A Nativity to Remember

Christmas Nativity

Ho, Ho, Ho.^^/

Christmas is a busy yet fun time. It may seem stressful but it’s all worth it in the end. =)

I saw an advert not too long ago of the Nativity film. It suddenly made me remember perhaps one of my busiest Christmas times, all the way back in 2005. In that year I starred in the nativity school play. I’m sure many of you have been part of the nativity back when you went to school, but how many of you starred in the nativity at 17 years old? Yep… I was 17 years old when I starred in the nativity…the irony has still not lost on me. Haha.

The SEN school I attended was very small. In that year there were 40 students in the entire school, thus, the entire school was part of the nativity. We had two scenes based on the birth of Jesus and the family dinner in the modern age…the younger students from the younger classes were part of the birth of Jesus scenes whilst the older students (me included) were part of the family dinner scene.

I played one of the two key characters in this play, Granddad. Me and this other lad were one of the only few who had a lot of speaking parts. I basically rambled on about the principles of Christmas and I would narrate the “story” to my family about the birth of Jesus. The settings would alternate between the family setting and the birth of Jesus.

We had plenty of good laughs here and there, we rehearsed the play for the whole school term… however, when December came I suddenly became really ill. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t speak and I lacked a lot of sleep. I had absolutely no idea what came over me. I was absent from school for a good while during that period.

If that wasn’t bad enough I had other acting commitments outside of school. I was part of two plays for two separate colleges (I attended one part time and I went to the other for work experience). And, I played Mr Beaver for an acting school, and that role in particular required a lot of energy. I was probably taking on a lot more than I could handle. I couldn’t go to school as I was ill. After resting up for a week I decided to partake in the performances at the colleges and drama school. My reason is that I only had to spend an hour at those performances and I could muster up the energy for that amount of time. With school…going to school would of course mean that I would have to spend the entire day there and obviously I couldn’t do that.

One day, a teacher rang my Mum to ask about my health. It was stressed that if I was going to stay absent for the whole term then the play would have to change, since I played a significant role. She sort of pleaded for me to come in and play my part. I felt a huge rush of pride souring through my veins. Feeling wanted and needed in a “crisis” motivates me to try my hardest. Plus, it was going to be the very last production from my school as they were closing the following year. I felt that it was imperative for me to attend.

In a way, I think that was the road to my recovery as I started to feel happy and gained some energy back. Technically, I still couldn’t go to school and learn but I could perform. During the final week I attended for rehearsals and for the final performance.

I was completely wiped out for the entire day. Haha. Everyone, from classmates to teachers understood that I was completely wacked out. I couldn’t really focus as much as I would have liked and I kept on missing my cues in rehearsal. In fact, I had to have the script inside my “storytelling book” for whenever I kept on forgetting my lines. I couldn’t speak very well so they gave me this microphone attached to my cravat so that my voice projected throughout the room.

During the little breaks and lunch breaks I actually stayed in my rocking chair and just slept and chilled out. I certainly made the most out of that! I decided that I was going to store up my energy for the actual performance.

The performance came and went. I like to think that it was a mighty successful one. I did miss some of my cues though, but, I made it work… sort of. Haha. The lad next to me kept on kindly reminding me (in a whisper) that I forgot certain lines during the actual show. Haha. Thank you my friend! XD

In the role of Granddad I wore a jumper, a cravat, a pair of fashion disaster glasses and a Charlie Chaplan cane. In this nativity play I did the most cringing thing in my life… I sang. I’ve never sung in my own house, let alone in a show. I had to get up from my chair, stand in front of the audience and sing a little song… it was bad enough that I couldn’t speak, but I had to really will myself and get my lungs to work. I also did a little Charlie Chaplan-esque dance at the end… that was fun but also a little embarrassing. When that skit was over I was able sit down and enjoy the show. Although, I still had to have wits about me as I still needed to narrate every now and then… I stayed put on the rocking chair for as long as I was allowed to. I experienced a few dizzy rushes and at times I couldn’t really hear what was said, thus, the reason why I kept on missing cues. Haha.

All things considered, it was a good valuable experience and even though I was off my head… it was all worth it. Everyone was buzzing throughout the day with positivity.

Psst, don’t tell anyone but I actually had a sneaky sleep during the carol singing in the after-performance part. 😉

THANKS FOR READING

I still watch the DVD of this production and look back at that time fondly. I especially watch the DVD at this time of year, as its Christmas. It was probably one of my most favourite memories of my school, if not the most. Oh, before I forget… NO I’m not going to share my singing from that show. Haha! =D

Thanks for reading.

Merry Christmas, everyone.^^/

Ryan.

Self-Confidence

keep-calm-and-think-happy-thoughts-9

Good Day.^^/

 

In my blogs I often compare my present-self with my past-self. How I handle things in the past is a lot different to how I handle things now. My confidence back then was a lot different to what it is now. The key word is “self-confidence”. This doesn’t necessarily apply to people with Autism but it certainly has played a big role in my life.

 

I’m writing this specific blog because a recent incident has triggered a realisation in me- I have good strong self-confidence. Have I always been this self-confident? Have I always liked how I looked? Am I ashamed to admit that this is my identity in appearance and personality? What do others think of me? Should I adjust myself to please them?

 

Many questions ran amok in my mind…

 

  1. Past

My school has obviously played a significant role in my life, especially in my younger days. I was always afraid of doing something “wrong” so I would aim to please without being a burden. This meant that I always tried to be a “gentleman” to be the “cleverest”, know everything, always try my best.

 

Because I went to an SEN school it was important that we were all taught how to be polite and pronounce words correctly. You will find that a lot of Autistic people speak correctly but with a slight monotone. That is because we learn how to be polite and speak correctly rather than learn how to express ourselves. I was one of those people. When I spoke in my school days, I spoke with a placid monotone. I spoke politely with an edge of nervousness.

 

I learnt how to be polite and a gentleman, but I never really knew who I was. When I tried to express myself through my personality I would get chastised for being “silly” or “rude”. So, when I tried to express myself I often got shot down.

 

I was often misunderstood because I didn’t know how to express myself. My teachers and adult figures never gave me a chance to explain myself and what I meant; instead, they assumed that as I had said it, I must have meant it. So, more often than not, I would accept my punishment instead of being given the chance to speak. Those times were extremely painful, and it certainly made me self-conscious about myself. If this was what  life was like in an SEN school then how was I going to cope if I ventured into the bigger world?

 

Going to Bobby Charlton’s School of Excellence (a football academy which was founded by ex-Manchester United football player, Bobby Charlton) didn’t help my confidence either. I was the only student that represented an SEN school. Even though SEN schools were supposedly involved the majority of the staff, at that time (2000) showed no inclination that they understood a person with Special Needs. The other children there certainly showed a lack of understanding. I got called weird underneath their breath and they often whispered things loudly so I could hear them… I probably should have walked away at that point, since I was most upset, but I was determined not to let them get the better of me…

 

I felt like a monster from that experience and it was from that point that I started to hide the fact that I was Autistic. I figured that I was treated horribly because I have Autism. I didn’t deserve to hang out with cool people. I didn’t deserve to get equal treatment and attend Mainstream courses at college. I hid my “problems” from everyone else, and I hid my “problems” from even myself. I didn’t want to accept that I was Autistic. If anyone knew that I had “special needs” then they would instantly dislike me…

 

Despite everything that had happened I could never get away from the fact that I was Autistic. That thought alone made me insecure. So, in order to not do anything “quirky” and to hide my “autistic quirks” I kept quiet and spoke politely whenever it was necessary. Don’t rock the boat. Try to remain the status quo. If I don’t say anything incriminating then I won’t get judged or get called a monster…

 

Then one day I started to attend University and that was when my life changed…. For the first time I was actually happy. I could express myself and say my views without fear of being thought bad of. I had friends, they liked me and they did not care at all about me being “autistic”. All this confidence gradually led me to performing my Auto-biography performance of my life with Autism… it was definitely one of my most memorable moments in life. I felt peace and happiness.

 

  1. Present

Right now, I like who I am. I accept who I am. I embrace the fact that I am autistic. I’m not part of Autism, Autism is part of me. Life is good. =)

I now have an identity that I call my own. I have the looks that I like, I have personality that I feel comfortable with and I have wonderful hobbies. I also have goals that I strive towards…

 

  1. The Recent Incident

There was a knock at the door. I was dubious to open it. We thought it was just a friend so I opened the door to see what the gent wanted… At the time I wore white shorts and I was topless.

 

Anyway, this man came up to me, looked me up and down and said;

 

“Hi. First of all, you need to shave that chest!”

 

 

I think it’s safe to say that I was quite miffed at that point. The sheer cheek of the man had me taken aback, and annoyed to. If this happened something like five years ago then I would have been terribly upset and insecure. In that moment though, I was more miffed that he had the cheek to say that to my face.

 

Even if he was joking it was still insensitive and gratuitous. You just don’t do it. It’s like me going up a gentleman, who is well endowed around the waist line and say “you need to lose weight!” or me going up to a lady “you need to pop that spot!” You may think it, but you just don’t say it, even as a joke. I get the impression that people like this gentleman can’t comprehend that saying that can do a lot of damage and cause unrest in an individual.

 

This issue does not apply to just people with Autism, it can be a problem for many people. It can especially be a problem for Autistic people since some of them will lack a lot of confidence in social situations.

 

How did I act? I did it by not rising to it. I just grinned. My attitude was “hahaha… not gonna happen. I’m proud of my afro chest and Tom Selleck agrees.” =)

 

  1. Irrelevant Ramble

I participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge. That was a lot of fun. =D

I did the challenge on a very cold and windy day. My Dad poured the ice on top of me and I kept my eyes open with a huge smile on my face… from my point of view it was like a beautiful yet cold waterfall streaming down right before my eyes. I always wanted to go underneath a water fall and so far that’s the closest I’v ever come to experiencing one. =)

 

 

THANKS FOR READING

 

I really have come a long way in many ways in my life, especially when it comes to my self-confidence. I have learned that I can handle people’s quips a lot better and whilst I may still be sensitive, I’m not as sensitive as I used to be. I can rub off people’s cheeky quips whilst not feeling ashamed about who I am and how I present myself…

 

Thank you for reading. =)

 

Namaste.^^/

Ryan

Getting Things Wrong

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Spring Tidings.^^/

 

Like most normal human beings (that is, if you class me as ‘normal’) I get things wrong or make a mistake here and there. But, for an Autistic person like me, mistakes always seemed worse than they actually were. I’m not as bad as I used to be.

 

I’ll give you a past example…

 

Back in my school days I was one of the more ‘capable’ students, and thus, my reputation grew as such. So, I felt pressure every single day to always give it my best and to ensure that I never got anything wrong or did anything wrong. When I did say the wrong thing or I made a mistake during maths, I would get quite upset. It felt like I had let the whole school down and let myself down for not living up to my reputation. My reputation of not only being clever, being the best at sports but being a gentleman too.

 

It wasn’t necessarily getting things wrong; it was more about making someone unhappy or making someone cry. That’s the worse feeling for me. I would hate to think that someone is unhappy because of me. I strive to do the opposite. If someone raised their voice to me, I took that to mean I had done something bad and that made me feel ashamed.

 

That was when I started to fear getting things “wrong”.

 

Sometimes I would say things that I didn’t mean to say or say something because I didn’t know how else to explain it. I put pressure on myself because I probably took words too literally (hence, I don’t always understand sarcasm or generalisation), and the teachers put pressure on me to get me ‘motivated’.

 

I still remember doing my GCSE’S. In January 2006, I started my preparations for doing the Foundation GCSE’s in maths. It was literally the only subject that I did. Every time I got a question wrong I would get a telling-off for not ‘concentrating’. I was even called to the office one time for getting a score lower then average. I remember I got severely scolded because I got an easy question wrong. It was stated that I got it wrong because I didn’t work a question out using a calculator. In actual fact, I did use a calculator, I just added it up incorrectly.

 

Doing GCSE’s made me feel both proud and stressed. On the day I received a stern telling-off and had to re-take practice tests I did cry. All I did was get a few questions wrong and yet I got berated. I was under more pressure than ever to not get anything wrong.

 

2006 wasn’t the year of Ryan. XD

 

It was necessary for me to prepare 6 months for GCSE’s. I went on to get a D, well, one mark from a D (highest you could get for Foundation Maths). So, I like to think I did myself proud. Students at secondary have 5 years to prepare for GCSE’s and I only had 6 months and managed to pass, so, a pat on the back for me! =D

 

It’s important to look at it from my teacher’s point of view though; it’s a very stressful job. WWE wrestler Kane actually did some teaching before becoming a wrestler and he said that it was the hardest job he ever did. I can understand why. Teachers and TA’s are always under pressure to get the best out of a student and/or they have to meet a certain criteria. Hence, they can become stressed, which then passes on to the student.

 

My school was actually closing down in 2006 due to lack of funds. And that was pretty much when government started to close down SEN schools. This was the first and only time that the school had a student taking part in GCSE’s, I.E., me. They were under pressure to try and end the school on a good note and to get the best out of me. When they yelled at me I think they were trying a reverse-psychological approach… it failed- miserably. Haha. XD

 

They wanted to make sure as well that I was always focused, which I was by all means. It’s just that when you have your head bogged down on something and you get fatigue, sometimes, the easiest questions are the hardest, and the hardest questions are the easiest. My thoughts are, it’s not if you know the answers, it’s whether you  can focus during the actual test.

 

Nowadays

 

I still have some quirks to tell you the truth. I still get a little sensitive if I feel I’ve done something to upset someone or to make them ashamed of me. I’m not as bad though as I’m older and I have more experience of how to handle these situations.

 

As for general mistakes like getting knowledge wrong… I couldn’t really care less about those sorts of things. XD Sometimes I do get confused and ask questions but I never really go off on a tangent. If I’m mistaken about something, it’s no big deal.

 

Why, I wrote a blog on Captain America: Winter Soldier recently, annotating a review…

You can check out the review here: Captain America: Winter Soldier Review

 

I got a few things mixed up there!

 

You see, I thought the Winter Soldier (Bucky) was called Hydra. In actual fact the whole evil organisation is called Hydra, and not called Red Skull Army. XD Red Skull was the antagonist in the first film. Whoops!

 

Back in the day I would get really upset and I would feel extremely pale by writing a few mistakes on a blog post where many people mite read it online. Nowadays though, I kind of laugh at this sort of thing. Because these days people tend to laugh at my mistakes rather than yell at me. I’m an adult, thinking about it, and I’m allowed room to make mistakes.

 

Feeling no pressure for being me and being clever and what have you is all washed away in the past. The way I am now, getting things wrong and making mistakes left and right, getting barrels of laughs at my mishaps, suits me very well. It’s a part of who I am. =)

 

Namaste.^^/

Ryan