Life on the Autism Spectrum
Autism & feeling scared, worried or angry
Russell calculates the 'worst case scenario' when he goes out and worries he's forgotten to do...
Yes, it’s, I suppose that comes down to being too aware of the surroundings. Whatever’s happening it will catch my attention. There’s no may about it. It will. So sometimes when things get too much I kind of go off into, into a quiet corner where I’m in control of everything. When I’m in control of everything then I feel fine, it makes me feel less anxious, you know, I could go away, go away and play some video games, I know the ins and out of the rules and regulations of all that. I sit down and I can immerse myself in such activities for hours upon hours, with little or no regard to what’s going on in the rest of the world. I mean the world could just pass me by, not literally, I mean all the world doesn’t pass me by, but you know, what I mean. But you know, it’s, that is kind of a, that’s well that’s a safety net I suppose. If I kind of reside in there, then there will be nothing that can harm me, nothing that can, you know, make me anxious or worried or angry.
You know, if something goes wrong in the real world, then the best thing you can do is damage limitation and that’s quite difficult, because I’m not very well known for reacting superbly under pressure. And damage limitation would be acting under pressure and everything I do, needs to have some kind of thought behind it. And, when it comes to just pure, you know, split second intuition, then, that’s stumps me. That does stump me.
Is it always a worry you think about or is it maybe thinking about computer gaming?
I think it’s a mix between the two. You know, if my, because I might have accidentally, I might have thought that I’ve accidentally forgot to lock up the house. Then that’ll tick over in my mind. But then if like you said there was computer game or there was an event coming up or something else to that effect, then that would go through my mind as well. I mean even, even a song, just played on continuous loop goes through my head regardless of where I am. I suppose with that, it’s something that I know that would be some kind of safety point to it.
I mean you go into all these unfamiliar environments. You don’t know what’s going to happen. There might be some kind of punch up or, people getting insanely drunk and collapsing and all these different things which can kind of raise the pressure of the situation. And, you know, I suppose having that pre-emptive process going through your head, it takes your mind off that point in time. It takes you to something to which you can look forward or something which you may have forgotten or you might end up chuckling at something. I suppose the worry one would be separate from that one, because it would, everybody would worry. I mean if they thought they’ve forgot to lock their house. Some people kind of think about it for a moment, forget about it, put it to the back of their minds, other people kind of obsess over it. Other people kind of obsess over it. Some people obsess too much and I kind of fall into one of the latter two categories.
Mary stopped travelling after the London bombing attacks. Some of her phobias have lessened as...
So it’s really once I left school and when I was at university, and the OCD, it was OCD an obsession kind of thing, but it’s kind of more washing hands and because I get very extreme if there’s something on the news, and I immediately apply it to me, and I won’t, all these phobias started to develop so I stopped travelling, you know, after the London terrorist attacks. I stopped travelling because I thought, well if there’s a bomb on a train, sorry on a bus, it could happen on a train. So I just got really scared and just… And because I’m just phobic anyway, and when I was at school like with things like food technology, I took that very literally as well. So, just be, you know, obsessed with food hygiene to a kind of extreme extent, and just get it out of control. I think that just got more extreme.
And also when I started school I was really scared of the fire alarm, because I thought it meant the school was going to burn down. So I was screaming and screaming and refused to go to school for a while. So, and as I say I got really obsessed about the age of ten with washing my hands all the time, but yes, and when I started secondary school that actually disappeared strangely enough. And I don’t know why it was, maybe because when I first had a friend I felt more secure. I don’t know why.
A psychologist is helping Alex to overcome her fear of germs which has made her feel she could...
Christopher prefers to stay home as he finds going out scary.
Stephen describes how he is scared of wild animals, the heavy downpour of rain and earthquakes.
Gavin still thinks about a pencil he dropped down the drain while at primary school.
I dropped a pencil down the sink at [school].
[teacher] says I can’t find it, it’s an old buildings. I can’t..
if I dropped it there [5 sec pause] she did say if I dropped it and then I can’t find the old buildings.
Peter has always been concerned about being blamed for things.
Because that is another thing, if something breaks or something, say in the house or at work or something. I am scared to tell people, because I feel like they will blame me, even though if it is an accident... Even now, I am still a bit, when something has happened like the cold tap in work came off in my hand. And I put it back on but I never told anyone. And another guy I work with said to the chef, “Oh the cold tap is broken. It came off in my hand.” And she went, “Aye, no problem. I will just get someone in to fix it.” But I was scared that she would say, “This is your fault.” ...So those are my biggest concerns still about…
Mary thinks some people with Asperger syndrome come across as shy but they aren't shy.
The school never, I mean in spite of the fact that I didn’t have any friends, despite the fact that I was disruptive in class, I had all these issues. I don’t think the school really knew the extent of them. The school didn’t know about the OCD problems, and so that was very much kept secret. And the school didn’t know about my extreme interests, because that was kept secret so…. Maybe the school just saw me as kind of quite a… I mean I was often called shy. Although I’m not shy, which is kind of rather strange because I’m not shy at all. I think it’s more the anxiety but it’s not related to shyness. It’s a different type of anxiety. Because I think many people with Asperger's might come across as shy, and some of them are shy, but that’s like a personality trait that is independent of whether someone has Asperger's or not, then all people with Asperger's are shy, but they might come across as shy.
Peter lost his licence after taking his key out of the ignition and waiting when it was his right...
Peter' I feel, I wouldn’t say remorse, that is perhaps the wrong word, I feel like these are things I needn’t have done and life could have been a lot better if I had recognized that these are things, okay, Asperger's it is not an illness, but it is …
Myrtle' An affliction.
Peter' An affliction or something. There are ways and means of coping with it. Instead of just, you know, continuing and doing things, and believing that whatever you did was right. That this was my right to do this.
Myrtle' This is a word he uses a lot. It is my right.
Peter' You know when it comes to driving. I’ve lost my licence now for it, but that I couldn’t understand, couldn’t accept that somebody, for instance would not wait when there was an obstruction on their side of the road. To me, it was my right of way come what may and …
Myrtle' There would be an impasse.
Peter' And I would sort of not have an impact but I could take the key out of ignition and put it on the dashboard and sit like this and just wait for what happened. I’d think well you are wrong; you’d better get out of the way. And I mean that’s behaviour you can’t continue. I realise that now, but this is only partly through counselling, partly through reading about it, and partly through Myrtle having infinite patience with me and with telling me you know calm down.
Russell scared his university flat mates at times because of his anger outbursts.
John has damaged the property he rents.
Ian is sensitive to the tone of voice people use with him and can get very angry, particularly...
Simon talks about self harm and feeling aggressive.
Last reviewed July 2016.
Last updated November 2010.