Mix Match Day! (long post)

No, this isn’t a new holiday I have made up.

It been a pick’a’mix bag of emotions and events today for both of us.

The day pretty much started off pretty uggish. I had yet another episode of insomnia this week (waking up at 4/5am after not getting home from work from at least 11:30pm). So giving up the fight with my body to try to get to sleep, I dragged myself downstairs and lay on the sofa; an hour later my parents joining me. On Tuesday I did something to sprain my wrist at work and  it was in pain this morning. Ibuprofen didn’t seem to be helping much either.

I also wasn’t sure how today was going to go so I was probably a teeny bit apprehensive.

I met Dale at 9am to pick him up from his house to go on an outing with my parents. The day before I had messaged him to ask if there was anything I should remember to bring to make today more relaxing for him; Anti-Bac Gel and Hand Wipes. I had previously asked whether he would come with us, and he said yes as long as he was able to wash his hands thoroughly afterwards. Why?

We were going Fruit and Vegetable picking today. 

It’s sort of a family thing we do every year and there’s a farm about an hour away from us that grows a range of fruit and vegetable which during the end of spring throughout summer lets the public come and pick their own groceries. It is great fun and even at 20 years old, I still love it. My parents (in an effort to better the relationship between themselves and Dale) invited Dale to join us.

So, after some tea, coffee, cake and bacon sandwiches, we got our punnets and went a’picking for some yummy stuff. To start with Dale was a little withdrawn (he was having a moment unrelated to the activity) but after talking and a little encouragement he started to engage and, gladly, started to enjoy himself. Originally he was a little reserved on picking fruit himself, because of not knowing what to look for. However, when we got round to the raspberries, I think he felt more confident in finding the ripe fruit.

My parents acknowledged that how I show Dale things are okay and nothing to worry about, is by doing it myself. I think and hope they’ll do the same. (Just to clarify, I don’t think Dale needs babying, but sometimes telling someone jumping of the diving board is safe isn’t enough and so you have to do it yourself to show it’s safe… it’s a bit of a over-compensating analogy, but it works). 

Dale really perked up when we went rhubarb picking and offered to pay for the rhubarb in exchange for a rhubarb and raspberry crumble made by my wonderful mum (she’s a killer cook/baker).

When we had finished all of our picking, we had a collection of Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Raspberries, Plumbs, Rhubarb, Butternut Squash, Courgettes and some Sweet Corn. I did ask Dale whether he enjoyed himself, and he did reply with “Yep, but please don’t ask me to do it next week.” He was quite relieved when I told him we only do it once a year, which he then said he’d be fine to do it next year.

In the car on the way home Dale suggested to my parents about having a BBQ which they were quite happy to do (I can’t remember how the subject of BBQ’s came about. I think someone was talking about the significant number of burgers my parents were hoarding in their freezer which then lead to BBQ talk).

Boy, did I wish we either got home either a little earlier, or a little later…

When we arrived home, me and Dale got ready to go to the shop to get a few things for the BBQ.

Que my next door neighbour who we have been having a few problems with lately. She starts yelling at my dad about what-not, which Dale and I quickly walk to our car. I realise I had forgotten my purse after getting into the car, so needed to go back into the house. Next door neighbour then proceeds to stop me in the middle of the street and rather angrily prevents me from walking, to the point where I need to call my Dad to help me get round her.

Before today, I had only heard about what my neighbour was saying and doing. I couldn’t quite believe how bad it was until today. This lady, who when I was younger had taught me how to draw and essentially gave me my passion for art; had let me borrow my first ever guitar from her so I could learn; who me and my sister used to go round baking cookies, who’s nieces and nephews used to come round to come play with us when they stayed with her; this lady was not someone I recognised. She was so angry. She was also accusing my parents of stuff which they hadn’t done.

I was incredibly shocked when she pinned me in the street, not letting me past her, shouting angrily at me, almost pleading that I take her side in things. After getting my purse and walking back to my car, I saw Dale standing outside the Car. When I was inside the safety of my car, Dale asked if I was okay, which I told him I was ‘fine’, and proceeded to pull off.

I didn’t get half-way round the corner until I had to pull over because I was hyper-ventilating. I couldn’t breathe and I was crying so hard. What had just happened shocked me so much, my body couldn’t process it. I used to look up to my next door neighbour. When I got into college for an art course, or when I had done another painting, or when I got into art college I couldn’t wait to let her know. She was one of my go-to-persons for arty stuff. She was really interested in the stuff I was doing too. But when I saw her like this; angry, bitter and more importantly, she didn’t look at all well, I was shaken to my deepest core.  It had just come out of no-where.

If Dale wasn’t with me, I don’t know what would have happened next. I probably would have been able to calm myself down, but not as quickly as what Dale was able to do. Dale, having experience with his own Anxiety, jumped into ‘protective, comforting, strong, amazing boyfriend’ mode. The only other people in my life who can do what Dale did are my parents.

I think what’s funny, is that Dale admitted he could tell I wasn’t ‘fine’ when he had asked originally, and he even said he knew he shouldn’t have let me drive off (I think next time he’ll be taking my keys off me so I can’t pull away), but I think he also knew we had to get away from the situation. Dale. Is. Amazing. He seemed to be ten steps in front of the present at that moment which helped because I had less ‘other’ stuff to worry about.

I don’t even remember turning the engine off or putting the hand brake on, so I’m glad Dale was there to make sure everything was safe with the car. 

The only one other time I remember feeling the way I did in the car, was when I was dealing with a spider, wasp or Needle (cannula).

After calming down and getting my wits back, we went back to Dale’s to chill out some more; babying me even more than what he had been with my sprained wrist. The day carried on quite nicely afterwards with no more drama, apart from the occasional banter between Dale and my parents.

Dale also likes fresh fresh Sweetcorn, to the point of [joking] telling me that we need to go back next week for some more corn.

Yeah. Not happening boy.

Thanks for reading guys.


Second-Hand Anxiety

It’s hard knowing when someone you care about is not having it good…

Whether it’s a family member, friend or boyfriend.

As we’ve mentioned before, Dale has anxiety. What most people can just deal with within a second, or quickly justify the matter, anxiety is a longer and more exhausting process of doing what we non-anxieties do quickly. There are so many various ways of helping someone who is suffering anxiety, but not everyone’s the same.

Two of my colleagues at work suffer from anxiety, and both have different ways in which they express and deal with it. One needs time away from the situation and becomes very emotional. The other becomes angry or frustrated and needs to punch something. Dale withdraws into himself, going very quiet and distracted. I’ve worked out that talking to him, sometimes about what’s causing the anxiety or sometimes about something non-related can help him.

It’s important to know that there is no prescribed rule/guide book in dealing with Anxiety. 

I don’t suffer from anxiety so I’m not going to pretend that I understand what anxiety sufferers go through. The only experience I have is second-hand. I’m not going to proclaim my experience is any worse or any better, because it’s a totally different situation, but maybe this analogy can help you understand:

You’re on a frozen lake with a friend, family or partner. All of a sudden, the ice cracks and your companion falls in, and almost at the same time, your feet are frozen so you cannot move to help them, all you can do is shout for help and shout encouragement to the person in the freezing water. You can’t physically help them, and through the panic, the other person is only hearing a few words that you’re shouting.

When I see Dale withdraw, it’s like that analogy. Sometimes, the analogy will end in me being able to break the ice around my feet to help him, sometimes it’s him being able to get himself out of the water. Sometimes it’s a bit of both. It becomes even more difficult when other people around don’t understand, and make quick, outside judgements.

So how would I recommend helping out someone?

  • Take your cues from the person. Most of the time, they know best how to deal with their anxiety.
  • Don’t pressure them. Sometimes, just taking a step back, but being a presence for them for when they’re ready to talk is enough.
  • Don’t brush off their anxiety as something stupid or unreasonable. Sometimes, you will find that the anxiety sufferer knows that their anxiety is over something small but the last thing they need is someone telling them they’re being silly for how they’re feeling… they have no control over it.
  • Don’t say it will be okay, unless you know it will be okay. They will trust you more and feel more able to come to you with their anxiety when they know you are going to be honest with them.
  • If they are open to it and at that moment ready to hear it (and you feel able to give it), pass some advice on how to deal with the issue. Maybe even offer to be around when it comes to dealing with it, if it’s appropriate.
  • Be compassionate and not judgemental. Anxiety isn’t a personality trait and is very distressing. 

I don’t pretend to know all there is about Anxiety. In fact, I’m still learning from Dale. It’s not something you can take a course in, get a qualification and “hey presto”, there isn’t any Anxiety you can’t deal with. Most of the time, yes, I can bring Dale back quite easily, but that’s just one person who I spend a lot of time with. Even then, his anxiety is different every time. I also find it fairly easy with Dale because Dale trusts me to be honest, non judgemental and able to cope for him.

Sometimes, when I know that Dale has tried to overcome and deal with his anxiety himself but it’s become too much for him, I’ll just let him know that I’m proud of him for even getting as far as he did. Sometimes I worry whether it’s a little patronising, but I think in some cases, Dale needs to hear that he did well.

However, I don’t think I’d find it as easy with my work colleagues. Yes, I know the very basics of what they’re going through and what their brain is doing, but their ways of dealing with it are so different.

Do you suffer with anxiety? Or have any other ways of helping out?

So I want to try and open this up to people commenting (not for ‘blog brownie points’) to help everyone get an idea of how to help out. 

Do you have a way of which to deal with Anxiety, which either you’ve found helps your own anxiety or even another? Comment below so we have a wide range of ways of giving someone a friendly helping hand.

Thanks guys x

Headless Chickens (clucking sound)

Work’s driven Dale and I absolutely bonkers…

But we still made time for each other.

Dale works in London as a Software Developer (super intelligent stuff). He’s on the train at around 6:30/7am and doesn’t finish till around 5:30pm, three days a week. The other two working days he works from home. My favourite days are the days he works from home and not so much the ones where he’s in a totally different city and about two hours drive away from me. It also means that if we are seeing each other that day, if he works from home I can see him at 5:30pm. If he works in London, I don’t see him till the earliest 7:15pm.

I work as a waitress at a restaurant/pub. The shifts change every week and sometimes is totally dead or I’m rushed off my feet. I come home smelling like a range of table sauces and I’m not even going to describe to you my clothes and apron. All I’ll tell you is it’s pretty grim! Tonight (or last night?) I worked 5pm till close (restaurant closes at 11pm, but I sometimes don’t leave until around 11:30pm). Monday night I worked an 11 hour shift (12pm till 11pm).

Some days, I won’t see any of my family or Dale because of the way my shift has worked out. Today was a lucky day because of my late start, so I was able to see my family.

I was also able to meet Dale for an hour during his lunch break (he worked from home). This was actually a first for us as we normally wait until Dale has finished work before we meet up, so then he’s not distracted, but think because we didn’t see each other Monday and didn’t really see each other properly Sunday, we caved in and gave ourselves an hour with each other.

It’s amazing how one hour with someone special can make the rest of the day more positive!

I always feel that mine and Dale’s time together is never long enough, so even the shortest times I treasure. There are always new things to learn about him; today I learned he likes chicken and bacon sandwiches/baguette (who doesn’t? but hey). I also learned he is incredibly precise on timings. When he has an hour break – he has an hour break. Towards the end of the hour of our time together, he was counting down how many minutes/seconds we had left [He was joking]. He did set a timer stopwatch for the hour though.

He said later in the day that I seem to be learning a lot about him, but him not so much me. I think he has learned a lot about me considering. He’s learned that I love him playing the Mandolin. I love him talking about what he’s passionate about. He’s learned what I like to eat. He’s learned that when we’re holding hands, I love to swing our arms over posts (y’know those small posts that are in the middle of the street, normally to stop cars being able to get into that area). He’s learned I dance/jig when I’m happy. We now call it ‘Happy Dancey Alli’. He’s learned I laugh. A lot. He’s learned that I’m quite a passive person, but when needs be, I take care of things. He’s learned that I love flowers and chocolates, especially Cadbury’s ‘Heroes’.

This is going to sound really ‘duh, of course you can’t do that’ but the bummer about my job, is that I don’t have five minutes to message Dale. Some people can sneakily, under the table text their friends. If you’re really brave, some people even have phone call conversations. 

In my job, you don’t have ten seconds to breath, let alone drop a text. 

So when I get home, I usually end up with about 5 messages on my phone from Dale; normally him telling me a joke, or a latest development in one of his ‘obsessions’. More often than not, his last message will be him informing me he’s gone to bed and wishing me goodnight. I’ve missed him. I’ve missed telling him ‘Goodnight’, ‘Sleep Well’, ‘Speak Tomorrow’, ‘I love you’ and about a dozen ‘x’s’. I missed the chance to let him know before he goes to sleep how much he means to me.

They say to not leave an argument overnight, because anything can happen. I hate not letting him know before he sleeps that he is one of the most important things to me (aside from my immediate family and my faith).

I do love my job. I work with some really fantastic people and meet some really awesome customers. I also sometimes get free food at the end of the day to save on wastage. The most rewarding of all times is when customers see you are slightly struggling and running around like mad, and they still tip you (sometimes quite a bit) and deliberately thank you for serving them. The hardest parts about my job is when you think you’re having a good day, your not rushed of your feet so you can take your time with customers, but you still get some customers who will complain at anything.

If you ever plan to be waiting staff at a pub/restaurant, you need the patience of a saint. It isn’t easy and you will loose you temper at least once in a weeks work. 

I actually want to take a quick second to highlight something to you from personal experience (relevant to my job). Most customers wonder if to tip, how much to tip, or how to tip. So let me shine some light.

Waiting Staff practically rely on tips to pay for everyday things between Pay-Days. It’s okay to pay via your credit/debit card, but just to let you know, not all of that tip you pay by card will go to that waiter/ress who served you. Sometimes, it doesn’t at all. The only way to guarantee, is to pay in coins. Some people wonder how much to tip. If I tell you, in a shift I can serve up to 20-30 tables if not more (I don’t count them). If every one of them tipped at least a £1, that means I have £20-£30 at the end of that shift extra. Some customers I have, round their bills up to the nearest £10’s and therefore anything left between their actual bill and the money they’ve paid me in cash is my tip.

Of course, some people don’t have the money to tip, which is fine, but it’s just from about two months experience of waiting on, I now know to make sure to tip my waiting staff when I’m eating out. I’ve actually made a promise to myself that in future, I will always tip £5, in cash, directly to my server, because I know how much it will mean to them.

Plugged In…

Dale’s Cochlea Implant is all switched on now…

And already it’s exceeding expectations.

Myself and Dale went to London today on a rather frustration 2 hour train train journey due to severe thunder storms which cause a lot of problems on the tracks on the express route. So after the initial worry that we would be very late for the appointment (which we ended up not being more than fifteen to twenty minutes late), we were seated in the audiologists room and listening – well, me listening, Dale trying his hardest to lip read as he was 98% – 100% deaf – to the instruction of the hearing and programming tests that the audiologist was about to perform.

If any of you have ever been for any kind of hearing tests, it starts off with them doing the ‘Beep Test’. Basically they play a series of beeps only the ‘testee’ can hear (in normal hearing tests you may be required to describe how many beeps you hear). Dale’s initial tests was just setting and adjusting the levels of his CI so that it was at a comfortable volume level where he could hear, but so it wasn’t too loud either. Then to jazz the tests up a bit, Dale was required to inform the audiologist how many beeps he was hearing, so that the audiologist could confirm he was actually hearing through his cochlea and wasn’t hearing ‘phantom sounds’ (although originally the audiologist said that the beeps would rise in pitch, she did jump around a bit without telling Dale or me, which to her pleasure and delight, Dale noticed). He then did a bit of ‘Listening’. This part of the tests is different to the ‘Beep Test’ as it requires hearing natural sounds rather than computer generated sounds.

And let me tell you, the improvement was absolutely phenomenal. Anybody who knows Dale and who has had conversations with him would know that he would very often ask you to repeat yourself, say it more slowly, as he would have difficulty hearing and lip reading. Since we got together (all them almost five months ago), the signal that he couldn’t understand what the person was saying, he would turn to me, if I was with him, so I could attempt to sign to him.

I’m not fantastic at sign language, but I can just about have a full conversation with Dale using only sign and no voice, which we have been doing for the last four weeks). Of course it helps because he practically knows ‘my language’ (a bit like having an accent but in sign), so I’m not sure how I would fair in front of other ‘stranger signers’. It also helps that neither of us know the full dictionary so we fairly regularly check our BSL Phone Dictionaries for the correct sign. 

Well, Dale could follow along with what the audiologist was saying with next to never asking her to repeat anything. Although, it was quite evident he was trying hard to match lips to sounds he was hearing (it’s different signals his brain is now receiving, so he’s effectively retraining his brain how to hear).

The audiologist then left myself and Dale in the room to talk, mainly to see how my voice translated. That part didn’t go as well as I had hoped, but considering he had only had the CI for about thirty minutes, he had already done much more than what I expected. He couldn’t really hear my voice, which I think is due to the pitch that my voice is at (I think, if I remember correctly, he is able to hear higher pitches more than lower pitches). I remember quite clearly on our very first lunch date, Dale informed me that my voice was literally on the borderline of the pitch he can hear through his hearing aid.
We did manage to have a nearly full conversation with hardly any sign to aid, but it’s going to be homework for us two over the next couple of weeks and months.

When the audiologist returned to the room, she initially apologised for not facing me when she was talking and proceeded to ask whether I was able to hear her. I think she was quite relieved when I told her I was fully hearing. She became quite interested in how I came to learn sign and how long I had been learning it. I’ve never had official lessons or exams, but I did receive some free lessons from a very good friend signer and I used to hang out around deaf people quite a bit. I think my signing has seriously improved since dating Dale; how could it not? I’ve been dating an almost totally deaf guy for the last four/five months. 

We also discovered that at the moment, Dale is unable to hear environmental sounds, like hallway chatter, busy streets and other stuff, which is expected. Wait, let me correct myself, he can’t distinguish and identify the sounds, but he can hear/feel the presence of sound.

Deaf people are more aware to sound vibrations than hearing people which was quite evident today.

When we got home (to his flat), we discovered he could hear quite a few sounds he’s never been able to hear before. He was very delighted to find out he could hear the sound of his leather wallet opening and closing. I poured myself a drink of Shloer, and he could hear the crackling of the fizz-bubble-things. He can also now hear the clicks of his TV remote buttons; he actually assumed that the clicks were coming from the TV, but when I informed him that there were no sounds coming from the TV but it was his remote, he was very surprised. I can’t wait to discover with him what sounds he can hear which he was never able to before.

Of course today has been full of highs…

And the highest of them all is that once, only once, Dale was able to hear me and reply to me with out needing to lip read. The sheer joy that brought me. It gives me so much happiness because I know what this can do for Dale. He had wanted this for so long and battled downer days when his hearing has dropped or changed, or when he hadn’t received a date for the operation way past the expected dates.

To think that a couple of months ago, we were worried as to whether he would actually be accepted for the implant, whether they would ever give him a date before I went back to Uni and whether I would be there for the turn on. But here we are and I’ve been through it all with him. My work have been great in giving me the days off so I can support him in the momentous events that are happening right now.

Also thanks to our readers,

It really is great to hear the feedback from you guys who read this. Some of you aren’t dating Asperger’s and are dating NT’s, but it’s still great to hear that you can still relate to what we write. Thanks for being on this journey with us and thanks for supporting Dale and I. We love each other and we (mostly I) love writing this blog, even if I have been absent for a while.

Thank you, Sleep Tight and We’ll see you in the next post!

In 5 years time…

Dale and I have clear set goals for our own future and our future together…

And here’s mine.

I believe it’s healthy for anybody who isn’t or is in a relationship to have set goals and ambitions in there life. It makes for a healthier person and a more fruitful future. When you’re in a relationship, it’s important to respect and support each other in those goals and ambitions, even if they have a low possibility of being accomplished. Dale and I have shared ours, some only far off dreams that we can only hope to one day achieve. We were actually surprised when we were sharing them to discover that our dreams and hopes for the future are pretty much identical.

My Career ambitions are very varied and I think they always will be. Although, I have always set my heart on owning my own Café crossed with an Art Gallery, where I can sell my own works and the works of others. I currently study Illustration at University, which is going to take up the next two years of my life, but hopefully will also set me up for a steady move into different aspects of the Art Industry; which section, I don’t know yet. What’s great about Dale, is that even though we’ll miss each other lots, and be about 50-60 miles away from each other 4/5 days a week, he says he’s prepared to wait for me so that I can finish my University.

When you’re getting into a relationship, it’s a careful balance between prioritising each others hopes and dreams. If your partner isn’t willing to wait while you complete something that could help you achieve your future; they are thinking more of themselves, rather than you. 

Myself and Dale have talked about me possibly transferring to a closer University (not just so I’m closer to Dale, but also so I’m closer to home and people I know – me being an introvert and everything), but decided that since I only have two years left, so i would be transferring just before my final year, it would put too much stress on me for my last year.

My family life ambitions are that I would love to be married within the next five years, and maybe planning or ‘pricing up’ for a newbie at the end of them five years. Of course that could all change depending on circumstances, but that’s my hopes. First, lets finished education and sort myself out that way.

As a couple, Dale and I have talked about our hopes as a possible future couple together. Mutually, we have agreed on a time period that we would like to accomplish things, but again, that all depends on circumstances.

Do I hope to marry Dale? Of course I do. Like I’ve said in previous posts; I’ve grown up with the inclination of dating with the prospect of marriage, and I think Dale would make a wonderful husband. Already he demonstrates idyllic husband-like qualities; he takes care of me; he tries to care for my family; if I’m tired, he prioritises my rest before anything we do together (he’s let me sleep on his shoulder so many times while he occupies himself with his laptop); he prioritises my goals in life and he buys me flowers and chocolates (Yep… I scored BIG TIME!).

If your a girl, and your boyfriend buys you flowers and chocolates, he is a definite keeper! And I don’t mean some pansy small box of chocolates with six minuscule nibbles in. I mean a big box of Cadbury’s ‘Heroes’. If he tells you not to share them (like Dale did today) DO NOT LET THAT BOY GO!

But what do I worry about for the future?

I’ve always struggled with motivation in my past, which has resulted in me not doing well in things which I should be able to achieve almost perfect for. So my biggest and foremost worry is that, because of my own lack of motivation and self encouragement, is that I won’t do things for myself and in turn for Dale, which could potentially harm our future. It’s not just motivation with Uni work, it’s motivation with socialising, keeping up friends and even just getting dressed in the morning (Dale saw me so gracefully in my slacks today looking like I’d just rolled out of bed).

My other very small unfounded worry is about how smooth – or ‘normal’ for want of a better word – will my future be with Dale. I think this is a mutual worry between us. I think it’s a worry with every couple. My worry is less of “What limits will there be?” but more of “Could I do something with could hurt Dale in such a way he won’t love me anymore?”. We have addressed this so many times between us. For those of you who read my post yesterday, you would have read about Dale’s fear of me leaving him. I have the same fear.

As Dale has revealed before, he had a mental breakdown some ten years ago, and one of my biggest fears is that I’ll be the cause for him becoming seriously ill again. He knows this fear and he’s reassured me that he won’t let himself get that ill again, but nevertheless, it is still a fear that somehow I’ll wound him so badly, that I’ll set him back. In fact, I remember there was one night (sometime after the op) that Dale forgot one of his medications due to exhaustion, and I didn’t freak, but I did slightly worry about the effects it would have. Not because I fear the ‘non-medicated’ Dale, but because I do slightly worry whether he would be able to cope (Dale’s brain works a lot faster than NT brains, which can sometimes cause a ‘Sensory Overload’ or something similar because of the rush of information coming into the brain and the difficulty of processing it all). However, apart from being a bit more hyper than usual, he was pretty much the normal Dale.

Imagine Pinkie Pie from ‘My Little Pony’, just with a lot more Sugar and a lot more e-numbers. If you don’t understand the reference, please follow this link: ‘Pinkie Pie’ or ‘Dale’

So what are your ambitions for the future? And if you’re in a relationship, what are your ‘couple ambitions’?

See you in the next post 🙂

Not within 15 minutes

I’ve just been on a working Holiday… Without my boy!

For the last 12 days, I’ve been on a working holiday at a UK Christian Camp called Newday. It’s been exhausting and has flipped my life upside down. Literally. I’ve been working night shifts (I was on a kind of ‘security’ team), working 11pm to the early hours of 7am. It’s been tough physically, mentally and sometimes emotionally. Because of it being a Christian Camp and sometimes, the preachers speak about deeply emotional subjects, and we go to work just after the evening meeting finishes, we encounter a lot of issues; medicals, pastorals and behavioural. It has it’s own rewards… mainly the deep sleeps we fall into when we come to finishing our shift at 7am.

It’s also rewarding to see the countless smiles and hear the laughter of youth who are waking up safely because of our efforts during the night. Seeing the fruits, as it were, encouraged us to wake up and do it all over again the next night. However, I am glad to be back home and to be able to sleep at the same time as everyone else and in my own bed.

One of the most difficult things, other then that, was being that far and that long away from Dale. The difficulty increased when I discovered a flipping Dale Doppelgänger who was at the camp. We were able to contact at times there was phone signal (there was no WiFi and limited 3G). Our messages eventually ended up on us taking selfies of ourselves (and with other people) and sending them to each other so we could still theoretically see each other.

When was it most difficult for me?

I’m not always around Dale when he has an Anxiety Attack, but I tend to be close enough that if it’s a really bad one and he needs someone, I can be there. In my time with him, that’s only happened once. While I was away, I wasn’t a quick few minutes away. I would like to think, I did my best for him despite the distance, but you would have to ask him that. A few times, his anxieties were material, for example; the edibility of food or the cleanliness of his flat. They were the fairly easy anxieties to resolve. The harder ones were deeper and more emotional. They reoccured during the week quite a few times and have been since his operation.

You see – if he doesn’t mind me saying – he fears I’ll leave him. I’m sure that’s any mans fear when he’s in a relationship, but I feel like this is more deep-seated with him. I have no idea why. It takes a lot of repetition and love to remind him that I chose him. Sometimes, he’s list off things that he thinks I’ll leave him over; before the operation it was if the operation didn’t work and resulted in him being fully deaf; if he does or says something that is a characteristic of being Asperger’s which I get offended over; if he oversteps a boundary that we’ve set and so on. Some are what to any other person, and sometimes me, seem silly, almost trivial things, but are serious worries for him. Being 174.3 miles and four hours away, already missing him loads, made comforting him in his time of need a lot more emotional for me. Not to mention I was exhausted from working night shifts, which meant that I slept from 8/9am to 4pm which by that time, Dale can have as many as four anxiety attacks. (AND THIS PEOPLE… Is why if I had my own way, he would work nearer to home, rather then commute to London three days a week).

I’m glad I can now get back to my normal sleeping routine, so that if Dale needs that support, I’m awake.

Despite the above, my week away has been great and refreshing. Am I completely ready to go back to work? Nope. I personally feel like it’s a mistake in me going back to work so soon after finishing Newday… but 1) I need the money and 2) I’m only working two days this week.

Now that I’m back from Newday, I’m going to try and get back to writing this blog (and hopefully, this Thursday I’m going to have some material to write about *wink wink*). I know we have had a huge gap, but not much has happened as mine and Dales days have been a little haywire, but their starting to return back to normal.

Thank you for your patience and continued support.

Social Difficulties For Aspies

Hi, Dale here,

Neither of us have written a blog post in a while, so I though I’d write about a topic I alluded to in a previous post, namely: stimulation overload, and social burnout.

From my own experiences, and I am far from expert, I don’t have a huge amount of experience with these topics. The best umbrella definition to give though is that people on the autistic spectrum generally experience certain senses to a much higher degree. They may (and this is common) have a high tolerance of pain, but also have very sensitive hearing, particularly to certain sounds. It’s worth noting, that next time you see a child or an adolescent – or even an adult – with noise-cancelling headphonider that it may not be their, or their family’s intention to be rude or antisocial, but simply they feel the need to block out loud noises and prevent stimulation overloads or meltdowns.

But what are “meltdowns”, “stimulation overload” and “social burnout”?

This is where speaking from my own experience may helpful. First I’ll tackle stimulation overload, although really this goes hand in hand with meltdowns, at least it does so for me. Stimulation overload is where sound, light, or even touch, taste and smell becomes too much for the person to handle and process. For myself, this is the case when I am in a very crowded room, perhaps a nightclub or a busy pub, with people milling about, dancing, talking, music blaring all around the place, and flashing lights. That situation is a one way ticket to overload for me, and in such a situation my first and only instinct is to GET OUT. There have been instances with corporate functions in my workplace where we’ve gone to nightclub and I’ve had to make an excuse and leave – usually being the first to do so, because my flight instinct has far more precedence over any desire to mingle, make friends, and network. This can seem very antisocial, but it isn’t intended in such a way.


Meltdowns are often a consequence of stimulation overload, but could also be due to an information overload, which is a topic I know less of, or even an emotional (especially negative) overload. In a child, this can take the form of what looks very much like a “temper tantrum”, and the child may not listen to reason or explanation, nor may they understand that what caused the meltdown could be dangerous. This is why I take it very personally when a child is having a “tantrum” and a completely random stranger comments on what a “naughty child” the person is. This has actually happened in my presence and I had to fight the urge to tell this very rude woman that the child may well in fact be on the spectrum and be dealing with a meltdown that is far more distressing and unpleasant than it is for the parents or the onlookers. So please, readers, don’t make assumptions like that.

That is neither your place, nor your privilege.

In adults, meltdowns can vary. Some adults I think still experience more violent and emotional meltdowns such as may look a tantrum. I don’t get that particularly, but I do have a different form of meltdown. Mine tend to be quiet but no less explosive. I immediately go quiet and withdrawn, I may speak in short sentences, become far more excessively polite and formal than normal for me, and in some cases my grammar may break down a little as I try not to get emotional. These meltdowns, as with all things can vary on their own spectrum in a way, from a very mild “anxiety attack” to a full blown “episode” that can take a whole day, or even longer, to recover from. How to deal with a meltdown varies from person to person, so I cannot give a “this is what you must do” to readers of this blog, but what I will say is that in my case there are a select group of people who I trust and feel safe with, and can talk me out of a meltdown eventually, although it may be hard for them to do so initially. Yes, Alli is one of those people.

Social burnout

This is more tricky to explain adequately. For those on the spectrum, social skills do not come instinctually, nor are they easily acquired as for most people. It varies, but typically spectrum people have difficulties reading body language, tone of voice, facial expressions, humour, sarcasm, lies (including white lies), and any kind of language that may be ambiguous. This is the case for me, although I do find myself improving on the ambiguous language bit (not sure whether some others would agree).

As such, socialising with people can be extremely exhausting as the Aspie has to process everything deliberately, involving a lot of heavy thought, and calculation. Anyone who has been to high school, college or University will remember how stressful and tiring a 2 hour exam was. Imagine that, but on a regular basis for some people. Is it therefore any wonder, why some of those on the spectrum may want to leave a party early, or in the middle of a group conversation, decide to play on their phone. They’re not being antisocial, at least not in a rude sense, but rather they need time away from all these taxing social mathematics and recharge. I call this “social burnout”, and I get it sometimes.

I’m fortunate that I have some people in my life who understand this, and might ask if they or I need to leave, without any judgement on me for doing so. If you know an autistic person in your life, I’d heavily recommend you do likewise.

So anyway, that’s a basic run down of these social difficulties. If you have any questions for me, feel free to put them in the comments, and I may answer them in another post. In fact, I’d like to do a Q&A post some time soon, so any questions you would like an Aspie answer to, just throw them out there in the comments!