Adult with Asperger syndrome from Newport

Photo of Patrick Jeremy

There are two kinds of fruit, apples, oranges, they are right-handed fruit (they taste sweet) and left-handed fruit, lemons, limes (they taste bitter). People who are not autistic are right-handed humans (oranges) autistic people are left-handed humans (limes), in this way we are different, but we are all from the same human family.

We would like to know you, but we don’t have the innate skill set to do so. I cannot read facial expressions or body language or naturally understand another’s emotional status just by looking. This means I have to rely on the spoken word, which only makes up 7% of a normal conversation, a deficit of 93% in my communication skills. 

We would like to have a seat at the table with everyone else, but we are excluded by our own isolation, which is enforced upon us by our autism. Having a rigid thought process as I do means I have to go about daily routines which are restrictive to socialising, because change is the unknown, being outside my thought loops to which I adhere. These thought loops affect my conversations, as I plan out the words I will use when I interact with others and of course the conversations do not go to plan, because the other person changes the words they use, I do not and it all goes wrong. Now I use what I call 'ice cream' words, these are words that make neurotypical people smile - like they do when eating ice cream - and this makes for a passable conversational encounter with other people. 

Children grow up and it is no different for autistic children. I am adult with Asperger syndrome who attends a monthly group meeting with other individuals who have Asperger syndrome. These are very important meetings to me, as not only can I be with people who behave the same way as me, but I can talk to them about my interests and know they won’t be bored or worse still angered by my lack of social skills.

It is a lifeboat for me, one where I can be me with Asperger syndrome and not be vulnerable to the worst excesses of the physical expressions of neurotypical people. It’s a safe place. One where those who organise it (The National Autistic Society) are able to help educate individuals with Asperger syndrome in the ways of neurotypical behaviour. No other organisation exists that provides these meetings and has the same level of experience as the NAS. There is no alternative, no other help out there for adults with autism in the Newport area. 

Yet more could be done to support adults over 30. Currently the majority of funding is aimed at children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs), but adults would benefit from a course tailored to their needs: social stories in an adult context; understanding facial expressions; body language, to name but a few subjects. Austerity means funding for these meetings may be lost and that means isolation for me and many other ASD adults.