Featured

Pathological Demand Avoidance

Autism spectrum disorder is not just black and white. There are many shades of grey in between. However there are also other traits associated with autism which may not follow a typical, or standard pattern when it comes to diagnosis. Often, people with autism exhibit common behavioural, sensory and social patterns. Such features include symbolic play, difficulty in understanding social cues, and a sensory profile which can be both hypersensitive and hyposensitive in nature, fluctuating accordingly. Development is often delayed, which leads me into this article. Pathological demand avoidance or PDA for short, is a developmental disorder. More specifically it is a pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) but it is now clinically recognised as being on the autism spectrum (1). It is important to understand that demand avoidance might frequently be common within people who refuse to follow simple orders. But the term pathological is applied to refer to the fact that when a truly pathological degree of demand avoidance is encountered on a long term basis, a diagnosis is more likely to be considered.

Criteria for pathological demand avoidance.

The following criteria is taken from Newson et al (2003). I have removed some language I believe isn’t the best way to describe symptoms and have included personal examples.

  1. Passive early history in first year: A person with autism might have a delayed or lack of social response, and empathy. It is important to note empathy here. Recent studies are starting to show that empathy is exhibited within people with autism and should not necessarily be treated as a social deficit (2). I have empathy myself which I express on a daily basis. A personal with PDA however, will often have delayed developmental milestones, and becomes actively passive later. A resistance to normal demands starts to form. A late diagnosis of PDA may result if characteristics develop through adulthood, meaning that even if a child did not have any delayed developmental milestones, they would still experience PDA in later life.
  2. Continues to resist and avoid daily demands of life: A person with autism may shut out any pressure, in a non-social manner, but be reluctant in doing so. This might often be done without consideration of other’s needs. They may prefer direct language. A person with PDA might feel this same pressure, but on a constant level. This is such that they devote themselves to actively avoiding this pressure. As a person with PDA develops language, strategies of avoidance become socially manipulative in the following ways. Firstly, by adaptation to that of the adult involved, secondly by acknowledging a demand but excusing oneself, thirdly by physically incapacitating oneself, fourthly, by withdrawal into symbolic play, and finally by reducing meaningful conversation. Examples are provided below:
  3. Surface sociability, lack of sense of social identity, pride and shame: A person with autism does not purposefully manipulate and might ask questions or make statements about their interests. In PDA, there is often no identity. A child with PDA won’t identify with children as a category. There is often no sense of responsibility (what may be expected of someone at a certain age), and there is uninhibited behaviour (unprovoked aggression, extreme giggling/inappropriate laughter, kicking/screaming in shop or school). They may not recognise adults as a status despite preferring them to children. Any attempt to punish, reward, or praise is ineffective.
  4. Lability of mood, impulsive, led by need to control: A person with autism works to their own rules, making it easier for parents to understand what upsets them and what doesn’t. They do not put on any acts for someone else, and as a result rules, routine and predictability help. A person with PDA may switch actions (such as thumping/cuddling) for lack of obvious reasoning. Moods may switch in response to any pressure (going over the top, protesting, fear, or even affection). Any activity must be on the person’s terms and if at any point the person feels that control is not in their hands, they may instantly switch activities. A personal example I have experienced is having a friend tell me that they do not and have never responded to authority. They may apologise, but reoffend, or deny any obvious wrongdoing.
  5. Comfortable in role play and pretending: Other than arranging objects, a person with autism may have a lack of symbolic play and will often look at things realistically. In PDA, a person might appear to lose touch with reality altogether, often using symbolic play as a coping strategy. They might behave authoritatively (like a teacher) to others, and will want to control events or other people. Indirect instruction often helps.
  6. Language delay, seems result of passivity: In a person with autism, language might be delayed or deviant, or even non-existent. Facial expression, eye contact, and gestures may not be commonly expressed. A person with PDA has a good degree of catch up, decent eye contact and fair social timing (when not interrupted by avoidance) and as such this may not be considered during an autism diagnosis. Their speech content is different: often discounting demand-avoidant speech. They may ask repetitive questions for distraction, signalling panic.
  7. Obsessive behaviour: A person with autism may be obsessive, but less so in the case of social topics. They like order and arrangements. In PDA, much of the behaviour discussed is carried out in an obsessive manner. Low level achievement in school/college may be prevalent due to a high motivation to avoid demands. For instance, a person asked to reference his work may fail to do so, and instead write as originally as possible using their own knowledge. However, their grade will be affected by a lack of credibility and critical evaluation of other work. Other obsessions are more social variant. Blame or harrassment towards others they don’t like, or overpowering in fondness for others, targeting of certain individuals.
  8. Neurological involvement: A person with autism shows less comparable involvement in actions such as crawling, and any situation which may go out of control. In a person with PDA, clumsiness is exhibited, along with physical awkwardness (late crawling). Absences, fits, increased excitability, or any episodic dyscontrol is commonplace.

Examples

  • Adapting to the adult involved: “Look, I’ve got you something!”
  • Demand acknowledgement with excuse: “Sorry, I need to do this first.”
  • Physical incapacitation: “I’m too hot/cold.”
  • Withdrawal into symbolic play: “My teddy doesn’t like this game.”
  • Reduction of meaningful conversation: *bombarding someone with speech*

Discussion:

Pathological demand avoidance is often misdiagnosed or mistaken for other clinical conditions. But research has shown that it is starting to be understood, with appropriate management strategies (1). It has been shown how PDA and autism are similar, but also how different features vary, making it complicated in terms of clinical diagnosis. Where autism management strategies such as routine, order and repetition are helpful, they are ineffective to someone with PDA (3). Thus, important distinctions have to be made within diagnostic criteria in order to provide better support. This article has outlined the underlying characteristics of PDA and provided a comparison to characteristics found in autism.

The reason rewards have been described to be a failure towards someone with PDA is because it relies on compliance (1). Newson’s study showed how his participants behaved in a way that may be seen as humiliating to peers. It also showed how compliance is just another form of control, making it far more unlikely for participants to respond effectively to reward or punishment. To the person with PDA, being asked to do something, with promise of a reward or praise at the end is challenging, because it is still a social situation that is out of their direct control since the person asking the demand gets to decide whether or not compliance or refusal is met with reward or punishment, respectively. Thus, indirect instruction and suggestion may prove to be more effective than direct or authoritative order. In contrast, people with conduct problems are strongly motivated by rewards (4).

There are at least 3 documented aspects that differentiate PDA from autism. Firstly, children with PDA have been described as responding more effectively to unpredictability, humour and spontaneity, which is in contrast to structure and repetition that is associated with autism (5). Secondly, unlike autism, there is a fairly balanced gender distribution in people with PDA (6). And thirdly, fascination and preoccupation of role play, and fantasy, and even difficulty to distinguish between reality and pretence is more characteristic of PDA, whereas people with autism might exhibit delayed or pretend play (7). The differentiating characteristics of PDA from autism make clinical diagnosis more difficult, and also more important.

In summary, while it is important that PDA is recognised as being on the autism spectrum, it is also important to employ different management strategies. Currently, educational or therapeutic practices for people with autism do not seem to suit those described as having PDA. Thus, education in this area to enhance clinical, and general recognition is key. Understanding neurocognitive bases of the pathological demand avoidance profile, and employing relevant, and appropriate strategies, as well as improved assistance and support will be the subject of future research and practice.

References:

(1) Newson, E. L. M. K., Le Marechal, K., & David, C. (2003). Pathological demand avoidance syndrome: a necessary distinction within the pervasive developmental disorders. Archives of Disease in Childhood88(7), 595-600.

(2) Nicolaidis, C., Milton, D., Sasson, N. J., Sheppard, E., & Yergeau, M. (2018). An Expert Discussion on Autism and Empathy. Autism in Adulthood1(1), 4-11.

(3) O’Nions, E., Viding, E., Greven, C. U., Ronald, A., & Happé, F. (2014). Pathological demand avoidance: exploring the behavioural profile. Autism18(5), 538-544.

(4) O’Brien, BS, Frick, PJ (1996) Reward dominance: associations with anxiety, conduct problems, and psychopathy in children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 24: 223–240

(5) Kunce, L, Mesibov, GB (1998) Educational approaches to high-functioning autism and Asperger syndrome. In: Schoepler, E, Mesibov, GB, Kunce, L (eds) Asperger Syndrome or High-Functioning Autism? New York: Plenum Press, pp. 227–261.

(6) Fombonne, E (2003) The prevalence of autism. JAMA 289: 87–89.

(7) Frith, U, Morton, J, Leslie, AM (1991) The cognitive basis of a biological disorder: autism. Trends in Neurosciences 14: 433–438.

Final say:

This is a personal research article I have produced in order to help people with autism, and people without autism to understand the characteristics of pathological demand avoidance, for educational purposes. Some of my own personal examples come from experiencing potential PDA within other individuals, even if there is no clinical diagnosis. As always, every person with autism is different, thus every person with PDA will also be different, but all share different characteristics which differ in terms of a sensory and social profile.

Stop Using Autism as an Excuse

I want to talk about something important today. Accountability. It’s often a lesson learnt in later life because understanding the value of accountability comes with experience. Whether that’s with friends, family, employers, teachers, supervisors etc. The value of accountability is incredibly important, and I think as someone with autism, it’s vital to understand and apply within our social situations. This is especially because we find social situations challenging, and sometimes we need a bit of guidance in places. However, in order to succeed in a challenging world, a challenging environment you do have to hold yourself accountable to others.

That’s why I think this statement will always ring true and that is:

Stop using autism as an excuse.

I see people doing this a lot, especially when it comes to social situations. I can tell you, I hate confrontation. I hate being confronted by someone, but as I grew up I learned why it’s so important to value that confrontation. So when you’re being penalised for an action you may have carried out, even if it wasn’t intentional, making excuses is a real surefire way to escalate the situation further and cause problems.

And that’s why accountability is so important.

When you know what you’ve said or done is bad, it’s much more difficult to dismiss that accountability.

Take this example. A friend online is having an argument about their relationship with someone. They are upset because your friend has made a mistake (which could be rectified) but instead has responded with something like:

“I’ve told you that I’m autistic, you know this.”

Stop right there for a second. It doesn’t matter if you’re autistic or not. Because autism is an extremely wide spectrum, we all have different challenges and situations we might face. That means some of us respond differently. By saying you’re autistic in this regard, you’re failing to hold yourself accountable for your situation because you’ve neglected to consider that difference. Other people have autism, too. Do they make the same excuse you’re making? The answer is no. And that’s the value of accountability. It is individual, and not generalised.

Now let’s consider this. Someone has brought you into a loud environment. There is music playing and it is drowning out the conversation. You can’t concentrate on listening to what your friend is saying. Another person comes up and asks the first person “Why is he shaking? Why is he acting weird?” Your friend responds by deciding to take you somewhere quieter, away from the loud environment while shouting back to this person “He’s autistic!”

In this case, it’s different. You haven’t made the excuse to not join your friend. But this other person has failed to hold themselves accountable by recognising your difficulty and has instead resorted to asking uncomfortable questions. So while you, yourself haven’t used autism as an excuse, this person has tried to excuse themselves from the upset they’ve caused by failing to consider your autism. This is a much different scenario and if you upset someone who has autism, you should also hold yourself accountable for it. It goes both ways. Don’t make excuses.

When you learn the lesson of accountability you might find it easier to take on challenging situations. We can’t use disabilities as an excuse or purposely allow something like that to hold us back. If you think about it, you wouldn’t want to support someone who makes excuses for their behaviour. So don’t dismiss the value of accountability by excusing yourself from situations you might not like, such as confrontation and penalisation. As autism becomes more and more accepted, we learn to live with it and I firmly believe we shouldn’t allow it to hold us back. Be the person you are. Take pride in it. Your uniqueness, your individuality, your awesomeness.

But hold yourself accountable.

Don’t let autism excuse you from doing things you like, or from doing things that are not right.

What is this lad culture thing?

There’s something going on in British universities, or so I might have noticed after being here in Stirling for a year. I was never the going out or party type during my studies at Portsmouth. This was probably down to the fact that I had to do a 1 hour commute there and a 1 hour commute back every day so there just wasn’t any time for me to enjoy myself outside of studies. But I am noticing a lot of heavy drinking, and a culture brewing that suggests we should be doing ‘lad’ stuff. What is that? I thought lad was just another term for a man, or dude. But they call it lad culture, not dude or guy culture.

There’s a clubs and societies tradition on campus here, and it’s called pre-drinks or pres for short. This seems to be an event in which you go to somebody’s humble abode to put a wee bit of booze (this is said with a pinch of salt) in your system before then progressing on to do something like going to a nightclub or a bar for the rest of the night. But there’s something else that’s more concerning. Initiations. Now I’m very grateful because the club I am in is nothing like what I am describing. But I’ve heard horror stories, particularly from friends of their initiation experiences in other clubs. And it’s shocking.

So why am I bringing this topic up? I mean, it doesn’t have anything to do with autism right?

There is plenty that can be said here. I knew, right from the start of university that I would struggle in loud, or crowded social environments such as pubs, bars and outdoor events like on Bonfire Night. That’s why I worried a lot when I arrived. I’m doing a PhD and it takes up a lot of your time, because it’s such an intense project and there’s a lot of independent responsibility that you don’t get when you’ve gone to 2 or 3 hour lectures or seminars. I really didn’t want to spend 3 years here alone, so I tried to see if there were any clubs or societies I could join. And I found a few. But here’s the thing.

All the societies I went to, either went out drinking afterwards, or held a pre-drink initiation for new members.

This was when I didn’t mind drinking, but I’ve been drunk before and it really isn’t fun. Non functional drunk, passing out in the middle of an unfamiliar location and having to be dragged to a friends house on a route that would take 20 minutes but takes 2 hours. You lose all sense of time, and balance and the world is literally blurred. So I have to admit, I was a bit anxious after I did join a few drinking socials. Around this time, my mental health started to decline. But anyway, back to the initiations. It was around this point that someone told me they were made to eat dog food as part of theirs. This one sentence was so out of the ordinary that I could not process what was being said. It was like someone had gone into an Italian restaurant and ordered a chicken katsu curry.

If that is lad culture, then lad culture is harmful to students, and creates a pretty alienating environment for people like me.

When I think of lad culture, I don’t think of loud, or boisterous groups of people copying Greek traditions of initiations and then trying to top it with even more ridiculous ones. I think of guys at a pub, drinking a few pints, discussing sports like football, or ordering a pizza and playing video games. But maybe I have been in some sort of social bubble all my life if this is what lad culture is these days. And I don’t get it at all. Maybe that’s why I didn’t mind singing karaoke, or performing live music in my student union for a few nights.

And then there’s banter, and laughs.

I don’t get that either. It’s like a different language to me. What is it that’s funny? Or amusing?

Sadly, this renders me unable to join in with these types of conversations, or events that may involve a lot of drinking. This isn’t me just saying I don’t want to join in. Quite the contrary. I’d absolutely love to be a part. But my brain is different and can’t process this type of socialising. I know there’s work banter, and study banter but any kind of banter is banter I don’t know. I’ve always been someone who has stayed outside of this type of social situation. But for some, it creates an anxiety for future social situations. Is my future partner going to care that I don’t really get this? Are my friends going to ostracise me because of it?

But now, there are thankfully non drinking socials. Especially in my sports club. And the attitude is nowhere near close to the Greek fraternity/sorority tradition, which makes the environment welcoming and less stressful. I don’t believe that university has to be all about going out for drinks. I think we can have fun in other ways too.

Keeping the subject relevant to lad culture, I will push forward. There seems to be cases of sexism and misogyny going round. Treating girls like sexual objects, for instance. I guess if consent is there, fair enough. But what about when all the guys want to talk about is pulling a girl at a nightclub, or assuming a girl wants to go out with you because you went out for a cup of coffee together? I honestly wonder if lad culture is a result of social and peer pressures than anything else. Either way, I am not sure if I am part of it. I’ve cut down on drinking, and I’m not one for nightclubs because they escalate some of my sensory issues with noise and touch. Sticky floors caused by spilt drinks can be really distressing to me for some reason. Same with the temperature created when a lot of humans are around one another.

This blog post isn’t to shame guys or anything like that, by the way. It’s just to give a different perspective of the phenomenon. I think my concern stems from wanting to be able to feel part of a group, but not do anything I don’t want to do. However, I also wonder if trying to “fit in” can also carry setbacks, because I don’t want to stop being the person I currently am. There does seem to be a social/peer pressure that people might give in to. I know I did when I was in high school and college. I noticed that when I cut down on drinking, my mental health stopped deteriorating. But when pressured to do something, it sets off anxiety.

Inclusion should be at the heart of every club and society on any university campus. We are ordinary people, with a common interest and so we can do things together. I hope that as years progress forward at university that we don’t let lad culture become the dominant phenomenon that drives our clubs and societies.

Pain – An Autistic Perspective

This week was a first. At a rather insignificant time of year, I fractured my ankle. While it gave me intense pain upon the initial accident, it also gave me something to think about. How is pain perceived by people on the autistic spectrum? I offer a personal experience of my most painful situations, and what I have done to get through them.

My experience of pain varies. Upon the fracture of my ankle this week, I did not express any extreme emotion, or reaction. In other words, I did not cry from the pain. This is in direct contrast to pain I experience on an emotional level, which I can talk about further down on this article. The experience of pain varies depending on the situation. Nevertheless, I was very surprised after the accident that I did not burst into tears. This is apparently supposed to be an incredibly painful experience. It wasn’t.

It was tolerable, and a rather moderate level of pain. At least, it was at the start. Nothing would prepare me for the night ahead. The next day my foot was as stiff as an old door lock in winter that takes physical strength to budge open. Realising I could not lift my right foot, or move it extensively, I started shaking. This was pain. This was pain I hadn’t experienced before. It’s like delayed onset muscle soreness, only at a much worse level. It’s like you’ve been out in the cold for hours, ending up with an incredibly numb sensation. It’s like something or someone has come and taken all your nerves and trapped them.

With the pain level increasing throughout the day, and with no effective RICE procedure, I became increasingly overwhelmed. I decided that it was time to make my first ever trip to a hospital. Here I am, a 24 year old, going through my first ever hospital experience. I will admit that I was determined to remain fracture free within my lifetime. Since this episode, though it is clear that this was a rather ambitious, and quite damaging outlook. We have to be prepared for the unexpected to happen. I know that as an autistic person, I am absolutely terrible with unexpected changes to my routine, or my normal daily life activities. If you picture a well organised, time managed schedule of my day, it shows that I am supposed to work out either 6, 4 or 3 times a week depending on my workout split. As this is now disrupted by an avulsion fracture, it has mucked up the 12th week of my strength training program. I am now in the process of deloading, and ashift from a muscle building goal to a fat loss goal.

But what this highlights is that of all the unexpected things to disrupt a routine, pain is the absolute worst on the list. I’m fine with delayed onset muscle soreness, or calluses in my feet from trampolining, but when I can’t actually commit to a routine I made myself, knowing that I could stick to it, it is the worst feeling in the world and it honestly makes me feel awful. So the autistic experience of pain for me is that it forced a change in an otherwise comfortable and consistent routine. It is very common for autistic individuals to stick to a devised routine, just like how birds stick to certain migration paths. If you think about how a wind turbine could disrupt a migratory path, then my version of that is pain disrupting my daily life routine.

But I want to touch (see what I did there) on one thing in particular and that is pain threshold. Everybody’s experience of pain is determined by a threshold level and thus, pain tolerance. My pain threshold is extremely low, whilst my sensory profile for touch is incredibly hypersensitive. This means that I can feel pain very easily. I would easily be able to feel someone prodding me in the back, (more so if they had a sharp fingernail). I do not have any body piercings or tattoos. I used to have a piercing, but my experience of having that done was not the best, and as a result I removed it. The thought of getting a tattoo is one which will haunt me for life, but at the same time I have control and autonomy over my own body, and I know I am strong enough to overcome social pressure.

It is important to note that my experience is not the same as another autistic individual. If an autistic person decides to get a tattoo or a piercing, it is not necessarily because they have a higher threshold or a lower hypersensitivity. This is why sensory profiling is done on the basis of the individual. There could be a whole range of different scenarios. For example, there might be a delayed reaction to thermal sensory stimuli. In other words, touching a hot surface or state of matter may not initially provoke a pain signal. In the contrast scenario, just being near to hot material may be sensory overloading. The same is true for cold material.

The worst pains I have experienced are also different from pains which other individuals have endured. For me, the delayed intense signal of my avulsion fracture was one of the worst pains. Another example was falling through a bar in a park, causing me to experience pain in my crotch. This is incredibly unpleasant. Other pains may be slightly more “tolerable” but I say that with a pinch of salt. I don’t want to jinx what my next experience is going to be. On the other hand, injections such as my MMR jab, and my tetanus jab were anything but painful. Even scratches from cats or bites from dogs were worse than that.

I have covered my physical pain experience. However, I also have emotional pain, and how I hurt as a human being. I will leave this part out, as it becomes quite sensitive and in some cases, quite dark. But emotional pain for autistic individuals can be anything. It can be saying something to someone, and then bargaining to yourself if what you said was okay, or appropriate, or you weren’t being a burden, or provoking annoyance. It could be if you struggled to understand a specific social cue or gesture, and as a result, are worried about being ostracised from a group of friends. That sounds painful just thinking about it, probably. But this is why I wrote this article.

Getting through my painful experiences is not easy. With the avulsion fracture now topping my worst physical pain, it is hard to imagine what could top this. Given that I am now going to be extremely insistent on warming up before any workout or trampoline practice, I hope I will be able to decrease my chances of injury. But when I do have a painful experience, I often do think about what will top it, or what I can do to prevent it from happening again, often to the point that I write out my thoughts on paper, or now that computers are more practical, writing blogs like this one.

Introduction

Hello everyone, my name is Sonny Bailey and I’m one of the many people in this world to be living with autism. As with most autistic people I’ve had my fair share of discrimination, bullying and abuse but to set this post in motion I’m here to blog about my experiences and my life and the way I see things in this world. Since I am a logical thinker it makes sense to split my story up into sections so that readers can choose the appropriate section if they need specific info coming from an autistic person.

We start with the introduction — of course this is just the beginning of what is to come but you can already see that a person like me is keen on being organised and having things set up in a structural form. I am sure that as you read on you will continue to see this dominant trait throughout my blogging. The way I approach language and wording may be a little different to what you may be used to perhaps. I’m talking colloquial and figurative language but we’ll get to that in a future section. I think the fun thing for me here is working my brain to remember everything I have been through as specifically and detailed as possible in order to really showcase and demonstrate what it might feel like to be autistic, just from reading some words on a screen. You get a glimpse into what the world is like according from the perspective of an autistic guy and the many challenges people like us face, and yes there may be challenges in your life too. What’s life without a few challenges, eh? It’s dominating or overcoming those challenges and difficulties that I feel has really helped shape the person I am today.

So a little bit about me. I’m only young, so of course I still have a big life ahead of me. Being 22 years of age at the time of writing (24 at the time of putting this here) I’m looking forward to seeing what the future does bring. While I may have had a hard childhood I can definitely say I feel like I’m becoming a better person each day that comes. We try to take each day that comes as a pinch of salt. We know of the daily struggles we face and each struggle will be different from autistic person to autistic person. We’ll of course delve deeper into that later on but the first important thing for autistic people and people who want to understand us is to have that knowledge that we do have struggles we face, perhaps a little different to you but in a way that will cause us to feel like we’re face to a face with a large brick wall that we’ve got to climb over.

Now I’m an autistic male. Or more specifically I’m an autistic heterosexual non binary person. Of course those terms relate more to gender identity and sexual orientation which is a topic on sociology so we won’t get into any detail here. But biologically speaking I am a male. Autistic people can be either male or female when diagnosed and it’s important to understand that bringing gender into autism does not yield any intriguing or obvious correlation. We of course treat each other the same as any other individual should, as human beings.

About my diagnosis. All I can remember is that I was born without being able to speak until at a much later stage, in other words my speech and language development was slow and back then instead of hearing me say “Mumma” or “Dadda” I’d perhaps be singing words instead. Like “Bah de gah” Yes that’s an account that comes from my sister but it might also have a connection to the fact I have perfect pitch. That’s a subject to be discussed later. Exciting stuff. Anyway they diagnosed me when I was about 4. I remember living in Fontwell, West Sussex before I moved to Worthing. I distinctly remember the blue colour of the number 5 that was sitting on the mantelpiece in one of the current family homes that we occupied. Except now that mantelpiece is gone and there was just a mirror instead.

So you may have identified another trait there, yes? My memory. That’s a big subject to discuss, too and it’s mainly the reason I am writing this for you all now. I am a person who likes attention to detail rather than looking at a big picture, which is ironic when it comes to my political views. But before I go off track let me continue. So I was diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder or ASD for short. I wasn’t aware I had it until one day I heard my older brother mention exactly these words: “He’s got autism” to one of his friends. I must have been like, 6–7 at that time and it was obvious by then because a few days later he got me to spell swear words on a Scrabble board without me having the knowledge on profanity and vulgarity. So my father then threatened to wash my mouth out with soap after my brother asked me to pronounce the word I spelt. So yeah, I wouldn’t recommend trying to do that to a young autistic person, kids. Of course you can use it as a way to give information to other people about what you did and didn’t know like I am doing so it’s not so bad that I remember it clearly.

Phew. Well there we have it. I hope that this introduction really set the scene for what is to come. We are creative thinkers and there are/were many famous creative autistic guys in the world including Bill Gates and Michael Jackson. It’s fascinating when you think about it really. You can only imagine what they must have been through to get to how they were. And the same with most of us. Just ask any of us what it’s like being autistic and most of us will either not want to say much while others like me will gladly tell you everything there is you need to know. Thanks for reading the introduction. Have a brilliant day.