90 Days and More

Today marks the day of the 3rd month since Dale asked me…

3 months. Gosh. 3 months is such a small space of time yet it seems ages ago since Dale and I were eating Ice Cream and we made it official (we had been ‘getting to know each other’ for a about a month). I have learned so much about him in the last 3 months, and even more in the last 6-8 months of knowing him. So, for this post, I thought maybe I could share each memorable moment that Dale and I share together (be prepared, there’s quite a few).


– December 2014 –

I come home from Uni for the Christmas holidays and Mum tells me about this guy who is finding it hard at my local church because of being deaf. Because I know sign, mum wants me to start hanging out with him so he can feel more included.

Said guy is Dale and I start talking and I buy him this 20% more awesome Christmas Present.


– February 2015 –

Dale and I had been talking on Facebook next to 24/7 on Facebook Messenger and he sent me a picture of him looking rather dapper in smart wear. I ask “Oooo, who you trying to impress?” Dale replied with “In this instance you, I’m serving at the church’s women’s event”. 

Dale then sent another message, “and for future reference, I always trying to impress you!” I was making pancakes at the time and nearly burned myself from his ultimate cuteness. 

Dale also bought me my very first Comic Book Volume of my favourite ‘Non-Superpowered’ Hero; Green Arrow. He also bought a Build-a-Bear Toothless Dragon (which now resides in my car so it is with me wherever I go). Oh, did I mention I was a fanatic about dragons?? Haha.


– 28th February 2015 –

Dale and I went for lunch at Ed’s Diner in town. He took me to his favourite shops in town (Comic Stores) and we went for Coffee at his favourite Café (which is now my favourite). He did try to find out what shops I like, but because I don’t really like shopping that much, he quickly discovered that I don’t have one. 

In a t-shirt store he bought me a Panda T-shirt and I buy myself my second Comic Book (Volume 2) of the DC Comic series ‘Showcase Justice League of America’.


– March 2015 –

Dale and I continued talking and I introduced him to my friend who is into one of the things Dale is. Dale asked me out to dinner for when I was back home (at this time, I’m actually living two hours away). 

Also, Dale is approved for the Cochlea Implant, which is great news, so I gave him information about the scale of how pickly a pickle is.  


– 21st March 2015 –

Dale got dressed up and picked me up to go to a rather fancy Italian restaurant. We ordered olives for a starter, which we learned still has their pips in, making it stupidly ungraceful to eat them. I can’t 100% remember what I had for main course, but all I do know is that the waiter was very attentive (in a good way). For pudding I had a very nice chocolate pudding which was to die for. We then walked around the Marina in which the restaurant was in, laughing and joking until we found a taxi. The taxi dropped me home and Dale walked me to my door. We agreed to do another date and Dale got in the taxi and goes home. 


– 29th March 2015 –

Dale and I went to town for ice cream, and while eating and walking, Dale asked whether we should make this an official thing. After getting anti-bac wipes and cleaning our hands, we then went to Bluebird Tea Co. (Dale’s favourite Tea Shop) where he introduced me as ‘girlfriend’ (I melt). We went home (my house) and announced on Facebook we’re together which some people had already figured, others surprised. 


– 6th April 2015 –

We cooked Lasagna from scratch together.


– 16th April 2015 –

Dale cooked me food.


– 25th April 2015 –

Our good friends FINALLY get engaged.


– 28th April 2015 –

Dale took a step and lit a candle in his flat (he doesn’t like fire). He also bought me flowers which were gorgeous. We cooked Chicken Korma together and we cooked too much.


– 29th April 2015 –

I bought Dale Peppa and George Pig and a new Bow Tie (his old one went to heaven). 


– 4th May 2015 –

We took a trip to Dunelm Mill (big big big store), and then locked my keys in my car. Which was great considering my phone was also locked in the car. A nice man from Kwik Fit broke into my car for free for me rescuing me and Dale from the Dunelms Car Park.

Dale booked a table at Terre e Terre (á la carté restaurant) and bought me more flowers. It was very lavish, also very wet in the sense of Dale didn’t bring a coat and got his nice suit all wet. I could stop laughing.


– 10th May 2015 –

We finally got the Monopoly out and played a game. We decided it’s a tie because Dale did his maths wrong. 


– 20th May 2015 –

I found out that Dale blew a raspberry at work, which is a thing I do. Conclusion – I’m rubbing off on Dale.


– 23rd May 2015 –

EUROVISION… Sweden won… again. Oh, and I convert Dale to take-away Pizza.


– 31st May 2015 –

I met Dale’s Auntie who is really awesome.


– 5th June 2015 –

Dale and I went to the Pub… and Dale used too much mustard. 


– 7th June 2015 –

Dale and I went on a road trip to Portsmouth, but Dale isn’t happy that we didn’t get the train. 


– 9th June 2015 –

Dale cooked us Stir Fry, and it was really good.


– 13th June 2015 –

We cooked PIZZA!!! And burned Garlic Bread.


– 16th June 2015 –

Dale finally got the date for his Cochlea Implant (16th July).


– 24th June 2015 –

We started this blog to share our normal adventures.


– 28th June 2015 –

We went to a little tea room which we’ve been eyeing up for a few weeks. It was very British.


– 29th June 2015 –

THREE MONTH ANNIVERSARY


It’s been 3 amazing months of Dale, and I’m looking forward to the next few months/years/forevers with him. Thank you for being part of this adventure and we hope you will stay with us for the rest of it.

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Socialising 101: The Aspie Way

Hi again, Dale here.

It was interesting reading Alli’s thoughts on yesterdays BBQ. We hadn’t really discussed it, so it hadn’t occurred to me to make any kind of connection between the face painting and a kind of, “I’ll hide behind this so I don’t have to talk to people”. Now when that happens, I’ll hopefully recognise it and help Alli be more sociable – as long as she’s okay with that challenge.

It’s quite good to know I can help her and it’s not just one way.

A lot of people might think Aspie’s are antisocial, and it’s worth noting that I can kind of see why. We retreat into our own little world sometimes. When I used to visit my grandparents in London, my family would engage in animated conversation with them, and I would just play chess on my Nintendo DS, or read a book. I was told numerous times that this was antisocial, but I never could understand why. I still don’t know why it’s antisocial…. surely if I can’t contribute to a discussion, I can just do something else right? Seems perfectly logical to me. I still do this today. When I’m in the pub with Alli and my parents, I’ll play around with my phone while the rest chat amongst themselves.

Can I just note here that I am profoundly Deaf as well as autistic, so that is definitely a contributing factor.

But Aspies aren’t always like that. For a start – not all Aspies are the same. Some of us are extremely outgoing. And it’s something I’m trying harder to do. But I’ll focus on my own experience as it’s not the case with me, really.

It all depends on two things: Who am I talking to? and What am I talking about?

There are people in my life I feel comfortable talking about virtually anything with. Not many, I could probably count them on one hand. Alli is one, but I shall refrain from mentioning others. I could talk about themselves, or the weather, or what they did, small talk or the big important stuff, and most things in between. It’s not necessarily that I love or even like these people any more than the rest of my friends, just that I feel safe in their company, and I feel I have an avid interest in the details of their lives. Compare this to some others, who – and this is horrible – I have almost no interest at all in their daily lives, their past story, or their future aspirations. I can engage in small talk, but in all honesty, I’m probably trying hard to think of an escape route. If I want to avoid conversation full stop, I might get out a guitar from nearby and noodle about on it for a while.

Lesson #1: There’s often a guitar SOMEWHERE…. Child-size guitars are still guitars

…It’s not quite the same as Alli and the face painting kit, but is it not similar? It’s not only Aspies!

If someone is in the middle ground, I can talk but really, I only want to talk about something I’m into. It’s a well known trait in Aspies: The Monologue. Get one of us talking – heck, we’ll start it for you – and it’ll be a good while before it occurs to us that the other person has almost no interest whatsoever on the subject. Trains, chess, comics, computers, physics and theology are all key topics with me, and I’m sure I incessantly bore people around me with some or all of these on a regular basis, even without knowing.

But while this is a part of my Aspergers, and I’m not ashamed to be an Aspie…

It’s not a disorder.

…it’s still something that I should probably change. So like Alli, I need to take steps. At the BBQ, I deliberately left Alli for some moments a couple of times to go mingle…. unsuccessfully somewhat, but it’s a start.

So if you know an Aspie, help them out. Talk to them, listen to their monologues, but also gently push them to talk about other issues. But be respectful. If they don’t want to talk, it’s not nice to force them.

There’s another topic here: stimulation overload, and social burnout, but I shall perhaps leave that for another entry.

Monologuing!

To learn to Run

He talks about making himself better, but there’s a mansion of room for improvement in myself too…

I’m a self proclaimed introvert. I like my own bubble and when things get heavy or hectic, I escape to a place with the least amount of people. People think I’m weird because I feel most comfortable in a dark room. When I was living in University Dorms/Accommodation, my roommates would often find me doing work or doing stuff on my laptop in the dark. Okay… I admit. I am actually really weird.

When at socials (before I met Dale), if my parents were there, I would stick around them. I wouldn’t purposefully walk up to someone and strike up a conversation. In fact, I still don’t. I have friends and people who I feel comfortable talking to, but even then I won’t make a ‘b-line’ for them. For the last two years, I feel like I’ve more fallen into my friendships then actually put myself out there. I think this is why most of my friends tend to be close friends because we seem to have a mutual want to be around each other, and I become comfortable in just walking up to them, give them a hug, and chat about what the most obscure things on earth.

Yesterday, Dale and I went to a birthday BBQ together yesterday, I did my normal thing of not mingling with the people who I know and they know me. In fact, I retreated into my comfort zone of opening up my face painting kit, which brought people to me rather then me to them (I put myself out there about having my face painting kit with me which people then told me to get out). It’s not that I’m not comfortable at socials, I just feel sometimes that I’m imposing on people.

So I sat with Dale and only really talked with Dale. At first, I thought it maybe  was because I felt that I needed to not make him feel left out, which of course is stupid. I don’t think there was really anybody there who we didn’t know and who didn’t know us.  But then I realised that actually, it was all me. It was because of my above reasons.

So if your one of people at the BBQ last night and you’re reading this, I’m really sorry if I came across unsociable. 

This is something need to work on. Whether it be engaging with a old friend or a new friend in a full conversation, and not leaving up to the other person to keep the conversation going or actually walking up to someone and asking how their week has been. In fact, my mum has set me the task of at a social of practising with one person to start myself getting comfortable with it.

When Dale talks about getting better with things that he does, for example his OCD, I say to him ‘baby steps’. The notion is that he deals with smaller things first, then move on to slightly bigger things and slowly he will get better. And he has. Even with the smaller things like eating a raw mushroom. Sometimes, when the step is just too big for him to make at that point, I’ll just deal with the issue (if it’s an issue I can deal with, like cleaning something).

I need to apply this ethic to myself. Like my parents said last night, “It’s okay keep telling Dale ‘Baby Steps’, but it becomes void if you don’t do it yourself”. So, instead of only socials, I’m going to try and step it up a notch. Once every week, I’m going to try and go for coffee with someone. I think, this way, it will put me in a situation in which I will socialise with someone, and increasing my own social circles.

I love seeing Dale and Me grow and become stronger together, but I think we each also need to become stronger as our own person.

We need to learn to walk,
Before we run.


 In other news…

I’ve now started a new job which I am loving a lot. So far I’ve learned how not to make a decent pint of Carling (it frothed all the way up). I’m also trying to learn their order taking system, which is very complicated and (in my opinion) stupidly organised. It’s a guessing game on what the customer wants and what it is actually called on the system. I also have to remember the deals and the things that don’t run in conjunction with those deals. I have to remember the system of doing things. I also have to remember numerous of deserts, which I have to make. Luckily the billing/money taking is a lot simpler.


Sensitivity doesn’t mean Disability

Firstly, I would like to thank the massive support Dale and I feel right now about this blog. It’s very encouraging to know so many people are reading, loving and encouraging us for more, and we will hopefully oblige abundantly, even two days in.
We are excited to even hear it’s reaching NT’s who are parents of young AS’s. We hope we will embolden your hopes and dreams for your young Aspie’s.


Setting new limits for each other is part of a healthy relationship…

Part of being in a relationship and growing together is knowing what each other are comfortable with. As I previously said in my last post ‘It’s who I am (Full Stop)’, Dale and I have set Physical Boundaries which keep us physically moral to ourselves, each other and to our Christian Faith. It stops us from moving to quickly, making the other person feel uncomfortable or pressured and inevitably trapped in the vicious cycle of a ‘[Purely] Physical Relationship’.

Setting these boundaries are healthy for both of us, both spiritually and non-spiritually. I remember years ago (I think I was about 14 years old) I made a promise to myself to keep my body mine until marriage. Yes, I was Christian at that time but I wouldn’t have considered myself a devout believer. So, it was more just a personal decision rather then one influenced by my belief. Hard to believe? It was my mum who actually inset this into me. I’ve always grown up with the morality of ‘If you don’t see yourself marrying him don’t date him‘. Now, of course I’ve dated or been interested in other men. That’s a natural and good thing to do. But eventually we saw that we weren’t right for each other and went our separate ways. ‘But you’re only 20. What experience could you possibly have?’ Not much, however, enough to know what kind of man I’m looking for in a partner. So I credit my high self-morals to my parents – BIG TIME!

Being a young female humanism, and being very self conscious about my body and how I look, some of my boundaries factor in this insecurity. For example, I’ve asked Dale that if he feels uncomfortable with what I wear (which isn’t often as my clothes are normally vetted by my dad) or if he likes what I wear, but doesn’t feel comfortable with me wearing outside, he tells me. I have made mistakes in the past, like wearing a slightly transparent dress or shirt and not put a vest/long t-shirt on underneath. Does this encourage him to look at me inappropriately? I don’t think so. I think it trains him to look after me morally, and also lets me learn what he thinks as morally appropriate. He’s pretty good at it too.

We set a new boundary today…

As Dale has said in his own post, Dale has some extreme obsessions (which is characteristic of an Aspie), all of which I’m okay with and doesn’t impede on our morality or Christianity, and we were talking about one of them today. I brought up a sensitive issue about one, which made Dale feel uncomfortable. He quickly told me that he wasn’t okay with it, and after assuring him and (hopefully) settling his anxiety about the issue we promised each other it would not be something we spoke about.

I normally am able to tell when he isn’t comfortable or when he’s not okay, even after telling him it is okay. He has certain mannerisms which I can pick up on which are tell-tale on his emotional state. He is slowly learning mine, some of which he misunderstands, but he is learning. One of his, which is after I assure him, is that he says “I’m Okay; I’m Fine”. At first when I was getting to know him, this would settle me and we would just carry on. However, now I’ve learned that this doesn’t necessarily mean that he is okay. I can now tell his “I’m Okay… but not really” from his “Yep, I’m okay… Where’s my cake?” (much like a woman in this instance).

I think I briefly annoy him in this instance, I don’t know, but I don’t like leaving him if he’s not okay. So I impress on him that it is okay until I see My Dale back (My Dale is happy, jokey, smiley and relaxed). It works at the moment. Sometimes if he thinks he’s offended me, I give him a peck-kiss on his lips so that he knows I’m okay and that I still love him. That works too.

When we were first talking to each other (before we were dating), we actually agreed on a code-word. I think it was ‘Lemons’, which he would use if the topic of conversation was beginning to make him uncomfortable. I think he used it once for a real thing, but we haven’t used it since. We are generally like-minded, so things that offend one person tend to offend the other.  I still mess up and sometimes need to repair the damage, but we both understand that we aren’t perfect.

I love learning about him and his little quirks…

And I’m certainly never bored. I’ve heard other people refer to the ‘Honeymoon Period‘, which is basically when the relationship is still new and shiny. I’m not too sure how long this period is, but everything about him is still fascinating. What he would class as ‘becoming a better person’, I can see the way he deals with things change. The other day, he actually came to babysit some children with me. I’ve noticed too, when we cook together, he doesn’t ask whether something needs cleaning or whether it needs cleaning before we use it anymore. Either he assumes that I’ve already cleaned it when he’s not looking, or he’s becoming comfortable that it’s not going to harm him.

One time, I actually was worried about telling him something incase he went into extreme OCD Dale (my household family took some tablets for something) and, not wanting to tell him the reason for the tablets, but assuring him it won’t effect him, I was worried he might press for information and continue to worry. I was pleasantly surprised with how well he actually took it.

When I see a weakness, he surprises me with huge strength.
When he sees a weakness, all I see is his strength. 

Tip #1 on dating an Aspie: Aspie’s are very literal… but can be complicated like a woman.

It’s Who I Am (The Aspie)

Hi, this is the boyfriend!

I thought it might be an idea to introduce myself. I intend to post alongside Alli on this blog, not to correct or contradict what she writes, but merely to present things from the perspective of the Aspie in the relationship.

First, I guess a little about myself. I’m Dale, I’m 28 years old, and while I have a had a few relationships that never really went anywhere, I consider Alli my first proper girlfriend. I was a very different child, “floppy” as a baby, and had a lot of strange rituals and ways of thinking. For quite some time all I wanted to wear was a Manchester United football (soccer) kit, despite my never really liking football. My parents knew something was different, and I was finally diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome around the age of 13.

Growing up was a bit different for me. During my teenage years I developed a number of extreme obsessions. I had a collection of Star Wars toys in their original mint packaging, and pretty much learned the scripts back to front. I also had a love of physics, often trying to work out the physics of something during a lesson at school and exclaiming to the other children “I’ve worked out the physics (of this device)”. I even attended two or three of the Institute of Physics conferences which as luck would have it, were held in my home town.

A party trick of mine was that I could read out loud about two or three times faster than anyone else, quicker than most people could take in, which annoyed my classmates in English classes, who exclaimed in one voice every time to “SLOW DOWN”.

Over the years I also developed other mental disorders (although Aspergers is NOT anything wrong) including Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Generalised Anxiety (both diagnosed) and Depression (self-diagnosed).

After some time, at around the age of 17 I started to attend a church in my home town, and became a Christian some months after. Unfortunately, around the same time I had something of a mental breakdown over the course of 9 months, something I still take medication for now.

Over the last 11 years it’s been a long journey. I made friends, learned how to socialise, and slowly worked on my anxieties and how to cope with more difficult Aspergers traits.

And that’s when I met Alli. I had asked out girls before but the story had always been the same. They liked me as a friend, or things just fizzed out and we lost contact. Alli agreed to a lunch date, and things went on from there until 1 month after that lunch date, when we officially became an item.

Both of us have learned a lot in our short time together (about 3 months). I am learning how to relate to Alli and how relationships work, and Alli is learning how my brain is wired.

That’s what Aspergers is really. It’s a different wiring of the brain. What other people can do or determine almost instantaneously from instinct and unspoken social cues, I have to exhaustively calculate. Everything, including love to some extent, has to be worked out from a purely logical perspective. If A then B, otherwise C.

I cannot read tone of voice, nor body language and take many things literally, most often not being able to “read between the lines”. I also cannot extrapolate from incomplete information. If I am to do something, I need exact steps, or better yet, a hands on demonstration, even something as simple as using a new washing machine for the first time.

Its not all bad though, and this is why Aspergers is not a disorder, nor a disability in the eyes of myself and many other Aspies. I learn extremely quickly, and while I struggle with basic arithmetic at times, can handle abstract logical or numerical concepts easily. I am extremely competent with computers, having a degree in Computer Science and working in the software industry, and while some people may think I don’t consider the feelings of others because it simply doesn’t occur to me – I am actually very empathetic, perhaps excessively so. I have a childlike fascination with things, and like many, many other Aspies, I am EXTREMELY loyal.

It’s worth noting, that many of us, myself included, do not want to be “healed”. There’s nothing to be healed of. Aspergers is a crucial part of me, not a tacked on illness to be gotten rid of.

Some people reading this may think that a relationship with an Aspie is difficult and unpleasant, but judging from my own relationship with Alli, I would say it isn’t. All we need is patience, kindness and a little help when we need it. All of these are things that any NT-NT relationship needs in some degree in order to survive.

Date an Aspie – we’re pretty cool.

It’s Who I Am (Full Stop)

I finally plucked up the courage to ask my partner if I could do this… so…

Hi. I’m Alli. I’m NT (Neuro-Typical) and I’m jut a regular 20 year old girl who goes to University. I play Guitar, want to eventually learn Ukulele so I can walk around all hippy. I’m fairly introverted, geeky, DC Comics fan and have a good amount of obsession of dragons. I consider myself a designer/illustrator/designer. I’m Christian, so yes I go to church every Sunday and do all the Christian thing. I have two happily married parents, two younger siblings and about 7+ pets. The rest of me is fairly typical. I love my life and who is in it.

English tutors may be reading this and deducting marks for my poor grammar and writing skills, so let me justify myself. I. Don’t. Do. Essays. I’ve always wished I could just write a novel straight off and even planned them in my head, written the first chapter, but about a month later, deleted the document. But. This is not an Essay. This is not some scientific or academic research document. I have another blog which focuses on one other aspect of my life, but this blog is for something and someone who is close to my heart.

This blog is going to focus on the first thing about me. (no… not my name, after that).

I’m NT (Neuro-Typical). Other NT’s may be thinking, well, what does that mean? Is it some disease. That’s what I thought, cause I’m dumb and didn’t understand the simplicity behind it. Basically it means I’m [medically] mentally normal, although my family may disagree (joking). Why is this so significant? Why should this be the focus of a blog?

Because I’m in a happy, loving and wonderful relationship with someone who is not NT. 

My boyfriend who I love dearly is AS (Aspergers; One of the Three most common forms of Autism). To get an idea, AS is, (for ease of reference), think of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory or Mr. Spock from Star Trek. My boyfriend compares himself to Sheldon, but I see him more as Spock (I’m a trekky too). You see, where as Sheldon (most of the time) can be void of emotion completely, self appreciative, doesn’t quite understand sarcasm and quite a bit of a bum head sometimes, Spock just finds it difficult to process emotions because of his Vulcan upbringing.

Did any of you fan-girls scream when we found out Sheldon was about to propose to Amy, but Amy wanted a break? I sure did.

Is it difficult being in a relationship with an AS? To be totally honest, no. No more then being in a relationship with another NT. In fact, even with my limited experience with relationships, I find it better. I find that in an NT NT relationship, where both people totally understand social situations, they seem to lack the ability to consider each others feelings. How do I know? I’ve done it before. I’ve done things without even thinking about it and effectively treading on peoples toes. In a healthy NT ASD relationship, we seem to consider each other more (hence why I asked ‘permission’ as such to write this public blog). Is it easy? No, it isn’t. What relationship is?

My boyfriend (on my request actually) bought a book; Loving Mr. Spock – By Barbara Jacobs, which I’ve heard is to help NT’s understand their AS partner and also help AS’s understand their NT partner. He’s reading it first and he’s making notes so that when I read it, I’m reading the book but also getting his opinion on what is said. He’s already leaked some information that some of what is said isn’t accurate to him.

You see. That’s all that I really need to make an effort with; Understanding My Aspie. Everything else comes naturally, easily and sometimes with time and training. Because we are both Christian, we set boundaries for ourselves (what we’re comfortable with in regards to physical contact) which, we have altered because of how our relationship is progressing. We talk about our future aspirations, hopes, dreams. We tell each other we love each other (actually, we’ve only been doing that for the last three days… reasons may be revealed later). We go out on dates. We have pizza and movie nights. We cook together. We go to ASDA  together (for Americans I think the equivalent is Walmart or Target). We hang out with both sets of parents. Y’know? Normal couple stuff. All I need to understand is what his Asperger’s enables him to do and understand.

My Aspie is amazing, however, like all men, he does have his flaws (the non medical kind). He has an appalling taste in drink (he drinks beer… YUK!), he tells awful dad jokes and he has this fascination with Toy’R’Us. He seems to collect out-of-date food (I think we found some out-of-date canned food, which takes three years to go out of date, in his cupboards), and he laughs at weird cat pictures.

In all seriousness now, he does have flaws. He’s self depreciating (completely opposite of Sheldon), he tends to keep what’s troubling him to himself (which I think is actually an Aspie trait) but he’s slowly learning to open up, but he’s doing it in his own time. I just let him know that if he wants to tell me, I’m there and I won’t judge him. He’s had a bad past, but even though he is quite good at hiding it, I can tell he’s somewhat afraid it will happen again and catch up with him. I assure him, even if it does, we will deal with it together, and that I won’t leave him. All in all, he’s a typical man. But he’s My Man. My Aspie.

So. I’m an NT dating an AS.

Translation: I’m a Girl dating a Boy. No strings attached.