Obsessively picky – @Aspienaut – WIRED differently || AutismAid

There is something terrible in that feeling when the realisation hits.  First you check your pockets, then the door, then your pockets again just in case lint has metamorphosed magically into your door keys.  Then because you still can’t quite believe it you try the door again.  All of this happens in a matter of a few seconds until finally you accept your reality.  You have locked yourself out.  Then the magnitude of your predicament sinks in.  Your phone’s indoors, with your wallet and ID.  Your landlady is away, not that you have her number, it’s indoors!

When the above last happened to me I ended up walking 2 miles into town to the local locksmith, who then told me he couldn’t help but had a number of an mobile emergency locksmith who could.  I phoned and left a message.  Several hours later he arrived.  By this time I was just pleased to see him but was more than a little conflicted when he told me that to have access to my own home I was going to have to pay him £75.00!  I felt powerless and so I paid.  He walked up to my door, removed from his tool box a thin square of plastic, slid said plastic down the side of the door and frame until it was level with the locking mechanism.  Then with a deft wiggle of the card and a little pressure on the door, hey presto, the door opened.  It took him literally 5 seconds, about the same time it took me to write his cheque.  I couldn’t believe what I’d just seen.

This was how my most recent obsession started, by paying someone £75.00 to open my door with a piece of plastic.  I had to learn how to do this, I had to learn what this man knew.  So, I read and read all I could get on the Internet about lock-picking and locks.  I bought a book and a set of picks.  I bought a set of training locks, I bought some pad-locks, I even bought some special plastic squares just like the locksmith used and I practiced and I practiced.  For about a month, locks and lock picking was all I could think of.  I’d dream about locks, talk about locks, think about locks.  While watching the TV I’d have a padlock in one hand and picks in the other.  Gently lifting each pin of the lock whilst applying the gentlest pressure until hearing that satisfying click of the lock popping open.

As with many of my obsessions I had to learn everything I could up to a point that was practical.  I learnt how to open standard cylinder locks and pin locks and how to open my door as quickly as the locksmith.  I learnt all about tension wrenches, picks and rakes.  I learnt all I could right up to the limit of what I felt I needed to.  I stopped at mortice locks and knew that unless I was actually going to train as a locksmith I had learnt enough and with that the spell was broken and I resumed my normal interests.  I do however, still carry a small lock picking set with me and regularly leave my keys at home so I’ll have to pick my way back in.  

I never know when the next obsession will happen but during that time, for as long as it takes, I’ll learn everything I can until I’ve learnt enough.  It has always been this way and I’m sure it always will be and I for one hope it doesn’t stop, because this is one of the best things about being an Aspie.  When we apply ourselves to something that interests us we can achieve a great deal, often much more than many think possible.  

© Paul C Siebenthal Oct 2012.

Obsessively picky – @Aspienaut – WIRED differently || AutismAid

There is something terrible in that feeling when the realisation hits.  First you check your pockets, then the door, then your pockets again just in case lint has metamorphosed magically into your door keys.  Then because you still can’t quite believe it you try the door again.  All of this happens in a matter of a few seconds until finally you accept your reality.  You have locked yourself out.  Then the magnitude of your predicament sinks in.  Your phone’s indoors, with your wallet and ID.  Your landlady is away, not that you have her number, it’s indoors!

When the above last happened to me I ended up walking 2 miles into town to the local locksmith, who then told me he couldn’t help but had a number of an mobile emergency locksmith who could.  I phoned and left a message.  Several hours later he arrived.  By this time I was just pleased to see him but was more than a little conflicted when he told me that to have access to my own home I was going to have to pay him £75.00!  I felt powerless and so I paid.  He walked up to my door, removed from his tool box a thin square of plastic, slid said plastic down the side of the door and frame until it was level with the locking mechanism.  Then with a deft wiggle of the card and a little pressure on the door, hey presto, the door opened.  It took him literally 5 seconds, about the same time it took me to write his cheque.  I couldn’t believe what I’d just seen.

This was how my most recent obsession started, by paying someone £75.00 to open my door with a piece of plastic.  I had to learn how to do this, I had to learn what this man knew.  So, I read and read all I could get on the Internet about lock-picking and locks.  I bought a book and a set of picks.  I bought a set of training locks, I bought some pad-locks, I even bought some special plastic squares just like the locksmith used and I practiced and I practiced.  For about a month, locks and lock picking was all I could think of.  I’d dream about locks, talk about locks, think about locks.  While watching the TV I’d have a padlock in one hand and picks in the other.  Gently lifting each pin of the lock whilst applying the gentlest pressure until hearing that satisfying click of the lock popping open.

As with many of my obsessions I had to learn everything I could up to a point that was practical.  I learnt how to open standard cylinder locks and pin locks and how to open my door as quickly as the locksmith.  I learnt all about tension wrenches, picks and rakes.  I learnt all I could right up to the limit of what I felt I needed to.  I stopped at mortice locks and knew that unless I was actually going to train as a locksmith I had learnt enough and with that the spell was broken and I resumed my normal interests.  I do however, still carry a small lock picking set with me and regularly leave my keys at home so I’ll have to pick my way back in.  

I never know when the next obsession will happen but during that time, for as long as it takes, I’ll learn everything I can until I’ve learnt enough.  It has always been this way and I’m sure it always will be and I for one hope it doesn’t stop, because this is one of the best things about being an Aspie.  When we apply ourselves to something that interests us we can achieve a great deal, often much more than many think possible.  

© Paul C Siebenthal Oct 2012.

A tempering. Childhood meltdowns and anger. – @Aspienaut – WIRED differently || AutismAid

When my character was still developing, I had not yet formed the coping mechanism I would soon rely on as an adult when over whelmed or upset; namely, going into ‘Stand-by’ mode.  A state in which I turn inwards, go quiet but eventually my processors cool, I reboot and then can carry on.  It was not always so.

A new follower on twitter expressed concerns about her son’s temper.  I offered to write a short post about what he may be feeling and why he could be reacting as he is.

In order to explain what at times may seem unexplainable it helps to understand a few basic things about growing up ‘Wired Differently’.  When you describe what growing up on the spectrum is like, it makes ‘melt-downs’ and anger slightly more understandable in young people on the spectrum.  

For the first few years of my life I was able to live in a quiet world.  The world of home, of familiarity.  My bedroom was exactly as I needed it to be, the people who came into my life were people I knew, people I expected to see.  The noises I heard and the food I ate were what I expected.  I wore the clothes that I liked and which felt good against my skin.  When things deviated from this norm I would act as though the world was ending.  My reaction would seem so extreme, so over the top, so spoilt and angry it would dumbfound those around me as they watched this child go berserk because something was moved or had changed.  I would hit another child at nursery for approaching me.  I’d pick up a rock in the playground and chase a child down and throw it at them with all my strength because they had moved my toy car from the painted line on which it was traveling.  There were so many things and so many times that my reaction would seem extreme.  When I was 6 it was 1980.  Kids like me were just not understood, our behaviors rung no alarm bells, we were just called naughty, were just bad children.

On my first day at school I wasn’t even meant to be going.  We were actually taking my sister to her first day at a new school.  On arrival the headmaster asked my mum how old I was, my mum told him and he took my hand and said, ‘he can come too then!’  That was my first day.  It sounds incredible now but that’s what happened.  Needless to say, school was tough for me.  School for me was about coping.  Managing fear, managing stress and managing people.  

At the back of the class on the alphabet animal wall was a clock made by Smiths.  A large round clock with a long second hand, a second hand that seemed too thin for its length.  With each tick, each tok the end of the second hand shuddered, as did I with the sound it made, a sound which only I appeared to hear.  This combined with the noise of the chalk on the board, the smell of the poster paint.  The metal chair legs, whose rubber ends were long worn away by bored children’s fidgets, scraped along the floor.  All of this made it almost impossible for me to follow what teacher was saying.  I could tell from the letters on the board and the work on my peers desks that we were at this very moment practicing writing letters.  I on the other hand, was just trying to cope with being there.

Factor in; the meaningless facial expressions of your peers and the teacher, the strange things they say, like ‘you need to pull your socks up young man’ or ‘when I get home I can’t wait to watch the football, its going to be blinding!’  So, there you are trying to cope with all this but how do you cope?  How do you manage?  You start to focus in on the things that you can control.  You develop routines, ways of doing things that allow you this brief window of feeling that things are ok, that you may even have some control.  You line up your pens on your desk. You wear the same clothes, every day.  You eat your food in order and only the foods that you can texturally cope with. 

You focus in on the things you can do.  You can’t cope with the school lesson but you know things, you remember things, and these make you feel better.  So you try and tell people what you know, but its not what they were talking about and they get annoyed with you.  You find it hard to take on board the kind words of those who care for you because what they say doesn’t make any sense either.  They talk about things getting better, improving in time but you don’t work like that.  There is no future in your world view, just a now!  You don’t imagine the future, you find no solace in this magical place, this future ‘never never land’.  You are just you, here, now and you’re frightened.  Stressed and lonely, your way of needing to do things; your routines, your knowledge and interests literally mean everything to you.  They feel like they’re all you have and when even these are taken away, changed, stopped, then to you, it feels like a matter of life and death.  Your very existence is at stake and so your reaction reflects that.  That is why we meltdown, shutdown, go into stand-by or even lose our temper.  Yet we keep on trying, keep on learning, trying again and again to cope with this mind blowing world in which we find ourselves. 

© Paul C Siebenthal Nov 2012.