Aspergers and physical awkwardness.

This topic was prompted by a “selfie” photo that I uploaded yesterday to a Facebook group for adults with Aspergers Syndrome that I belong to. My photo was surprisingly complimented by several people on the group which was lovely. I was nervous when I first uploaded it but a lot of other group members were doing the same thing and I do like to match names to faces so I thought I’d give people the chance to match my face to my name.

I do not photograph well. When I know that someone is taking a picture of me, my pose ends up being awkward and I either grin without showing any teeth which makes me look a bit like a dolphin or I look far too serious. At least, with a “selfie”, I can readjust the camera several times to get a shot in which I look half decent. I am under no illusions-I know that I am physically awkward. I have small eyes that often look half closed in photographs. I often move around in an awkward manner too-like a lot of people with Aspergers, I have physical coordination problems which were originally diagnosed as dyspraxia so I have an awkward gait and run very awkwardly. I often struggle with tasks that require manual dexterity, fine motor skills and hand to eye coordination, often taking twice as long as most people to complete them. I have noticed that coordination problems appear to be a lot more significant in people with Aspergers Syndrome than people with severe autism. I am unsure of why this is the case but find it fascinating.

Of course, not every person with Aspergers has coordination problems but, from discussions I’ve participated in on online forums about this topic, I know that there are a high number of people with Aspergers out there who are viewed as “clumsy” and “physically awkward”. I believe that this is one of the causes of low self esteem in a lot of people with Aspergers. I have heard Aspergers described as “social and physical awkwardness all mixed in together” before and, to me personally, that definitely sums me up! I always feel like there’s nowhere in the world that I really fit in comfortably-the best I can do is observe how other people interact and try and imitate this. I have always felt awkward and ill at ease in the world. My physical awkwardness doesn’t help matters. I have poor posture and trying to correct this is painful for me. I have been told by a chiropractor that the two sides of my body don’t work in sync with each other and I have been told by an osteopath that my shoulders are hypermobile (although I can’t see any evidence of that in everyday life). My handwriting is illegible to a lot of people and those that can read it have to take a long time over it. I have heard all the jokes about people having to be drunk to read my handwriting as that’s the only way it makes sense to them! I usually laugh along with these jokes but I do think it’s unfair that people can write insightful pieces of work which are then discounted because their handwriting takes more time and effort to read than people are prepared to give. I mainly communicate via computer rather than through handwriting now but there are times when I have to use handwriting, particularly at work.

This blog post is not really educating anyone in a purposeful manner-it’s just me explaining a bit more about my physical coordination problems. However, I would like people to take from it that Aspergers involves a whole lot more than social awkwardness-in fact, I believe that the social and physical awkwardness I have is directly related to underlying neurological processes that affect the way I perceive and process information and act on messages that my brain is sending to me. If you know someone with Aspergers who struggles physically, please understand that it is likely to be related and be patient with them.

Advertisements

Aspergers and Sleep

First of all, I would like to wish my readers a Happy Easter weekend full of happiness.

Now it’s time to move on to my main blog post. I was thinking through what to write about on this blog when I realised that I had not yet covered the issue of sleeping patterns. Poor sleeping patterns are extremely common in people across all levels of the autistic spectrum. Personally my sleeping pattern is rather erratic-I go through phases where I don’t sleep well at all alternated with phases where I sleep solidly for up to twelve hours. I also take a lot of daytime naps which I am trying to cut down on as I know they are part of the issue as I then don’t feel tired at night time. ¬†A lot of the time, how well I sleep¬†depends on two factors. The first is how stressed or anxious I am at the time. Like pretty much everyone, autistic or not, anxiety and stress prevents me from sleeping properly. Thoughts continually run through my head over and over again and, no matter how tired I am, I can’t relax enough to fall asleep. There are nights where I get so frustrated because I am so exhausted but my mind still won’t let me sleep. The second factor is how much of a good read my current book at the time is. I always, without fail, read something on my Kindle before settling to sleep. Like most people with Aspergers, when I get absorbed in something, hours can pass and I won’t notice because I’ll still be fixated on what I am doing. I have, on numerous occasions, read entire 300 to 400 page books in one night because the storyline is so gripping or the memoirs are so heartbreaking that I just have to see how they finish. By the time I have finished the book, it is 3 am and I am wondering where all the hours have gone!

People have suggested sleeping tablets to me in the past. However I am against sleeping tablets personally, only because I have a fear of falling into such a deep sleep that I will sleep through my alarm and be late for work. Also I personally don’t want to become reliant on them although I accept that, for a lot of people, they are fantastic. There are lots of other suggestions for improving the quality of sleep-unfortunately most of them are stuff that I find difficult to do. I have a TV in my bedroom that I watch late at night if there is a programme on which interests me and I sleep with my mobile phone on the pillow next to me which I know experts say prevents people from getting good quality sleep. I know that I shouldn’t sleep so close to my phone but it links in to my fear of sleeping through an alarm and being late for work. I personally find that, if my phone is right next to me, the alarm is so loud that I can’t miss it. The only issue is that I am a fidgety sleeper and my phone usually ends up somewhere in the bed so I wake up in the middle of the night and have to frantically search for it before I can settle back to sleep. I tend to avoid drinking late at night as I know that, if I wake up to go to the bathroom, I will be awake for a couple of hours afterwards whereas other people would be able to settle straight back to sleep. If I am really struggling to get off to sleep, I put on a Youtube video of relaxing music which lasts for three hours! That usually sends me to sleep within half an hour but I have fallen asleep listening to it and woken up while it was still playing before. Also I would recommend plugging in your phone if you use something similar to get you to sleep as it is a real drain on the battery. I know that I should invest in a CD player and CDs of relaxing music-perhaps that is a present idea I could give my relatives for my birthday and Christmas as I always get told that I am hard to buy for!

I know that a lot of people on the spectrum who have erratic sleeping patterns are prescribed melatonin to aid sleep. I have never tried this as I feel that, although my sleeping pattern is erratic, it’s not erratic enough to qualify for such measures. I have also read that milk is a good aid to sleep. Unfortunately for me, I don’t drink milk on its own as I don’t like the after taste it leaves in my mouth and I’m guessing that adding flavoured powder to make it a milkshake would be counter productive because of the sugar content. I do sleep better when I’m staying at my mum’s house than I do in my workplace accommodation. Perhaps that’s because I worry less about work when I am at my mum’s. I don’t sleep well in unfamiliar beds at all, even if they are really comfortable hotel beds-just knowing that I’m not in my own bed is enough to stop me sleeping well.

For people who struggle with sleep, I think the above suggestions work well if you can stick to them-my problem is sticking to them. I think it is extremely important for everyone to get good quality sleep but, when people on the spectrum struggle to sleep, it magnifies our other problems as we are more likely to be unable to tolerate sensory stimuli or tolerate social interaction if we are exhausted. Sorting sleeping problems is never quick and easy but, hopefully, in time, we can all get a good night’s sleep!

 

Bailey

Bailey

Bailey

Bailey

Bailey

Bailey

Bailey

Bailey

Bailey doing his favourite activity, cuddling.

Bailey

Bailey

Bailey settling in.

My new adorable kitten Bailey

My new adorable kitten Bailey

Bailey, our new adorable cream British Shorthair kitten!