Wednesday, 30 July 2014

A poem i have written called 'I Believe You'

This is a poem about how I take things literally and believe what everybody says and does is true and they don’t have a hidden agenda or are just being polite and don’t really mean it. Being on the autistic spectrum makes it very difficult to interpret when people are being honest and real and when they are not. I hope you like it.

I believe you
When I look in your face
And see the happy smile
Emanating from it
I believe you
When you tell me you’re
Happy to see me
In an excited tone
I believe you
When you hug me tightly
Around my waist
And squeeze me warmly
I believe you
I believe everything you say to me
Everything you do to me
I take literally
I believe you
Because I know no other way
And whether you truly mean it or not
I still believe you

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Communication and Asperger's

This is a short article I have written on communication and the problems that can be encountered when you have Asperger's Syndrome. I hope you like it and if you have any questions please ask.

Communicating with other persons or groups of persons is something the majority of people take for granted. Some people are unfortunately born blind and or deaf and have an obvious problem communicating with others, which quite often with help can be overcome. However the problem for the person with AS is that for the majority they can see and hear the same as other persons. A lot of them can talk as well and hold a conversation that may be classed as both intellectual and academic by many of their friends and peers.

From my own perspective this can cause many issues, some major others minor that the neurotypical (NT) person will not be aware of. This unawareness is not something the NT person is doing on purpose; rather it is in my experience a natural reaction to communicating with a person who at first glance has no obvious problems in communicating with others. For example if a NT person was to engage in a talk with a person who was blind or deaf the potential barriers to talking to them are obvious. The NT person has to make extra and necessary provisions in order to effectively talk to the person with an impairment.

But it is a very different story when it comes to communicating with a person who has AS. At first glance this person looks no different to any other NT person and although the NT person may be aware that the other person has a diagnosis of AS, this can quickly be forgotten as the two persons begin to converse because there are no obvious physical signs of any impairment that impacts on the AS person’s ability to communicate. However whilst there are no obvious and visible impairments there are many non-visible impairments that have an effect on the AS person to communicate effectively.

I shall now go through these in more detail. I will reiterate however that these are my own thoughts on how these impairments effect the ability of an AS person to communicate effectively and are drawn from my own personal experience.

The first issue to deal with is speed of cognitive processing. As a species the human race has largely evolved to be able to deal with large amounts of information, whether that is verbally or orally in this instance. Information is produced by another person, analysed, and processed and a reply formulated in a split second. However for the person with AS this is quite often not the case. Information processing can be a long and arduous process in comparison to the neurotypical person. Information is received much the same but at this stage it is just a load of separate and disparate noises that overload the mind to breaking point.

All of this information then needs to be categorised and reassembled into something not only more meaningful but also logical and structured. In effect what the AS person is doing is putting this information into filing cabinets in their mind and then linking up the filing cabinets to establish what information goes where and why.

Once this process is done an answer can be formulated from the information gathered and given back to the NT recipient. And for the person with AS this is not a quick and easy process. it can be seconds or minutes for the information to be processed and manipulated in a way that the AS person feels comfortable with and during this time the AS person is feeling under increasing stress and pressure because of the need to give a reply quickly in order to avoid the embarrassment of being perceived as thick, stupid or dumb.

All these thoughts and many more are going through the AS mind all at once and this very often results in overload and meltdown. This can also lead to inappropriate behaviour because their mind is overloaded, they cannot cope with so much information at once and they feel pressurised into coming up with an action or response in an instant. Because they cannot cope with the pressure, stress and expectation of the situation they may say or do something inappropriate because they feel they must do something to move on from the situation. This is especially true in new or unprepared for situations and environments 

Just hearing the words correctly can be a problem for a person with AS. So many words coming at that from seemingly everywhere and none of them making any sense can put the AS person under intense pressure to perform so to speak. This can very often result in the mishearing of words and sentences with the response being an unexpected or inappropriate one to the NT recipient. Sometimes this can be laughed off as a bit of a joke, but even then for the AS person it can be a deeply embarrassing situation and again result in the perception that others think them stupid, thick or dumb. In these situations the AS person may remain silent from embarrassment or join in the joke and dumb down their intellectual behaviour to avoid embarrassment.

The third and sometimes the most damaging problem with issues of communication are assuming the level of natural ability an AS person has and that they can adopt this behaviour for different situations. When it is assumed that because a person appears to be NT and can function just like everybody else does, this leads to the assumption that they are like everybody else and can communicate much the same as a NT person. Whilst there are many instances when this does occur, this is because in the main the AS person has either prepared for this situation well in advance or has been through this situation many times before and has a prepared knowledge and expectation of what will happen. It is when this changes unexpectedly and the changes are not noted in advance to the AS person or if the situation is new in content and environment, that this can cause problems for them as detailed above about new or unprepared for situations.

What is most important here is to remember that the AS person has hidden disabilities and just because they are hidden does not make them any less debilitating to that person than someone with a seen disability. Remember that this person is trying their hardest to do their best in order to fit in to society and all the expectations that, that brings with it. In doing this they are attempting to analyse and process information in a way that overloads their brains very quickly and results in them feeling embarrassed and stupid. It is vital that the AS person is given the necessary time to analyse and process the information and that they are reassured that this extra time will not impact negatively on the outcome of the encounter.

Quite often this can result in instructions being repeated more times to an AS person than would be to a NT person, but this can also have the benefit of a deeper understanding of the instructions and far better work resulting from it. The opposite side of this is that the NT person may interpret this as a sign of not understanding when it is far from the case. It is in fact a case of ensuring instructions are understood beyond any doubt so that the AS person can then perform them to the utmost of their abilities time and time again without further need for instruction or supervision.

So please remember all the AS person wants is more time to process and analyse information and support and reassurance that this extra time will not impact on any outcomes from the encounter.

Monday, 14 July 2014


She dreams of physiognomist, phrenologist and Lavater

Filled within the Dome of the Pantheon

How she dwells in the devil in the detail

Interrupted only by Spurzheim

In the never ending quest for universal knowledge

Only the ill qualified speak

The intelligencer thinking abstract thoughts

Directed at an anomalous creature

That sits on the hill like a fool

Dash the nose of the man who doubts me!

The egotistical sky appeals to me

Where nothing different is exalted to Jove’s high seat

Because she Willemeana Roberta Gertrude Alice Jones

Is here forever trapped and consequently trapped forever

In this never ending labyrinth of neural neurons mile after mile after mile

Within the head of the leviathan

As it flies through the universe

Going from galaxy to galaxy

Eating knowledge

Thursday, 10 July 2014

The Pen of Emily Bronte

Here I lay, waiting in darkness

In eagerness and anticipation

Of my mistress taking me in her delicate fingers again

To move me from my place of rest

And open the lid on my wooden bedroom

Picking me up as gently as a new born baby

Moving me towards the light of the sun

My tip shining brightly, glistening in the morning rays

All of me quivering in expectation

Of being dipped, deep into the well

Of dark, oozing, indelible liquid

And all of a sudden I am in my finest black dress

Ready to do my mistresses bidding

Ready to be the one thing in the world

That transforms the thoughts in her head

That allows them to cascade and flow

From deep inside a universe of letters

To an outside world anticipating every word

As they soak up the imagination of my mistress

And words become images in their minds eye

Of a harsh, bleak moorland

Of a brutal, uncaring people

Of a passion intensely sexual, mixed with violence

And of a love never fulfilled in life

But maybe so in the afterlife on the wild moors

And in the imagination of the reader

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

With the news yesterday of the power of closure of hospitals being given to one person in this case the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt I wonder if this is a bright new future or the beginning of the end of the health system as we love and know it.,

Many if not all of us have grown up with the NHS and have used its services either as a first port of call for anything medical or in the unfortunate need of an emergency. I myself have used it many times and if it wasn't for the NHS there is no doubt that I would not be alive today. For me and most of the population the NHS is an example of what makes this country great and it instils a sense of national pride in our psyche when we hear or read those three letters. We have so much to be grateful for to the services it provides and the staff that run the hospitals and other functions within the NHS.

Yet yesterdays news is as we know todays fish and chip paper and the story has overnight dropped rapidly down the newsworthy list. But this does not mean it will go away. For the time being it is buried beneath other stories but it will return to the top once Hunt decides to save some cash and close a hospital.

But what would closing hospitals and saving money really mean for the people who matter most, that is the general public who use them and for whom the NHS is the only means of access to a health service, people who cannot afford to go private? In my own area Calderdale NHS is considering closing the accident and emergency at Calderdale Royal Hospital,, and transferring the service to Huddersfield. This could potentially mean journeys with an extra 30 minutes of time added on. Calderdale is a large area and some of the outlying areas are quite remote. For people in these areas an extra 30 minutes could mean life or death. And it is the same for people living in Halifax the main town in Calderdale and the surrounding areas. The main artery to Huddersfield can become very jammed at times of rush hour traffic, again increasing journey times to Huddersfield and again putting lives at risk. My point here is that if this was to be repeated around the country and hospitals were either shut down or services transferred to another hospital, what may look like a minimal journey on a map may in fact be quite lengthy in reality. By giving so much power to one person are we in-fact putting life or death decisions in their hands. Decisions that may be made on a cost basis without any consideration for lives? Is it morally and ethically correct to give one person so much responsibility? Can we trust them to make the right decisions and choices for people based on the matter of life or death, or will they merely make it on a cost basis without any regard for the human factor? For me this is a decision we should all be very worried about and care about as well. The MP's who voted through this legislation yesterday will not be affected by it I strongly suspect. They will have private medical insurance and access to the best medical facilities near them. If a hospital closes I doubt it will affect their health choices or chances. But for millions of others it will.

It also asks the question if this is the end of the NHS as we know it? Will we now see more and more services contracted out to private suppliers who are only interested in putting profit before care? will we see G4S, Serco and Capita beginning to slowly take over our hospitals with the ensuing cuts in staffing and services that will inevitably follow? If this does happen I am sure all the insurance companies will jump in with the necessary insurance needs? But can you truly cater for the multitude of physical and mental health conditions that permeate society today? Of course this does happen in other countries such as America and Australia where you need medical insurance to access services or face a huge bill. But would this work here and would our taxes drop because we all pay for the NHS through our taxes.

Of course the alternative scenario is that nothing at all will happen and the impact on the NHS will be minimal. All the rhetoric we are hearing is merely political scare mongering bearing in mind 2015 is an election year. No hospitals will close, disruption to services will be minimal and we will have a choice. High quality care provided quickly through private health providers or waiting and waiting to see someone on the NHS. Which is pretty much the scenario we have today!

I do apologise for rambling on but my main points are, have we put too much power in one persons hands and what of the future of the NHS? Only time will tell but it is a subject we should all be taking an interest in if we care about humanity in any way.



Monday, 10 March 2014

As I get older and hopefully wiser I begin to see life and people in a very different light. Sometimes it reminds me of Goffman and his theories on agency. I wonder if some of the people around me merely want me in their lives so that they feel better about theirs. Do they really listen to what they say and does how they come across with the performances they put on actually say more about them than they actually reveal? Are they putting a performance on for my benefit or their own? What insecurities and personal demons lie beneath their performances? I think it's time I started listening to some of the new people in my life and take less notice of those that have been there a long time but have hidden agendas I suspect.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

When does reality end and fantasy begin or is it one and the same?

The problem with modern life is no-one has time to catch up with it...........Andrew Smith 08/03/2014

Sunday, 2 March 2014

As a person with a hidden disability I often wonder if it is myself who defines my disability or is it society who defines it for me?

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The sensationalist Sun does it again

The sensationalist Sun does it again

Andrew Smith


Once again the Sun newspaper has come out with yet another sensationalist headline for the sake of selling more newspapers, rather than reporting in a rational way. This time it’s ‘1,200 killed by mental patients’. This is a headline that angers me greatly because I have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and according to this people may think that I have more potential to kill than someone who is not diagnosed with a mental health issue.

The problem with sensationalist journalism such as this is the good it undo’s in one fell swoop of the attempts by so many people to de-stigmatise mental health. This one headline has potentially stigmatised so many people as potential killers, when in fact these people are nothing of the sort.

How many people with mental health issues are going to be afraid again to speak about them to family, friends and work colleagues? How many people are going to be sat in a room all alone afraid and unable to speak about their feelings, emotions and fears to the very people who they should be able to speak to?

I often wonder if the people behind such headlines as this actually stop and think about the damage such a headline can do? Do they realise that a headline such as this has the potential to label, stigmatise and stereotype so many people and has the possibility to put back the image of mental health many, many years?

Mental health already has a bad image with a mental health issues labelled as a benefit scrounger, unemployable, untrustworthy and now a killer. One of the problems I have some days is just dealing with my own issues just to get through the day. This sensationalist reporting just adds to the issues that myself and many others like me have to deal with on a day to day basis by making me wary of who I can talk to and open up to for fear of being judged in a negative way.

But what can be done to combat this type of sensationalist reporting? Well in my opinion any headline that has the power to label, stigmatise and stereotype a certain section of people in society should be banned because these headlines may sell newspapers but they do far more harm than good. Secondly the figures should have some semblance of accuracy and not have been manipulated for the sake of an attention grabbing headline. Both offences should in my view carry at least a heavy fine with them and a full apology on the front page for the harm they have caused.

Here is a link to some responsible and accurate reporting on the same subject:

Sunday, 18 August 2013

O how they think they know me, understand me, comprehend me,
Yet how little they really know me,
I breath, I speak, I move,
Yet beyond that which they see,
How much do they know of me?
Do they know the doubt I feel?
The apprehension I cannot control?
The paranoia I fear?
The anger I supress?
The temper I must control?
I doubt they do...............
Yet these are the demons I face,
Day after day after day after day...................
And yet every day
I put on a smile
So false a child would see through it...................
And yet an adult does not....................
And this continues day after day after day......................
As I do......................................

Tuesday, 9 April 2013



My own memories of Thatcher are of losing school milk, riots, high unemployment, the miners strike, privatisation of industry and the poll tax amongst other things. She didn't believe in society but in the individual winning at all cost. And what do we have now? Ever raising fuel prices, food prices, mortgages. Bankers and others earning big fat wages and big fat bonuses even for failure. People only out for themselves and if you can't cope it's tough, a society full of selfishness not selflessness. And unfortunately Cameron is carrying on where Thatcher left off in creating the ultimate divided state where the haves live in luxury and the have not's in squalor yet no-one cares as long as they are alright. Whilst I will not revel in her death nor will I shed a tear nor mourn her passing. I believe she destroyed this country and made it worse.

Friday, 1 February 2013

I am me. I am a person with experiences, emotions, feelings and abilties. I am not a puppet of a system where I am i made to be a part of a mechanilistic state and made grateful for having had a university experice and told what to do and how to think at a higher level. I do not conform and never will do because I am me and I will never change being me. Don't you ever change either..........................Be yourselves because of who you are and not what the system dictates you should be..............................

Monday, 19 November 2012



A manifesto from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) was published today Monday, 19 November 2012 details of which are here:

The manifesto outlines ideas for a radical re-shaping of the current education curriculum in order to produce better more rounded students and to ensure that those at the top of the system and those at the bottom are given every opportunity to make the most of their talents and skills to ensure they have the best start to their adult life.

The Director General of the CBI, John Cridland, says that education today has become a conveyor belt of exam results and this does little for the young adults when they enter the world of the jobs market and that business leaders are worried that Britain is falling behind the rest of the world in the race to rebuild the economy and make Britain economical strong once again on the world stage.

Reading the articles from the Guardian and the BBC reveals some good ideas to move the education system onto another level but as with any manifesto it is not without its flaws.

Mr Cridland mentions producing young adults who were rounded and grounded but does not go beyond this to state what the CBI’s vision of a rounded and grounded person is. The manifesto suggest moving the goal posts for students with regards to taking exams and choosing subjects, when the leaving age is raised from 16 to 18 in 2015 with the emphasis on GCSE at age 18. But if this is done when will students take their A levels and what of the knock-on effect for universities? Would universities have a very small intake of students for two years whilst the school system re-organised itself or would universities have to lower their entrance requirements to ensure a steady flow of students?

The manifesto appears to concentrate on achieving good English and maths results which is a good thing but is this to be achieved at the expense of other subjects? And the manifesto appears to call for more emphasis to be put on life skills for students to enable them to be better prepared for life and work after school. Again no detail is given on what the CBI thinks is life skills but the danger here is that if some students don’t master these life skills at an early age they may very well be put off for life from mastering them and feel outcast from society because they have been taught that they don’t have the necessary skills to survive in society.

And once again how the universities would cope with an influx of students who have qualifications in various life skills but not many in academic subjects, would cope is brought into question. Will the universities need to change their entrance requirements to accommodate a new generation of students with different qualifications?

But the biggest question for me is just who will benefit from a generation of students who have excellent maths and English and have all the necessary skills for life? A quote from John Cridland on the BBC article reveals much:

 "Qualifications are important, but we also need people who have self-discipline and serve customers well. As well as academic rigour, we need schools to produce rounded and grounded young people who have the skills and behaviours that businesses want."

John Cridland (BBC 2012)

This to me clearly indicates that what the CBI are actually after is an education system that suits them and produces a different type of conveyor belt adults who from an early age are socialised to be a part of a system that wants people who will not question what their bosses say nor answer them back but will do what is asked of and required of them with the minimum of guidance.

They will have the necessary life skills to cope with whatever life throws at them and this will, in theory minimise the amount of time they take off work and will increase their productivity for their employers.

In essence what the CBI are wanting is a conveyor belt of young adults who are ready to serve the bosses and leaders of businesses unquestionably and who will devote all their time and energy to ensuring that these businesses make the most profits for their owners. In other words what the CBI want is a conveyor belt of robot workers who will make as much profit as possible for the owners of business.

Saturday, 10 November 2012



As children one of the first people we are taught to trust implicitly is our doctor or GP. My own personal experience and quite possibly the same experience as millions of others is that your doctor is a professional person beyond reproach and is accorded due reverence by everybody because of the hard training and invaluable skills they have. We rely on them for so much in our lives and put so much trust and faith in them that in some ways they can assume an almost mythical status whatever our status or position in life.

But the problem here is that we can forget that they are only human beings as we are and therefore are prone to the same flaws as we are. Over the years many doctors have been exposed as such Harold Shipman and Hawley Crippen to name but two. Yet this two people who committed horrific acts have done nothing to tarnish the reputation of doctors in the same way that the reputation of bankers has been tarnished because of the economic meltdown of a few years ago.

So while we put doctors on a pedestal from which there is virtually no chance of them being knocked off, we also tend to forget that they are only human. When one of them is exposed for being something else they are a rotten apple in amongst an orchard of perfection. The reliance we have on them to keep us going both physically and mentally is immense and for this reason we put so much faith and trust in them.

However what happens when you feel that your trust and faith has been broken? What happens when the one person you have put all your faith and trust in over many, many years lets you down, even if it’s only in your eyes?

Do you lose all trust and faith in doctors and the medical system? Do you believe that you have come across one rotten egg and they are not all bad? Or do you try and put it all behind you and hope that your trust and faith in doctors will eventually be restored in time?

Of course there is no definitive answer to this question as there are too many personal and complex factors involved and each and every loss of trust and faith is different for each individual.

But maybe if we lower our expectations of doctors we won’t feel as let down when our trust and faith is broken. And then maybe our childhood expectations of doctors that have been instilled since an early age won’t end up being just shattered dreams.

Sunday, 14 October 2012



The recent success of disabled athletes at the Paralympic games has done much to change the public’s perception of disabled people and show them in a positive light and focus on what they can do and not portray disabled people as a bunch of lazy good for nothing benefit scroungers who will do anything to avoid a day’s work.

But how did we get to a point where disabled people are vilified and attacked in the media and in the street and have become in some people’s eyes the reason for much of the country’s problems.

In this blog I will touch briefly on why I feel we have got to this point and what may happen in the future. I will add now that I am myself disabled with a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome and waiting for results from an MRI scan for brain damage.

Where to start? Well the recent financial crisis has a lot to do with it. People seemed to have a free rein in how they dealt with other people’s money and who they lent it too without much regard as to how this money was going to be paid back. These people had and more than likely still have tremendous power and influence not only financially but politically as well. This resulted in the bankers taking a lot of flak and blame in the media for a time but most people knew this media attack wouldn’t last and so the government where faced with who to blame next as necessary budget cuts are implemented.

The previous government is an obvious and predictable target but even that target is unsustainable in the long term because you can only blame what has happened in the past for so long because people will lose confidence in you as you reel out the same story time after time and wonder if you are all talk and no action.

So a scapegoat is needed but whom? Immigrant’s and ethnic minorities are out because of accusations of racism. Women are out because of gender discrimination. Both subjects are highly charged and could result in lawsuits and a government collapse with the loss of so many voters that the damage done could be beyond repair.

As in the past with Margaret Thatcher’s government the easy target is people on welfare benefits. The main reasons for this as I see it are because people on welfare benefits are often poorly educated, have little or no influence, are more likely to suffer from mental health issues and drug and alcohol problems. People seen at the bottom of society may well have had a very different upbringing to other classes of people which can have an immense influence on how someone’s outlook on life and their life chances.

So the disabled are at the moment an easy target for the government because so many disabilities are hidden such as mental health problems and those with visible disabilities have many people have been find guilty of defrauding the system and taking many thousands of pounds they were not entitled too. But the problem is that every single disabled person has now been tarred with the same brush and is seen by many people because of the media and political attack on them as simply work shy and living an amazing lifestyle at the taxpayer’s expense.

Now any rational and sensible person with an ounce of intelligence knows that this is simply not true but to many people who believe what they read and hear in the media as gospel truth they believe this and now feel that they have a valid reason to attack the disabled. The sorry truth is that the problems of the disabled will not simply vanish overnight and all of a sudden they can return to work. Things may very well get worse because of this unwarranted attack on the disabled.

But where does this leave the disabled? Are we going to see disabled people stopping in their homes afraid to go out for fear of attack? People will mental health problems may find their condition gets worse because of all this and may see suicide as the only way out. Or will they be admitted to hospital and put in the care of social services putting even further strain on an already overstretched system? Are we living in a society that is happy to see a whole class of people simply dumped and forgotten about simply because of a government’s ideology? I hope my worst fears do not come true but unfortunately I feel that they might.

Sunday, 29 July 2012



Reflecting on events, issues and my direction in life is something I do very often. Sometimes I wonder if I do it too often and get too deep in my thoughts and lose my focus when I get too deep in my reflections and the thoughts in my mind overwhelm me and my mind becomes overloaded with thoughts, ideas, theories and situations that fly around my mind at lightning speed. Some of these thoughts mingle and merge with other thoughts, others merely flash in my mind for a split second and are gone before they have had time to register in any meaningful manner.

My reflections have recently become more focused in their initial manifestations and far less random. This has helped me enormously and enabled me to at least have a mind overloaded with relevant thoughts rather than irrelevant, abstract thoughts. This for me at least means I have more time and more mental ability to focus on any issues I have in my life.

But what are these issues? Well the first one concerns my potential ‘brain damage’. The MRI scan was done some weeks ago now and the results are now through. That at least is the good news. Unfortunately and understandably my GP does not have the necessary specialist knowledge required to interpret them and I am now waiting for an appointment to see a neurologist to get an accurate interpretation of the scan and to decide what the next step is. I have a gut feeling that this issue will go on for some time because my GP has stated that the neurologist will also be looking at my past medical history covering the time since I had the original cancer. This is around 23 years so there is a lot of notes and history to go through. To be honest I am trying not to give it too much thought as the whole situation is incredibly complex and giving it too much thought will not get me anywhere.

The next issue is my impending return to university. Incredibly despite my not putting in too much effort I still managed to pass my first year, although I feel I was given the ‘benefit of the doubt’ on some subjects. However I have realised that I will not be able to do the same this year and I need to ‘up my game’ so to speak if I am to do as well as I am told I can do by my peers. To this end I have purchased some books on ‘critical thinking’ as I feel this is an area in which I need to improve and reading them is opening my mind up to new ways of thinking and new possibilities.

Another issue which is constantly on my mind at the moment is how I can improve my general well-being and ensure that I feel at my best more often and for longer. This ties in with my potential brain damage as this has a tremendous effect on my day to day life and what I can and cannot do. For example fatigue has an immense impact on my day to day life and can hit me at any-time. I am now learning to recognise the signs of when fatigue is hitting me and managing it far better. And in my day to day life I am giving myself more time to do jobs I have to do and for relaxing as well by breaking everything down into smaller and more manageable chunks which has had a beneficial effect for me.

All in all despite having these issues I feel that I am in a far better place than I was at this time last year. I still have problems with anxiety, stress and coping with pressure but they are improving all the time. I am looking forward to the future with renewed confidence and vigour and I am looking forward to my second year at university and building on my knowledge and experience.

Monday, 18 June 2012



Life has a way of throwing up many different situations for us to deal with and whilst they are inevitably different for each and every one of us they are also 100% important to us because it is us as individuals that have to deal with our life situations and my latest situation is one of the most interesting but important ones that I have yet faced.
As many of you may know I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in October 2008 and for me it was a brand new start and a chance for me to learn about myself and others and to have a deeper understanding of myself and for life to have meaning for me and far less questions.

In between getting the diagnosis and this point in my life so much has happened and I have achieved so much. I have done two successful years at Bradford College and have one successful year at Huddersfield University under my belt. I have learnt so much about life and people and in the process have become a far more knowledgeable person and a far better person in the process.
However despite all this progress I still felt that there were many unanswered questions about myself but because of the progress I had made and the answers I had found I was content to accept that not all of life’s questions could be answered and so carried on trying to make the most of my life.

For the past six months I have been seeing a clinical psychologist for cognitive behaviour therapy and this has been helping me to understand how others behave and why. It was during one of my appointments that a whole new chapter in my life opened up.
It all started when I got back in contact with an old school friend who had surgery last year for a brain tumour and is now making a full recovery. However he told me that he had, had to finish work and had, had major personality changes. This resonated with me because when I was 21 I had testicular cancer which was very advanced when it was found and had spread to my lungs and brain resulting in seven secondary tumours in my brain. At the time I had chemotherapy treatment which was successful and I never gave it a second thought until recently.

I mentioned this to my psychologist and immediately she said that it made more sense for me to have suffered from brain damage due to the tumours than to have Asperger’s Syndrome. Because of this I did some research of my own into brain damage on and discovered that because the brain is so soft and complex it is very easily damaged and brain tumours whether primary or secondary can cause brain damage depending on where they are located in the brain.
As I have researched further into the after effects of brain damage I am beginning to feel that many of my mental health issues are a result of brain damage from the tumours rather than any other issues. Even though the brain injury is only mild the repercussions from it and at least moderate. On their own the mental health issues I have may not cause many problems. However as my psychologist has explained to me it is far more common to have multiple mental health issues resulting from brain tumours especially because of the number I had.

So now I set off on yet another exciting journey of self-discovery. I am awaiting an appointment for an MRI scan to find out if the structure of my brain has been damaged and I need to see my doctor about getting a psychological assessment from a neuropsychologist. I am reflecting and analysing on my past and especially my present mental health and behaviour. But most importantly I am remaining positive and confident for the future because I have a truly amazing opportunity to learn about myself and why I am the way I am, but I also have the opportunity to change myself and my behaviour for the better and contribute more to society.

Saturday, 9 June 2012



We live in an amazing age of information and technology. Never before has society had access to so much information and all at our fingertips through an increasingly diverse range of technology ranging from smartphones to the now ubiquitous personal computer (PC).

But are we now entering an age of information overload where we actually have too much information and so much of it can be conflicting even when it is written by academics and professionals. Another major issue arises when accessing information on the internet as anybody can write anything and claim to be an expert and done the necessary research when in fact they have done nothing and are not as expert as they may claim to be.

Before the age of the PC and the internet people relied on books for information on many subjects. This was very often a time consuming project and required a high level of knowledge and intelligence which much of society did not have access to. As a result much of the written information can be relied upon to be factually correct and to a high standard, although it must be stressed that some academic work is very much disputed but again this is out in the academic domain so as an individual it is easy to see both sides of the argument.

In the 21st century we can now access so much information, so easily and readily, on so many different platforms, it can be very easy to become overloaded by the amount of information available and where and how to access it all. Information is now streamed to us 24/7 via the radio, television and internet in addition to the more traditional methods of leaflets, magazines, newspapers and books.

Is it any wonder then that in today’s 21st century society people are more confused than ever being bombarded with so many different messages about the same subject? Opinions are formed on a subject based on information read or heard through one media medium. These opinions are then made public through friends, work colleagues and peers and the opinions that someone thinks has been carefully researched and constructed can be torn apart in a matter of seconds because someone else has used a different source of information to form a very different opinion.

So it is back to the drawing board to trawl through an ever increasing mass of information that we are confronted with on a daily basis, trying to decide what is fact and what is fiction, what is true and what is a lie, who we can believe and who we cannot and who and what is reliable and who and what is not.

Never before has it been so difficult to sort through and decide what we can trust and believe in and in all probability it will only become more problematic in the future as more information is added and more opinions are voiced and we can access all this via an ever increasing variety of platforms and media. Yes we all have to be very careful when looking through all the information available to us but it can also be an amazingly rich and powerful journey as long as we treat all information with the respect it deserves until we know otherwise.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012



My first year at Huddersfield University is over and it has been a very interesting and eventful year for me and I have learnt a lot.

Before I do go any further I will say that the learning experience at Huddersfield University has been amazing and the support I have received from the lecturers and support staff has been outstanding and without it I doubt if I would have completed my first year at university.

I have learnt a lot, not just about the subject I am studying sociology but about myself more than anything. I believe that I have the intelligence and skill set required to succeed at university and beyond, yet I do have problems with self-belief and confidence. It is this more than anything else that could prevent me from succeeding and self-destructing. Hopefully over the summer break I can give this some much needed thought on my part and instil in myself the self-belief I will need to get me through the next two years of university.

Reading appropriate academic material is another area where I need to vastly improve in order to obtain better grades. This will also improve my referencing as this has let me down enormously this year and this area more than any other is the one I need to improve in.

By doing this I believe I will resolve several issues at once including the problem of self-belief and lack of confidence.

Another problem area I have identified is time. All too often this year I have made miscalculations in how much time to devote to my studies, how much I can get accomplished in any given time period and when I need to get my work in for. I do have problems with the concept of time and very often time just passes me by without me actually realising it.

Because of this over the summer I need to read more about study skills and writing academically in order to prepare myself better for my second year at university.

The only issue I have myself with the teaching is of some disparity in the some of the grades I have received. However I shall be investigating this further myself and ensuring that the marks I receive are broadly consistent with all tutors.

All in all it has been a very enjoyable and interesting year and I am looking forward to my second year at university immensely.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012



At one time or another many of us have experienced a bad nights sleep and maybe for a couple of days after it affects us until we get back to our normal sleeping pattern. However for some people myself included having a bad nights sleep, night after night after night is just part of life and something I have learned to come to terms with and accept that this is a part of my life and something that I cannot change whatever I try.

One of the first questions I try and answer is when did this sleeping pattern start? For me it is when I was in my early twenties. Late nights, alcohol and who knows what else has contributed to my current sleeping patterns. I do remember times when I would go to sleep as soon as I went to bed and woke up the next morning feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead. I look back on these days with immense fondness the same as someone would look back with fondness on a holiday.

Now I have to sleep whenever I can. It is most difficult during the night. My mind is alive although my body is tired and thoughts are running through my mind at a million miles per hour but the body has no energy and it is this that I call the twilight zone. Just laid there staring at the ceiling or listening to classical music. I may read a book and the tiredness begins to set in the light goes off and it is a return to the twilight zone once again.

Normally I get to sleep between 4.00am and 6.00am. At this present time in my life it is not usually a problem for me because I am at university and right now I am on my summer break. If I was working it would be a very different matter as it has proved in the past. Going to bed early and not being able to sleep then lying awake worrying that you will not be awake in time for work is a recipe for disaster. In the past I have managed an hours sleep a night at times but no one can carry on living like that for ever.

So at the moment my sleep patterns have a minimal impact on my life. But they still have an impact on my life. If I get up reasonably early say around 10.00am I may have had six hours sleep maximum and I then find it difficult to fully function properly throughout the day. If I get up later I may well feel better but I am disappointed because I have missed half the day. It is a vicious circle that plays on my mind 24/7 never knowing what to do for the best.

In the end I end up going through the day half asleep and grabbing a couple of hours whenever I can. I fit in what I can such as going to the gym, shopping, study and other activities when I can and not when society expects me too. It can and does make life difficult at times but in the end what can I do?

Wednesday, 18 April 2012



Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Have you ever seen the original ‘Star Trek’? If you have you will remember the character Dr Spock. Dr Spock was famous for the line “that is illogical captain” usually uttered when some form of human behaviour completely mystified Dr Spock and he could not grasp the logic behind the act because most of the time there was no logic to grasp. But although Dr Spock is pure science fiction just how much of his behaviour is actually science fact?
Since the original Star Trek the study of human behaviour has moved forward immensely in many different areas particularly in the areas of developmental conditions which include the conditions Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. Now as many of you know I have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome so I can offer an insight into what it is like to be at the extreme of logical living in an illogical world.

So how does this affect me? Well for a lot of the time it does not affect me. When I am at home studying university work or doing housework or shopping being logical is not a problem. This is because I can plan and structure my activities on my own in my own logical way and analyse them as I go along with having minimal contact with other people. For someone with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) this in many ways is an ideal way to live life because daily life can be structured in the unique logical manner that the individuals mind-set operates in and time can be taken over tasks so that the need to analyse every single little detail can also be satisfied.

The problems arise when people who do not have an ASD become involved in the Autistic person’s life. Obviously this cannot be avoided. There are many people in the world who have not got an ASD to avoid and too many situations in life that cannot be avoided in order to make life more comfortable for the person with an ASD.

But how can being logical present so many problems to the individual with an ASD? Surely everybody has problems understanding logic at some point and everybody behaves in an illogical manner from time to time. Why would this behaviour cause an individual with an ASD any more problems than an atypical individual?

Understanding what an ASD is, is the first part of the puzzle. Having an ASD very often means your feelings, emotions, behaviour and understanding of people and society are at the very extremes. Imagine extreme sports. People jump out of aeroplanes for fun, but some people jump out of aeroplanes attached to a bicycle, on a skateboard or even naked. Living with an ASD is very similar to extreme sports except that you have no choice whereas the person undertaken extreme sports does.

So for me an example is I may meet up with a friend who then says that they would like to meet up again and soon. No time and date is set though. So in my mind-set it is entirely logical to wait a day and contact the other person and discuss a time and place to meet.  However when this does not happen is when I start to have problems. I start to analyse the situation in great detail wondering if I have done anything wrong and if so what? How long is long enough? How soon is soon? Are they busy? Do they really want to meet up? This and a million other questions go through my mind as I analyse the situation and try and apply logic to a situation that is largely illogical because human nature is unpredictable and illogical.

But however much I try to see it in a different, illogical way my mind will not let me and I go back to trying to analysing the situation, putting a structure to it and applying logic to it however unsuccessful it may be. It causes me endless problems, sleepless nights, life can stop at that point, but how do you change the way your mind works from being extremely logical to understand and appreciating illogical thought? For me it is very difficult. It is very hard to change the way your mind is wired up and just as difficult to change your mind-set however much you would like to. I have come to appreciate my abilities and to make the most of them. However I still have problems which although getting easier to cope with and understand can still cause my life to go on hold whilst I deal with them in my own very unique way.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012



Sunday, 01 April 2012

Another tumultuous week for the government and its citizens with yet more allegations for the government to deal with. Panic buying at petrol stations across the country and George Galloway returning to politics with victory in the Bradford West by-election. But one story stood out to me this week and set me thinking about how we in society deal with responsibility. The story is one most of you will be familiar with, it is of a York woman. Diane Hill who suffered 40% burns after de-canting petrol in her kitchen whilst the cooker was on:

and this has seen calls for the Cabinet Officer minister Francis Maude to resign over advice he issued telling the public to stock up on petrol in jerry cans.

Now I will firstly say that in no way am I going to say that what Diane Hill suffered was not horrific and I am not going to make a joke out of the accident because it is not a joke. What concerns me is where the blame of who is responsible for this accident lies and who is to blame.

But where does the blame for this accident lie and who with? Is it right to blame a government minister, who admittedly gave out wrong information, but would also assume that anybody taking this advice would use some common sense and when dealing with petrol would do so in a room that is well ventilated and away from lit flames.

Surely the blame and responsibility for this accident lies with the individual who was de-canting petrol in her kitchen, on a warm day and whilst the cooker was on? To myself the individual in this instance has to take the blame for their actions and any responsibility for the aftermath of this horrific accident.

My reasoning behind this is in my early socialisation. I was brought up in an era when you did take responsibility for your actions and if you hurt yourself, as I did many times as a young child, then it was my fault and nobody else’s. If I fell over and cut myself because I was running, then surely it is my fault that has happened and not the fault of my parents, the police, the council, the government of anybody else, and I feel that the same applies here. The information giving out was only on storing and not on de-canting petrol. The woman doing the de-canting should have used some common sense as to where to do it.

But to get back to my original point and where the blame lies with this accident, to be fair to the woman we haven’t heard anything from her as of yet and therefore do no know where she feels the blame lies. The accusations so far have come from Labour politicians, so it could also be assumed that the woman is merely a pawn in a far larger political game of points scoring and one-upmanship, and the accident may have happened anyway because we do not enough about her or her lifestyle and it just happened at the right time for the warring political parties.

And this seems to be endemic in the society we are living in today. Rather than people taking responsibility for their own actions first, people look to blame others be it friends, colleagues, government and even nature for anything that happens to them these days, instead of looking at themselves first and saying “what did I do wrong?”

Is it any wonder we seem to live in a society that is so selfish and people are out to simply get what they can? The rise of Claims Management companies who will get you money because you didn’t take the necessary precautions to ensure that you and the equipment you are using are safe and up to standard is symptomatic of this society we are creating. And now politicians are getting involved by insinuating that we can now blame pretty much anyone, however tenuous the link, to any mishap we have. Does this mean that if you have a crash on the motorway you can now blame the Highways Agency? Or if you go too fast round a corner in wet conditions and crash into a tree, you can now blame your local council for not predicting this situation and removing the tree?

I firmly believe that people need to take more responsibility for their own actions and not look for others to blame when something goes wrong. By taking responsibility lessons will be learned and passed on to the next generation rather than turning to Claims Management companies and looking to pass the blame.

All comments and opinions in this blog are entirely my own. Please feel free to add your own comments and ask questions.

Thank you for reading my blog J

Tuesday, 27 March 2012




Sunday, 25 March 2012

Another week and another government scandal, this time about ‘cash for access’ to influential government officials including the Prime Minister the Rt Hon David Cameron.

But this will not be a surprise to most people. Politics has always been tarnished by stories of scandal and corruption, but with the development of media technology these stories are coming faster and in more depth than ever before. And this gives people the opportunity to scrutinise the details more than ever and make their own judgement on the stories.

But what is particular worrying about this latest scandal is not the fact that people donate to the Conservative Party, but just how much influence they have had on the policies of Britain?

Government policies affect every person who lives in Britain and the current coalition government was elected in a democratic election to run this country for the people. However reading into this story it would appear that having a vast bank account can get you access to the very people who decide on policy and can even enable you to influence those policies.

So who is running the country? It would now appear that whoever is elected the people have little or no influence on government policy and the government will push through policies whether the people like it or not. This I suspect would apply equally to any party in government. So the government try and make the best possible policies for this country and run it in the most democratic manner possible.

However this latest scandal now tests this last statement very strongly. With recent policies heavily leaning towards business it does beg the question just who is pulling the strings at No 10 Downing St and making decisions that affect each and every one of us at some level or another.

In education, the NHS even the police force there had been rumours that more and more private companies will be invited to tender their services to run parts of these public services and being a private company they will be in it to make profit first and foremost. But have the owners of these companies been invited to dinner at No 10 to meet the Prime Minister and obtain very valuable government contracts? Are these people going there to further their own careers and fortunes at the expense of the British taxpayer?

It is now well known that Rupert Murdoch had considerable influence on both New Labour and the coalition before the phone hacking scandal came to light. Surely it is inconceivable to think that Murdoch was the only person to have this access and influence? We can only assume that many others that the public do not know about will have had the same access and influence that Rupert Murdoch and Murdoch was only the tip of the iceberg.

This latest scandal is very worrying for all of us in Britain. Not that a government has been found out because they nearly always are, not that it is yet another scandal in a long line of scandals, but because it raises the very important question of who really runs Britain? Who really wields the power, who pulls the strings, who has the most influence over government policy? It now appears it is not the general public if it ever was, but the governments power and influence is now called into question as well.

Are the people who run Britain the ones elected to power or the ones with the deepest pockets?

All comments and opinions in this blog are entirely my own. Please feel free to add your own comments and ask questions.

Thank you for reading my blog J