Friday, 23 November 2012

Workshop - 2

I think I published my previous blogpost a tad too soon. The workshop was about PGB (PersoonsGebonden Budget. It’s a budget you can apply for if you need a lot of health care in your life, which can cost a lot of money). When I applied for the workshop I imagined they’d tell us what PGB is and how to apply for it and then have some exercises to learn how to fill out the forms and how to keep up with your budget.

Well, it wasn’t like that at all. It wasn’t really a workshop, but more one big presentation of 2 to 3 hours with lots of sheets with information with numbers and rules on them. It was like a crash course without any breaks. Unless they had one after I left…

Left? Yep. After a while (I lost track of time. I’d say 1 hour or so?) I got flooded with too much information and had to leave, while crying. I know, I cry a lot, but that’s my way of expressing emotions. One person yells, the other screams, the other punches a wall… I cry.
Anyway, I left the room and took the sheets with information with me for me to look at later in time.

So, what happened? There was simply too much information to progress in a short amount of time. You know that feeling when a school year has nearly ended and you can hardly focus on your homework, because the feeling of needing a big holiday gets bigger and bigger? It’s that, times a thousand, achieved in just one hour.

They kept jumping from one subject to another, laying out all the rules, giving us a lot of numbers, telling us everything you will need to do to manage the budget, making us do some math exercises to practice, etc. At one point in time I said “I’m getting pretty discouraged by all this.” To which they simply replied “You’ll be fine after some practice.” Later in time I said again “This is really a lot for me!” To which they said that I could just buy a cabinet for all my administration and I’d be fine. I already mentioned my Autism, but nobody seemed to catch on. I don’t know how familiar they are with Autism there…

So even after saying that it’s a lot for me, they kept on going with more and more information. At one point I even put my hands against my ears, in order to have some quiet progressing time. This helped to some degree, but then I realised I missed some information because of this and the amount of progressing needed to get back on track, was enough to fill my head again. I just needed a break…

After a while I couldn’t focus anymore. I heard the words that were being said, but they didn’t get progressed. This is when I decided I was better off just leaving and to look at the sheets later. I tried to state this to the group as calmly as I could, but my whole system was shaken and I couldn’t control my emotions and broke into tears while saying that I had to leave because of the amount of information and I left.

A lady followed me while I was putting on my jacket in the hallway and gave me some advice where I could get guidance for the PGB. I was familiar with the foundation she mentioned, so I could remember it. After that I told her I couldn’t hold on to any more information and left. I’m glad they were all so understanding when I left. I just wish they caught on sooner. But maybe I should have just said “I need a break.” Instead of that it’s too much. Why do I always realise this afterwards, instead of when I need it?

Wednesday, 21 November 2012


While I'm writing this, I'm waiting for a workshop to start. There are around 20 people waiting too and most if them have started a conversation.

The person left of me, the person right of me and I are silent though. I would like to start a conversation with them, but after a few attempts I gave up and am, instead, writing this blogpost on my mobile phone.

I wonder... are these people maybe not interested in a conversation? Do they have social issues like me? Do they have trouble connecting too? Do they maybe think I'm weird or something? Why is the rest having a conversation and I'm not?

Oh I just got spoken to and I answered with a short answer and went back to my blogpost. It's me after all. I have no idea what to say to these people.

Usually I have few problems with my autism, but this is one of those few times that I do have a problem with it. Well the workshop is almost starting, so I'll be signing off now.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Theoretics exam and my birthday

The last two weeks have been exhausting, as I’ve been focussing a lot on my theoretics driving exam and my birthday. In fact, it has been so exhausting that my physical resistance went down and now I’m a bit under the weather. I think I’ll be fine if I just rest up a bit though. Fingers crossed.

Let’s start with the thing that was the most nerve wrecking for me: my theoretics exam. Some of you already know, but here’s the result: I PASSED!!! YAY!!! I never expected for me to pass this exam the first time! I thought I would need a second time for that to happen. I did make a few mistakes, but still, I passed!

I got to say though: I don’t think I would’ve made it if I didn’t have an individual exam. The whole exam there was a lady sitting next to me to assist me if anything about the exam wasn’t clear to me and to help me silence the nerves. In the first part of the exam I had to look at a situation and say whether I would need to slow down, stop or do nothing. While practicing this on my computer, the text of the question (“What do you do here?”) distracted me a lot from the situation itself, causing me to lose essential time. Of course, this wouldn’t happen in real life. Text from a question wouldn’t distract me. I would simply assess the situation at hand.

Because of this I was very stressed out. I didn’t think I would make this part of the exam and was told beforehand that I wouldn’t be getting extra time for this to make up for the text-problem. This felt unfair to me, as it wasn’t exactly the same situation for me as it was in real life. During the exam there was a great surprise! Apparently they removed the text, as the question would be the same for each picture anyway so I would understand that, and I could concentrate on the picture alone! This helped a lot and suddenly the time wasn’t as much a problem as it was before.

The rest were questions on general knowledge and they DID give me extra time for that, as the first part of the exam already tested my response time. The second part of the exam also had more text in the questions, so I really needed the extra time to really understand what was being asked of me.
This was great! Finally I could calmly read the question, allowing me to quickly respond with the answer afterwards. When I was sure about my answer, I would tell the woman sitting next to me and she would continue to the next question.

This was a great way of still making sure I have the right knowledge and the right response time on the road, but also keeping in account that I take a little longer taking in information. This calmed me down so much, I didn’t panic and the answers came more easily to me. This just goes to show how much understanding and adapting is needed. Of course they needed to make sure I would be safe on the road, but within these limits they made all the right adaptions. It really helped!

As for my birthday; I don’t have much to say about that. It was a lot of fun! We went bowling (where the music was loud, but not too loud) and had dinner at a restaurant (which wasn’t really all that bad, but I know of better restaurants… I won’t be going back there). I’m not that great at bowling as I don’t do it that often, but I had a personal record (70) which I’m proud of.

I had some great presents too! There were bento stuff (Japanese lunchboxes), money, birthday cards, some sweets, etc. Thank you everyone! Next to the bowling and the restaurant we also played some games and had some of my home-made cookie sponge cake. I was very proud of that cake, as everyone responded with a ‘hmmmm!’

On the day of my actual birthday I had a driving lesson, where I got some Belgian chocolates from my driving instructor. Later that day I had physical therapy, where I got a backpack with some goodies in it for my birthday. Thanks to the both of you! It’s very much appreciated!

So yea, I had a lot to celebrate. It was a lot of fun, but it also took a lot of energy out of me. That’s why I’m only writing about it now. It was all worth it though!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Receiving (the wrong) presents

There’s something that I’d like to talk about, seeing I’ll be celebrating my birthday the 3rd of November. (my actual birthday is the 6th of November) This thing is receiving (the wrong) presents. I don’t mean to scare anyone off with buying presents for me. Please, I’m happy with anything that I get, because you’re the one who bought it for me. I just seek understanding for something that I’ll explain in the rest of my blogpost.

I’ll explain this by sharing an example. One day a friend of mine (who I’m not in contact with anymore) got me a necklace. The necklace was put into a very nice wooden box, which was hand-decorated with a character from an Anime (Japanese cartoon) that I love and I actually Cosplayed (dressed up) as the main character. I loved the personal touch, but I have to be honest… I never wear jewellery, because it gives me a terrible sensory problem. I always feel it and I can’t ignore it. If you ever catch me wearing a necklace, it’s probably a really big and classy party and my mother has probably forced me into wearing one.

This friend told me that he really wanted to see me wearing his necklace. I told him I never wear jewellery as it’s a sensory hell, so that I couldn’t wear his necklace, but that I was forever grateful for getting it and would cherish it. He wasn’t happy at all and told me I was rude for just laying his necklace aside to sit in the dust.

That is totally missing the point! I wasn’t trying to be rude and I wasn’t laying the necklace aside to sit in the dust either. In fact, I still have the necklace and still think it’s beautiful. I just can’t wear it. I’ll never ask for jewellery as a present, as I’m unable to use it.

One other time I got a piece of clothing that wasn’t my style at all, but it was from a big designer, so the person giving me the present proudly expected me to be very happy and asked me whether I would proudly wear it. I can honestly say that I’m happy with any present I get. Just the fact that someone went as far as getting me something with the sole purpose of making me happy, already makes any present I get a good present. It’s just when I get something I can’t use and it’s being expected to be used, I have no idea what to say. I’m a terribly honest person. I can talk around indirect questions, but when being asked something so specifically as whether I would use something that I most likely won’t, I have no idea what to say.

No, I won’t use it. Yes, I’m very happy and grateful that I got the present. Most people don’t seem to understand this. Somehow, for some reason, it’s an insult not to use someone’s present which is meant for using, even when it’s something you would never normally use anyway. I don’t get this. Am I supposed to lie to you when I get something I can’t use? Am I supposed to say I will use it, when I won’t because I can’t? And is it really so hard to believe that I’m genuinely happy with your present, even when it’s something I can’t use?
These are questions that I’ve never gotten a clear answer to. I don’t get the etiquette of getting presents.

But anyone who has ever gotten me a present, and anyone who ever will: If it just so happens that you got a present that I can’t use for some reason, don’t feel bad. I’m honestly happy with the present and will keep it. So if you ever ask if I will use your present and I tell you no for whatever reason, please remember that I’m just very honest, but that that doesn’t mean that I’m not happy with it. I am, rest assured.
Disclaimer: This doesn’t mean that every present I get is a present I can’t use of course. I was just talking about those specific presents. There’s plenty I CAN use.