Ellis (13, has Asperger’s): I have Asperger’s syndrome, along with a variety of other things, ADHD, which usually comes along with that sort of thing. Umm, yeah, it’s more of a social affectment. It affects my ability to communicate with other people. I have problems with acknowledging body language, facial expressions, subtle sort of things like that.
Eryl (18, sister of Ellis): Being sarcastic, he’s not very good with that. Umm, when you’re not so much angry but just like grumpy, and you just want people to leave you alone, he still doesn’t get that. When you get frustrated, if it’s not like over-the-top frustration, he doesn’t get that either. Umm, it’s just generally more the negative emotions I think, just like the anger and the frustration, that he doesn’t understand. But he gets generally when you’re happy because, you know, you’re smiling and stuff. He’s like ‘Oh, OK.’
Ellis: Well I had classes when I was about ten, twelve, you know, until then. And they were really social teaching classes, rather than interaction classes.
Alison (mother of Ellis): When you just see him and have a short chat, everything seems fine. He’s learnt how to respond in certain situations and he manages quite well, but if you are prolonged with him, you then see the differences, because it takes an awful lot out of him, because it doesn’t come naturally. Social situations don’t come naturally to Aspies. I know there’s days he wakes up and he thinks ‘What am I not going to understand today? What am I going to get wrong today? Who am I going to upset today?’ And that can be really quite depressing.
Ellis: People grow up with this whole thing about being politically correct and saying all these strange rules, and it’s just harder for people with Asperger’s to adapt because of the different way they respond, and they see things. When I was younger I wouldn’t even know that it had happened, that I had done something wrong. But nowadays, I guess I kind of think of something differently, but if I think it over in my head, then I would know probably what to do, from my classes and stuff.
Peter (father of Ellis): He’s a generally nice kid and he’s quite clever, and I think once he gets the hang of the world and what his expectations, and everyone else’s expectations of him, then he will cope, and he will cope really well. But that process is just taking a lot longer than it would for every other kid who you’d call normal because it simply doesn’t come naturally to him. He really, really has to work hard at situations. You’ll need to explain the same thing over and over again, just because of slight nuances there that were different. He doesn’t quite get that it’s all basically the same thing, just in slightly different flavours.
Alison: Aspies don’t generalise. So you have to make it very clear again and again and repeat everything so they learn what’s appropriate in certain situations. Because one situation, they don’t relate it to another one. So, for example: road safety. Ellis reads all the time. And I mean all the time. So he’ll be reading when we cross roads, when we’re in carparks. So, he might know that the road where he went to school for six years, he stops and looks both ways before he goes over. But he won’t equate that to the shopping carpark. There’s cars, he’s still got to look because not everyone can see him and know where he is, and what he’s going to do next. So, there’s that safety side of things as well.
Ellis: I guess it’s kind of ‘learn as you go’ really. Having Asperger’s, you know, it’s a permanent thing. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing.