Sunday, 23 April 2017

Review of my writing goals

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

1. Republish Billy. Yes, did that in January. You can find him here

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

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

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

5. Write more womag stories. Am doing that.

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Me, Asperger's and Adult Meltdowns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Why children can be alone in the playground

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

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

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

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

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

So, they are my thoughts on this subject.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

My autism event and an interesting question

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Why people stim

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

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

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

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

Monday, 27 March 2017

Raising awareness of autism

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

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

Let's celebrate National Autism Awareness Week. #WAAW2017

Sunday, 19 March 2017

ASD and why children can have meltdowns

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

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

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

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

2. Give the child space

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

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

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

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

Friday, 10 March 2017

Autism spectrum disorder and school bells

Welcome to a new series about why children (and adults) behave in certain ways at school and at home. The first post is about behaving when there is a loud noise at school ie school bells ringing.

There might be a child who either cringes or puts their hands over their ears or screams and cries when the school bells rings out. This is because the noise of the bell sounds too loud for their head and ears. It is known as sensory overload. The noise hurts their head and ears.

The same can be said for screeching noises such as fingers and rubbers over a board. The high-pitched sound is too painful for them to bear. (I hate sounds such as these as they make my teeth go on edge).

Here are a few tips.

If you do know of children who act like this, may be you can warn them beforehand when the bell is due to go. Like the main character in my current children's book, Qessa, her friend and teacher points to their ears as a warning. So they can put their hands over their ears ready.

Another idea is to have headphones, which can dull the highness of the bell ringing. Qessa's teacher gifted her a set to wear.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Promotion - Thinking outside the box

You never know where you can promote your book and if it will be successful, but yesterday was for me, I hope. This was thinking out of the box, as they say. I had to go and see my GP about a few things to do with my kidneys, which aren't fully functioning. I knew that she had children but don't know how old they are. I took one of my Billy cards with me. When I had finished talking about my health, I said I had one last thing to talk about, which wasn't really medical. I took out the card and told her what I was writing and why. I also told her about the library event on 1 April about raising awareness of Asperger's. She wrote a note on the back of the card. She said that she would try to get to the library but if not, would see about buying the book for her children. My GP is so nice. I can talk to her about things and be comfortable with it. So, a successful promotion of Billy for me. We shall see if she does come to the event. Will let you know.

So, what has been the most outside the box have you done?

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Me, Asperger's and textures

As well as being sensitive to loud and constant noises, I am now sensitive to textures, esp clothes. I can't wear clothes made from lace, wool, angora or mohair, as they irritate my skin. I also hate thick seams in tops as they also bother my skin, esp on my neck or front. I also hate labels in the neck of tops and pants as again they all scratch and irritate my skin. I now try to remember to cut them out before wearing them. Another thing I hate in tops, and I find them in dressing gowns mainly, are the loops on the neck to hang the clothing with. They tickle me, and I end up scratching my neck, causing red marks to appear.

I am not the only one in my family to feel like this. My mum does too. Do I get this from her? Or her from me?

So, what textures do you hate and why? Let me know.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Using a blog to raise awareness

I thought I might write a post about why and how I use this blog. Part of this blog is about posting on living with Asperger's Syndrome and how it affects me now as an adult and when I was a child. I started posting about this because I feel, and still do, that not a lot of people know what Asperger's is and how it affects others. Even I don't know the full extent of how it really affects me and I have it.

So, I am going to keep posting on here about different aspects of Asperger's; from sensory overload, to communication, from childhood to adulthood.

I will possibly be blogging more about this the end of March, which is National Autism Awareness Week, including promoting a library event I have planned for that time.

So, if you want to know more about Asperger's, and esp how it affects me, then keep reading.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Me, Asperger's and noisy games

Adults and children with Asperger's Syndrome often have challenges with senses, especially noise. When I was little there were a few games that I hated because they made loud and sudden noises.

I hated jack-in-the-box. Even though I knew the jack would pop out after winding it up, the suddenness of it and the noise it always made, caused me to jump. I would refuse to wind it up.

There are three other games that come to mind.

Operation: The buzz when you touch the side of the holes always made me jump. Knowing it would go would make me nervous, so I'd end up making it buzz.

Buckaroo: This made a loud noise when you put too many items on the donkey and it bucked up, making a noise.

Ker Plunk: It was the noise of all the marbles falling down if you took out the wrong stick. The idea of the games is to put in all the sticks in the holes, then pour in the marbles. You would have to take a stick out at a time, careful not to cause a marble to fall down the gaps. That makes the noise.

So, are there any games that you don't like or don't like playing because of the noise? Let me know.

My top tip for children is: if there is a game you don't want to play because it affects your senses, then tell your family. Don't be afraid to let them know.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

A biz goal accomplished

This year, again, I have Leonie Dawson's Life and Biz books to write my goals down for what I want to achieve. One of the pages in the Biz book is about promotion and asks where do you want to be mentioned. One of my answers was ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors), and I have achieved this twice the last week.

A couple of months ago, I was asked to write a piece for their blog about writing about children with Asperger's by the blog's organiser, Debbie Young. She said that she would put it up when my book went live. The post went up last week and you can read it here

Then a couple of days ago Debbie asked on the FB group for ideas on out-of-the box marketing for our books. I posted about wanting do a library event during National Autism Awareness week. It was picked up and put on a blog post, which you can read here

After this, I have realised that my biz is now going to be writing children's book about children with Asperger's, autism and other health issues, and raise awareness of them by doing events at libraries, if I can.

So, that is one of my Biz promo goals accomplished.

How are your biz goals going?

Monday, 23 January 2017

Me, Asperger's and sensory overload - noise

Today's blog is all about how noise affects me and my Asperger's. It is called Sensory Overload. I am going to give the example of last Thursday, when I had to go to bed with an overload of chatter.

Last Thursday my uncle on my mum's side came over for a couple of hours. He has a loud voice anyway, but that day he forgot his hearing aids, so it was even louder and my mum had to raise her voice so he could hear her. Even with the kitchen door closed to, I could still hear the chatter going on. Now and then I would try concentrating on things I wanted to do such as typing, or walk from room to room, or go upstairs to get away from it. But after two hours of hearing it, my head started to go fuzzy and then finally spinning round inside. I knew then that I couldn't take any more, so I did what I don't like doing; going to bed when we have a visitor. I had no choice. I went to bed and shed a few tears because it upset me, feeling anti-social to my uncle.

My mum later told me that my uncle had asked her if it was in my head. My mum replied that no, it was how my brain is and can't take a lot of noise, esp loud ones.

So, here are my tips to coping with noise overload:

1. Try to concentrate on other things such as reading or writing. Things that take your mind away from the chatter.

2. Go in the garden for some air, if it's not too cold.

3. Go upstairs for a few minutes to get a breather.

4. You could tell your relative that their voice is proving too much for you, please calm it down.

5. Shut a door to the noise, but tell people what you are doing first and why

6. If it all fails, then go up to your room and stay there.

I hope that this gives people some insight to people coping with noise and overload of it, and how others with Asperger's can cope with it.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Happy new year - Goals for 2017

Happy new year, everyone. So, I am back posting what my main goals are for this year. They will be more specific this year. Here we go:

1. Republish 'Billy', hopefully on Amazon KDP paperback service now. It appears that Createspace might have it's days numbered now.

2. Publish 'Birds'. Waiting for edits.

3. Publish 'Charlie' and 'Susie'. Need to send second edits to my editor once I get edits for Birds.

4. Write Qessa and Alistair's stories - already started the former.

5. Write more short stories for womags.

6. Get one story accepted by Woman's Weekly.

7. Get one story accepted by The Weekly News.

I would have put get a story accepted by Take a Break's Fiction Feast, but they no longer take stories from new authors. Boo. So, I don't buy that magazine any more.

8 Promote my Asper Fiction more.

9. Read more on the biz side of writing.

10. Keep my biz expenses up to date.

That is it for now. I think they are enough. So, what goals do you have?