I’ve just been reading through a twitter thread from It’s Not Shrodinger’s Autism in relation to her experience with travelling recently.

Until reading her post today, I was not aware of The Hidden Disabilities scheme. The scheme serves to recognise and promote the fact that, as the name suggests, not all disabilities are visible. Providing a free lanyard and allowing staff to recognise and offer additional support or patience with people who have difficulties. The scheme also operates through some supermarkets and other such places. As yet, it does not appear to be internationally recognised, but may be persuasive and the more people use it, the larger the scheme will gain recognition.

Having recently flown from Manchester airport to Geneva early on a Saturday morning, I can state that on this occasion, as someone who used to fly weekly from Manchester that I have never encountered crowds like it, in any airport anywhere. I used to fly a lot from Gatwick, Southampton, Geneva, Manchester and I’ve flown from some of the busiest terminals in the world.

We were only away for a period of three days so travelling could be simplified by use of only carry-on luggage (which we were offered to stow in the hold at no extra cost) an option which we took on the return flight. Security were excellent, despite stopping, taking swabs and ‘wanding’ me. I explained metalwork in my body and was processed with courtesy and professionalism.

However it was impossible to get a drink or something to eat without monolithic queues. Fast food outlets (I fail to recall due to the stress of the experience but I think that it was Burger King) had tills down and faulty self-service screens. In the end, my partner and I managed to settle on a bland sandwich and I had a glass of wine which was far more expensive than any glass I had whilst in Switzerland (the bar staff serving had the gall to tell me to “Smile, you’re on holiday” to be given the response that I that I paid for a bottle and got a glass and couldn’t wait to get a bargain at Swiss prices*)

Anyway, I digress. The lanyard scheme allows use of something called the Sunshine Room, which in Terminal One, Manchester Airport is located behind the fast food outlets. These areas are quiet zones, with reduced lighting and an escape from the pandemonium of the airport terminal. If only I had known about them. Personally, I do consider myself high-functioning, I currently live alone and generally manage to maintain myself and my small flat. However in the throng of crowds I struggle. I really could have used the solace of a quiet area for just a few minutes.

I won’t go into details of our holiday, at least at this point as it would be going off at a tangent which even I would be alarmed at.

We arrived back at Manchester Airport on Monday at around 23:30, having retrieved bags, gone through passport control and all of the usual rigmarole. Having spent suitable time in consideration of transport back to Bradford from the airport, the earliest (and quickest) and fastest option was National Express at about 03.20. A four hour wait in Manchester Airport Arrival lounge. Whereupon there was one shop open. Yes, one! It’s not like airports operate on a 24 hour basis is it! Oh, yes… An utter farce, absolutely nothing to do, for hours on end. The options for food and drink in the arrivals lounge is poor at best, but at least keep them open for pity’s sake. Here there wasn’t a quiet area. People lingering around plug sockets trying to power phones and generally one of the more miserable environments to spend time in.

In summary, I really must look into the Sunflower Lanyard Scheme as I felt that having a few minutes of quiet time would have made the experience more enjoyable.


In contrast Geneva airport:

Welcoming, helpful. The nearest to a stressful experience was my partner showing me a watch which costs more than I would consider spending on a house, several watches, several mountain bikes and an Aston Martin. Thankfully, she was only looking and the staff joked that there was a defibrillator nearby.

*If you’ve not been to Switzerland, I can state, having lived there, that it is not known for bargains. 

A patient without patience

Finally heard back from Bradford Royal Infirmary. Well, I chased them as I had to change my mobile number anyway.

My appointment to have the metal work removed is on the 30th of September. This is 11 weeks after my accident. Almost three months! Now, I appreciate that the NHS does wonderful work and that I’m not a life or death case, but for a simple day surgery, this seems a stupid length of time.

This compounds my frustration as I have a weekend away with my girlfriend booked in mid-September and we are in the Alps and will want to go walking and exploring in the mountains, that’s why I selected that particular area as a base. Therefore, we won’t get as much out of the trip as hoped for and that frustrates me.

Plus, this long off the bike will affect my fitness badly and I have other plans in the pipeline which require me being fit.

I either try and push through with the help of painkillers or I continue to take it easy; neither of which are ideal. I’m hoping that the responsible local authority admit liability before this date and we can move forward with great speed.

I find that patience is not my strong suit, I want results and I want them more or less immediately, maybe that’s reflective of a speed of modern society or maybe it’s a part of my psyche, maybe it’s related to my Aspergers. I don’t really know, but I know that I hate waiting. Once I can visualise something, then I become incredibly focused upon attaining that goal. I realise that my level of drive is often a positive thing, but it drives me mad when factors are outside of my control.

In the meantime, I’m forced to wait and that increases my frustration and anxiety.

I’m sure that I’m not the only one who feels like this and I would be very interested in speaking with others who feel the same way.


Energy levels depleted

It’s taken me longer than I planned to write this entry because of my lack of energy. Writing about this whilst in the throws of it has taken more effort than I had planned but it’s a way of creating a little structure to my Wednesday.

My routine is shot to all hell at the moment. My normal routine is get up, breakfast, social media stuff and personal admin, tutoring, lunch, chill for an hour to allow digestion and then training. At the moment, with the pin in my ankle limiting what I can do, I’m not training. This has thrown my routine completely out and therefore I am struggling to find any order.

I realise that not training is the logical thing, I also realise that the current pain levels are affecting my motivation and energy to say nothing of the effect on my mental state. I’ve had to cancel a couple of races I had planned to do in the next few months, which is incredibly frustrating; but I know that I will just not be race ready. To this end, after surgery, I need to reset goals and restart my training programme. I also need to give myself an event or day out on the bike to mentally look forward to. So that’s my physical health discussed and I apologise to the people close to me about moaning about being in pain and feeling general frustration and malaise.

With all of this in mind, I thought that it’s important to talk about the effect that these changes can have on a person’s mental health. For me, I’m a person who doesn’t sit still for long. I struggle to simply sit and I’m always moving; partially I use pacing as a stimming behaviour, especially when I’m on the telephone. At the moment, being forced to do less, is leading to a feeling of going from having boundless energy to having none. I literally fall asleep constantly, lack of routine means that I don’t have the energy to establish a new one and my patterns are completely out of synch.

Having done some research, it would appear that the cause of this is what simply referred to as ‘autistic burnout’. This might also seen as the neurological effect of putting the brain and body into ‘safe mode’ which the brain and body does in order to protect itself from the difficulties in life.

Symptoms include, but are not limited to: –

  • lack of energy and a growing lethargy
  • avoidance
  • changes in appetite
  • changes in sensory tolerances
  • changes in use or modes of language
  • struggling to regulate moods and emotional state
  • slowing of thought process
  • brain fog
  • lack of ability to motivate oneself

All of these things may appear to manifest in a similar fashion to depression and obviously, this makes diagnosis all the harder for professionals. (Which, I am not.)

I’m a highly logical person and I question why do I have this feeling then? Research states that we, neurodiverse people require more time to decompress than others; we often do this by engaging in our obsessions. Back to mountain biking then; I can’t ride and therefore I am simply not able to enjoy my obsessions and this means that a little like a pressure cooker, the pressure increases until something must give.

Anyway, until next time.

A couple of great articles here  and also here