Cycling is going well. I’m out most days and I love it. I cycled 20 miles the other day. If this were another time I’d cycle to Chester, get the train to North Wales and go for a day out.
I found site called CycleStreets recently. It’s great at plotting cycle routes. It will tell you about busy sections, times where you need to get off your bike and all sorts of things. It’s fascinating. I just planned a route and it gave me the direct route with roads or the quiet route along the coastal path. It’ll take me nearly 2 hours to do. It even shows thumbnails of the route. It’s very clever but it feels like it was made in the late 1990s. They have an iOS app too which is still rocking iPhone 5 design language. 5!
I found another app called CycleMaps which is fairly similar. The interface is more modern but you can’t say show me the quietest route like you can on CycleStreets. Apple are also building cycling routes into their Maps app. It may be some time before it comes to your region though.
Thursday, 16th July 2020, was the 2nd anniversary of my ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) diagnosis. I was 39 at the time and just 2 months away from being 40. I’m not sure I’ve ever discussed that day which is strange considering how life changing it was. I held on to the news as I wasn’t really sure what to do with it. Was it even news? I decided to tell the world when news broke about my entry to the ‘Portrait of Britain’ prize. I thought it would be interesting to demonstrate that I’m someone who tries to be more than my issues and sometimes I do well at that, as hard as it is.
What was that day like? What happens when you finally get to chat to a professional about whether you are autistic or not? Pull up a chair, grab a brew and I’ll tell you.
Before you even get through the door you need to speak to your doctor to get the process started. I made an appointment for something simple that I needed looking at. It may have been to discuss migraine medication or a nasal spray. I can’t remember. This helped because I really wasn’t sure I was autistic or even wanted to really know. I could get the prescription I needed and be on my way. When the doctor asked if that was everything I took a moment and quietly said “I think I might have autism.” (FYI Autism isn’t something you have. You either are autistic or you aren’t.) The doctor was supportive and got the process going for me.
Soon enough I got some information through the post. I had to fill in a questionnaire. A huge multi-page epic questionnaire about my life as a kid. Sure yeah. No problem. I’ll just ask my… oh parents are dead. Cool. Cool, cool, cool. I put the form aside and forgot about it. I found it and a month or so later and then forgot about it. There was a deadline. I think I spent the best part of a year loosing the form.
I had no idea where I was going to the information to fill it in. Plus the form was huge and, ignoring that my handwriting is unreadable, I get quite severe pain in the palm of my hands when I write. I wasn’t desperate to fill in the form. If only I could have filled it in online. Eventually I filled it in as best as I could and sent it off with a note saying “Sorry for the delay.”
After a while I got a response. I would be going to see a psychiatrist and clinical psychologist. It was a 1 hour appointment split into 2 parts. 30 minutes with each person. I was also told to bring someone who knew me well. The only option I had was my wife who knew me recently but not my childhood. She was supportive and happy to come along.
I was nervous on the day. After reading so much about autism there was a part of me that wanted get the official diagnosis because it explained so much about my life. On the flip side it meant there was no cure to my issues and they would always be there. It was a 52/48% split. No wait, that’s a bad number. 53/47%.
My 1 hour appointment lasted 2 hours. Clearly there was a lot to discuss and unpack. At the end of it we discussed the session. They said it was a good idea to bring my wife as she was able to fill in a lot of gaps that in my nervous state had forgotten. She also noticed things I missed or perhaps didn’t attribute to autism. I was asked how I felt and whether it is what I hoped for. I was happy. This explained me. All my life I had identified with characters like Spock and Data from Star Trek. I always identified with the person outside of normal society. I now knew why. It was incredible.
That day all I could do was reframe moments in my mind. That time with those people where that thing happened? Autism explained why. I did this for hours for everything I could think of. I felt relieved. A weight lifted from so many negative times in my life.
2 years on and I guess autism has become a special interest of mine. I am continually reading and learning because I have 40 years of trying to fit in to undo. Fitting in can do one. I will never be average, normal, standard, or anything like that. So I spend my days trying to be a better version of me and hopefully in doing so I can help others.
You might be wondering what actually led to this day? That’s for another time. Bring marshmallows and we’ll talk under the stars. Next week I’ll get back to part 2 of the feature on Executive Function Disorder. Stand by for action!
- Exploring sensory-friendly museums – Podcast with Holly Wilson
- Autistic togetherness during lockdown | Wellcome Collection
- Accessibility at the Museum | British Museum
- actionspace – Action Space supports beginning, emerging and established artists with learning disabilities by providing studio space, art materials and exhibition opportunities.
- How Twitter can sound to a blind person
New York again. My wife and I have been watching a lot of 30 Rock so I’m kind of in a NYC mood this week. I tried to find a different take on things and set Lightroom to show me only photos taken from the Top of the Rock at 200mm zoom. These are cityscapes with a compressed perspective.
- iOS 14: Here are 7 ways iPhone is improving as a camera – 9to5Mac
- Comet Neowise’s spectacular journey – in pictures | Science | The Guardian
- The Best Photos of Comet Neowise
- How to See Comet NEOWISE | NASA
- How to see Comet NEOWISE over the coming nights – skyatnightmagazine
There is no paid subscription to this newsletter but there is a tip jar.
- See Intricate Details in Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper in a New Gigapixel Image
- Covid-19 Resources – Project Artworks
- What we’ve learnt about online access during the Covid-19 crisis – Disability Arts Online
- The Sexist Legacy in Star Trek’s Progressive Universe
- xkcd: COVID Risk Chart
- /via Liftoff Podcast