Sunday, 23 April 2017

Review of my writing goals

As nearly a quarter of the year has gone already (where did that go?) I thought I'd post a review of how I'm getting on with my goals for this year. So, here we go:

1. Republish Billy. Yes, did that in January. You can find him here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Billy-Sparkling-Socks-Rainbow-School/dp/154264853X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492950556&sr=1-1&keywords=billy+and+the+sparkling+socks

2. Publish 'Birds Flock Together'. Hope to do this next week once I have finished self-editing Qessa's story.

3. Publish Charlie. Hope to do this in June. The cover is currently been designed by my illustrator.

4. Publish Susie. Want to do this near end of year.

5. Write more womag stories. Am doing that.

6. Get a story accepted by Woman's Weekly. This has now changed. I now want to focus on writing for one womag at a time until I get one story published. Have had 2 rejections from them this year.

7. Get a story accepted by The Weekly News. Same as above. I now want to focus on reading and writing for The People's Friend. They still have one of mine. I am currently working on another, then will change the ending of another to send to them too.

I am also going to try writing sci-fi to expand my areas of writing and targets. Now aim to get a story accepted by TPF and a sci-fi mag by end of year.

8. I am keeping my biz expenses up to date.

So, how are your goals for this year doing so far? Let me know.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Me, Asperger's and Adult Meltdowns


Autistic children grow up to be autistic adults. They aren't cured, they don't grow out of it. It stays with us, and sometimes, in the case of me, it can get worse as we get older.

You might have seen films about autistic children having meltdowns in shops, adults can have meltdowns, too. I don't remember having meltdowns as a child (probably did) but I do when I was growing up from a teenager to an adult. Here are a few times.

The first one I really recall was one of my first shopping trips by myself. It was local. I had gone to buy some tapestry bits for doing a cross-stitch tapestry. When I came to pay for them, I realised I didn't have enough money. I was mortified. I left the shop in tears, and without a thing.

Cause: Frustration. Motto – Always take more than enough money when going shopping.

The second example was when I was at work. I had gone for an interview for another job in the same department. It was the written test, and included sums, especially percentages, which I am not good at all. I read it but still couldn't work it out. I got so upset, I ran out of the room in tears and to the nearest toilet. Not a good example for future employers. I was calmed down by my then team manager. I never got the job, and in hindsight, it was a good thing.

Cause: frustration. Motto - If you can't understand something, especially in an interview, I feel that it is best left out. If in doubt, leave it out.

The last example comes from the recent past of a few years ago. My mum and I used to go to the local big Sainsbury's. I used to get IBS within half an hour of starting walking round the aisles, so had to leave my mum to carry on while I went elsewhere. Only, when I came out, I couldn't find her and panicked. This caused me to get upset and cry, making me lose all reasonable thought. When my mum found me, I had a go at her, crying, causing a scene. Definitely a meltdown.

Cause: separation anxiety. Motto - Agree to meet at a particular point in the shop if you get separated. Or the parent to wait outside the toilet. We ended up agreeing to meet in the centre of the store. It worked.

So, adults can have meltdowns. I plan to write out a guide to meltdowns and shutdowns in due course.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Why children can be alone in the playground

One of the questions I was asked to answer here was - why would children behave certain ways. So, I thought I'd post about why children would be seen to be alone in the playground, something I certainly have experience with as a child with Asperger's. So, here I am going to explain why I think it is from what I have read.

Why do some children be alone and not join in with others? This was me when I was at school - both at primary and secondary. I never really understood why until recently when I read about Asperger's and autism. The reason is 'social interaction impairment' and 'social imagination impairment'. This means that a child on the autism spectrum (and adult too) is confused about what to do and say to make friends. When do they speak? What do they say to make someone like them and get them to join in? How do they join in with games?

With me, I either was alone, tagged along with others and did what I was told to do, or played with the younger children at primary school. At secondary school I was just alone, or tagged along with other alone children.

So what do you do when you see a lone child? I am not an expert and don't have a degree about this, I am just saying from reading and experience.

1. Either you can approach the child, from the front and never from behind, and ask them if they want to play.
2. Explain the game to them
3. Or if you aren't sure, then leave them alone.
4. You could watch them to see what they like doing, then one day, talk to them about it.

So, they are my thoughts on this subject.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

My autism event and an interesting question

Yesterday as part of World Autism Awareness Week #WAAW2017 I did an event at my local community library to raise awareness of the condition. I was helped by my friend John Caritas. My author friend, Amanda Lilywhite (Hi, Amanda) came with her autistic daughter and her father as she said she would. We got talking about autism and other things.

Amanda's daughter asked me an interesting question, which I replied, I don't know. She asked me, Why do I have a different autism than her (she has normal autism). I then said it could be genetics as I believe that it is in the genes of our families. (I think I got mine from my dad). I did try to explain using an image of the rainbow, that at one end there is me with Asperger's who can do things for myself which she probably can't, going along to the far end where people can't do things for themselves and have what is called classic autism. This got me thinking about it. I wonder if people are born with different levels of autism in relation to how much autism there can be along their family lines. So, if a child was born with both parents being autistic; one with Asperger's and the other with autism, the child would be more autistic, than say a child born with just one autistic parent.
What would your answer have been? Why do you think people are born with different levels of autism?

Anyway, Amanda bought a copy of Billy from me for her daughter, which I signed. They had to go after a while because of her daughter being autistic. Later on John walked round the library and found a couple of other parents to meet me so I could tell them what I am doing about raising awareness. They had heard of autism, but didn't know about it being Awareness Week. I gave them my handouts about ASD and what it involves for children then adults, and meltdowns and shutdowns. I also gave out cards promoting Billy.

At noon I packed up to go home. I gave the librarian copies of my cards and handouts, because she wanted them as she had told me that people do want to know about it. I might speak to her about this when I see her again in a couple of weeks time.

After this, I decided that my passion is to raise awareness of autism more not by giving talks but by writing guides on various topics to do with ASD such as anxiety and bullying, and maybe sell this together. Yesterday made me realise that people do know about autism but aren't aware of what it all involves, so I want to work on that in all ways I can with my writing.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Why people stim


As a neurotypical child/adult (you don't have Autism Spectrum Disorder), you might wonder why a child would rock to and fro, or flap and wave their hands about. This is called stimming and isn't harmful. They might do this if there is a lot of sensory things going on around them, or they are anxious about something. Stimming calms them down and lets them take control of their emotions again. So, don't try to stop them.

As a child, I never did either of them (not that I know about, anyway). But one thing I know I did, up until just before my 21st, was bite my fingernails. This was down to anxiety I know now. Whenever I was at home, I'd be OK and my nails would start growing. But as soon as I went back to school or work in later years, I bit them again. This went on until just before I turned 21. I had been working for a couple of years. I think I had got used to the people there and the jobs I had to do, and had been so busy that I didn't have time to bite my nails. They began to grow. So I decided then to let them. I started wearing nail varnish to help me. Once they grew, I stopped, seeing how nice they looked. Now I cringe when I think about what I did, and when I see other people, usually men, bite their nails. I don't know how I let my fingers be like that, they must have been so sore and red.

When my dad used to live with us (he's in a care home now), I used to see him twiddle his thumbs. It annoyed me because I could see it happen out the corner of my eye when I read or watched TV. I now think that this was him stimming because I believe he has Asperger's too.

So, if you see a child either rock or flap, think about what's going on around them. Is there too much noise? Too many people? Being bullied?

Monday, 27 March 2017

Raising awareness of autism

It's National Autism Awareness Week this week. So I am going to be popping up in lots of places to raise awareness by mentioning different aspects of autism and Asperger's Syndrome, I will blog more than once on here but there is one big event I will be doing this Saturday.

I am going to be holding a raising awareness event at Sydenham Community Library, SE London, this Saturday 1 April (no it's not a joke) from 10.30 am - 12nn. I will be handing out hand-made leaflets about autism, answering questions about Asperger's (to the best of my experience and knowledge) and selling my book 'Billy and the Sparkling Socks'. If you can come and say hello, or even better, ask me a question, please do so, esp if you are autistic or know someone who is.

Let's celebrate National Autism Awareness Week. #WAAW2017

Sunday, 19 March 2017

ASD and why children can have meltdowns


If you see another child in your class or playground crying, shouting, screaming or maybe on the ground, then they could be having a meltdown. This is not a tantrum, to get attention. This is usually because something has either upset them or have had a sensory overload. It could be because they have been bullied by another child. Or it could be because there is too much noise, too many people around them, too many smells, or in all too much stimulation around them for them to cope with.

If the child is being picked on, then please tell the teacher. Bullying in any way is not OK and should be dealt with.

So, what to do if you do see a child like this? Here are my ideas:

1. Tell a teacher or assistant you can see in the playground

2. Give the child space

3. Don't ask the child if they are OK.

4. Try to get other children not to interfere and tease

5. Does the child like something such as a toy? If so, maybe you can suggest to the teacher they take it to the child.

Please note that I am not an expert and don't have a degree. I am just going by experience and what I have read by experts.