Tinkerbell, Aspergers and fitting in…

I was watching “Tinkerbell” with my daughters today and unfortunately I’ve seen it so many times that my brain clicks into Editor Mode. It starts pointing out the plot holes and mistakes, so I find I have to go do something to distract myself from it!

This time, I decided to clean the grill.

As I was doing that, I realised that “Tinkerbell” is about girls with Aspergers. Now I can see all the Mum’s getting up in arms and shouting “It’s about a brand new fairy who is trying to find herself.”
And they are right, it is about that. But it is also about a girl who has been thrust into a new world, not understanding why she feels like she doesn’t fit.

My eldest daughter is nine. She has two years left at Primary School (they start high school at eleven around here) before she is pushed by her age into High School. She is also developing physically more quickly that her peers. To add to that, she is showing signs of Aspergers, so she is going through testing to check if it is that or something similar.

She has already admitted to feeling very out of place in her peer group.

A girl with Aspergers is difficult to spot. Girls are generally social creatures and when they are young, those in the group who are good at Social Behaviour will help their peers who aren’t. Girls are also emotionally biased, so they understand outbursts of high emotion and can help those friends that suffer with them cope. Thus a girl with Aspergers will be taught by her peers how to act.
And act is exactly what she does. By the time she hits high school, she is so well camouflaged that adults  rarely see her for what she actually is.

So why is “Tinkerbell” about girls with Aspergers?

Consider the plot:

A girl is thrust into a new world. She is told that she is a Tinker and that her life, from now on, will be about making pots and pans. But she doesn’t feel as if she quite fits in.

She makes friends who are pretty, well dressed and have more interesting jobs. Then she is told that these girls can also go off and have adventures.
Of course, she wants to do that too. She is quickly smacked back down when she tries to follow her nature and get to have adventures.

Still feeling that she doesn’t fit in as a Tinker, she tries to change who she is, to become like the other girls. Everything that follows is an obvious effect of trying to go against her nature and just makes her more unhappy.

Eventually she realises this and gives up, but not before the local bully, who is jealous of all the attention the Tinker is getting, helps her to wreck everything that the others have built.

Finally, the girl works out a way of fixing what she has wrecked by going with her nature rather than against it. She thinks about the problem from outside the box and shows why she was chosen to be a tinker in the first place.
Her reward is to be allowed to join her friends on their adventure.

Tinkerbell is our girl with Aspergers – she looks the same as the other girls physically, but knows that inside she is different. She thinks about things differently and can’t understand why, once she has learned to fit in, she still doesn’t feel right; like a jigsaw puzzle piece that is the right shape but with the wrong picture.

Now imagine our “Tinkerbell” moving from warm, comfortable Primary School (the old world) to cold, hard, High School (being reborn as a student.) She may have learned to fit in with her Primary friends, but at High School, the social scene is different. She is just different enough to garner attention from those who don’t like difference and may well get bullied (like Tinkerbell and Vidia) and her response is, more often than not, will try on different natures.
Our Tinkerbell will be Goth one minute, a sporty girl the next. She will change styles as fast as possible, trying to find that elusive hole to fit into so that she isn’t picked on anymore.
It may end up in a train wreck of a situation; or sometimes our girl will find her spot and get comfortable again. Her reward will be friends and a life she can relax into again.

Most often though, our Tinkerbell will take a long time to find her spot, her real nature.

Why have I written about this today?

Well, I watch my daughter at Brownies and School and I can see that, while she is comfortable in her current hole, when she goes to High School, she will be lost again. So over the summer, we picked one of her interests (music and singing) and sent her to a Theatre School Summer Camp.

She blossomed.

She’d found the right picture to match her shape. My daughter will still find High School difficult, but by sending her to Theatre School at the weekends, she will be able to cope with whatever the social scene throws at her and hopefully, she won’t need to go against her nature to find where she fits in at school.

If you have a child with Aspergers I can recommend the following books – they really opened our eyes to how NOS sees the world and how PT can be helped to navigate around the social scene of High School –

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Asperkids-Secret-Book-Social-Rules/dp/1849059152/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412543447&sr=8-1&keywords=asperkids+secret+book+of+social+rules

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Queen-Bees-Wannabes-boyfriends-realities/dp/0749924373/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412543622&sr=1-1&keywords=queen+bees+and+wannabes

Some thoughts about Guns…

TOH is playing Watchdogs. For the most part, he likes it because you can sneak around playing the game without hurting any of the civilian characters that are wandering around the city.

There are puzzles and you can choose the way you play so that you become a Vigilante rather than Terrorist (the opposite end of the reputation bar.) You can protect civilians, stop them getting hurt and attacked.

The story line is quite an interesting one. It looks at the way that information is used in the real world and just how much information everyone puts out there that can be twisted or used to hurt. It’s a scary concept, but that’s not what I want to talk about.

Like with many of the games now, you get digital trophies for certain things – for example, the number of police scans you evade. Most of these are easy enough to do without hurting anyone. However,  TOH being who he is, likes to get all of the trophies, and there was one that he couldn’t figure out; you had to escape a level 5 police scan.

So he went online and googled the problem. He was not happy with the result, but try as he might, it was the only one he could find. So he did it this morning before he went to work.

He took the character to a crowded place, pulled out a machine gun and let rip. It must have killed between 15 and 20 civilian characters before the scan meter was at level 5. The noise was horrendous and it attracted both my attention (and made me muck up the pattern I was knitting) and the baby’s attention (she’d been playing with her ducky ball).

It was realistic and I started having a panic attack. I picked up the baby and cuddled her away from the noise.

Now I can think logically about it, it wasn’t what was on the screen that was panicking me. It was the noise. The realistic sound of the machine gun he was using on the game. It took me back to a particular incident that shaped my life without me realising it.

* * *

When I was 16, I was in the Air Training Corps. It’s the cadet branch of the RAF and I was seriously considering a career in the RAF at the time. One of the last events I went to was a joint exercise with the local USAF base. The Military Police there had put on an exercise for the local ATC units complete with full military training gear. This meant we were wearing the laser vests that they used and carrying blank adapted M16’s with laser equipment to “tag” the vests.

And yes, you read that one right. They were allowing teenagers to use M16’s. There were also two M60 ‘s set up the same way, one for each team. We were given the guns and put through training exercises – stripping, cleaning, reassembling in a set time, practice on a range with live bullets and on a stationary dummy wearing a laser vest with blanks in the gun.

All stuff we had done before at ATC with the 302 rifles we’d used for ages on our range.

We also were given a small strip of ammunition and allowed to shoot the M60. This was to show us how the rifle worked and make the point that the only people big enough to carry the things were two of the biggest boys I had ever seen in my life… and I wasn’t a small, dainty little girl.

Anyway. It wasn’t the experience of shooting the M60 that did the damage. That was funny because the gun moved me back in the heather by about 3 feet. It wasn’t even the “capture the flag” exercise we played next, albeit with the M16’s on our shoulders. We’d done that before with LR98’s and laser equipment on a RAF Base.

It was the Night Exercise.

We’d been told that we were being treated like Military Academy students and that when they were on exercise, they carried their guns at all times. So we had to. I literally slept that night with an M16 next to me. We were all in one camp, both teams together.

I say slept. Others slept. I didn’t. I couldn’t. The gun felt as hard and dangerous as a knife and while I knew it was loaded with blanks and the safety was on, I was terrified that it was going to go off in the night.

I fell into a half doze about three in the morning when my body refused to remain awake any longer.

At dawn the camp was attacked.

I lay in my tent, my hand on the M16, frozen with fear as an M60 opened up out in the woods around us and blasted us. Everyone’s laser vests started screaming at us and while some of the boys managed to rally and fire back, the rest of us lay there, scared out of our wits.

They were trying to make some kind of point apparently, because they’d noticed that some of the boys had got rather cocky, trigger happy and were being reckless. Our Officers had agreed and were joining in.

That noise has lived with me ever since.

I managed to complete the event without being hurt (normally I got an injury of some sort), cleaned and returned my M16. I even got a commendation for being able to complete the entire 1 mile obstacle course within a decent time.

I quit ATC  not long after that. My excuse was that I wanted to concentrate on my exams. The real reason was that I realized that the RAF wasn’t for me. At the time I didn’t want to think like that and I was being encouraged by my teachers to choose that career, so I acted out the charade a little longer and then when I got to University, I changed direction.

This morning, it was that noise. The machine gun going off on the TV that sent me straight back into my 16 year old self lying on the ground, listening to the M60 shoot over my head and the laser vest’s warning screaming in my ear.

I know now that should I have to, I can pick up a gun and shoot someone with it. To protect my life, to protect my children, to protect TOH, I will do it. But I’m scared of them, of guns. I’m scared that I found that in myself. I’m scared that I could kill another human being.

And I’m scared that all the war and violence that I ducked out of by not going into the RAF might actually happen over here. That I might actually have to pick up a gun to defend my children.

Grey and Grumpy day today – Help!

It’s Wednesday. Normally I’d be introducing you to a new writer or one that I really enjoy reading and there are several books that I’ve read recently that are worthy of the attention.

“Enchanted Glass” by Diane Wynn Jones for example. Her last published book , it is everything you expect from her and more. Or maybe Kristin Cashore’s “Graceling” or “Fire”; beautifully written and superbly built fantasy worlds that draw you away from the hum drum of this reality.

There are so many books on my “To Be Read” list. I’m in the middle of M Cid d’Angelo’s “Dark Running” and enjoying it immensely. I’m eagerly anticipating Terry Pratchett’s “Dodger”…

…but to be honest, today I can’t be bothered.

It’s halfway through the second week of September. The kids are back at school and the autumn weather is starting to appear. I’ve been writing and enjoying it, even though I’ve had a few bouts of vertigo and headaches.

Maybe it’s the rain? We’ve had some lovely weather over the last few weeks and now we’re starting to get the chilly winds and wet weather of a welsh autumn. The colours don’t seem as bright under the grey cloudy skies and I can feel myself drifting on that downward spiral.

I’m tired from having to get up earlier than I’m used to, now that NOS is going to high school and needs to be checked before he heads out to the bus. Maybe this is the beginning of the SAD season? It’s possible; I do have more problems with my depression in the winter than I do in the spring and summer. It’s the whole reason my desk is next to a window, so I can get natural light.

It could be my finances. I’m juggling the family’s needs against the little that we get coming in at the moment and finding that there is very little leeway. That’s enough to depress anyone, I suppose…

I want to write and help to support the family, but I’m so scared of mucking it up that I can’t concentrate on the writing enough to make it good!

*sighs*

It feels very much like I’m on a treadmill, running to try and stay in one place instead of dropping backward or moving forward. I know I should be pushing myself to go forward, but it feels like I am on a bungee cord, pulling against me.

So there is only one thing for me to do. Start pushing myself and pull hard enough on the bungee cord to make it snap and free me.
How am I going to do that? Well for a start, I am going to publish a few more things:

“The Heir of The Dragon” is currently in Beta Reading Stage. I’ve drafted and redrafted it enough to be happy with it, but I need to make sure it’s perfect before I put it out there. So hopefully that will be out in the next three months.

I have a collection of Horror Stories that I hope to get out by Hallowe’en, I just need to format and get a cover done for them. That will be under A.E. Churchyard. Watch this Space

I have moved into the last stages of editing for “The Angel’s Crown”, so that should be available in the New Year.

I’ve started writing the next story in the “Tales of Cassius” series. I’ve got my characters all built up, so that will be out there in January as well, or sooner if I can manage it.

I would like some help please though…

I currently have two books out on the kindle shelves:

The Necklace of Harmony

My first story collection… a gentle introduction to my mind.

One of the fun things about being a writer is responding to a challenge. This book is full of the results of such challenges…

From the wedding celebrations of Greek Deities, to mermaids, ghosts and superheroes, a whole gamut of creatures await your eager eyes.

Do you remember this? Well it is currently languishing at #393,998 on the bestsellers listing. I’d like to get it up the ranks a little and for that I will need help. How? Well here’s how:

  •  Have you bought and read it? No? Well please do so! I shall be doing a promotion to aid sales soon, but until then, please buy and read!!!

 

  • Did you answer yes to the above question? Have you written a review of the book on Amazon? No? Why not? It only takes a couple of lines to say if you enjoyed it or not, and if you’d recommend it or not. I’m not asking for an essay (unless you like writing them) just a tip of the hat to tell me if I’m getting it right.

 

  • Have you got friends with kindles? Have you loaned them your copy? You can do that you know… and once they’ve read it, asked them to tell me what they thought of it.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Necklace-Harmony-Collection-ebook/dp/B0079HL2FE/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1343998081&sr=8-2

The other book I published was this:

Tales of Cassius: Statues of Justice

Cassius Longinus has a long memory. He can remember over three thousand years and in all those memories, he cannot recall an atrocity like this.

New Texas was supposed to be a peaceful place where Reiskinn and Human could live side by side. That peace is shattered by the greed of a few and Cassius must put things right.

Brought back to society by a slave raid on a nearby village, Cassius is sent on a quest to retrieve the tribe’s women and children by the Tribal Shaman.

What he discovers when he finds them is beyond anything he has yet encountered…

Poor Cassius hasn’t even made it onto the seller list… he has however garnered a 4 star review:

“Justice must be served even if you’re three-thousand years old. Having witnessed humanity’s atrocities for that long time the hero, Cassius, puts an end to horrible wrongs inflicted by Earth colonists on the new planet’s natives. Can he bring overcome his thirst for vengeance and build a lasting peace? Can he validate the faith of the one who so touched his heart three-thousand years ago? Be prepared to want to read more.”
– Paul De Lancey, Amazon.com

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tales-Cassius-Statues-Justice-ebook/dp/B008BKGPRS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1344120397&sr=8-1

What can you do to help Cassius gain a foot hold? Exactly the same as the list for Necklace of Harmony:

  • Have you bought and read it? No? Well please do so!
  • Did you answer yes to the above question? Have you written a review of the book on Amazon? No? Why not? It only takes a couple of lines to say if you enjoyed it or not, and if you’d recommend it or not. I’m not asking for an essay (unless you like writing them) just a tip of the hat to tell me if I’m getting it right.
  • Have you got friends with kindles? Have you loaned them your copy? You can do that you know… and once they’ve read it, asked them to tell me what they thought of it.

I shall be sorting things out from my end, but please, if you enjoy my work or even if you only like my blog, then can you please go to the Amazon pages for both books and like them? Like the helpful reviews as well, and agree with the tags… It’s only a small thing, but if enough people do it, then I might actually be able to start pulling on the bungee cord, instead of fighting against the pull back.

The thing about the reviews is that we authors like getting them. I suppose that for us small independent authors, it’s a way of keeping score, of knowing how well you are doing and if it’s worth going to the trouble of publishing a new book. We write all the time – we can’t stop, but publishing, now that’s a different matter. As I said in my last post, there are hundred of words on my PC that will never see the light of day as a published book; I don’t feel they’re good enough, so they don’t make it out into the world.

Publishing something yourself, if you’re determined to make a good job of it, requires about ten times the effort of writing the story in the first place… so we keep score. We check our ratings and reviews and make daily decisions about our future as writers on them. It can get very depressing if you don’t have many readers…

*sighs*

The sun has come back out and I’m feeling slightly better than I did when I started this post. I’m going to go getAngel’s Crown” finished and ready for formatting…