As far back as I can remember I have had intricate thoughts and ideas which have made me unique. As a young child in early primary school, I used to spend most of my time just doing my own thing and not really making much sense to people. My ever intriguing thoughts and ideas were locked up in my head and I couldn't communicate them to others.
When I was seven years of age, I got my diagnosis of autism in a form which is now known as Asperger syndrome. It was not that long afterwards that I was moved into a special school called Whitfields in Walthamstow, London, where for the next eight years I received specialist help, most of which came from a joyful, high spirited woman called Jenny. Not long after starting this school my family and I became involved in a family support group called Kith and Kids in which I am now a regular volunteer and work-shopper, always keeping active and creative.
At the age of fourteen I changed over to a school called West Lea in Edmonton where I was eventually able to take my GCSE's in which I did well. My recognition as being a worthy candidate for GCSE's was predominantly won by the French teacher, Mr Cole to whom I am very grateful.
At seventeen I was able to begin sixth-form in Winchmore where I worked hard at my A-levels but managed to turn myself into a serious target for other students' teasing and torment. It was also at this time when I first began learning how to stick up for myself, also realising that there were many unwritten rules about behaviour and conduct which everyone else knew except me.
I was then accepted by the University of Manchester to do a BSc in biochemistry that I have now completed. I began university under the same life long illusion I had always had of thinking that making a new start meant no more teasing to deal with. However, my social status in the first year was appalling and I spent a whole year living in a flat with seven other blokes, myself practically in isolation.
In the second year I ended up living in a house in Fallowfield where there happened to be three friends and two free spaces. I ended up there completely by random. I became best mates with Nick who ended up filling the extra space. He is a rebel through and through and has since taught me many of the tricks of the trade which I have needed on the highly worldly and sometimes hostile streets and night clubs of Manchester. Between my second and third year I booked a rather impromptu place on an expedition in East Africa where at my own risk I spent much of my time away from the group (which rejected me) learning all about the life-styles and customs of the local people. Never before had my poor mum been so worried. In my final year I was fortunate enough to live with people who were extremely mature and witty in a constructive way. Since graduating I have done a variety of work with children with autism both here and abroad. I now work as a children's entertainer and I sincerely feel that this has been a successful move.
I have now decided to write a book with a purpose. It is aimed at passing on my experiences of surviving as an Asperger sufferer in a world where every situation is slightly different for the benefit of other Asperger sufferers. I wish to lay out a set of rules and guide-lines in a style similar to that of the highway code in a format which doesn't change therefore not causing unnecessary confusion. My points are intended to be phrased in ways which are unambiguous therefore not causing people to get confused or apply things out of context.
I will probably have an audience which consists of both autistic people and non-autistic people. I would like to point out that many of the points I show might be down right obvious to some people but completely alien to others and I therefore wish to stress that I do not mean to be patronising or pedantic.
I choose to write this book now and not later because I feel that the relevant mistakes and lessons of my life are still clear in my head. Some people might see this book as being a little too worldly but I myself believe that if a borderline autistic person has to go out into this rather obnoxious world independently then the last thing they need is to be sheltered. I would strongly like to equip these people with the tricks and the knowledge they need in order to defend themselves and I don't wish to enforce opinions or be hypocritical. I have also drawn upon the benefits of constructive feedback from parents of other autistic people in writing this book. I would not like to feel that any of my autistic readers will be placed under unnecessary pressure to start reading this book. To begin with just having this book lying around in one's bedroom might be enough to catch their eye and stimulate a healthy interest.
I intend for this book to serve the sole purpose of improving the quality of people's lives and would strongly urge any of my autistic audience not to get too stressed out trying to apply this book too quickly and to remember that Rome was not built in a day.
Even I myself am still having difficulties putting all these rules into practice, but it certainly helps to be aware of them.
Getting the best from this book
Looking on the bright side
Distortions of the truth
Humour and conflict
Sexually related problems and points about going out
Finding the right friends
Keeping a clean slate
Living away from home
Jobs and interviews
A Personal in depth analysis of the problem