In Other News…

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This week just gone has been very unusual, as I’ve done things that have changed the way I view the world forever.

This time last week I was preparing for my debut into stand-up comedy. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, just to see how it feels to get up on stage and attempt to be hilarious for a paying audience. I entered the university’s ‘Battle of the Laughs’, which is like the traditional ‘Battle of the Bands’, but instead involves stand-up comedians rather than bands. The prize is to perform as headliner for the Summer Ball, in the comedy tent (we’ve only had this for two years, but we’re one of the few universities to have them), and last week was the first heat. I really enjoyed the rush I got when getting introduced as a stand-up by our lovely compare, and appreciated the laughter that I got from a few of my jokes. I didn’t get through to the final, but it was the experience that counted, and I’ve decided that I really would like to get some compare experience in next year.

I’ve also helped out at an Asperger’s Awareness training session with the financial team at university. I really appreciate the fact that various teams on campus want to be able to help students with autism and Aspergers to be able to get the proper support they need in a way that is comfortable. It makes me happier to think that people are starting to become more aware of how the disability can affect the day-to-day life of someone on the spectrum, and that they want to help in every way that they can to make the student’s lives a lot easier. Hopefully they will be rolling out the training across the board, so that all staff members of all departments of the university become more aware of autism and Aspergers and the issues they face. Speaking of issues, Josh sent me the link to a Youtube video, that I think you’ll all find rather interesting:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmDGvquzn2k

This is from Carly Fleischman, a young woman who has non-verbal autism, she communicates using a computer and speech software so she can explain what she needs/wants/etc. This video shows how it feels to be autistic, and the difficulties that you face when you’re dealing with sensory overload, and how it affects the world you live in, as well as how frustrating it is to be unable to explain what you want.

It’s an amazing video from a really inspirational person. It really shows what someone can achieve, regardless of their disability. If only other people could learn that we autistic people don’t want to be shut out from the world, but actually want to be given the opportunity to join in, and really make a difference, one that can change lives, for the better.

Also, next Thursday, I’m off to Amsterdam! My guidebook came through the post from Amazon, and I’ve flicked through it, getting more excited! The itinerary finally came through as well, so I’m so excited! I’m hoping that people will be able to come to the Anne Frank House with me, whilst one of my friends wants to go to all the places in The Fault in Our Stars, and to re-read the book, whilst I’m re-reading Anne’s diary. The only thing I’m dreading is all the actual travelling, as we’ll keep travelling from Bath to Amsterdam through the night. And I suck at sleeping on public transport. So I might have to ask for travel sleep meds from the doctor, as well as a letter from him to explain why I’ll be carrying sleep medication in my luggage. Oh my, so much to do before I leave as well, all the packing, the learning of some basic phrases, making sure my euro card comes in time…

I’m also going to partay! Yes, I’ve been invited to another Comedy Society party, and I’m really excited, as they always throw the best house parties, with Cards Against Humanity, Epic Rap Battles and other general awesomesauce stuff! I love parties, as long as I prepare myself in advance, like earplugs for sensory overload, making sure my handbag is packed, and that my phone is fully charged. It ought to be a great way of letting off steam after this really bizarre week that I’ve had

Other than that, it’s just a lot of catching up with work, writing and the writing of a comedy sketch involving material from my stand-up…

Sex and AS – Can People with Autism/Aspergers be Sexual?

I thought I’d write a post about sexuality and AS. This is because of the fact that when I was younger, I remember little old ladies whispering at church whilst I served tea as a Brownie (UK version of Girl Scouts) about the fact that they felt so sorry for me as disabled people just don’t have relationships, and that it would be impossible to find me a husband. It was embarrassing, but I didn’t think any more of it. Now I’m a lot older, and really discovering sexuality for myself, it’s high time that I discussed sexuality and autism.

Not all people are sexual, regardless on disability or any other factor. I have non AS friends who identify as asexual (no sexual attraction to anyone, however, they may still feel romantically inclined), and I have autistic friends who do want to experience sex with someone, and even settle down and have children of their own one day. I think there is still a big problem where society thinks that AS people are incapable of having fulfilling, long term relationships of any kind. You pick up a book about AS in adults, and in the chapters involving relationships, you often see the experts saying ‘Don’t worry if your AS partner is cold/unsociable, etc. It’s in their nature, so don’t feel bad about leaving them and finding yourself a lovely non-AS partner and making sure you have kids with them so family life is easier’. I know it’s not this dramatic in the books, but that’s the message you get. IT’S NOT FAIR!

I’ve been in a happy relationship now for two years, two months. We’re engaged, and getting married after we graduate. It’s all good.

So, where does the sexy time come in?

Well, like anyone else, autistic people have all kinds of desires. We can be straight, gay, bi, pan, hetro-flexible. We can also be gender fluid, transgender and cisgender. Not all autistic people are sexual, or need sex constantly. One of my friends isn’t interested in sex, not until the right person comes along. I, however, love sex! Seriously!

I am a young, pansexual autistic woman who adores being intimate. I like how it makes me feel, the sensations, the excitement, the adventure. It could be seen to be unusual, as touch can be a big thing for AS people, especially in intimate situations.

I’m the one who will enjoy sex, but can’t stand having cuddles straight after. I need to recharge myself, fix my bubble. Sex is a really strong energy that can really sap it out of you. We joke that in bed I’m like the stereotypical man, wanting to run off after the deed has been done. But after a few minutes with a cup of tea and away from it, I can come back for the pillow talk, and it’s all good.

Every person, AS or not has experiences of their own that are completely unique. Just be assured that you are not alone, and that it is OK to want sex, or not want sex, be curious, be ignorant. Just do what’s right by you, and your partner/s if that’s what you want to do.

 

Party Survival Tips for AS Folk!

So, I’ve been really busy the past week, with so much going on. But last night was crazy, because of the annual Snow Ball (see what they did there, to keep things nice and secular). We all dressed up and even went into town to get our makeup done by the lovely ladies in Boots on the makeup stands. Then after some sort of pre-drinks party thingy, we all set off.

So, don’t get me wrong, I do love having a great time with my close friends. But parties are just a big struggle for me. This is when I really suffer with sensory overload, and also struggle with social etiquette. I know lots of people with AS struggle with this too, so I thought I would spend a bit of time quickly writing a post about party survival this festive season (and the rest of the year).

1) Pack your bag properly.

I have the usual things in the handbag I take to a social event, like my wallet, lipstick, mirror, phone, ID, keys to my room. But I also pack according to what kind of party I’m going to. So, for example, if I’m going to the Student Union where I know it’s going to be very loud, I pack my earplugs to help muffle the sound levels slightly. If lights are an issue (being too bright) I’ll pack some sunglasses.

2) Have signals/code words

I tend to feel awkward the most when someone I hardly know comes up to me, and starts getting all in my space and touchy feely. I also feel uncomfortable if I’ve had a bit much to drink, or if the music is too loud even with earplugs in, or I’m just feeling overwhelmed. So me and my two best friends have come up with clear hand gestures and phrases that I can say to them in a party situation to let them know I need a time out. They use them too with everyone now in our circle of friends, so it’s really useful, as I can just tap my elbow and have them come up with a socially acceptable excuse to usher me out into the fresh air.

3) Try to keep towards the edges

It’s best to stay out of the crowd, especially if you dislike being in one (that’s common sense, really). But being at the edges helps if you do need to make a quick getaway, as I’ve tried to escape from a big crowd before, and it isn’t pleasant.

4) Stand Up for Yourself!

Don’t let someone persuade you into doing something that isn’t comfortable. For example, I had a friend who dragged me into the crowds, and onto the stage which was full of loud drunk people, and made me dance whilst a guy grabbed my hands and kept spinning me. I didn’t want to say ‘no’ because I didn’t want to look like a party pooper, even though I was cowering in pain next to the speakers, but I do regret standing up for myself. It’s not fun having to say ‘no, I’m sorry, but that makes me feel uncomfortable’, but it is better than being in agony. Or, if they properly grab you, try and lose them in the crowd, and slink back to friends who will look out for you.

5) Don’t Push yourself

If you’ve had enough, you’ve had enough. Just make sure you have a friend to walk with you, it’s never fun trying to get home whilst overloaded on your own.

I hope that helps a little bit. I know it might not always be the best advice, but these are just a few things I’ve learned on the way.