Daniel - Interview 24

Age at interview: 32
Age at diagnosis: 23
Brief Outline: Daniel was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome when he was 23. Daniel also has OCD and worries a lot about offending people.
Background: Daniel, 32, lives with his parents and is an unemployed poet. Ethnic background/nationality: White British.

More about me...

Daniel, 32, had Asperger syndrome diagnosed at the age of 23. He didn’t fit in at school and used to be very shy. He attended a BTech National Diploma in Social Care and enjoyed his work placements working with physically disabled people and children. He has not worked since, is depressed and has low self esteem. He finds doing new things difficult and gets anxiety problems. He lives with his parents and feels very safe there, describing himself as the “Peter Pan of Asperger’s”. He lived with a girlfriend for over a year but he did not feel comfortable and wanted to go back to his parent’s house.
Daniel says that he likes having Asperger syndrome because it is logical and almost robotic; “like a terminator with feelings”. Daniel also has OCD and gets what he describes as compulsions. He likes to systematise things and add order to his life usually through numbers. For example, he will listen to his CD’s in a particular order until the 21st day of the month and then listen to the radio for the rest of the month. He will count each mouthful when he eats food and count his breaths when he goes on the bus. One of his main compulsions is a concern that he has said the wrong thing and he worries a lot about this. Daniel writes poetry and enjoys meeting up with other people with Asperger syndrome each week.

Daniel's Poems

Deep Depression Collars Me
Deep depression collars me
It is getting shirty
I wonder is it in my jeans
I can not win, but I tie
I button it to survive
For what if you saw the real me
Deep depression collars me

You gave the earth to me
But kept me in captivity
Until I could see
The cost to be freed

Ghost in Me
You're so beautiful
You make me whole
I love a woman that I've never seen
But she seems real in my dreams
As echoes of the past replay presently
Ghosts write while Im in my sleep
They move my hand rapidly
Until I can no longer feel any doubt within me
I reach out
But you scream
You've seen the ghost in me



Daniel likes having Asperger syndrome and describes it as being 'like a terminator with feelings'.

Can you remember what you thought when you were told you had Asperger's syndrome?
Well I can’t really remember. Well about nine years ago, when it… I think I quite liked having Asperger's syndrome. I liked the the idea of because there is a very stereotype of Asperger's syndrome, being very, very sort of... logical and... almost like a robot type thing. Yeah. So like terminator, sort of terminator but with feelings. So yeah. A terminator but with feelings... I quite like that aspect of it.
But I can’t remember exactly how I... thought at the time. I don’t think I was surprised. I don’t think I was surprised. I think my clinical psychologist had an idea that I might have Asperger's. It was some of the things I used to do, I think, maybe like taking things literally and maybe being shy as well I think. And... being shy.

Daniel describes some of the systems he uses to order his life including counting his breaths on...

You say you sort of systematise your life?
Yes. I used to do that a lot.
Do you still do that now?     
I still – I start listening to music and what I do is, I put maybe not the same album on once in a week, so I put them to a different side, so I start doing that and I have got this idea in my head. I listen to my own music, up until the 21st of the month and then put the radio and listen to all other music after that. There is something appealing about numbers. I am fascinated with numbers. And... what else do I do? So there is music.
When I wash myself I have to do it five times. Whenever I’m in the bath I do it five times, washing, listening to music, eating. I don’t know why, but I count the number of mouthfuls I eat. I just do it automatically. Eating. Obviously I started breathing. I think I started that about 32 years ago. I started …  counting my breaths on the bus. First I did it counting to ten. Now it is twenty, twenties a day. So I start from one, outwards to, I count to twenty, because I am like concentrating on the numbers. It is like a meditation. It is not like just keep counting. I need to be aware enough to start again from one once I get to twenty. It is like a meditation. A concentration type thing. I got that from a book, from like ‘Heal your Life’ by  I forget what she is called... oh I have forgotten what she is called. ‘Heal your Life’ or something like that. I have forgotten what she is called now. It is a very interesting book.
And I am reading about the  ‘Hundred Things Everybody Should know How to do’. And I think I have to forewarn the female population because once I get into the book where it has got about  kissing and it has got about asking somebody out, so they are sort of forewarned, you know what I mean, yes. For the … yes. So a little bit of systemising. Not too much that it causes me a problem  [5 sec pause] but I do things in numbers.

Daniel has OCD and worries about saying the wrong thing to people.

I do get compulsions but I am a bit frightened to act them out sometimes, because it is a bit embarrassing asking somebody ‘did I say the wrong thing?’ There is something that stops me from doing it. I don’t know what. It is something inside which stops me from doing it.  [3 sec pause] Something inside, I don’t quite know what it is. It is just a feeling. Then because I have not said it, I feel a bit bad because I have not mentioned it, I have not asked if I have done the wrong thing. It is very important for me to do the right thing at all times so I worry about that a lot. Yes. Quite a bit.
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Daniel explains why he has never worked.

I have done work experiences before and I have done quite well in them, but I don’t know how I would cope year in, year out, doing a job. I think I might find that, I could find that difficult, I am not sure. I could find a lot of problems with things like, like ethics, I think what I used to worry about was, if I was working, I would be paying taxes, and some of those taxes might go towards like weapons, that sort of thing. But I spend money though so maybe it is more then that. Maybe it is may be it is a fear of not being able to change something, maybe stuck in a job for all my life maybe. Maybe I find committing to things a bit difficult, I think. And maybe, maybe I might say the wrong thing, and people might not like me, or I might I might maybe, maybe my beliefs are a lot different to some people may be. Taking things literally, and to more extremes, and that might be difficult for some people I think, yes. I don’t really know.

Daniel tries to work out systems for organising his life.

I used to do these things like my hour books and sort problems like within an hour, or sometimes I only wrote sometimes the date on some of them. I didn’t really fill much in. And I really related… I think it was something on, it might have been QED. There was somebody on on the television and she’d I think she rate her days by ray of sunshine. She would like, like may be it was from one to a certain number, the higher the rays of sunshine the better day she had. And I thought that is similar to how I do things. Like systemising, like I used to what is it now, if it were 15 Celsius and below I would put a coat on, below 10 Celsius a hat. Above 20 Celsius sun cream. I used to have a little system for myself.  
Of course there are sort of loop holes in that. It can be 15 Celsius but pouring it down and of course I couldn’t go out with a coat, because I couldn’t do it. But now I just... I judge it on how I feel at the time. Sometimes my parents do actually tell me to put a coat on, because I am 32 but I am like a little, I am like a child. Yes. Yes. So.
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