Interviews, Articles and Assessments

It’s been another busy couple of weeks for me. I’ve finally seen the draft post for my interview on being an autistic employee. I have to admit it was not an unpleasant experience to go through, unless you were the person trying to take notes as my brain kicked into gear partway through the interview and I really started to roll. The blizzard of ideas blew through my head at hurricane force and what was supposed be a half hour interview turned into an hour and could easily have been more. But I got across what I wanted to. The only thing for me is that it is obviously not my writing as the tone is a lot more straight forward, that is the price that has to be paid for this. It’s a compromise my prepared to make simply because when I started this journey the first thing that hit me was the general lack of pretty much anything for autistic adults, be that support, awareness or inclusion. I wanted to do my bit to address some of that as it is just wrong. This article will hopefully do something for that as to simply be doing it shows that change is happening and things have started to move in the last couple of years. Unlike many articles this is not from a perspective of specialist recruitment program. It’s just about be able to be who you really are without fear and people who were able to see strengths and skills that fitted what they needed. As I’ve explained in previous blogs, I have been through a specialist autistic recruitment and for one reason or another (mainly my lack of code knowledge at the time and probably not being mentally ready at that point) I didn’t progress. I don’t think these sort of schemes are a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination. What they are though is a starting point. In my mind the true meaning of diversity and inclusion is a place where what you can offer is the overriding factor and not anything else, I see the ultimate goal of a recruitment process that is robust enough to just look at what people can offer regardless or race, religion, gender or disability.  We are a way off that yet though, the fact that there is a gender pay gap says the amount of work still needed. If people can be penalised for something as obvious as gender, how can they cope with something they can’t see and have no concept of. There a long way to go. It’s going out on autistic pride day on June 18th. I will share the link when it does.

I’m also now an employee reporter at work. This is all part of a drive to change communication in the company and make it a bit more real and honest. I have to say that it was not something that I was massively interested in at first, but I had quite a lot of encouragement to do it from those who like my writing style. One major caveat I take my own photos. There’s about 60 or so of us spread around the country. We have a forum and jobs get posted and we can accept them. I like the concept of this. We’ve had our first conference call, to pitch what we are about and how it all works. As usual it was not until several hours afterwards that it all got processed through my brain and the questions started coming out. A quick list of questions fired off by email, with the obligatory explanation that I’m not trying to be difficult, just understand how it all works. My main question was about how the launch of this was going to be contextualized, the response to this was for me to be given a series of questions to effectively interview myself for part of the opening article explaining the change. This is quite a change for me as ,(is probably quite obvious) I’m very much a free range writer and photographer. I decide my own brief and pretty much write about what I want from my perspective. It’s going to be a challenge to have to work to someone else’s brief. What will be fun will be the subjectivity of interpretation and how my eye and writing match with other perspectives.

In other news I’ve finally got my final NAS workplace assessment report. It’s quite an interesting read, very much a support document with recommendations for the employer to help get the best for them and me. On the whole it was an interesting experience. I did have to cover a fair amount of ground on my previous difficulties. This was something that I wasn’t really expecting to do, but mainly because I don’t have any where I am now. It was something that was quite difficult to go back over as I’ve pretty much processed it now and filed it away in my brain and didn’t really want to go back over it. That said is what it did do was make me appreciate how far I’ve come in a short period of time. I do have to say I’m rather proud of myself for how well I’ve adapted.

I’ve had a wonderful few weeks of having a general sort out in my favourite place, my garden. I been happily exhausting myself getting it all nicely tidy. Not overly so though. I view myself as a custodian of my garden, yes I own it, but I’m not it’s only resident. I hate gardens that are an exertion of human will over nature. I’ve never used a pesticide in my garden in the eight years we’ve lived here. For me it’s not just the plants and my fish in my pond that are part of it. I’ve got resident frogs and toads, slow worms, a resident grass snake, who lives under my waterfall, a yellow necked wood mouse who lives under the bridge over my stream and most recently moles in my bank copse. I’m probably more proud of encouraging this than I am that it looks nice. Although the one thing I really would like to take up residence is a hedgehog. This has come to a sharp and rather painful end as a concrete block fell on my big toe while I was breaking up an old fence panel and I have literally shattered it. So it’s purely light duties for the next few weeks while it heals. So I’ll have to leave pest control to my little gardening partner who keeps me company by tidying up the pests after I’ve been busy and giving me a song to hurry me up when he wants to get at any goodies I’ve exposed for him_DSF3418

Be nice to each other

DX

 

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Why Just a week?

Last week was Mental heath awareness week. The diversity and inclusion task force I’m part of at work had a really busy week. Lots of good information and support was shared and as is becoming more common, people having the courage to share their personal stories and experience without fear.

One in particular struck me. Our executive sponsor shared his own personal experience of mental illness. It was a genuine story of how life, career and social pressures can really take a toll on us. The reason I felt it was a watershed was simply because it challenged a perception the those that are successful or have good jobs are somehow immune from all those things that can get on top of us and it can take us breaking to realise that it’s all got a bit skewed. It wasn’t the first blog for the week our CEO had already blogged about it, which is always a good thing. I know for a fact that this means a lot to him personally as we’ve met and talked about it. Simply because it’s THE boss it’s going to draw attention. To follow it up with a very personal story from another executive really set a tone for the week.

On the whole it was a really good week. compared to last year it’s improved further, there seem to be much more openness. One thing has really struck me. A LOT more people suffer from mental ill-health at one point or another than you would expect. Why is it still such a taboo subject? Yes, there can be exacerbating factors like stress and social pressures, which we can have a degree of control over. But it’s an illness, like any other part of your body your brain can go wrong too. Would you hold yourself somehow responsible for contracting a disease? Not really, there are factors that can impact on the risk that’s true, but ultimately whether you get something is not totally in you control. Why should mental health be any different?

In some respects being autistic made it a lot easier for me to talk about it. Simply because my lovely logical brain looks at it like this. Society says it’s fine to talk about it now, so I do. I’m a crap liar so just be honest. However there is honesty ,and HONESTY .As I found out when I wrote about how I was made to feel a few years back. Apparently I should have considered the feelings of those who made me feel that way and not wrote about it . I was just trying to articulate how I was made to feel. I still suffer from depression, I don’t suffer from autism, that is just something I am. I am also short, I don’t suffer from that either. Once you start to open up it becomes so much easier to talk about it. We really do need to talk about it. Most people (even me Mr antisocial) have someone we can talk to. Someone who can give you that little piece of perspective, or just allow you to empty your head of the things that build up in it. If you don’t there are organisations you can contact to do this, It does help. It took me months to admit there was a problem. It was the first time I’d ever experienced trying to say words and not actually being able to get them to leave my mouth. It took me 8 months to be able to do it without breaking down when I said it.

I’ve heard it said that depression is a selfish disease and I still struggle with that as I don’t think it’s a fair statement. If you are thinking rationally then yes it would be, but depression is by its nature irrational. So it’s not right to judge from a rational standpoint. What underlined this for me was that part of my treatment involved me becoming more self-ish, in that I had to learn to be compassionate to myself. I spent so much time trying to fit in to what was expected of me and trying to please other people I totally left myself out and then it basically went bang.

One week of the year where we focus on this is good, it’s better than none. It needs to be something that stays on everyone’s agenda. It’s not awareness programs and campaigns that do this, they are a catalyst. We as a society need to change. (the irony of me saying this is not lost on me) We need to talk to each other. If you see someone who does not look ok, just show some concern. Ask them if they are ok, whats the worst thing that can happen? They say no I’m fine or leave me alone? Speaking personally the isolation of your own head when you’re feeling that way is horrible. Someone noticing would have made a difference, just enough to dent that hermetic seal that depression builds around you.

Conversations about how we are really feeling need to become normal. It’s Ok not to be OK. It’s Ok to admit you aren’t. Once you do that, You can square up to the beast and fight it. Better still tame it before it gets too big. But if you do have to fight it you’ll also find you aren’t doing it on your own. Your cavalry is out there waiting, you just need to work out how to call them.

Be nice to each other.

D

 

 

 

Here comes the list!

Nosing around twitter the other day I found a tweet from @Neurorebel asking if  we wanted NT’s to understand one thing what would it be.

But actually there are loads of things on the list the NT’s need to think about so, Christa here it comes.

  1. You don’t grow out of it!
  2. Some of us don’t find out we are until we’re adults.
  3. YES we do have empathy, you just think we don’t
  4. We perceive the world quite differently to you
  5. NO! we are not all on the spectrum somewhere
  6. We are neurologically different to you
  7. Autism is not a mental illness
  8. Our opinions are no less valid than yours
  9. You have no idea what it is really like
  10. We want you to listen to us, not tell us what we need.
  11. We know more about autism than you ever will.
  12. Studying autism is no substitute for being autistic. Someone who studies tigers still has no idea what it’s like to be one.
  13. You can theorise, we actually know.
  14. ABA is basically waterboarding to ensure compliance with your rules.
  15. We need AutismSpeaks as much as much as america needs Donald Trump
  16. Inclusion means mutual acceptance not you telling us how to fit in.
  17. Diversity means accepting everyone even if you can’t see the difference
  18. Yes we do feel pain
  19. Just because we aren’t non vocal doesn’t mean you can ignore us.
  20. It has sweet FA to do with vaccines.
  21. The society you have created really sucks
  22. Do you realise how stupid you sound when you say I don’t look autistic, I am, So I do!
  23. We’re a lot more honest than you are.
  24. If we were the majority, you’d be the ones with the disability.
  25. No I don’t want a cure.
  26. Why can’t you see patterns?
  27. We don’t want to fit in
  28. You can be really patronizing
  29. We aren’t all savants
  30. There are things we are much better at than most people
  31. We aren’t all the same, just like you aren’t
  32. A lot of our mental health issues come from what you try to force us to be.
  33. Yes, we can have relationships
  34. Yes we can be very good at our jobs, when given the opportunity
  35. We can even have children
  36. All we really want is a level playing field
  37. We don’t try to be difficult
  38. We’d like to be accepted for who we are, not what you think we should be.

I think that will do for a starter. I have to admit it was quite a cathartic exercise and some of it is a little tongue in cheek. Ooo 39. We have a sense of humor.

Remember be nice to each other

D

 

 

 

What A Week (well actually a couple)!

Hello world or in reality the few of you who are bored enough or are insomniacs and use my inane ramblings as a sedative.

It’s been a rather busy couple of weeks, with lots of positive stuff and a little bit of negative, but, I’m not going there with that sorry, erm DILLIGAF mood hoovers. Feel free to try to visualise my contempt for you, I’m on a crest of a wave of massive positivity. There that’s that bit done..On to the reams of good stuff.

So where to start? New people is as good a place as any. I found my way back to Twatter (deliberate pun intended) and for once I actually found something useful. After commenting on BFI making a bit of a pigs ear of dealing with an autistic in a cinema in London. I got an invite to join a community called MyDisabilityMatters club.  It’s relatively new start-up. I haven’t explored too far yet as I’ve been so busy, but the welcome has been great and the encouragement to get involved has been really nice and very supportive (Yes, that’s you Libby) and it’s interesting to see the issues that we all share and some of the different local issues we all face. As I get more involved I will expand further. But my initial impression is of a close knit and welcoming community.

My last work blog for autism awareness week was really well received. So much so I have been asked to be interviewed by our group media partner for the company careers website. This is happening this week and I’m really looking forward to it. It really feels like progress is  happening. I do know that diversity and inclusion is taken really seriously and it’s a genuine value that runs deeply and goes all the way to the very top. To get personal comments on my blog and email from the chief financial officer is not just lip service. I have an enormous amount of respect for someone who would take time out to come and meet as many of us actively involved in D&I for lunch. Just to put faces to names and find out more about those people shows how much it means, and does make you feel proud of who you work for.

Next week is Mental health awareness week, and the theme is stress. I got a couple of blogs for work in the pipeline, one about stress and how it can be a symptom of something else underlying (like being autistic and not knowing it) , as well a being an exacerbating factor. Another about how we need to be able to identify the physiological symptoms of stress in ourselves as this can be an early signal and what we can do about it. My personal opinion is that more needs to be done to get men talking openly about it. I’ve been down the dark side of the “Be a real man and suffer in silence” approach to mental illness and it’s definitely not the way to go. I also know how crippling it is to have to summon up the courage to admit that there is a problem, to anyone, let alone someone close.

I’ve got even more in the pipeline as I’ve also been asked for input in reviewing policies to bring them up to date. I’m also still waiting for the report for my NAS workplace assessment and I’ll paraphrase some of the interesting bits that come out of that, when i get it as it was a bit of a peculiar experience for me.

On the home front an entire bank holiday weekend spent sorting out the garden was well spent and my sanctuary is starting to look nice again. My son starts his GCSE’s next week, which really leaves me wondering where the last 16 years went. My daughters parents evening went well, she’s doing well this is not really a surprise. So the occasional trauma over homework has been worth it. I’m proud of both of them and hopefully I make that clear to them.

So there you go . It’s all been a bit full on. I’ve still managed to find a little time to start throwing a few ideas on paper for some dystopian sci-fi I’ve been planning to write for ages and it’s starting to take shape. I’ve also started carrying my beloved Fuji X-T10 with me everywhere I go again after missing the chance to get some shots of parakeets in the local park (a rather unusual sight on the south coast of England)

Expect my ramblings to get a bit more frequent as I’ve found my love of pen (fountain naturally), paper and keyboard again.

Just remember life’s too short to not have fun poked at the stupid bits, but be nice to each other.

Take care

D

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How about a bit more compassion?

Something struck me this morning on the way to the office I popped into the local Sainsbury’s on the way and grabbed myself a coffee and a pain au chocolat. After paying, it dawned on me that we had breakfast being delivered to work today so to be honest I had just bought myself a coffee and breakfast that I didn’t really need. For some reason rather than being my normal gannet self and eating the lot anyway, I decided that it would be better to give it to the homeless man who sleeps outside the Sainbury’s opposite the train station. I don’t really know why I just thought on a bit of a chilly morning he might appreciate a decent coffee and something to eat. So I said good morning, I have to admit that I think I woke him up and he did look a little startled at first but he smiled and said thank you. Here’s the bit that really got me. Being autistic I know that I really am not the best person at reading facial expressions unless they are really obvious. The looks of disdain and shakes of the heads from the people at the bus stop opposite really got to me. Had I broken some unwritten rule? Not that I was aware of, if I had it’s obviously a crap one if it prevents you from showing a little kindness to someone in a worse situation than you. Now I generally won’t give money to the homeless as that can be used to fuel other issues that are not always helpful to their situation, but I do have no qualms in buying them something to eat or drink.

This got me thinking about what has happened to the society we live in. Last week a woman with Asperger’s was forcibly removed from a BFI cinema in London for literally laughing to loudly. Now BFI have pulled a faster U turn than a minister confronted with a policy they wrote, but denied any knowledge of until it’s shoved under their nose. That’s not the part that left me the most concerned. Policies can be changed and evolve, they got it wrong, apologised and I doubt it would happen again. The people who cheered and applauded her forced removal are the ones that get me, and those who sat and did nothing. What’s their excuse? Some people left in disgust at the action taken, that shows conviction and integrity. Traditional thinking says that its us autistics who don’t have any empathy and it’s the normal people who are the who are good in the social situations. So what’s gone wrong? I have to admit I totally disagree with the lack of empathy argument and thankfully research is actually starting to show that actually the reverse is true, neurotypicals are a lot less empathetic to anything that sits outside of their norms. So what this says is NT’s are empathetic to their own but not to anything/one outside of their boundaries. I realise that is a sweeping generalisation but then so is saying autistics can’t show empathy.

So this finally brings my slow meander onto compassion. Where’s it gone? When I was having my psychotherapy for my depression, Marta my therapist gave me quite a hard time about showing myself compassion and allowing myself to make mistakes and learn without tearing myself to pieces. This was probably one of the hardest things to do especially when you’ve spent most of your life not being able to fit in and getting things wrong or not being able to process things well. Being diagnosed really helped with that because it gave me a reason and allowed me to accept that I can’t be brilliant at everything (on some occasions capable of anything) no matter how hard I try. I still set myself high standards for how I do things, that’s one of my traits and one I wouldn’t be without. I have learnt to go a bit easier on myself and try to keep that to a context of things where I know I can achieve. This then leads onto showing compassion to others. We have no idea what other people have going on in their lives and in their heads. Are we all in such a rush to do something or get somewhere that we can’t stop for a minute and just think? It’s OK to not be OK and it’s OK to say you aren’t. Maybe if we dispensed with false pleasantries and actually asked people if they are OK genuinely without expecting to get a false I’m fine back, people might start having real conversations and people would start getting somewhere. I know this is easy for me to say as someone who doesn’t have the stifling social filters of normal people. That said I still learnt the behaviour of saying your OK when you aren’t, and it’s one I’m quite happy to say I’m unlearning, but the place it took me to, to start that process is one I plan to never visit again.

Next week is mental health awareness week. How about if you see someone who doesn’t look OK you ask them? It may still get the answer of I’m OK, but it may just let someone feel that they are not totally alone and someone has noticed. From personal experience that can be the start of someone looking for help, and you might just feel a bit better in yourself for having shown a bit of compassion for no other reason than you can.

It’s all been a bit manic (and just a little surprising)

So I dropped off the radar for a bit over the last month.This time I’ve not been in a self imposed exile, well I have kind of but more on that later. 

The place I really aught to start is the follow up from my skills assessment in London. I didn’t get taken to the next stage. This was not really a surprise to me as the guys I was being assessed with clearly were much more technically knowledgable than me and the disturbances in the cognitive assessments did have an impact. To be brutally honest, as much as I would have liked to have got further, I’m glad it’s done now. I can stop worrying about it, I gave it my best I got it wrong again, never mind move on. 

One thing I have done is Gallup strenghts finder. It’s worth a look, basically it identifies your 5 key strenghts and how you can use these rather than identify weakness. As an autistic one thing I have become a student of is all the things that autistics “aren’t very good at” I know these, unplanned changes of routine, emotionally charged situations are some of the things that I can find really challenging. My top 5 were intially a bit of a surprise really. Most people who know me know that I live in a world where details matter in everything, be that cooking, baking, gardening, badly written science homework questions and of course data. I was completely ready for my key strenght to be analytical. It wasn’t, it was strategic. You get a detailed description and explanation with each strenght, when I read it, it did make perfect sense. Whether this come from a life spent having to adapt to situations I wasn’t designed to fit into I couldn’t really say. But when I look at data, patterns and processes in as much as I look for detail, the other thing I look for at implications, my head fills with questions what happens if x or y happens. What do we do if it does? What do we do if it doesn’t? Where are the weak points? What have we missed? Analytical was my number 2, happy with that. I’m looking forward to working with one of the coaches to see how I can use these in the areas where I do struggle. 

I’ve got involved with our diversity and inclusion taskforce at work. Which is sort off where this blog started life ,by me being ask if I would write about what it’s like. I’d written one post and a few comments on our blog and had couple of hundred views and a few comments. A colleague in another office had written a post about autism awareness month, I was to follow up with a post to explain what being autistic is like for me. My view of the world and the challenges and the positives. I was totally unprepared for the reception that I got. I was hoping to get a couple   of hundred views and a few comments like previous. In a little over 3 days I had over 1400 views, pages of comments from across the entire UK business from all levels, people have approached me, emailed me to say that it was really enlightening. It was more than a bit overwhelming. I can’t place why it struck such a chord, like with anything I write I just try to be completely honest and try to put things in a way that is easy for people to visualise. It was not all positive though. Shortly after I had shared my post I went to lunch, I walked past 3 women outside the office smoking and vaping. They were having quite a heated discussion about why someone would want to admit to being autistic let alone share it. This made me smile as my post was not anonymous as I feel if you are going to step up and say something you should have the courage to represent it. My profile picture is quite old though, I dont have my glasses on and my hair is quite different. So I put it down to not being recognised when I walked by. This just added the balance to the equation, in every part of society there are those who don’t want to understand, their issue not mine.  

My self imposed social exile came about as I started to really to turn my attention to my sensitivities and distractions. So I decided to delete all social media apps from my phone. Facebook, messenger, twitter, instagram and linkedin all got the chop. That just left me with email. I haven’t removed them totally they still live on my tablet by this means rather than being shoved at me all of the time, I can look at it when I want to. It was working a treat too. The exile became really real when I was getting out of the car after work and somehow I managed to launch my phone into the air. Time slowed briefly as it sailed in a graceful perfect parabolic arc before bouncing on the drive, smashed. I won’t bore you with the entire story lets just say after a month of being without a phone I finally got a replacement. This hasn’t really bothered me that much apart from the frustration of having to deal with companies who have no concept of join up processes.

The one thing I still find really frustrating is the lack understanding especially around the subject of social interaction. Crowed noisy place can become too much in that it’s like pressure building in your head to the point it’s going to burst. “It’s not just you everyone gets like it when it’s crowded and noisy” It does prove that inspite of everything there will always be those who know better than you do and that you’re just a bit more senistive than most. There no point trying to articulate, how stressful trying to have a conversation with several people in a packed room is, espescially when the only interests seem to be beer and football. I’d rather have my eyes pulled out with fish hooks. I can’t do small talk at the best of times. I don’t really drink that much unless the environment is a really safe one or I’m with a really protective group of people. The reason for this is that it is simply safer for everyone else and me if I stay sober. A couple of good G&T’s or a very good french red is as far as I go. Normal people turn into some of the most loathsome creatures you could ever have the misfortune of meeting. Add alchohol to someone who already has cognitives issues in controlling emotion and you have a recipe for chaos. I’ve worked this out the hard way. 

I have alot of people I am aquainted with, as for real friends. I can count those on one hand, two at most. But they are people that I know have been there for me through everything life has thrown at me and I’ve been there for them. I don’t really want lots of friends if I’m totally honest. I’ve found too many fair weather ones or ones with agenda’s. They get cut loose pretty quick or I do. The challenge in the wonderful idealistic world of the autistic is that everyone plays by the same rules. Promises are kept, honour is everything and your word is your bond. The problem is, these are outdated concepts in the modern neurotypical world. Even those that claim these as values are rarely able to hold up to the analytical autistic scrutiny. In short I know who I trust and I keep that list to myself, here the words of Tsun Tsu ring true. I spend most of my time feeling like a cross between a guild navigator and a mentat caught in the middle of a Seldon crisis (if you don’t get the references you need read Dune by Frank Herbert and the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov ). I see plans within plans, numerous possiblities , problems to solve in order to create the correct future history.    

Thats enough for now, be good to one another 

D

           

 

           

Onwards and upwards

So yesterday was a pretty big deal for me. A trip to london is always nice as someone acutely audio visual it can be a real feast for the senses. Well ok, the incesant din that goes with london is more of a foul tasteing medicine that you have to accept along with the beauty of all the patterns and structures london has to offer, particularly in terms of  architechure.                . 

I was up for the next stage of the recruitment process for the IT consultancy the only look for those with an autistic diagnosis. Aside from an unforseen change of venue, which was fine as I’ve been to their London office before. I knew  what I was expecting a couple of cognitive reasoning tests, a 45 minute pattern recongition test and 2 hours error searching a website. So far so good, nothing I not familiar with. I’ve never done an error search on a website before, but I’ve done lots of user acceptance testing. UAT to my fellow geeks, for the non geeks, I’ll explain. Before any piece of software gets released or changed, they get a bunch of normal (cue the background sniggers) users to put it through its paces and make sure that it works how it should. Normally you are performing a set of pre defined tests to  check everything behaves before it gets let loose on the general population. This is supposed to be the final validation before it gets signed off.

In my infinite wisdom for some reason that has yet to become evident to me I decided that I didn’t need to take my MP3 player and my much beloved Sennies (Sennheiser headphones). This was all going to be under exam conditions so I didn’t really need then did I. Oh how wrong was I. It was my own stupid fault for focusing on one aspect and not thinking about the wider environment. I mentioned previously that their office is shared and the reception isn’t really the most autistic friendly environment. As I found out nor is the rest of the office.

There were four of us being assessed. I’m definately the oldest by at least 15 years and these guys are all graduates. Not only is this new to me, but it also dawned on me that this would be the first time I had ever been in a room with a group of other confirmed autistics. I wasn’t totally sure what to expect from them. What I did really become aware of is some of my sensual sensitivites. In particular noise, I’m pretty used to office noise, air con, the backgound murmur , ringing of telephones etc. I’ve lived in that environment for the last 20 odd years. But when you are really trying to concentrate you begin to realise how much of it there is. I decided quite quickly that carpet is a wonder on the civilised world. The office I work in is fully carpeted, it’s open plan and pretty big. I now appreciate carpet for of it’s sound deadening beauty. Even though the doors are shut this office is bare wooden floor, the asthete in me loves this, it’s simple and elegant. The autistic me absolutely hates it. When the room you’re in is on a main through fare in an office and is not carpeted your start to understand how much noise shoes make. In my head it’s like someone hitting a dustbin lid with a soup ladle every time someone walks by. The add to this that the adjoining room has not got the thickest walls and this is a receipe for disaster. Part the way through the excercise an australian gentleman starts a group excercise next door. This has little effect on my fellows other than a selection of headphones and earplugs come out. Why did I leave my headphones at home? However I’ve spent the last 20 years in a corporate enviroment and I can’t tune it out. The excessively loud australian pretty much comes out with every business and management cliche I have ever heard. I don’t conciously think when I do pattern recognition unless the are multiple options or patterns. This leaves my mind free to play that brilliant game of buzzword bingo in my head. All needed him to say was “We need to leverage our market position” and I would have jumped up an screamed “house!”. Do I think this made a difference to my performace, I don’t think so. Thank fully he has finished “inspiring” his charges before the two main excercises start. The most frustrating thing for me are excercises that are designed so that they cannot be finished. I know that this is more about accuracy and consistency but not getting to the end still annoys me. What did surprise me was the fact that I found the letter based cognitive test significantly easier than the numerical ones, I wasn’t the only one to find it much easier to see the patterns in sequences of letters. 

The main event is after lunch. For lunch we spent sitting outside under Broadgate Tower, a building I love, not from a normal angle but sitting looking up at the steel and reflections in the glass, I find facinating. The way the clouds reflect and the two buildings reflect off each other really makes me wish I had bought my little Fuji EX-1 with me I could have spent hours looking for interesting angles and light on these two buildings alone, not to mention the potential for street photography. But that is just london in general, a place I’m happy to visit, but I’m also happy to get home from. An expedition with cameras will have to be another time. 

Time for 2 hours sat at a laptop looking for errors in a website. It’s not often I get out geeked but these guys are really good. OK they’ve got computor science degrees, I’ve relying of what I’ve gleaned from the projects over the years and a purely natural eye for detail. They’re checking code , I’m purely looking at it as an end user. I’m pretty happy with what I found. Whether I’ve done enough to get further, I’ll find out next week. I know I didn’t punch my weight in the cognitive tests particularly the pattern recognition. I’ll be disapointed but this excercise hasn’t entirely been about just finding another job.

I learnt quite alot about myself. I have sensual sensitivities particularly to sound. I’ve never really thought that much about that before. I’ve adapted alot over the years. I am more socially aware and concious. Don’t get me wrong I’m still not very good socially, but I’m aware of it now and that counts for alot. What I found myself trying to do was draw conversation out of the group and trying to help them interact with each other. With this came the realisation that I really have a desire to do something with this. Blogging has been a real outlet for me and hopefully as I understand more I can articulate it. I’ve been diagnosed 6 months and my natural desire to learn more about autism and myself has tought me alot. I do get “You don’t seem to be that autistic” quite alot. Although normally this comes in a situation where there are only one or two people. I can cope with that. If you put me in a room full of people I don’t know, I’m about as much use as a bicycle to a fish.  Sometimes this has been quite derogatory and almost disbelief. Generally it’s actually meant as a compliment, and I’ve started to take it that way. I’m always going to be upfront about it, it disarms it. If people have an issue it’s theirs not mine. But meeting these three young guys who are clearly exceptionaly talented but, who struggle like I did and to a lesser degree still do. Made me realise that people who want to help are great, but we have to learn to explain our stories to get really get across what it is like, and the only people who can really explain what being autistic is like is an autistic. That’s not just the stuff that’s not good it’s the stuff you wouldn’t change for the world.

So for me at the moment it is very much onwards and upwards.