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Autism

I have, for a long time, considered myself to be "on the spectrum" (cerulean!), but have not bothered to look for any sort of diagnosis as, well, having a medical professional say "yup" will change nothing. I'll still be me and everybody else will still think I'm weird.
Worse, some well-meaning twat might feel that it's something that can be made better with medication.

Wanna know what I think of medication? There are boxes on the shelf beside me, prescribed when I had my food poisoning (so not exactly critical). Spasfon, which lessens intestinal cramping, and something called Racecadotril that I should take in case of continued diarrhoea. Both boxes have the seals intact.
Pretty much the only thing I willingly take is amoxyciline if the dentist thinks I need it, and the odd paracetamol if my head hurts.

Anyway, while sitting outside enjoying the nice weather as my clothes were on the line drying, and Anna was tormenting the wildlife, I took a few online autism tests. While the results cannot be considered conclusive (there are online tests to discover if you're an extraterrestrial, ffs!), they all had one thing in common, and that these were tests I could definitely get a good grade in. Unlike, say, maths.

Autism test - 26 out of 30
26 out of 30 is a good score...

The above result was from https://www.clinical-partners.co.uk/for-adults/autism-and-aspergers/adult-autism-test

However there is a value in finding out more about autism, because it helps to explain some of my own behaviours. For example, I go shopping wearing sunglasses (indoors), and with headphones on, usually listening to some music that I enjoy or, if not, one of the streaming radio stations that I listen to.

Going shopping
Going shopping.

Now, with a better understanding of what's going on, I can understand that even though sunglasses make it harder to see things indoors, wearing them can be used in order to block out unwanted stimulus. If I'm walking up and down the aisles, using my mental map of where everything is, then I want to be concentrating on only two things. What I'm looking for, and other people (so I can avoid them - not in a rude way, just bumping into people is impolite). The headphones also replace the hectic external stimulus with something familiar. So asides from a necessary awareness of the presence of other biological lifeforms, I can pretty much blank out everything else from the world.

It also explains why the overly long work to modernise the Leclerc in Châteaubriant nearly broke me. It was as if every time I went, things were in a different place. I drastically cut back on how often I went because of this, which coupled with Covid lockdowns meaning I actually couldn't if I wanted... you'll notice I don't go to Big Town much any more. Just once in a while. I am likely to go at the start and end of my holiday, just for a change from the local store's sameness, and... that'll be about it for a while, I would imagine.
They're not messing with the layout any more, the work has been done, but both of the reasons given pretty much ended my desire to "do the weekly visit to Big Town" as mom and I did... pretty much every Saturday where we didn't go to Clisson instead.

Now, I'm not very autistic. I understand sarcasm (I'm British, I didn't have a choice) and can even navigate revolving doors. I also don't have meltdowns. Maybe when I was younger, but as an adult I simply remove myself from a situation that I don't like.
How much?
Well, the work summer fete was yesterday. Myself and the two plonge girls were working until 1pm. Everybody else, and I mean everybody, buggered off just before half twelve. We were, well, left or forgotten, or something. It's not a problem, it's better that way. I couldn't finish up (neither could they) as a load of stuff arrived all at the same time as production ended (as is usual). So I left all of that and set about cleaning down the dishwasher, the floor, the drains... Then I emptied the wheelie bin. Twice. And some other bits and bobs. Until it was 1.04pm when I clocked out, having started at 8am and skipped having a break because it was only going to be 4½-5 hours of work.
I absolutely did not want to leave by going through the normal staff entry as that would take me right into the midst of things and people were bound to say stuff like "hang around!".
So I went up into the gallery. This is a raised corridor used by visitors so they can see things without being present in the factory (contamination risk), and also used to join the incoming and outgoing sides of stock. The two girls came with me as they didn't fancy going through the fete either. Down from the gallery by the front of the building, through into the admin section, and then out the door used by the management. My little RFID gizmo cannot open this door, but from the inside it's just a push button.
I had thought to park right beside the entry barrier. So I pressed the button to open the barrier, got into my car, started, and left.
Well, we were pretty much ignored in plonge (nobody offered to help or anything) so I can reciprocate. ☺
No, I'm not bitter or anything. Don't think that. Some people enjoy socialising, and I feel bad for them that it was the only rainy day in weeks.
Other people prefer a book and a cup of tea. Which is exactly what I did after going shopping.

One test I did find interesting was the RAADS-R test which aims to identify adults who escaped diagnosis as a child due to having a presentation level that was not strong enough to be "yeah, it's autism". Plus, as I mentioned earlier, back when I was young (late '70s and early '80s) a lot of people "understood" autism to be another word for retarded. So I was assigned four little labels: Attention deficit disorder (called ADHD these days), hyperactive (now understood to be part of ADHD), dyspraxia (don't ask me to play baseball), and dyscalculia (probably why I suck at maths). Interestingly I am not even remotely dyslexic. Rather the opposite, I was reading adult level books in junior school. The class would be reading these dumb books with big words in friendly Ladybird type, with a colour picture on every other page... and at breaktime I'd rummage around in my bag and pull out a John Wyndham book. I think I was probably reading either Chocky or The Chrysalids by then.

I think mom may also have objected to me being tested for autism. As I said, it was a different world in the late '70s and early '80s, so if I had been diagnosed as such, there's a pretty good chance that I will have been pulled out of mainstream education and put into "remedial", which is pretty much the opposite of what is needed.
I did attend a school for special needs children partly on account of my dyscalculia, and partly because in junior school my class' teacher refused to have anything to do with me. I was made to sit in the corner facing the wall, and she didn't care what I did so long as it didn't interfere with the class. I'm not sure what that was about. I was interviewed by a social worker and psychologist and both seemed a little surprised that not only could I recount her entire lesson that day, but I provided numerous factual corrections (because, let's face it, she was one of those people who fit the mould of "if you can't, teach"). They went and spoke to her, and her response was to send a letter to my mother informing that I was no longer welcome and not to come to school any more.
The LEA went ballistic and very quickly found me a place with smaller class sizes and nicer teachers. I don't know what happened to that woman. I'd like to think she would have had to go sign on, because a person like that has no place looking after other people's children.

I went on a cruise on the S.S. Canberra. I don't remember my exact age, so I let's say 9 or 10. I wasn't interested in taking part in the teen activities, so mom made an arrangement with somebody on board that I would go to the playroom in the morning, with the younger children, and in the afternoon sit somewhere quiet on the aft deck.
But... what will he do? They asked. It was pretty unimaginable to have a child just quietly sitting anywhere for a length of time.
Until they met me.
The person who passed the afternoons reading his way through a large chunk of the ship's library. Well, the bits that didn't suck. Not at all impressed with the books that have the rose emblem on the spine. Too formulaic.
Since mom knew a crew member, this also opened up the crew library which was some material not present in the regular library... let's just say that the Chiliho (children's host) was shocked to silence to find a young child not only reading Cujo but able to answer numerous questions regarding the plot and characters (so, yes, I was actually reading it). Stephen King is... incapable of telling a story without several hundred pages. Took me two or three days to get through one of those. The average book I could do in a long afternoon (roughly from noon into the evening). And, yes, I'd get in trouble for missing meals and such because, hey, I'm really into this book. Look, this sweet telekinetic girl is slaughtering everybody that mocked her. Go girl!

I read more slowly these days, for economic reasons. It's not great to drop eight euros on a book to whizz through it. Hell, that's a month's worth of Netflix.

Anyway, the RAADS-R test interested me. Rather than being a test with options like "Definitely agree / Slightly agree / Slightly disagree / Definitely disagree" it instead asked for one of these responses:

  • Always forever (near and far, closer together... ahem...)
  • Like this as an adult
  • Like this as a child
  • Never like this

It was interesting to notice that some of my behaviour has changed. This isn't because my level of autism is changing, it's because my level of concern changed. You see, through a childhood of being called weird, I had to adopt various behavioural patterns to seem less weird. Like, if you were watching closely (nobody ever does) you might notice that I laugh at something just a little moment after everybody else. This doesn't mean my brain took time to process the funny part, it means that I pretty much didn't get the joke but since everybody else is laughing, I probably ought to as well.

That's not to say that I don't have a sense of humour. You'll have noticed from this pathetic effort at writing that, in common with a lot of British people, self-deprecating sarcasm is in abundance. I'd even do satire, but the current state of the world is so far beyond satire that any history books written about the early twenty first century would be filed in the fiction section of the library.
If you want to see me lose it, bring a Daria DVD. I completely understand Daria. She's like the sarcastic loner freak goddess.
Want to see me sit in bored silence? Bring a Jimmy Carr DVD. No, it's not that he's politically incorrect and offensive - I grew up in the eighties for god's sake. It's that he's just not funny, and his laugh sounds like a dying llama. It's like nails on a chalkboard.

Anyway, as a child I carried the "weird" label as a burden. As an adult, to put it exceedingly simply, I do not give a fuck. You think I'm weird? Fine, go talk to somebody else. Don't like how I dress? Or that rat's nest that passes for hair? Or... actually, just go talk to somebody else and leave me alone. Thank you.

That's why my assessment has changed. That's why I'm possibly more autistic as an adult. I've just stopped trying to be what I'm not. And that is "normal", for whatever definition of normal anybody wants to go by. I don't care any more. I'm me and I'm perfectly okay with that.

You'll find some maybe fun self-tests at https://embrace-autism.com/

The RAADS-R test says you're probably not autistic if you score under 65. There is an oddity with the scoring chart due to people incorrectly saying they were not autistic when they were, but pretty much I think it's safe to say if you're a two digit figure then you're a normie. No tested known neurotypical scored above 64; with the mean of autism spectrum being 133.

Despite some rather inappropriate and possibly dated questions, I scored 154.

 

PS: Please kindly stop referring to it as "Autism Spectrum Disorder". It may be a disorder from your viewpoint.
From my viewpoint, doing things to appease a mystical mythological sky fairy is a disorder.
If you want to fit the acronym, call it "Autism Spectrum Difference". We are different and perceive the world in a different way. And that's a bad thing why? Because some have trouble functioning in the world? Some cannot comprehend it? Have you been watching the news lately? The person that wants to put their hands over their ears and scream....is probably the sane one. All the rest of you, the normies, like lemmings and the proverbial cliff.

 

Update 2022/09/04 - Being honest with myself

I think I need to be a little more honest with myself. Now that I'm starting to understand all of these things a little better, I can apply them to my own life.

Two examples. The first are the questions about "do you have a routine" and "does it upset you if the routine is changed".
Let's see...

  9am    Clock in
  9am    Daily meeting (odd weeks) / exercises (even weeks)
  9.10am Prepare panier with stuff for changing rooms
         (paper towel rolls, toilet paper, hairnets...)
  9.15am Post-Covid disinfection of staff break room...
  9.25am ...and the changing rooms
  9.40am Distribute the supplies that are needed (having
         noted what was necessary while doing disinfection)
  9.45am Return panier to my stock room
  9.45am With clipboard and form, walk around the factory
         floor noting what needs to be topped up (plastic
         sleaves, aprons, bin bags, latex gloves, etc etc)
  9.55am Prepare panier with all of the things necessary
         in distribution order.
 10.05am Do the distribution.
 10.15am Prepare things necessary for cleaning the toilets
         by the production area.
 10.20am Clean said toilets.
 10.35am Do a tour of the little rubber mats for disinfecting
         shoes (empty out the solution, replace).
 10.55am Perform the after-break disinfection of the staff
         break room...
And that's just the first two hours. While it is often not possible to keep exactly to those times, I'm usually within 5-10 minutes. I also usually take my own break at exactly 2pm.

And, when my boss said she wanted me to take my break at 1am in order to do something different, everything went into a spiral that resulted in my having the kind of rumbly stomach that precluded eating anything while on break. Because now the organisation was less like a well fitting jigsaw puzzle and more like all the pieces turned on their back and you're not entirely sure that they all are pieces of the same puzzle.

And the other question that I used to scoff at. Some variation of "do you collect odd things or like collections of things". I'd be like, no, not really. I mean, I have collected various computers in my days, and I have a number of t-shirts, but I think that's kind of normal. It's like thinking an artist is weird because she has a collection of brushes instead of just the one.

We have big rolls of blue paper towel at work. They go into this plastic dispenser. The paper towel rolls used to be covered in a piece of paper that said "tear off this paper before use" in three or four languages, and the box carried a name that sounded British (ending in "dayle"). Recently, and oddly coinciding with the UK leaving the EU, the branding changed to "Parades" (which I pronounce "pah-ray-deez" because I don't like the "pa-ra-dess" that everybody else says), and the quality has dropped through the floor. At least now the rolls are cut mostly straight. Originally there was nearly a centimetre difference between one side and the other. Which wasn't good if it rubbed the dispenser and refused to turn.
The main problem now is that the machine that pops in the little plastic caps has a habit of slamming in one sideways. Which is then boxed and shipped. A rather deplorable lack of quality control. So when I see that, I have to pop the smashed cap out using a screwdriver, and then fit a replacement (recovered from an old roll) and hammer it into place using the handle of the screwdriver.
As I'd say one box in three will have a bad roll (which is way better than it was in the springtime), I need to keep two or three caps on hand in order that I can swap them around as necessary.
Two or three.

Roll caps
Paper towel roll caps.
My excuse (and I'm sticking to it!) is that two or three caps sitting in the jug just looked, well, lonely. The jug is now correctly full.

 

I should probably also point out that I have numerous clocks. There are two master clocks, the DCF77 one in my room that is always correct, and the one in the kitchen that is set to match the DCF77 clock.
All of the other clocks in the house, and there are several, are set to different (random) times.
This is intentional. It is a reminder that time is important. Time is what separates order from chaos.
But time is also relative. With the exception of when you need to be somewhere at a specific time (such as, you know, work), time is simply the passage between the then and the now. Getting up when the sun rises and going to bed with a hot cocoa when the sun has set is every bit as valid as following a schedule. I have a highly organised day at work because I am paid to.
When at home, there is no schedule other than "get up about 7am or else you'll wet the bed, and that's a good time to feed the cat and make tea". Which is about as far as my day planning usually goes. Today, as I write this, is that huge vide grenier in a place called Saulnières. I really didn't feel like it, so I'm here writing this twaddle instead. Drinking coke (after two teas) and eating Cadbury Fingers. Later? Maybe I'll pull weeds out of the plant pots or something.

 

Update 2022/09/04 - The Aspie Test

"Aspergers" (or Aspie) is a form of autism. It is often described as "higher functioning autism" in that somebody who has this is more capable of being on their own. Interestingly they have more advanced language skills (so less likelihood of echolalia or response delays) but interestingly less developed motor skills (can anybody say "dyspraxia"? ☺).

The Aspie test is at https://rdos.net/eng/Aspie-quiz.php and, let's just say that I have a lot of beef with this.
An entire Stroganoff's worth.

After you click to go to the quiz, you'll be asked for some basic information such as age and ethnicity. For this I put down "Caucasian" because, let's see. My father was a Scot, my mother an east coast American, and I have mildly green skin such as I am either a descendent of the Lizard People, or have Mediterranean in me. There was no "WTF?" option, so "Caucasian" will have to do.

The test has four answer categories: Don't know, No/Never, A Little, Yes/Often.

There are some questions such as:

  • Do you have an urge to learn the routines of people you know?
  • Do you examine the hair of people you like a lot?
  • Do you feel an urge to peel flakes off yourself and / or others?
  • Do you like to follow (walk behind) people you are attached to?
And so on.

Just as an aside, the second question is syntaxtually ambiguous. Am I supposed to examine the hair or people that I really like, or am I supposed to be doing it frequently?

Anyway... the problem is that such behaviours may be acceptable, perhaps even described as "cute" in an eight year old. But trust me, if I behaved like that as a 48¾ year old, the best I could expect is a visit from the boys in blue. I think any girl having some awkward weirdo following them, examining their hair, or - FFS - trying to peel flakes off would rightly be frightened.

You know, I read a quote a while back. I can't give a reference as I don't remember where I read it, but it goes like this:

  • Men fear women because women may mock them.
    Women fear men because men may kill them.
It is, sadly and depressingly correct. So I, a man old enough to have monochrome hair, understands that even if I happen to think a girl is attractive, I am to leave her the hell alone until she shows some definite sign of interest.

And as for pulling things off of people? WTF? WTactualF? I grimace and squirm when people want to shake my hand (leave my appendages ALONE!), so that sort of level contact is just a Freaking Massive NO.

There are also a number of other questions about relationships and love life, but it completely fails to take into account your response to "Are you asexual?" (that means "not interested"). So I say "not interested" and then feel like I'm being marked down in other questions such as "Do you realize hours later that somebody that you have a romantic interest for actually showed interest for you, and then feel bad about the missed opportunity to connect?". Also, "Do you have, or used to have, imaginary relationships?" - relationship in what sense? I've had imaginary friends. Or, better yet, "Do you have unusual sexual preferences?" and "Do you like tongue kissing?"... seriously, what part of "not interested" is this test failing to understand?

One that will really penalise you (6.52 points) is if you "find it natural to wave or say 'hi' when you meet people". Again, this is learned through experience. You see, if you are happy in your own little world and you don't wave or say hello, people aren't going to think "oh, he's autistic" or "oh, he's just quiet". No, they'll think you're an arsehole with some sort of superiority complex. This will come back and bite you. You don't greet the secretary, expect your form to "accidentally" find it's way to the bottom of the filing cabinet. You don't greet the stock girl? Don't expect your request for 'x' to be dealt with today. Or tomorrow. Or maybe even this week.
It does not take much effort to make the connection that saying hello to everybody makes for less hassle later on as people will think you're just a bit weird, not rude and condescending. So, even if you really really don't want to - or if it does exactly nothing for you - bloody well wave and say hello.

I was interested to see "Do you find it hard to recognise phone numbers when said in a different way?".
I understand telephone numbers as a burst of digits (used to be four, is now five) followed by three digits, and then another three digits.
For example: oh one one seven nine, two three oh, oh oh three. That's M&S in Bristol.
The French way of doing phone numbers as five pairs just loses me. It's like not how phone numbers should be. Oh one, four two, nine one, three seven, five seven. That's M&S in Paris (and they all appear to be selling food, not clothing?).
Aside1: Oh, my god, so jealous... I used to go to M&S The Meadows all the time. Those sandwiches. That chicken and white sauce meal... oh...
Aside2: Oh, my god, so expensive! I know it's RER which I think means it's in a train station, but still!

 

My result, by the way, is an autism score of 123/200 and a neurotypical score of 85/200. I'd probably score higher if the test was, itself, self-consistent.

Here's a pretty chart of my responses. It's like Lithuania the wrong way up.

Test results
Test results in an easily digestible visual form.

 

 

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J.G.Harston, 24th July 2022, 10:37
Hmmm. The sunglasses thing sounds useful. I've noticed in the last few months when driving I let myself get distracted by non-road things a lot more than I ever used to. (Post-vaccine effects? Getting old? Exceptional weather?) Using my usual method of actually noticing what I'm doing and taking counter-measures, I just concentrate more when driving, but I wonder if wearing sunglasses might remove enough distractions to let me drop back into automatic.
Anon, 26th September 2022, 22:23
So I did the test (read back to this post after subscribing to the RSS feed). I do actually have a formal diagnosis as Aspie (hence why I'm remaining anonymous as I don't want to advertise this). 
 
So here's the thing. Face-blindness - if I see someone that I know, but perhaps haven't seen in person for a while (even if we've talked on the phone recently) it'll often take me a minute or so to recognise them. Particularly if it's out of context. 
 
Hugging and physical contact - the stereotypical Aspie is like "stop touching me!", almost to the point of parody. Think Achmed The Dead Terrorist and you won't be far wrong. However I'm the exact opposite; I tend to go into "happy hugmonster" mode when I'm around people I'm comfortable with. (I've also been known to randomly start humping people when I've had too much sugar, but that's another story.) 
 
A question I was once asked: "If you could flick a switch and be neuro-typical, would you?" (I think the word used might have been 'normal', which could have been offensive but the meaning behind it wasn't.) My answer - "Would I like to be able to sit down at a computer and have no idea what was going on or how to program it? Absolutely not. Or how about not be able to hear a piece of music then jump straight on the piano and be able to play it? Again, no. I'll stick with being Aspie, as it means I can do all that stuff without having to think about it." 
 
I could ramble for ages but I won't fill up your comments!

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