Thursday, 27 December 2007

I do not have a deficiency!

One of the most frustrating things about having an Austistic Spectrum Disorder is that people make assumptions.  I get it at work a lot, because someone I work with suspects her child has a form of Autism, and every few weeks she asks "What are your symptoms?"

Therein lies the problem.  To me, I have no "symptoms".  I do not "suffer" from Autism.  It's the norm to me.  When I read, my field of vision disappears pretty much by 90%, I don't properly see the words, but I can read, because they fuel what I can see.  Not newspapers or information at work.  It has to be engrossing, and funnily, preferably fiction.  A famous Autistic person, Daniel Tammet said in his book Born On A Blue Day that he prefers non fiction to fiction, but although his book gave me the same "DVD Vision" that fiction does, it's because I connected.  When I buy fiction, I don't buy romance novels, or spy novels.  They don't interest me, I can't connect, I get no DVD Vision, ergo the book bores me.

This brings me to the point of this entry.  I don't have a deficiency.  However, I do enjoy playing poker online.  And I found a new site called CD Poker today.  I had some business dealings with them a few years ago, nothing really came of it, but I tried them again today.  Part way through a game I was informed that my account had been suspended, and that I had to call them to unsuspend it.  So, I e-mailed them and explained that the reason I hadn't answered their calls is because my phone line goes straight to answerphone.  I don't actually use the phone, spoken word comes across badly for me.  I do far better using the written word.  To the point where when I had a moderately successful business, all my business was conducted via fax and e-mail, despite the company I was dealing with preferring phone calls.  Anyway, I digress.  So I get an e-mail back from CD Poker telling me that they need me to phone their security department to verify my account.  Yay.  I cannot tell you how much that fills me with dread.  Seriously.  Security department?  But then I got angry.  I will quote their e-mail:

"May we then request you to provide us a good call back number and the best
time to reach you. We understand that 1your deficiency might hinder with your
communication capabilities but our phone verification will only ask you to
verify your account details and 2will not take much of your time."

1: I DO NOT HAVE A DEFICIENCY!  In the UK, we provide reasonable assistance for those with disabilities.  This extends to compassion.  I offer you a reasonable alternative, but you say no.  You are hugely out of order saying I have a "deficiency" (only way I could would be you knowing I have a possible Omega 3 deficiency in my brain) or you are stereotyping me and saying I have a mental deficiency.  I have an IQ of 180.  A photographic memory (when film is loaded) and I can do things which when I describe them, leave neurotypical people open mouthed in awe.  I DO NOT HAVE A DEFICIENCY!

2: That's actually quite a gramatically poor ending.  Little of your time would be better.  I believe "not take much" borders on being a double negative.  Very poor grammar from someone whose job it is to type memos to customers.

Rant over.  I am done.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Colour blindness

Recently, both in my life and in the press, I have seen a lot of racism. One of the newspapers on Sunday morning said:

"Labour donor was FOREIGN"

Apparently at work on Friday, our Polish supervisor said to Caroline:

"You are blind because you are English"

Now, this I cannot understand. The way I look at the world, I believe, is different from most people. I don't see colours, races, anything. I see people. Just like me. I suppose because my emotions are actually based on what I've seen others do (other than laugher or sadness) I can't really connect with them, but this actually gives me an edge. Because I can't connect with them, or prejudge them, I am forced to base how I feel about them from what I learn about them. There are one or two exceptions to this. One being Albinos. I automatically like Albino people. One comes into my store most weekends and I think he thinks I am odd, but I find him fascinating. All his hair is white. Not just on his head. His eyebrows, his arm hair, all of it. Pure white. I'm not attracted to him, because I don't find men attractive, but I find the hair beautiful. It's like it's...pure. When I hear "white" I see a snowscape. Maybe it has something to do with that.

The other people I find fascinating are people with ginger hair. They are truely remarkable in my eyes. Not only is their hair colour significantly different from normal, but they often have freckles, which I adore. Also, they often have green eyes or deep blue eyes. The whole look takes my breath away. I must admit I am naturally attracted to redheads (despite my fiancee being a brunette!) But then my fiancee also had freckles, which just fascinate me entirely.

But other people, I have no connection with. None at all. Every person I meet I start with a blank slate. If they wrong me, then obviously I form a negative opinion of them. But if they understand me, are nice to me, and don't do anything bad to me, then I form very good opinions of them. Regardless of gender, race, origin, colour, whatever.

One great example of this is a regular in my store. Now, he has tattoos all over him, including one skull tattoo. He is tall, and he has a shaved head. Most people would avoid him, but his skull tattoo fascinated me, so I began talking to him. He is a really nice person. Preconceptions appear a lot, from what I can tell in Neurotypical life, but if this had happened with me, I would never have gotten to know this nice person.

In conclusion, I guess I am saying that maybe, despite the press calling Autism an "epidemic", people could actually maybe benefit from some of the ways we see the world...

Monday, 3 December 2007

Airports and Autism

First, I just want to apologise to Andy (a regular reader of my other blog) who couldn't comment on this blog.  This has now been fixed.

It has been 3 days since I landed in the UK from my holiday in Gran Canaria, and I wanted to write a short piece about how airports make me feel. And more importantly, how location plays a role in how I feel.

When I left the UK, I had to put all my things in a plastic tray, have them scanned, and then be patted down to make sure I had nothing dangerous on me. Now, this wasn't helped by the fact that the two men at security both looked angry, which doesn't put me at ease, because I immediately think I've done something wrong, which I know I haven't. And I hate the pat downs, because it's someone I don't know touching me. A lot. And I can't complain about it because otherwise they will think I am guilty of something. I really don't like going through the UK security checks because of these things. Also, they wanted to check the soles of my shoes, which meant me standing on one leg, which I can't do very well.

Now, in Gran Canaria (A Spanish owned island) things are different. We had to queue for plastic trays to put our things in, but I forgot that, and put my bag in it. The security woman told me very calmly and nicely that it wasn't for my bag, it was for my watch, and anything in my pocket. When it came to checking my stuff, they didn't even get angry when my friend's coat got stuck in the rollers, instead they helped him. The whole thing made me feel totally at ease, whilst still making me feel secure.

Their checks were no less thorough than in the UK, they still metal dectected us, but instead of pat downs, they used handheld metal detectors. And instead of looking angry, they were helpful. I didn't feel scared, or worried, or nervous in Gran Canaria, but the UK immediately makes you feel scared that maybe they'll think you're a terrorist because of something you might unconsciously do.