Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Time to make a stand?

Maybe it's the 40 thing and impending middle age (not that I feel "middle aged"!), but I find myself contemplating where I've been and how far I've come. In some ways, there has been a lot of things happen, and I have been blessed by the times we live in. Technology that was barely science fiction during my childhood is now all around me, and I'm in a position to understand and play a small part in its development in a nice of human activities. I've even discovered a few abilities that range from the geeky (but sometimes cool) to the downright freaky. And they are not just curiosities, but things I depend on in my life. As for the social thing, I manage a reasonable presence in a range of social situations, and a side effect of all that learning is I have a unique understanding of social interaction. It's like I've reverse engineered the neurotypical "black box" and then re-implemented it in a form that will work in my mind - so I have the "source code" of what makes people tick, in a sense. And like a program I've written, I can tinker with how my "NT emulation" works (social engineering anyone?), or watch for behavioural patterns that could indicate ulterior motives in other people.

All that aside, there are still some persistent challenges. My executive function is somewhat sub par, even compared to others on the spectrum of similar overall functioning to me. When faced with an unfamiliar situation that has relationship with my experience, I don't know where to start. Add paperwork and red tape, and it's a case of forget it. I almost didn't finish uni because of this issue and the increasing reliance on self directed research. Fortunately, these days Google (the best prothesis I could ever have!) exists, and there are plenty of discussion forums, lists, groups etc, all of which help me work around that massive hole. Anxiety has and always will be an issue, especially where it revolves around what other people might think (and yes, logically, I know what they think generally doesn't matter).

Anyway the net result is while I'm surviving, I know I could be doing a lot better, and while I'm in touch with with various autistic groups, I feel I haven't contributed as much to raising awareness as I could. However, when one casts themselves out on the web like I did over 10 years ago, it's hard to know the real impact I've made.