The Aspie – Being Keen on… YouTubers (some of them anyway)

Yesterday was all about Twitch. Today, it’s all about YouTube.

Double Bill Weekends are for things that I think should be grouped together in two posts over two days. In this case, my tastes in content creators. Yesterday, I shouted out small-town Twitch Streamers that deserve some love. Today, I’m going to explain where my taste in YouTube content lies. And also explain why there are certain genres I don’t like on a second page. Also, please don’t ask me to talk about TikTokers simply because I don’t really understand the appeal of any of them (except for Daniel Labelle) or the Platform, nor do I want to…

So, the main type of content that I consume on YouTube is Commentary. I mostly like long-form, critical analysis videos of mostly social media issues, internet history, problematic creators, and sometimes issues in the real world. I don’t care that much for video essays on social or political issues generally (there are exceptions) because I’m not particularly invested in those subjects and I also feel that most of them are going to be skewed along one political agenda or another, which is the point of essays in a way but at the same time, the main reason I watch this block is for facts and generally informed opinions about things that catch my attention or things I want to familiarise myself with. I feel the following YouTubers are among the best at Commentary with styles that I enjoy listening to:

  • Sarah Z: At this point, she may as well be a Tumbler historian with a flair for analysing what certain internet conflicts and wild creations say about the state of it and who we can be when we get lost in the midst of internet madness.
  • Smokey Glow: I don’t particularly care for the makeup but I do care for her brutal honesty when analysing, amongst other things, problematic creators and thorough research when reciting some of the internet’s biggest dramas. When my next creator on this list shouted her out and I saw this video, I fell in love and spent an entire Sunday afternoon BINGING on her social media commentaries! She is fantastic, funny and certainly glows a light on things about the Internet you wouldn’t normally think about, I don’t think.
  • The person who shouted out Smokey is Madison Harnish of Cruel World Happy Mind. She started out by breaking down the hollow and ludicrous claims of various Multi Level Marketing companies before turning her hand at highlighting similar tactics being employed by some of the most problematic YouTubers and mainstream celebrities ever. How anyone can keep a happy mind in such a cruel world is something no one has a definitive answer to. I guess her channel is all about highlighting the cruel things people do so you can avoid them and keep a happy mind, which makes her, not just an excellent commentator, but a very useful resource.
  • The Right Opinion: The home of a twat with too much free time. That’s the tagline of perhaps one of the best in the business of commentary. Deep, intense, brutally honest with sophisticated animations that illustrate his points brilliantly! Probably best to take it one chapter at a time considering how heavy and complicated the subjects discussed are. But it is one word: Enthralling.
  • Drew Gooden: Finally, someone who commentates on things that are much lighter but, just like the others, he makes perfectly great points on a wide range of things from YouTuber Books to YouTube Reality Shows and crazy items being sold on the internet… Why does he do it? For our entertainment, of course! But I enjoy hearing what he has to say if the topic interests me.

I do like more than just Commentary, though. The next creator I want to highlight is someone who sometimes fits into the list above but is generally more of an edutainment YouTuber (entertaining educator, per se) than a full-blown commentator: MatPat. He’s the Game, Film and Food theorist who brings common sense and concrete research to a LOT of things, from the wider business of video games to the legality of Squid Game in real life (which I HATE as a show!) and even the true cost of playing the McDonalds Monopoly! He has a HUGE team who work hard to craft and animate these theories, he’s just the person who voice records their findings. And, apart from a few questionable videos of the very early days, it’s BRILLIANT! And why I have been subscribed since 2019, even though the channel has been going since 2011. Why only 2019? It’s because of a major event that affected him and dozens of other creators… It was the first, what I would call #MatChat, and it really sold to me just how passionate, how honest and how credible he is as a creator , especially when I took the time to watch through his back catalogue of theories from prior to 2019.

Also in my list of Subscriptions is Philip DeFranco, primarily because of his straight-forward manner of explaining mainstream news and highlighting things that wouldn’t normally get picked up. In fact, I take inspiration for reading news out loud from him. I also have John Scarce on my list for the purposes of digesting social media-specific news, although he hasn’t posted since January 2022 at the time of writing. I feel he is A LOT better than Keemstar at this subset because his videos are basically a run-through of what has gone down in terms of “drama” and you make up your own mind based on his summary of the facts. My issues with Keem, in contrast, include the way he presents social media “news” with a very sensationalist tone as if something he covers is the biggest thing to happen to the world since 9/11. I also take issue with how he consistently implants his opinion into every “story” and implies that’s the way we should react to what he reports. Philip DeFranco doesn’t have that problem because he caveats the end of every story on his show with “That’s the story, my personal opinion and now I pass the question onto you: What are your thoughts on this?” or words to that effect. And I also wonder… Is some of what he is talking about really things enough people care about or does he just put out videos for the sake of it?

There are other YouTubers I don’t subscribe to but I still watch their content from time to time because I enjoy it, including:

  • The Sidemen: Just the main channel videos because all seven of them as a collective were meant to be with each other. Why they didn’t cross 10 million subscribers years earlier is a mystery to me because their creativity, chaotic energy and loyalty to each other is fantastic and something I think most other YouTube Groups, especially those in America, tend to lack.
  • Tom Simons: Not TommyInnit, the Minecraft super star and tormentor of Tubbo. I prefer his Vlogs over his main channel content because I don’t like Minecraft content and also they are chaotic but hilarious enough to keep me re-watching them for the craziest moments, from the reactions of Tubbo in the build-up to sky diving, to demonstrating the five stages of grief in the middle of the ocean with Ranboo (I would have given that idea the middle finger too if I was Tubbo!) to feeling the heat of awkward questions from friends while facing a real Lie Detector test. I think Tommy’s vlogs are better than his streams and why I pop by there from time to time.
  • Cynical Reviews (currently on hiatus): I encountered this channel when it came to his critical analysis of Sia’s attempt at movie making in the form of Music. And, just like a lot of the block of Commentary Channels I listed above, the style is fantastic and straight to the point.

I also watch and / or subscribe to mainstream show YouTube channels because I enjoy the shows in question, namely Kitchen Nightmares, Dragons’ Den, Hell’s Kitchen, Sky Sports News and Gary Neville’s The Overlap. However, there are certain blocks of content and certain creators that I don’t really have time for, Keemstar already mentioned above as one of them. I think it all deserves its own page so that’s what’s coming up next…

The Aspie – Being Keen on… Small-Town Twitch Streamers

It’s probably more worthwhile watching THESE streamers than mainstream ones.

It’s Double Bill Weekend again! This time, something I actually like. Something I really, REALLY like! And that’s watching Twitch Streamers. Well… Small-town Twitch Streamers anyway. I don’t feel comfortable streaming on Twitch myself so I use the platform to watch streamers who play CERTAIN video games or those with styles of streaming I enjoy having in the background. This post is going to highlight some of those people. Links to their respective Twitch Channels will be in their individual headings.

Before I highlight streamers, here’s an overview as to what my tastes in Twitch are like. Overall, it’s primarily certain video games, namely: VALORANT, Rogue Company, Rocket League, APEX Legends, Among Us, Jackbox Games and… Phasmophobia. I also like Just Chatting streams because I can get to know the person behind the streamer. Streams I’m NOT interested in include: Reaction streams, Dead by Daylight or any horror-type game except Phasmophobia, Pokémon streams, Fortnite Streams (even though some of those I watch play Fortnite because they like it) and playing in Quiz Streams because if you read my Double Bill on why I don’t like quizzes, you know why. I also don’t like streams with large viewer counts or very busy chats because I find it IMPOSSIBLE to get my opinion across, especially since I’m more of a talker in text than on voice. So… With all that laid out, here are five small-town Twitch Streamers from those on my Followed Channels should consider watching:

1. adam_george_fowler

I met Mr. Fowler through a mutual small-town Twitch Streamer who’s given up completely. He’s a model and photographer who’s not afraid to be adventurous when travelling. He plays a wide variety of games, my personal favourite of his being Rogue Company. I actually think he resembles the character of either Seeker or Dallas, depending on what way he styles his hair! His taste in games outside of that is more laid back and includes City Skylines, Rollercoaster Tycoon, Knockout City, Bus and Train Simulator and NHL 22 (He’s a HUGE LA Kings fan!). The most annoying thing, in my opinion, is that frequently, I’m the ONLY person watching and giving my thoughts on how the stream is going! And yet he has over 1,000 Followers at the time of me writing this… (Although his average viewer numbers are slowly climbing thanks to him making the effort to connect with Twitch Networks more) I mean… He’s a nice guy who plays decent games to a generally good standard, what more do you want?!

2. TheStormUK

I met Toby, the person who oversees the madness, via Mr. Fowler’s recommendation. He’s operations manager of a theatre originally from Norwich who almost always wears black, grey or white because his camera doesn’t project any clothing that is coloured very well, apparently. Currently, he primarily plays GTA V Online, Mario Kart 8 and Fortnite (which he is surprisingly good at when he’s on form). He also has his own Minecraft server that’s open to Subscribers only. However, don’t tempt him to play Quiplash whenever there is a Community Night featuring Jackbox games because… It often ends up being The Roast of Storm, which I personally find more enjoyable than seeing my lack of trivia cause a sewn puppet of me to descend into eternal darkness… In fact, in his Discord server, it’s a running gag for me to express my displeasure at everyone else’s desire to play Murder Trivia Party but I do have my reasons, I’ll have you know!

3. WallsiesDGP

Alex Walls is a fan of Leicester City (shame what Nottingham Forest did to them in the FA Cup this year…) and Lego. He is wheelchair bound because of a physical disability and uses simple hardware and software to play games (he made a YouTube video about it here). He mainly plays Valorant (in fact, he’s the streamer who really got me hooked on Valorant!) where, at the time of writing, he is Bronze III but realistically should be closer to or in Silver II. He frequently has “Wallsies Dum-Dum Moments”, lapses in concentration that are not beneficial to the game but his reaction is beneficial to our enjoyment of his streams in a cruel fashion! He also streams simultaneously on TikTok where more people view him as opposed to Twitch for some reason, so if you sometimes hear him on Twitch replying to people who ask him what he’s playing, that’s why.

4. the0nehandedgamer

This is another Alex who primarily plays Apex Legends and WWE with one hand because his other one is disabled. He is a HUGE fan of the Sidemen and considers KSI an inspiration. He generally streams Wednesday to Friday in the evening and Saturdays in the afternoon. He is generally consistent with his other regular players in Apex Trios, almost always finishing inside the Top 10 Squads at least. But sometimes, it’s fine margins or bad timings of being shot at that mean victory is out of reach. He started streaming just a year ago because he wanted to break down barriers and such and I believe it is impressive to see someone able to be that consistent with just one hand!

5. JackPenguinn

This is an American streamer who is very handsome but his stream and his chat is very chaotic! I first spotted this streamer in Mr. Fowler’s Discord server as a Recommended Streamer and I thought, after walking away from another one because his energy was too much for me, I wanted to see what he could do. So I watched him and loved his look and thought he was very nice and my kind of vibe. But his chat is VERY chaotic! There’s someone there who is just OBSESSED with his feet and gets excited whenever they are accidentally on show. The games he generally plays are also crazy, mainly revolving around Pokémon and trying to speed run Platformers and break a few Speed Run World Records along the way. But like I said at the start of this post, I find that more tolerable than big streamers whose chats are just MOBBED with something every second!

Of course, I follow others but these are my current Top Five Active Twitch Streamers that I would recommend you go at least watch once. If that changes, I’ll probably do another one of these but for now, that’s where my tastes lie as far as Twitch is concerned. Now usually I would ask you, the reader, if you agree or disagree with this list or have any recommendations that I should follow up on. But this weekend, I’m not going to listen to those. For I prefer to look objectively at a channel myself and decide, based on five minutes of watching them, if this is someone I would like to follow and watch as often as I can. So don’t bother leaving your recommendations in the comments below or pleading with me in an email that your channel is one worth viewing because… I don’t like things out of sympathy, I like things because they appeal to me.

And tomorrow night… It’s YouTube’s turn to be objectively judged against my tastes!

The Aspie – Being Keen on… Reality Shows

I would like to appear on one before I’m 30… But that doesn’t mean I’m open to just ANY of them!

So before The Aspie took a break, I delivered an almighty pair of rants on why game shows and me are like oil and water and why the thought of me appearing on them was, in my mind at least, inconceivable for various reasons. But there is another type of television I watched and enjoyed some of incognito. And that’s reality TV. In fact, since I was 18, I’ve had a crazy idea in my head that maybe someone like me, on the autism spectrum, could thrive on a reality TV show! And maybe I could! But… I’m not someone who is willing to throw himself into just ANYTHING! Therefore, I think it’s worth analysing what REALLY appeals to me as far as reality TV concepts are concerned and what doesn’t.

Let’s start with one category that definitely does NOT: Dating Shows. I’m talking First Dates, 90 Day Fiancé, Are You The One?, Love is Blind, etc., etc. I’ve already made it clear why I’m single and probably will stay that way for the time being. I’ve also never been on a date with anyone, anywhere, any time. Therefore, why would I want my first ever date to be broadcast to at least a few hundred thousand people? The biggest risk I feel there is to appearing on a show like this is that, if the date goes wrong, it’s going to colour a perception of me that I think will alienate people who would have given me a chance in normal dating circumstances. I personally believe love is something that should develop naturally and in private. I don’t want to be permanently condemned as single and not worthy of being in love by armchair critics or social media trolls simply because of, for instance, the pressure of being on camera and trying to act natural getting to me and me ending up saying something I regret! That’s not something I want to put myself through so… I’ll happily stay single and keep my love life AWAY from the cameras for fear of ending up as another Chantelle and Preston.

Another set that isn’t really up my street is anything crafting or art-related. I never really took a strong interest in arts and crafts growing up and my tastes in design, especially fashion are very simple, although not entirely Black and White. So that rules out, among others, The Great British Bake Off, The Great British Sewing Bee, Masterchef, etc., etc. If I was ever anything famous, I would give something like Strictly Come Dancing my best shot although I’m not exactly sure I would realistically cope with all that comes with it. It’s a very exhausting, intense journey with a lot more to it than some people realise. And managing my Fire Triangle is going to be my biggest challenge there because, need I remind you, it is dancing LIVE to an audience, the judges and the millions of viewers at home who make up 50% of the overall scores each week until the Final. And THAT is intimidating for anyone! Especially those who suffer from stage fright, which I don’t think I do, but standing backstage with all that anticipation could still hit me like a freight train at any time if I was involved in something like that.

Perhaps I should point out that what I’m after as far as appearing on a Reality TV show is concerned is an experience that is out of the ordinary and out of my comfort zone but with long-term intangible value. The category that would probably be that and more for me is the Adventure category. However, this one is hit and miss for me personally. If we’re talking about Killer Camp, The Amazing Race or Hunted, FORGET IT! I HATE horror, first and foremost, so the prospect of living in an abandoned camp site fearing I will be “murdered” night after night is illogical. Second, I’m not a great traveler and, even though I would cover bits of the world I wouldn’t be able to reach normally via The Amazing Race, I’d prefer to do it on my own time, not while under the pressure of competing for a cash prize. And thirdly, why would I want to have specially trained police officers chasing me all over the country while a camera crew races to capture the drama and emotion of it all? That’s a TERRIFYING prospect to me! And while being scared is a natural reaction to the unknown, I don’t want a situation on a reality show to completely cause me to crumble and scream my head off every step of the way.

I think I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here would be one that would be a hit and something up my ally were it not for the fact I cannot swim and I don’t deal with great heights above about… 5 metres off the ground very well. Remember the first challenge faced by Louise, Naughty Boy, Danny and Snoochie during the 2021 series? When I was watching that on the Virgin Media Player (only reason being because I’m a Celebrity is broadcast on Virgin Media here in Ireland), I had to skip over that bit because the thought of being hundreds of feet above the bottom of a ravine and facing the prospect of freefalling down that sort of height… Filled me with dread… I don’t know if I’m like JackSepticEye and are chronically terrified of heights (you should see the way he deals with Richie’s Plank Experience and Spacewalk VR) but… Something like that is going to be a huge mental challenge for me! I’m not phased by snakes, spiders, rats or insects, though so… That’s half the mental battles one could face won already! It’s just water and heights that scare me to death…

One type of reality show that is definitely on my radar is the show that started it all for me: Big Brother. Locked in a house with a group of people I wouldn’t normally associate with in the real world. For me, that is the ultimate test of my social skills, which I frequently fail in normal life. I think if it came back, I would definitely apply for it so I can say that I know what life in that house is like. I should probably interview a couple of former Housemates so that I REALLY know what I’m getting myself into since some of them do say that it is a LOT more than the 45 minutes of nightly highlights would suggest. However, I would ONLY apply for the original format where generally, the housemates nominate and the viewers decide who’s worth keeping in for the long-run. I’d much rather have the viewers decide my fate than how it’s done in the US, Canada and recently Australia.

The reason I say that is because I don’t like the idea of people I only met a short while ago decide I’m a “threat” to them winning Big Brother, whatever that means. I don’t like American High School dynamics (probably something that exists no matter what the environment is, though) and dealing with that – while locked in a house with strangers who can bring the experience to an end either because of an artificial judgement of me as a person, or because the entire dynamic says so – is, for me, almost impossible to get my head around. I know some fans of this style will turn around and say to me “It’s just a game, don’t take it personally!” But to that, I say this: When you’re someone like me who has always struggled to “fit in”, what way would you react, realistically? I can’t help how I feel sometimes and most of the time, I simply make no apologies for the fact that I often tend to think in Black and White terms and often struggle to identify or react to the ways people display emotions at any given moment.

But I am also open to what you have to say on this topic. Do you think I would be good on a certain type of reality TV show? Or do you think my 18-year old self’s crazy idea was just that: Crazy? Also, have you been on a reality TV show of any kind and have any advice for or against the idea of me following in your footsteps? Whatever your experience or opinions, I’m open to all of them! Leave your thoughts in the comments below or send your opinions (or maybe even invitations) to theaspieadog15@gmail.com. As usual, I cannot guarantee a reply to everything (in fact for this one, if you propose the prospect of me taking part in a show I have ZERO interest in, I’m going to bin it straight away!), but I promise that everything I receive gets read.

Next time… If you’re someone small on Twitch playing what I like, I could be your best kind of viewer!

The Aspie – Being Honest but Frustrated about… Game Shows (Part 2)

I used to love them… Now I hate them. Well… Quizzes at least.

So yesterday, I made a brutally honest but slightly ranty post about how the idea of me appearing on a quiz show sounds inconceivable because of the amount of barriers I feel I have to overcome to enjoy it. And those that I tagged for opinions considered my post completely understandable although I still expect it to go down like a lead balloon in the minds of others. Even so, my last point still stands, if I couldn’t act in a reasonable fashion in a virtual quiz, what chance have I got of doing a decent job in a real one?

Putting that aside, I also said yesterday that the genre of game show as a whole is more than just quizzes, which it is. And so today, I’m going to look at a couple of shows that fall into this other side of the genre that I’ve watched and ask myself… Could I possibly find joy in that side of it since I find it impossible to do so in a quiz?

The first one that springs to my mind is Total Wipeout. It was presented by Richard Hammond, the one who presented Brainiac: Science Abuse and Top Gear for many years, from a studio in London, and Amanda Byram on set in Buenos Aires in Argentina of all places! It featured 20 people attempting to conquer a series of outlandish and wacky obstacle courses in a bid to be the last person standing and claim £10,000. This one is definitely NOT one I would EVER envision myself doing! The thought of travelling from Ireland to Argentina for one thing makes me nauseous… Especially since I’ve never done any long-haul air travel before. I’ve only been on two flights: One to Jersey in the Channel Islands and another to Poland. The second and perhaps bigger problem is the fact that this Aspie does not know how to swim at all and is majorly scared of water as a result. I’m also not that fit physically so can you imagine me attempting to conquer all those crazy courses only to end up slipping and sliding into the water more than the actual next checkpoint? I fear I would nearly DROWN the first time I fall into the water and that’s not something viewers want to see from a contestant so… No thank you!

Another show I watched a fair bit of is Deal or No Deal. Simple premise when you strip away the twists of fate one could take advantage of in later years: £250,000, 22 identically sealed boxes and no questions except one: Deal or No Deal? This one is something I probably might have been tempted to apply for BUT for the fact that relying on Lady Luck to win a huge cash prize is the entire game mechanic. I also would just find the intense pondering of the road not taken as the numbers go down and the potential prizes become fewer and fewer too much to handle. Some people accept graciously ‘That’s life’. I’m not one of those people, I’m afraid.

Golden Balls is even worse. With this game, it’s not just about luck but also bluffing your way to potentially huge money. The thing I would find most challenging about it is trying to convince people I am worth keeping in for the long-haul, irrespective of whether my hand is good or bad, and also figuring out who to keep for the long-haul at the same time because ultimately, I only know what I have on my back row in live play. That’s not really a lot to work with and I’m not the most vocal or assertive in terms of communication normally. Then comes the problem of deciding whether to Split or Steal. Do you sacrifice your dignity and choose Steal for the sake of a whole jackpot – big or small – or do you preserve your dignity and self-respect and Split anyway? That’s a question I would find impossible to answer in theory because the reality is completely different in the actual studio. So… I’m going to mark this game and whole type as one to Bin.

I also don’t like games that involve making snap judgements and decisions based on those judgements. Dog Eat Dog is, in my opinion, the WORST culprit for this! Trying to form an impression on five other people 24 Hours before the actual show already makes my life very difficult on paper because, as you probably know if you’ve read all my posts so far, I don’t have a natural ability to socialise and let my hair down. Then comes the actual show itself where the 6 players have to vote for the one person they feel is incapable of completing the challenge before them. I wouldn’t mind being sent to the Dog Pound (or Losers’ Bench) if the group voted for me to face a challenge that was definitely beyond me. But to be sent there because the challenge was complete and I didn’t even vote for the person who did it (I would deserve it if I did), especially if it was the first one and I haven’t faced one yet, is a horrible feeling and I will have felt that going through the entire process beforehand would have been a waste of time, even if the Losers beat the Top Dog and split the £10,000 between them. I came to have an experience, not to be cast aside and made stupid on television based on a poor, superficial judgement!

Last type of game show I dislike are those that have a horror theme or are set in one of the places I would NEVER imagine myself being in! Finest example I can think of is a show called Exit, which was based on the Japanese series Dero! When I saw the opening titles of an episode on YouTube, I closed that tab STRAIGHT AWAY! I was absolutely HORRIFIED by the feeling I got from that sequence! I HATE anything horror themed with a passion! And I don’t think putting myself through something like that is worth it! I came to have an experience, not to develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and / or have a never-ending nightmare every time I go to sleep upset or anxious!

I guess, therefore, just like quiz shows, I feel a lot of these shows are inaccessible to me. I’m sure producers will beg to differ and say ‘Well, if this is how you feel, here’s what we can do to help.’ Although… While writing this particular pair of posts, I have felt a sense of confirmation that actually, my younger self was stupid for thinking that I could grow up to appear on one of these shows and have as good a time as most that have and gone away with something good or bad. I’d like to think it can still happen if a producer can assure me it’s not as bad as I make it to be. But, based on what I know about myself and my analysis over these two posts, there just doesn’t seem to be much that appeals to me at all… Unless my tastes are too narrow-minded.

That’s the end of this double-header. Just like last night, I’d love to know if you, the reader (Aspie or not) has actually appeared on any of the above-mentioned shows or others like it and if I’m overreacting or being a realist. Also, if you’re a producer of shows on this side of the genre and want to show me that it’s not as bad as I’m making it out, I’d like to hear from you. Leave your comments and stories below or send what you know and what you have to theaspieadog15@gmail.com. I can’t guarantee a reply to everything but I promise that all I am sent gets read and your privacy is respected if what you send should NEVER be made public!

Coming soon… The game show genre may clearly not be my scene but perhaps there’s something in Reality TV that may take my fancy… Or is there? Before that, time for The Analytical Aspie to speak his mind on something I DO like for a change!

The Aspie – Being Honest but Frustrated about… Game Shows (Part 1)

I used to love them… Now I hate them. Well… Quizzes at least.

I guess it’s fair to say that game shows have been a staple of television since television began. The ways they have been designed and presented have gone through many transitions. They were one of my favourite types of television, apart from cartoons, to watch growing up and I did think that when I got older, I would love to appear on one or more of them. However, after a virtual taste of it in 2020, I realised that it wasn’t something I would enjoy realistically and that my attitude for it wasn’t right. And today, I’m going to outline the reasons why.

Before I do that, I must point out before anyone else does that the term game show is incredibly broad so this topic is going to be broken into two parts. Here, I’m going to outline the four things that totally undermine my willingness to appear on a quiz show, which is what the vast majority of the genre is. Then tomorrow night, I’m going to see how I would feel about shows that are NOT specifically quiz-related and if I would be interested in some of those. But for now, the question is… What is it about quiz shows that I loved watching growing up but now hate the thought of applying for as an autistic adult?

Well quizzing, by its very nature, is showing off your general knowledge under the pressure of several things: an audience watching in the studio and at home, a timer ticking down right in front of you and the thought of a bit of extra money being snatched away in seconds because I can’t produce the facts required fast enough. That first bit of the sentence, showing off your general knowledge, is my first problem. In my head, I don’t have a lot of general knowledge. I often say that I may speak articulately and keep something of an eye on current affairs but if you were to subject me to a broad-ranged quiz, I would draw A LOT of blanks!

I feel that’s because I don’t give a damn about a lot of things that are asked about on a quiz show. Whether that be cocktails, animal habitats or James Bond, if I don’t care about it, I’m not going to retain knowledge on it. I imagine some people will say to me “You learn something new every day” but would I be prepared to devote time to learning about all kinds of things and then show it off in a quiz show? The honest answer is No. And that’s also frustrating because it would feel great to win a quiz since I don’t really win a lot of things in life but if I’m not prepared to work to absorb as much about life as I can, it’s not going happen and that leaves me in a Catch-22, doesn’t it?

But even if I felt I had a reasonable amount of knowledge to show off, other problems abound. The next ones being the application process and then arriving on the actual set. First, how does someone who has very niche interests (which I think I’ll talk about after this two-parter) convince producers I am worthy of being on the show? I’m not sure I’m funny, outgoing or crazy enough to make a show watchable. And even if producers do like what they hear from me, I’m not someone who feels immediately comfortable being on camera, especially with the things I mentioned a typical quiz has above.

In fact, I had a weird dream once that I’m in a convoluted reality show and its Quiz Week. Part of the week involves half of the group appearing on a current quiz show. The one that came to mind was Beat the Chasers. Four of us arrive to take on The Chasers. I tag a fifth person along to act as my stress ball because I’ve seen clips of Beat the Chasers and the entire set-up reminds me of a Roman Colosseum where the entire crowd are excited to see if the lone peasant emerging from the tunnel becomes Chaser Chow or the David that slayed Goliath five times over. Anyway, in the dream, I watch the three others engage in battle and the longer I watch the show being recorded from the side lines, the more the anxiety builds because it feels completely surreal that I’m actually here on a show I’ve seen clips of on YouTube. Then when the show gets ready for my turn, I say I don’t feel well and need to go to the toilet where I PUKE my guts up and shake like a leaf knelt down over the first toilet bowl I chose. I practically fear that this will happen no matter what show I appear on. And even if it may not appear obvious on the actual recording of the show, it will be clear and obvious before, in between and after recording.

But even if I get my nerves under control and feel ready to go for it, here’s the third problem: The actual quiz format itself. Since my virtual taste, I have narrowed my interest in playing a quiz to practically nothing and actually prefer WRITING questions and stacks rather than answering them live. I think this is where my post is going to get A LOT of criticism but I’m going to explain it anyway because I wouldn’t feel I was being honest otherwise if I left this bit out. There are A LOT of mechanics and styles of quiz I don’t like:

  • The mechanic of appearing but not even playing: I believe there’s no point appearing on a quiz if you aren’t even going to be involved in the main action, In It to Win It being the biggest culprit. This is especially true for me as someone who lives in Ireland and would have to go through air travel and some of the stress that comes with that just to make it to the city it’s being recorded in.
  • Playing against a large group of people for few places in the next phase: The Fastest Finger First mechanic is absolutely GHASTLY to me, especially if it’s combined with the last mechanic and the next one too. Also, I have to highlight 1 vs. 100 as being HIDEOUS for its mechanic of if you don’t get every question right, you have to sit in the dark for a very long time and not be eligible to be the next 1!
  • One wrong answer and you’re out of the ENTIRE game: It reminds me of the natural flaw of a Battle Royale (which is also the main reason I don’t play games like that): You could be waiting many minutes to get into the game only for it to be over in 30 seconds. Winning Lines, !mpossible, Duel and The Code amongst many others are guilty of that.
  • Beating a Buzzer and Fine Margins: I don’t have a lot of reflexes and I was never fast at anything so imagine me trying to buzz in against someone who has those things and more. In fact, part of my virtual taste was playing Jeopardy! games created online and the buzzer mechanic stressed me out A LOT!
  • Relying on Lady Luck for progress: That’s the WORST of this list! Especially if mechanic 1 is tied into this one too.

The final reason me and quiz shows are like oil and water is more to do with me and my general attitude to losing. In a nutshell, I don’t enjoy it. It undermines my confidence in myself, makes me question everything and get very obnoxious. That, upon reflection, is the single biggest reason I did not enjoy my virtual taste of quizzing in 2020. Especially when it was set within a community of people that have experience of winning and losing game shows and A LOT more knowledge than I am interested in gaining. I did not like making an early exit, scoring very little and not being chosen for the heart of the action. It made me angry, plain and simple. And I got angry too many times because, no matter what game I attempted, I couldn’t find the fun in it, I couldn’t make what I deemed reasonable progress at all and I was just miserable all the time. And after being removed thanks to too many outbursts, the following lightbulb switched on in my head: If that’s the kind of attitude I’m capable of having in a VIRTUAL quiz, heaven knows what I could bring to a REAL quiz, regardless of all the other problems I have to overcome first.

As I said at the top of this post, game shows are more than just quizzes and I promise that tomorrow night, I’ll be looking at the other side of the genre and seeing if I could possibly gain joy from applying for those. In the meantime, I’m expecting this post to go down like a lead balloon in certain circles. Outside of those, I’d love to know if you’re on the spectrum yet still struck up the courage to apply and appear on a game show. Or perhaps you’re somebody who works behind the scenes on game shows and has practical advice for how this Aspie can overcome the first two issues at least. Leave your comments, stories and advice below this post or email what you know or what you have to theaspieadog15@gmail.com. I can’t guarantee a reply but I promise that everything I receive gets read and that your privacy is respected if what you send me is not meant to be public.

In the meantime, join tomorrow where, as I said… I may have an apathy for quizzes, but surely there are other types of show that fall under the genre of game show that may suit my fancy!

The Aspie – Being Honest about… Why I don’t want a relationship (right now)

I’m Single… But not looking. Here’s why.

Last month, Valentine’s Day occurred. I’ve never really understood the purpose of the day and all the commercialisation that comes with it. Why all that undermines the principle of it (if it even had one to start with) is perhaps best saved for The Analytical Aspie. Over here, The Aspie is more focused on me and why I have NEVER been in a relationship and why I’m not sure I even want to be in one in the first place. It’s not just because of the fact I’m autistic…

It’s interesting how the way a romantic relationship appears has evolved over the years. The traditional image most would have is a male and female. However, you now have male-male, female-female and everything in between. At the same time, this is my first problem. I don’t know where I belong in this spectrum for two reasons: I’ve never really been around females casually so I have no idea how a typical female would react to someone like me. And also, I don’t 100% know if the fact I generally prefer being around males and most of my acquaintances are male makes me gay. I could say I am bi-curious but I have other reasons for not being interested in even figuring out if I can lay foundations for a relationship successfully.

Trying to seek out those who exist on the Love Market is another barrier. The traditional image is blind date in a restaurant or somewhere pleasant. But as the internet has evolved the way it has, dating website after dating website has sprung up. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people who would ever use a website for the purpose of finding my other half. All too often, people are one thing on the internet and another thing in real life. While I prefer to get an idea of what someone is like online, I wouldn’t want to flirt with them there. Especially if it doesn’t transfer over to a real date. And most real dates often start or end in one of the places I listed as environments you would NEVER find me in (right now).

But even if I know who I am in terms of sexuality and are able to arrange a date in a reasonable location, my problems don’t stop. The next one is the most important for me and that’s the issue of how do I tell a potential other half that I have autism? I’ve already shown in other posts just how difficult general life can be for me and the amounts I don’t believe I can for reasons I’ve outlined. I believe broaching the subject can lead to one of the following outcomes: A partner decides they don’t want to spend the rest of their life with someone who struggles to control their hidden disability and walks away. A partner may decide my personality isn’t compatible with theirs anyway and walk away before autism is even discussed. Or a partner may decide that they are committed to helping me achieve my Mission Statement and manage it as best I can. I’m sure there are some of you who have read all my posts up to now who would love the third outcome to be the reality one day. But even so, other problems are right in front of this one.

I’ll categorise all these under the following title: Clashes of Interest. And I don’t mean stereotypical lovers’ quarrels about who gets control of the TV per night and who cooks and cleans day-in-and-day-out. I’m more focused on big ticket items including whether to adopt or have children naturally. I personally, if I had to choose, would prefer the former because I fear I would have many meltdowns managing the typical stages of development of a typical healthy baby and would prefer to adopt someone from the age of… 7 Years-Old. Then again, I don’t really want to have children at all if I can help it because for one thing, how is someone who has made posts about all the never’s and no’s I have in my mindset supposed to replicate those same things for his children? And also, I’m not really someone who naturally just lets his hair down at the drop of a hat or shows a lot of creativity in terms of expressing himself, except through this thing, so how am I supposed to stimulate the imaginations and blossom the growth of my children in these areas? I feel it is impossible for me and, if I can’t convince a woman that I’m not suitable to conceive with and she wants children anyway, it’s not gonna go down very well…

Other Clashes of Interest, I feel, include the balance of career and pleasure. Yes it is important to have an earning coming into the house but how much work should be offset by living life? Another is the desire for sex. I’m not particularly crazy for it on a regular basis so how do I push myself to enjoy it and return the favour? And finally, the personality of the person in general. I consider myself very shy and more of an introverted listener than an extroverted talker. While that may suit some dates, I think long-term and I’m not entirely sure that can sustain itself in the long-term.

So as you can see, I feel there are a lot of barriers to me forming a relationship with another person. But perhaps maybe you’re someone on the spectrum who’s had success in this area and wants to share some advice on how I can break down those barriers. Or maybe you’ve read this and think I’m someone who’s giving up on love without even trying. Whatever your viewpoint, I’m always keen to hear what you have to say. Share your comments and stories (success and failure) below or email me your stories in confidence to theaspieadog15@gmail.com. I can’t guarantee a reply but I do promise that all will be read and that your privacy will be respected if there are bits and pieces you don’t want to make public.

Coming soon… It’s not just people I struggle to find love for.

The Aspie – Being Honest about… Why I NEVER drink alcohol

Some of you may think drinking alcohol is totally normal… I beg to differ!

If you read my post about places I would NEVER find myself in, you’ll know a pub was among them. The atmosphere and ambience and their potential effects on me as an autistic person, if unmanaged, were under scrutiny over there. Right here, it’s more the general purpose of a pub that I’m ranting about. And that purpose, in my mind, is the consumption of alcohol. It’s something I have never done, nor would I want to (even if it’s labelled alcohol-free), and I have my reasons for doing so which I’m going to explain below.

The Perception of Drinking Culture

I’m from Ireland, if you don’t know by now. Something that I think some people would associate with Ireland is the amount of alcohol we consume. Statistically, despite a 6.6% reduction in the consumption of alcohol in this country last year, we still are estimated to purchase $7.3 billion worth this year and have an average volume of consumption per person of 99.32 litres this year (per Statista). As someone studying Accounting and Finance, these numbers would be fascinating to me. But the problem I have as a person is with my first statement, that some people outside of this island assume Ireland is all about drinking alcohol left, right and centre. Remember the Simpsons episode In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Guest Star? (Screenshot below):

There’s a part in the episode where Marge imagines the contrast between Protestant Heaven and Catholic Heaven. In a part of Catholic Heaven, you’ve got “the good part of Ireland”, as Homer calls it, consuming a lot of alcohol and encouraging a fist fight, presumably after consuming too much while young ladies (which most young Irish ladies actually look like without make-up and I like that), stand there or warm themselves up for some Irish dancing. I’m expecting a lot of my Irish peers to turn around and say to me that I’m talking out of my backside and that’s not the whole story of a typical “sesh” as they call it. In fact, they might even ask The Analytical Aspie in me to read up on the history of alcohol consumption in this country and conclude it’s actually normal and that I’m being too sensitive. On the contrary, I’m not being sensitive, I’m saying that I don’t want to be involved in a culture that says consuming alcohol at the estimated volumes is normal! Especially with my next point in mind.

The Classification of Alcohol

I think what a lot of people forget is that most of the well-researched effects of alcohol are short-term and the effects of drinking too much are serious. One of the most damning things that is overlooked, in my opinion, is the fact that alcohol is classified as a Central Nervous System Depressant, which means in simple terms, when you consume something alcohol, part of the brain becomes fuzzy. Can you remember a time when you’ve drunk too much and someone has recorded you displaying one or more of the following: slurred speech, unsteady movement, disturbed perceptions, and an inability to react quickly? Well that’s what happens and that’s another reason why I don’t want to consume alcohol. Life, as I’m sure The Analytical Aspie in me will show, is complicated and often depressing enough. And while alcohol is the legal drug of choice for drowning our sorrows, so to speak, there are better ways to deal with life’s problems and a sesh, for me, is not one of them.

Preservation of my Conscience

Finally, this is sort of connected to my last point about the effects of alcohol and how they are things I wouldn’t want to experience unnaturally. As well as those mentioned above, there are others including the following: diminishes the ability to think rationally, lessens inhibitions, and distorts judgment. You know when people struggle to remember what happened the morning after the night before after drinking too much and therefore have to rely on those who didn’t to piece events together? I’m afraid I’m not one of those people who would do that. And actually, for a good reason.

If I ever wanted to go on a night out, one of the main things I would HAVE to prioritise, apart from managing my Fire Triangle, is to preserve my sense of judgement and remain rationale. I fear that, if I consume too much alcohol, I will become too kinky, act with an air of arrogance around people I don’t even know and say and / or do things that will be deemed inappropriate down the line. I don’t want that to happen. I want to wake up every morning with a clear conscience and being drunk the night before, I believe, destroys that. A poster in my college reads: “Drink Less and Great Nights become Good Mornings.” Sound advice some people should probably follow. I, on the other hand, don’t need it because of the fact I don’t even drink to start with.

I’m not expecting everyone to agree with my sentiments so if you want to challenge my negative perceptions of consuming alcohol or say my reasons are fundamentally flawed, be my guest, that’s what comments are meant for! I’m also open to any suggestions for what you want me to talk about next. I can’t guarantee a reply but I promise that everything I receive gets read.

The Aspie – Being Honest about… Where you would NEVER find me (right now)

Putting the Fire Triangle into action

My Fire Triangle is my way of explaining how this Aspie can have a meltdown. In my last Blog, which you need to read by clicking here in order to know what I’m going to discuss below, I described how it works in theory. This time, I’m going to apply the theory to certain environments and hopefully you’ll understand it a bit better. Also, keep reading to the end because I’ll be eager to hear what you have to say in relation to this post in particular, the next paragraph being the reason why.

Before I go any further, I must point out that I have NEVER been in any of the environments I’m going to apply my Fire Triangle to. But I have seen photographs, videos and social media posts that have coloured a picture in my head and I’m fully expecting some of you to dispute my perceptions and pre-conceived ideas. Also, I’m going to put one-off events that have happened in these environments to one side and just focus on a general, run-of-the-mill, typical day in them because even though life is never black and white, if we were to consider EVERY possible thing that could happen, nothing would really get going. Finally, all the environments are going to be judged based on each of the three components of my Fire Triangle on separate scales of 1 to 5. Therefore, each one can score up to 15 Meltdown Marks.

Let’s start with a Nightclub. This type of building is for people to dance, drink and go nuts under flashy lights, loud music, all sorts, as far as I am aware. This is 100% a maximum Meltdown score of 15 out of 15. The crowds, for one thing, would be a constant 5 because, no matter where I would try and position myself in the building, there would always be a group of people around me. The chaos would come from a combination of the loud music, the flashing lights and the cheering, screaming and excitable people which would not stop from the time I enter to the time I dash out a fire exit or something. And the confusion is because of the fact the events that happen inside are often unpredictable. It’s not easy to really know what’s happening because of all the chaos and trying to keep wits about me feels impossible. I’d much rather play Roblox and be able to keep my wits about me while delivering pizzas on behalf of Builder Brothers’ Pizza than lose my head, feel claustrophobic and maybe even have a panic attack while inside there because of my Fire Triangle being at its maximum.

Another place kind of similar in scope at least is a Pub at full capacity. I use similar reasons to above for scoring Crowds at a 5. Chaos can be between 3 and 5 depending on the time of day and if, for instance, there’s an international rugby union or soccer match being broadcast. Chaos here would include a lot of noise from table to table, struggling to have a conversation in amongst the noise and maybe the occasional person who has reached their alcohol limit but continues to down shots anyway. I’ll take an average of 4. Not as much in the way of Confusion here compared to a nightclub but even so, stopping and starting a conversation with someone while other people are rowdy because, for instance, of a match being broadcast is frustrating and also, trying to ask for a drink or something from the actual bar while other people are gathered in a chaotic queue and the bartender isn’t sure who they need to serve what and when is awkward. Therefore, I rank confusion as a 3 which gives a total of 12 out of 15 Meltdown Marks to a Pub.

The next place I have in mind as a meltdown magnet, unless those who work there know otherwise, is visiting any Sports Stadium on a Matchday. I was never a sporty person growing up. I also don’t really watch sports live on television. Some people will argue the best way to watch sports is LIVE in the actual ground the games are taking place. But here again, there are a lot of potential flashpoints that can trigger my Fire Triangle. The most obvious one is the Crowds before, during and after a game. That’s a constant 5. Chaos, again, is between 3 and 5 depending on a number of factors including the crowd’s reaction to key moments in a game, the behaviour that is displayed by people at certain moments and if anything unexpected like a medical emergency or person being removed from the stadium occurs. Confusion is nowhere near as prominent as it may be in the other two places listed above but it can still occur if I’m not sure where to go before, during or after a game, who to ask if I need directions or I need to report something or if I need to get out because the Chaos or the Crowds becomes too much. I’d rank it as a 2 which gives an overall total of between 10 and 12 out of 15 Meltdown Marks. The same can be said about concerts, whether indoors or outdoors, so I see no need to repeat myself there.

The last pair of places I can think of, right now, that can very well trigger a meltdown for me are theme parks and water parks. I’ve put the two together because they overlap in terms of what they are as an environment. Like all the other places I have mentioned above, the one thing that is a constant feature is the presence of large Crowds. I struggle with a lot of people congregated in a space. And having a lot of people in queues all over the place makes me nervous. Added to that, the Chaos of people screaming, crying, laughing, showing every emoji in real life basically. Also, the adrenaline that comes with being on a ride and having to cope with that alongside all the walking and waiting. That’s a strong 5. Confusion is not so prominent here either because information about attractions and so on should be available on a location’s website in some form and there should be staff dotted all over the park who can help me if I’m a little lost. So that element is a 1 but Crowds and Chaos are 5 each so that makes a total of 11 out of 15 Meltdown Marks for both of these places.

Now, I want to hear from you, the reader.

  • Are you an autistic person who has had good or bad experiences at any of these types of venue?;
  • Perhaps you’ve witnessed an autistic meltdown or been with someone when a visit to one of these places became too much;
  • Or are you someone who owns or is employed in one of the above and wants to say to me either:
    • Going here is not what you think it is; or
    • If this is how you feel, here’s what we can do to help you.

Whatever your motivation, I’m eager to hear what you know and learn what you have. Leave your comments, stories and so on below or, if you have links or documents that I might find useful, send them to me in an email to theaspieadog15@gmail.com. I can’t guarantee a reply but I do promise that everything I receive gets read.

Coming soon… Another reason why I don’t go to pubs. They were the places where people consumed alcohol most. But I’ve never been one of those people and I have my reasons. I just need a bit of time to make sure I justify those reasons properly.

The Aspie – Explaining… Autism 101 (Part 2): Me & My Fire Triangle

Let’s talk about Autism in action from the unconventional point of view of an autistic person…

So… Now that I’ve explained what Autism is on paper, this Blog covers how the Hallmarks (which you should read first before coming over here) affect my life and how I deal with that. And also, what does it take to cause this Aspie to have a meltdown? I have a…. sort-of-scientific explanation for it.

As I said at the end of my last Blog, I can ONLY speak for myself and what I experience. There’s clearly a lot of life I haven’t experienced for the best and for the worst so all I can do for now is give a general overview of how I live with Autism. And I describe myself as being three types of bear: A gummy bear, a polar bear and a grizzly bear. Pretty unconventional, I know, but I still have a teddy bear at the age of 23, which is where the inspiration for the make-shift logo came from, so let’s just go with it!

The first type of bear I can be is a Gummy Bear. A gummy bear is a type of sweet. And I can be exactly that. I can be engaging and intrigued to have a conversation with anyone. I expect things to be somewhat out of place and deal with it maturely. I also acknowledge eye contact and greetings and feel comfortable in most social settings, especially with people that are the opposite of me.

The second type of bear I can be is a Polar Bear. I don’t watch nature documentaries so all I know of Polar Bears is that most live in the Arctic or Antarctic. Both of those are the extreme cold parts of the world where it is mainly non-stop snow and ice. And that summarises what I can be on a Polar Bear day. I generally prefer to be alone and away from most social situations. I’m more picky of when I engage in conversation and who I engage in conversation with. I’m nervous of when something is out of place or my routine needs to be changed and while I still acknowledge eye contact, it’s not with the same enthusiasm as a Gummy Bear day.

The third type of bear I can be is a Grizzly Bear. It’s an aggressive type of bear and that’s me at my worst. I am demanding to be alone and my routine to be unaltered. Any physical contact, unwanted conversation or environment that becomes hectic causes me to be extremely stressed and maybe start lashing out. I describe this as The Anti-ADog. Anti means Opposite (of Aspie ADog); A means Aggressive; D means Destructive; O means Obnoxious and G means I resemble Gordon Ramsay when he loses his rag, literally. The best way to deal with me as a Grizzly Bear? STAY THE HELL AWAY FROM ME! At least until I simmer down and gather myself.

But sometimes, it’s not always any of that that causes me to be a Grizzly Bear. It’s a combination of three things in the form of a Fire Triangle not managed properly that cause it. If you don’t know what a normal fire triangle is, this is what it is in a nutshell: The three ingredients of a typical fire – Heat, Fuel and Oxygen. My Fire Triangle differs in three ways:

  • The Components: My Fire Triangle consists of three things that are subjective and cannot be measured reliably because people’s perceptions are different: Crowds, Chaos and Confusion. Also, other things can be a cause of meltdowns in other autistic people, these are just mine.
  • The Trigger: Unlike a normal Fire Triangle, sometimes it takes just one of these components to cause a Meltdown whereas a normal Fire Triangle requires ALL THREE components to come together to ignite.
  • The Extinguisher: A normal Fire Triangle requires just one component to be removed to put out the fire. But my Fire Triangle sometimes requires ALL THREE to be put out if all of them are active together, which they may very well be in certain places you would NEVER find me in (right now), which will be my next Blog, coincidentally.
A direct comparison of a normal Fire Triangle and MY Fire Triangle

So… Let’s talk about those components. I rank each one on a scale of 1 to 5 and then add them together to determine the aggregate risk of a meltdown. The higher the number, the more likely that will happen. The first element is Crowds. By crowds, I mean a gathering of people in an environment. 1 means it’s just me and two people in a small room, which is perfect and what I prefer, personally. 5 means being in the middle of a crowd in something like a sports stadium, corporate gathering or any space that have a lot of people and me converged into it.

The second element is Chaos. By chaos, I mean activity occurring in an environment. 1 means one thing happening at a time. 5 means any number of activities and emotions occurring at once. And the third element is Confusion. Confusion means exactly what the verb is defined in the Dictionary as: to make indistinct; to fail to differentiate from an often similar or related other; to mix indiscriminately. 1 means I understand the environment perfectly including how to act, what to say, what to do. 5 means I have no idea whatsoever what to do in an environment, especially if Crowds and Chaos are also a 5.

Don’t worry if you’re confused by any of that because in my next Blog… I’m going to apply the theory of my Fire Triangle to certain scenarios and explain why I would NEVER find myself in any of them, at least right now.

I’ll also be happy to answer questions or clarify any points you’re confused about so leave them below either this post or my last post or send them in via email to theaspieadog15@gmail.com and I’ll do it that way too. I can’t guarantee a reply to everything but I do promise that what I receive gets read.

The Aspie – Explaining… Autism 101 (Part 1): The Hallmarks and Me

Let’s start with the basic core premise behind this website: Autism

So… You’ve read the introduction to this website. I would imagine there are two obvious questions you have. Where did the nickname ADog come from and / or what is Autism and being autistic? Well, I think it’s probably appropriate, especially if you are a new visitor, to read this pair of Blogs first before anything else as I do my best to explain Autism, my way.

Before that, let me explain the website title, The ADog Blog. I originally accepted the nickname ADog from people in my Secondary School when I was 14 because I liked the ring to it, particularly as I was a big sceptic of nicknames generally because, as teenagers are most of the time, nicknames they give each other may not exactly be what adults think they mean and I wasn’t prepared to just accept ANY nickname for myself!

Then, when I was about 16, I decided to turn ADog into an acronym for the things I believe people on the Autism Spectrum can represent well when supported properly: Ambition, Dignity & Respect, Opportunity Taking and Grit. I put it into suspended animation over a year ago because I wasn’t executing any of that myself and my Mental Health was a mess… But now I’ve decided to revive it and I hope that I can execute all of that as this Blog takes shape.

Now Autism, on the other hand, is complicated. Let’s start with a general dictionary definition from Merriam-Webster:

“a variable developmental disorder that appears by age three and is characterised especially by difficulties in forming and maintaining social relationships, by impairment of the ability to communicate verbally or nonverbally, and by repetitive behaviour patterns and restricted interests and activities.”

Merriam-Webster

Let’s break that down into chunks, starting with what is a developmental disorder. Definition again from Merriam-Webster:

“a condition (such as autism or dyslexia) that is typically marked by delayed development or impaired function especially in learning, language, communication, cognition, behaviour, socialization, or mobility.”

Merriam-Webster

Clearly, Autism fits that definition above like a glove. And it certainly is variable. It’s technically called Autism Spectrum Disorder, and for good reason because people are affected differently by it. In fact, I like to represent the spectrum as being three types of climate that exist in our planet (as illustrated below), the closer to the top or bottom you are, the more extreme the autism. I put myself right in the middle of this analogy because, even though I can communicate reasonably well and have a good grasp on how to socialise, I still struggle to manage some of the other hallmarks that come with the disorder.

The Autism Spectrum, as illustrated on PowerPoint by yours truly

Speaking of Hallmarks, here’s a list of those that affect me as an adult (courtesy of the NHS Signs of autism in adults web page):

  • Finding it hard to understand what others are thinking or feeling;
  • Getting very anxious about social situations;
  • Finding it hard to make friends or preferring to be alone;
  • Seeming blunt, rude or not interested in others without meaning to;
  • Finding it hard to say how I feel;
  • Taking things very literally – for example, not understanding sarcasm or phrases like “break a leg” (which I do but other phrases I tend to interpret very literally);
  • Having the same routine every day and getting very anxious if it changes (or if something I expect to happen doesn’t happen or happens differently);
  • Not understanding social “rules”, such as not talking over people (I don’t do that but other social “rules” either don’t make sense to me or I miss the point entirely);
  • Avoiding eye contact (not always but if I’m awkward or don’t want to engage, I tilt my head down and ignore eye contact);
  • Getting too close to other people, or getting very upset if someone touches or gets too close to you (more so the latter, I have gotten better at learning people’s boundaries and when they want me and when they don’t);
  • Noticing small details, patterns, smells or sounds that others do not (sometimes a blessing, sometimes a nuisance, depends on the situation);
  • Having a very keen interest in certain subjects or activities (expect those things to feature heavily as I build my Blog up);
  • Liking to plan things carefully before doing them (I don’t like jumping into the deep end of ANYTHING!).

It’s quite an exhaustive list but, as I said, autism affects people differently. You could have people who have only a handful of these hallmarks and yet are formally diagnosed. You could also have people who have autism as part of a cocktail of other disorders or disabilities. It REALLY is a spectrum! But know this: When it comes to life on the spectrum, I can ONLY speak for myself and what I experience. If anyone has any nuances or perspectives on anything I talk about in my Blog they want to share, feel free to do so either in the comments below or in e-mail to theaspieadog15@gmail.com. I cannot guarantee a reply to everything I read but I promise to at least read everything I receive!

Coming up next… I’ll show you how all these Hallmarks transfer over to my daily life. Click here to jump straight over there!

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