don’t swear. There was no answer to this email and I do understand it, I mean, up to a point. Ideally, a real researcher shouldn’t be hiding when he’s told he got something wrong, he should look at it like an opportunity to find out something more, but I do admit, I was impolite and neurotypicals sometimes use someone’s conduct as an excuse to ignore their concerns.

What I did a bit later was, I emailed both Professor and the junior researcher who is responsible for managing complains: I told them the truth about their shortcomings in a slightly challenging yet polite and caring way and what I know about neurotypicals so far is, when I do that, they suddenly get like ‘no no, it wasn’t like that, it’s just a misunderstanding, but I’m sorry you got it this way, let me rectify that for you’. In that situation both sides know that it wasn’t a misunderstanding, but they agree to pretend they believe it, as long as it gets fixed. And the reaction is always very quick.

This time, however, that did not happen and it’s been several hours since I sent that email. So the only other option that comes to my mind is, Professor asked the IT department to block my incoming emails. Can this be done? I’m not entirely sure but also I can’t see why not.

Unless, there is another explanation? I did say that’s how neurotypicals behave, however during my work in Home Group I noticed that the lady who was bulling me, who must have had narcissistic personality disorder, when challenged, didn’t behave the same way other neurotypicals do. I don’t know much about this though and it would be rude, I suppose, to suggest here that Professor Simon Baron-Cohen has narcissistic personality disorder, however it did come to my mind for a bit. Either this or I have been blocked.

Moving on. I came up with how to tell people I’m autistic. It did take me like three weeks to do that, although obviously I was also trying to deal with normal life at the same time, let me assure you. So basically (omg, again!) when asked what I do for a living I’ll tell them and then I’ll add ‘I’m also autism blogger’. Autism, not autistic, as anyone who knows about autism can blog about it, even if they’re not autistic themselves. And then, if they ask, for example ‘why is that? Do you have an autistic kid or someone in the family?’ I will say ‘No, I blog about my own experience’ and then I’ll leave them to work out what that means.

When they’ll finally realise, they will know that I was smart enough to come up with a way to say something indirectly, so hopefully that will make them realise that my communication skills are not as impaired as some sources would suggest about all autistic individuals. Hopefully, I mean as I didn’t try that out yet and I do admit I have problems with predicting neurotypicals behaviour, unless the situation is similar to something that I’ve already experienced more than once (like with the previous two examples) and this is something totally new to me. I will, however let you know how it went, after I did it, so watch this space (I mean, not this specifically as it will be in a new post, definitely).

My flat

At the moment I have ideas for at least 3 posts:

Whether IT really is a good job for autistic people (spoiler alert: I don’t think it is)

Why I needed to see how the testing nipple looked like on my gas meter before calling my gas supplier

How I was sectioned in 2019

And, obviously, the question about autism that Professor Baron-Cohen got absolutely wrong.

Well, that’s 4 actually. Never mind, let’s not focus on this minor, little detail.

Oh, and why I couldn’t sleep well last night (ok, that’s a short one: because after two days of hibernating myself I started feeling in the evening that I can live my life again. The heating was back on and, only at 21.30 I realised I didn’t hear any noise from downstairs since after neighbours’ kitchen ceiling has been taken off. Funny thing, isn’t it, when I hear them, I get so focused on the noise, and when the noise is not there any more I fail to notice it. Obviously if the situation was normal, I mean no problem with a testing nipple, I would have noticed it for sure. It’s just strange that I didn’t.

For now, however, I want to talk about my flat as today is the anniversary of me moving in. The anniversary of exchanging contracts was actually a few days earlier, probably on the 2nd – you see, I’m not really obsessed with dates. I also didn’t even think to post about it around the time – I guess I’m also not focused on anniversaries.

So, at the beginning of 2013 I was lucky enough to receive larger sum of money from an unusual source (it was all legal though), I was working full time in Reading at the time, which is a city closer to London, therefore rather expensive. I was also doing a university course in maths, so I was quite busy. However, when the course finished, I started looking for ‘a place to call home’ otherwise called buying a property. In Reading I could only afford a small studio, somewhere far away from the centre, and I quickly decided I didn’t want to live like that so I decided to move. Quickly enough I decided I would go to Swindon. It was much cheaper but close enough to both Reading and London. One day I got on the train to have a look around (I never been to Swindon before), I didn’t like the town centre too much but I loved Old Town and Queens Park, and I thought, I’m moving.

I started looking for a nice, slightly larger one bedroom flat, but this one popped up in my search, with an extra bedroom, utility room, small private garden and the price just slightly higher than what I initially wanted to pay.

And this way, I’m a homeowner. I suppose I was really lucky to get this flat and have my mortgage paid off before I was 42 (just a month before I was sectioned), especially with all the troubles I got myself into due to what happened in Home Group. The flat is by no means perfect and I find it irritating that I’m constantly aware of my downstairs neighbours, but then it has large windows and there’s nothing outside to block the light so it’s really bright inside, which I love. It also has a modern kitchen, although not really to my taste.

I am quite sensitive to how space around me is organised and this flat is not ideal, with long hallway and larger living room (I’d rather have small living room and separate dining room instead) and a tiny bathroom, however I am fully aware that with smaller budget like mine my choices would be limited and it’s possible that I wouldn’t even be able to find a place that would have the layout I really want and it was as bright as my current one.

So I am not complaining, I do appreciate what I have, even though at times I really don’t think I’m cut out to be a home owner.

However, I don’t know what it is: whether the layout, or possibly that ridiculous dotted carpet that I can’t make myself to replace as it’s too much trouble, or the fact that coming to Swindon was all a bit random really, or maybe just because I’m not British so I think I don’t belong to this country… I really do not know, but I don’t feel like this is my home at all. I feel like my flat it’s just a box where I store myself.

Possibly, if I saw it as home, it would be easier for me to relax, to keep it clean and to book repairs? I really don’t know, but I’m wondering if other autistic people feel the same way about where they live. And then, what about neurotypical people – is it easy for them to call their properties home? As I said, sometimes I really wish I could get a grant to research neurotypicals.

…and a cat (part 2)

So this is the continuation of my post about understanding systems that I wrote yesterday. It will hopefully be a short one as I’m cold and unable to think creatively, therefore I’ll focus only on what’s important.

Last week I was on a training in a food distribution centre, that I already posted about. It was an interesting experience that gave me loads to write about. However, I didn’t so far had the opportunity to talk about this brief moment when I reminded our trainer that he has a cat.

So, basically, he said, just at the beginning of the training that only a day before his wife brought a kitten home, eight months old, so not too little, but still young. And the kitten was miauking (is that even a word? I think I’m translating from Polish a little bit too directly) the entire night.

Later on the trainer mentioned his kids a few times, mostly saying ‘I have a 7 and a 5 year old’. ‘And a cat’ – I reminded him at some point. I noticed ages ago that when I say things like that people think I’m joking, but I’m not! What I’m really doing is trying to make sense of the system people around me are part of. It seems to me that I’ll understand them better, although it probably doesn’t make sense in a neurotypical world, because how the fact someone has a cat, they didn’t even chose to have, affects who they are? The thing is, however, that, although this fact doesn’t change who the person is, for me it is a valid information.

I did mention here a while ago that when I just met someone, I find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to imagine anything about them, that is not presented explicitly. It almost feels like, if they left the premises, they disapear. That’s why the more information I have about someone, the easier it is to imagine for me that their life extends beyond the situation where we met, and they carry their opinions, including the opinion they have about me, to wherever they go.

That’s why the cat was so important: it was one more piece of information that allowed me to imagine that guy’s life outside of work. And it’s really not helpful when people take my comments in similar situations as jokes, although obviously I can’t blame them, as they had no chance to find out how an autistic person thinks, and even if they did, it would probably make them all confused.

So in a way it’s better if people laugh, I guess, although that brings me to another issue: when I am actually trying to make a joke, no one can understand it. How frustrating is that?

…and a cat (how I understand systems)

I did mention here, at the beginning of my blogging career, that I see new social situations like if they were jigsaw puzzles made of different elements. So for example new job would consist of the interior of the building where it takes place, the manager, colleagues, clients, equipment and so on. I think part of the problem that I have with not being able to cope with the ever changing team dynamic is due to the fact that I see all those elements in my head as stable. Have you ever come across jigsaw puzzles that allow the player to change position of elements or their shape? Me neither.

What I mean is, for example, if I work out that colleague A is friendly with colleague S then my instinctive understanding is that it will always stay like that. If, after a while, A and S have a row or possibly another colleague joins the company and becomes even more friendly with A, and S becomes left out, or maybe S leaves and A will be a bit lonely before he finds another ally – all those situations for me feel like if the world is falling apart. They don’t really affect me, do they? But the system, as I know it, gets damaged and needs rebuilding again.

If similar changes happen too often, and they unfortunately happen a lot in care settings, with constant influx of new staff, it will come to a point when I can’t cope with it any more, as silly as it feels. This is yet another example of a situation where my instinctive understanding is leading me astray. It’s not easy to live with the understanding that my own brain is doing that to me, believe me, but it was even worse when I didn’t even have that understanding at all.

However, sometimes my understanding of systems is what helps me to work out how I should behave and I can remember some situations I could give as examples from ages ago, before the idea I’m autistic even crossed my mind.

One of that situation was, when I was a live in carer for a lady with Alzheimer, who lived with her husband. Husband was doing all the cooking and shopping and, at 10am every day, he would serve us coffee with very nice biscuits from M&S. He told me I can help myself to those biscuits whenever I wanted, which I did sometimes.

However, one day I opened the cupboard and there were only two biscuits left. I immediately thought, I couldn’t take any because he may want some. I knew I couldn’t create a situation where he would open a cupboard and there wouldn’t be biscuits for him and his wife. It was their house so they had priority. I had to wait till the man does his next load of shopping.

I was a bit surprised then, when a next carer came (she came a week before I was about to leave for a break, to get a proper handover) and the above biscuit rule was not obvious for her at all. So one day the man opened the biscuit cupboard and, totally surprised said ‘Oh!’ And then he closed the cupboard and walked away.

In general it seems to me like systems with less people are much easier to understand than those with many of them. I wonder, though, how neurotypical people get what I cannot – it is said they get it ‘instinctively’, but what does that mean?

Can I get a grant to research them? Seriously, where is the equality? If neurotypical people get money from government to research us, there can’t be equality if we don’t get any money to research them.

And how did the cat get into this post? I need to come back to it tomorrow, the fire tired me out.

I failed!

So, basically, I didn’t pass my LLOP (low level order picker) driving test. I am not sure how it happened – I miserably failed on reversing from the right, was unable to do it properly at all and it didn’t make any sense to me, while I coud do reversing from the left at the first attempt almost without thinking.

I really don’t know how such a massive discrepancy is at all possible, but maybe it’s due to dyspraxia? We did the reversing from the left first and I did it almost automatically and then when I had had to do it from the right, I couldn’t do it automatically again as my brain had an idea to just repeat the same moves that I did while reversing from the left, and that’s why I was standing there and thinking that it doesn’t make any sense?

While I was taking driving lessons, while living in Reading, I was apparently very good at manoeuvres, but I’m wondering now whether the instructor meant I’m much better at manoeuvres than an average person or whether I’m much better at manoeuvres than at driving on the road (that btw wasn’t coming easily to me at all). I don’t remember having similar issues then, however the instructor was obviously focused on teaching me and paying attention to what I had difficulties with, while today the trainer was focused on finding people who could drive the truck without difficulties.

That means, I’m without a job again. I’m not sure how I feel about that as I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it. Regarding the sensory issues it was probably not as bad as I expected, I coped with both cold and noise better than I thought, even though I only had around 3h of sleep last night. However, I feel quite competitive. If I had some spare money I’d go for external LLOP training only to prove myself that I can work out how to reverse from the right.

There was a young guy on training, I think he said he’s 20, it kept being discussed that straight after passing LLOP training he’d be trained on a different driving equipment, even though at a different time we were told that the company standard is that all the new starters are only trained on LLOP and only more experienced employees go on to be trained on something else. So I asked him how he convinced the company that he can do both and was sure to hear he driven LLOP, and possibly another thing before, but he just said ‘they just offered it to me’. Strange, I thought.

Today, as we were doing our training, he had a bit of difficulty for like 5 minutes and then became absolutely natural at it. So I asked him directly if he driven LLOP before and he said, no, never. He also claimed he never drove anything else in life, didn’t even have one driving lesson. Strange, I thought again.

And then, as we were called for the test he was asked to go first ‘as you are more experienced’ the trainer said. Great, I thought. Why people lie this way? To get attention, I suppose. Possibly I should try that sometimes, but then I can never predict if similar behaviour is going to backfire.

There was also this situation yesterday, that I didn’t want to mention as I make an effort not to shine negative light on my employers, even prospective or ex ones (even when I mention Home Group – I only speak the truth about them), however, I now think the situation must have been a joke or an exaggeration. It was about communication and the fact that my mind can so easily come up with all the wrong things to say, however, I’ll leave it for another day to write about it as today I’m rather tired and still a bit freezed up.

Otherwise my day was good, thank you. Just had my 5th beetroot muffin, I didn’t have one yesterday so that’s 6 days after I baked it and it was still soft and moist. No gluten and loads of chia seeds are going to be my secret from now on.

Tomorrow I need to apply for a job in Royal Mail. Normally I don’t like giving my employers names but how else I can explain that I’m sorting letters?

I want my DBS.

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