Wednesday, 27 December 2017

An Autistic Guide to attending the Big Bash League!

Yes, I know, it's been a long time between posts again. Sue me (actually, don't, I'm broke).

So, as everyone probably knows, I am a huge Brisbane Heat fan, and a fan of cricket in general. However, the way that Big Bash games are paced and the way they encourage the crowd usually leaves me with severe sensory overload (from the sound and from the way we're all packed into the Gabba like sardines). So, I've been experimenting with ways to make this easier for myself after a bad start to the season (even though the Heat have been excellent). Here are my suggestions to make going to the Big Bash (or really, any sporting event) easier if you have Autism/Sensory Processing issues.

First off, unfortunately live sport isn't for everyone. It's loud, long and taxing. If you have severe issues with noise, lights, crowds etc I'd suggest going to the Womens Big Bash, or the Sheffield Shield. There are usually less people at these events, and a lot less noise/flashing lights. So if you still want a live sport experience, perhaps chose a lower grade of your chosen sport to attend.

However, for those of us who are going to the big leagues, here are some ways I've found that can make your experience more enjoyable:

1. For those of us who are sensitive to sound, I can not recommend a good set of earplugs enough. I wore a pair tonight and it drastically cut down the noise exposure, while still allowing me to enjoy the atmosphere.

2. Take advantage of innings breaks. Most stadiums allow to you head outside for a bit, which is what I did tonight, so make sure when there's a break in the play you give yourself a bit of time out to bring yourself down. Most people stay in the stadium to get food/enjoy the entertainment in the breaks, so it's much quieter and calmer outside.

3. Make sure you're properly rested and fed/watered before going to the game. A good rest and having your blood sugar levels stable is important for withstanding a Big Bash game - sometimes the games are long and being exposed to so many triggers will sap your energy.

4. If you can, take your own food and drink. One thing I LOVE about the Gabba is that they allow you to bring in your own food and drinks, provided they're still sealed and non-alcoholic, so I don't have to deal with the social interaction of buying food if I don't need to. Check with your chosen stadium, and see what you can/can't bring with you to the game.

5. Accept you might not be able to sit through the entire game. This is especially relevant to me when it comes to Test matches. I've only ever sat through a whole day of a Test once, and I paid dearly for it. Now I know that I can only stay for a few hours maximum, but it's enough for me to enjoy the game and have a bit of fun.

Obviously, this is a very basic start, and you might need to work out your own strategy for attending live sports events, but whatever your plan, make sure you have a plan and stick to it, and remember to HAVE FUN!

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Slytherin Pride

Or perhaps in Slytherin
You'll make your real friends,
Those cunning folks use any means
To achieve their ends.
-The Sorting Hat, "Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone" J. K. Rowling

And power-hungry Slytherin
Loved those of great ambition
-The Sorting Hat, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" J. K. Rowling

I was devastated when I was first sorted into the noble house of Slytherin. After all, I was young and everyone was of the opinion that you had to be pure evil to be a Slytherin, and that the very best went into Gryffindor. I tried so many times, but every time it was the same - I'm a Slytherin through and through.

And then I realised. I AM a Slytherin, 100% to the core.

I'm ambitious all right, and I will do just about anything to get what I want. My number one dream, ever since I can remember, is wanting to write a story that changed the world. I want to write something so powerful that it influences people, that it changes the way people think and feel.

And damn, am I trying my best. Yes, I might be writing to better the lives of people with mental illness and to change the perception of neurodiversity in the world, but hell, it's still wanting to change the world. It's still a bloody ambitious task, and I'll be damned if I fail. 

I'll admit I'm not being entirely altruistic, I love the idea of being that powerful that I forever immortalize myself in the form of a book. I want to see my name in lights, I want people to look up to me, to wish they were me. THAT is what being a Slytherin is all about - wanting something so badly you'll do anything to get it, wanting to achieve something so bad that you'll give up anything to make it happen.

It's not only my passion for writing either. A few months ago out of sheer determination I walked 50km in one day. Just so I could say that I had done it. Not a charity run/walk or anything like that, just 100% pure "I wanna be better than everyone else"-ness.  That's only one example of how moronic I can be when I want to achieve something.  Let's not get into my smug superiority when my Facebook posts are all grammatically correct with either correct spelling or phonetic spelling for emphasis. What can I say, I'm terrible.

Slytherin has gotten a bad rap over the years, especially due to the Dark Lord, but I know that one day people will stop associating Slytherin with the Dark Lord and start associating Slytherin with ME, someone who will do her best to make the world a better place. 


Tuesday, 25 July 2017

An Open Letter to Chester Bennington

Hi Chester,

I never got to meet you, but you and your music were there for me when I needed someone, something to hang on to. Your music saw me through my tough teenage years before I even knew what Autism was, and that I was on the spectrum. I knew I was different, I  knew I was meant for something more, but the people in the town around me seemed determined to bring me down. Thanks to you and your band Linkin Park, I got through and I'm now in a pretty special place.

One particular song of yours got a LOT of play by me. That song was "Runaway". I LOVE that song. It was often the last song I heard before I fell asleep. I could never really articulate until now what drew me to the song, but now I know. It was the affirmative message embedded in the lyrics, a call to action that I can happily say I took to heart and acted upon.

I'm gonna runaway, and never say good-bye.

I didn't look back when I finally left Oakey for my true home, Brisbane. I ran far away from the negativity of that place. The addiction, the bigotry, the lack of self-satisfaction that permeated the air.

I'm gonna runaway, and never wonder why.

I didn't need to think twice about leaving a place that was determined to destroy me. I place that regularly branded me a freak, that often told me to keep my head out of the clouds, that being a writer (the biggest part of me) was an unattainable dream.

I'm gonna runaway and open up my mind.

My mind is still opening to this very moment, learning more about myself, others and my place in the world. More importantly, my mind is opening up to my responsibility as a writer, a responsibility to help open the minds of others to new ideas and attitudes.

So Chester, thank you. From myself and everyone whose lives you touched. We're going to miss you, but I think I can speak for everyone when I say thank God you're well at last.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Getting Diagnosed

This year will mark 10 years since I was first diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder/Aspergers Syndrome. I was 18 years, 8 months, 1 week, 1 day, 6 hours and 20 minutes old when I was told I was on the spectrum after months of speculation.

A little background: at my first proper job (which I only lasted 3 months in) when I was 17, one of the ladies I worked with (Flora, one of the most gorgeous souls I have ever met) asked if I had Aspergers Syndrome.

"What's that?" I asked.

"Mild Autism. My grandson has it and you remind me a lot of him." Was the reply.

Eh, I brushed it off. In the culture of the Toowoomba Region, things like Autism and other neurodiverse conditions were considered disabilities no matter how they impacted your life, and a label like that wasn't something you wanted stuck to you.

Later on, when I was working at "the Warehouse", the boss's son came to work with us during the school holidays. He also had Aspergers Syndrome. I can still recall people laughing at us one lunch hour, and not knowing why until someone pointed out that during our whole conversation, we hadn't looked at each other once.

So off to the GP to get a referral I went, and soon I was diagnosed.

"You definitely have Aspergers Syndrome." Said the psych.

"You are broken." I heard. It didn't help that at the time I was dating a guy whose family had that exact notion - that I was broken and I needed to be fixed. In fact, a lot of people that I had known for a long time were like "Oh, that explains a lot. So you're getting fixed then?"

Now I know better, of course, but back in 2007 the attitude still was that ASD was a disability and an affliction and I needed to be cured. Probably explains how I got stuck on that terrible sodium valproate, which definitely wiped out my anxiety and sensory sensitivities along with just about all of my other emotions and every single one of my imaginary friends (who I am happy to say are all back alive and well now).

Yes, there are some aspects of ASD that for me are akin to a disability. It's taken me a long time to get up to speed on my social skills (which are still on the lower end of the spectrum, but at least my embarrassing incident quotient is going down), and my anxiety will always be a bugbear, along with my knack for sensory overload. Still, I think even with my ASD label, I'm a pretty nifty young lady. My sensory issues also come with positives, including a love of music/dancing and I'm always down for a hug (definitely a hugger, not a handshaker). My brain might run at a million miles an hour making it hard for me to focus and contributing to my anxiety, but without it I wouldn't have my imaginary friends nor would I have the likes of my books "Ink on the Wind", "Chuckles and Giggles", "Experiment 24-42" or "The Children of Wellsworth School".

Aspergers is not something that needs to be fixed. Neurodiversity is not a curse. It is something to be embraced, for with it comes new ideas and ways of thinking. Celebrate our differences, cherish our similarities and let's all work together for the betterment of humanity!

Thursday, 27 April 2017


It's no great secret that one of my favourite shows to this day is "Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends", especially the first two seasons. Episodes like "Coal" from the first season where the Fat Controller gives Henry a fair go make my heart sing, and while Henry is special to me in his own way, he's just not Edward.

Seriously, how can you NOT love this wise old engine? Not only is this bright blue "Larger Seagull" a gorgeous example of a Furness Railway K2 engine, but he's also the kindest, most helpful soul on the Island of Sodor.

Before I go on though, let's make one thing clear: Edward and James are two completely different models of train - in fact, James is a L&YR Class 28 variant (a failed experiment) with a 2-6-0 config. Edward is a 4-4-0 config, and is much better-looking in my very honest opinion!

While I can relate to Henry the most sometimes (especially in the aforementioned "Coal" episode) he still has his moments where he's easily led by the other engines who might not be the best examples, like Gordon or James. Edward on the other hand, while being timid like Henry, has enough sense of self to not buy into their nonsense and do his own thing. Instead of being worried about being seen with the shiniest of new coaches, he's happy to go and play with trucks. Instead of being vain and silly, he's wise and helpful, always willing to lend a hand (or wheel...whatever) to whomever might be in trouble (for example, pushing Gordon up the hill when he gets stuck or saving Trevor from scrap).

These things, along with Edwards sunny nature and strong work ethic, make me love the little engine so much. I would LOVE to see episodes on Edwards backstory, as he's so old he was actually one of the engines who helped build the Fat Controllers railway. It would be so interesting to see the way he became the wise old man that he is today. I imagine that when he first started, he was a lot like Thomas, although perhaps not so impulsive or arrogant.

He's not perfect of course, and sometimes the words of the bigger, younger, stronger engines get to him and make him sad (and we won't talk about the complete character retcon they did to him in later seasons - it makes my blood boil), but that's what makes me love him so much - even though he's upset, he still keeps on going and doing his own thing, which is whatever the Fat Controller needs him to do. This is a quality that not many people seem to have. Many people either get sad or angry and either look to pay their tormentor out or just give up and go with the flow. We could all learn a lot from Edward, who is easily one of my favourite characters of all time.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Top 10 Wrestlers Past and Present...other than 'Taker

I think it's pretty much a given that the Undertaker is my (and a lot of peoples) favourite wrestler of all time. I could gush on forever about how great the Deadman is, but I've already done so, therefore, the Undertaker will NOT be appearing on this list. Redundancy and all that jazz. It'd be like me doing a revised top ten songs list - and if you don't know what the number one song is always going to be, you're either a new reader (in which case, hi there!) or you just don't know me at all ("I Can't Dance" by Genesis, okay?).

Now, I'm not the best judge of wrestling ability. So while I can appreciate good spots, I'm more after people who can just make me laugh and enjoy myself. I love watching wrestlers who not only hit hard in the ring, but can keep me entertained outside of matches too.

So here are my Top Ten Favourite Wrestlers - other than the Undertaker!

10. William Regal

He's British, he's hilarious, he's tough, he's just so much fun! And that voice is something to DIE for! I can't decide whether his run with Dave Taylor against Brian Kendrick and Paul London or his run with Eugene is my favourite. Maybe his time as the Commissioner is my favourite... He's man...such a man...

9. Daniel Bryan

I remember when this guy took down the Wyatt family in a Steel Cage, and had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand afterwards. I was just like "Wow." I was stunned. Although I absolutely ADORED him as part of Team Hell No. Especially once you threw Randy Orton into the mix. Poor Randy.

8. Triple H

When this guy wants to be funny, he can be pretty funny. I can still remember him crashing the Edge/Vicki Guerrero wedding. He's also fairly intimidating, and can make just about anyone look good in the ring. But my favourite memories of him are easily when he's paired with the Heartbreak Kid, Shawn Michaels as D-Generation X. Oh irrelevant humour, how I love thee!

7. Rey Mysterio

I also have a soft spot for underdogs, and Rey Mysterio is the ultimate underdog. I love his fast, high-flying style and his never-say-die attitude. It's so much fun to watch him go up against some of the biggest guys in the business and just deck them. The 619 is one of my favourite moves of all time, and just looks so much fun!

6. Randy Orton

I think it's because he's pretty much the polar opposite of John Cena (who is okay, I guess) which totally appeals to my Slytherin nature. I love watching him systematically take his opponents apart, especially when he "loses it" and goes for the head punt. Oooh does he give me the shivers sometimes!

5. Edge

Between this guy and Christian, I could die laughing. While he's not quite as entertaining without Christian, he can still work the mic very well. He'd probably be higher on the list if he continued being the funny guy instead of becoming the more sadistic Ultimate Opportunist. Eh. I still loved how he destroyed the laptop of the Anonymous General Manager, and his promos with Kurt Angle still give me bellyache from the laughter.

4. Vicki Guerrero

She wrestled at least one match, so she counts! Simply put, this woman was THE best heel in the business for a long time. Even today if someone says "Excuse me" I'm tempted to scowl. She lied, cheated and stole better than anyone else in the company, and it was just so entertaining! I think a big part of the appeal is that once she got power, she abused it just like all of us want to do but are too "morally upstanding" to do.

3. Kane

Of COURSE the Undertakers little brother was going to be on this list, how couldn't he? An unbelievable performer, who can be just as funny as anyone else without losing the intimidation factor. The only reason he's not as much of a favourite as his brother is because he just never really had that "indestructible" factor that the Undertaker has. I guess that's just a consequence of being the younger brother I guess. I love the chemistry he has with the Deadman, whether fighting alongside him or against him. In fact, one match I do enjoy is the Undertaker vs. Issac Yankem. Definitely something to go back and watch.

2. Wade Barrett

I swear this guy was Lord Flashheart in a past life (seriously, substitute "Boom" for "Wuff" and you'll see what I mean). He is easily the most HILARIOUS wrestler I have ever had the pleasure of watching (if you ever need a chuckle, just check out his Instagram). He just taps into my love of British comedy and I just lap it up. Even when he was with the Nexus and doing the "Barrett Barrage" he was just so fun to watch. Shame he looks like the bastard child of Blackadder and Arnold Rimmer, but hey, if they do a Blackadder reboot they could easily cast him in the title role (and shoehorn Cody Rhodes in as Baldrick).

1. Shawn Michaels

This guy MADE D-Generation X. He's hilarious on his own, but pair him with Triple H and I'm just gone. The difference between him and Hunter though is that without Shawn, Triple H just loses a bit of his shine, whereas Shawn can hold his own easily.  To me, he's almost equal with the Undertaker in how much I love him (although I didn't cry when Shawn retired). The single best part about HBK though has to be Sweet Chin Music. The number of times I've been watching someone ramble on and on and on on the mic and thought to myself "Gosh I wish HBK would just kick them and have it done with." are too many to count. His energy is amazing and it's hard not to get swept up in it.

On another note, for those who follow me on Instagram (@kezzstar24) and know of my tendency to go for extremely long walks, tomorrow I'm giving my 42km PB a shake. Hopefully if I can get the Charity Miles app working, I can make it count.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Where the bloody hell was I?

I know, I know, I disappeared and I left you all. I am so sorry!

So, a bit of an update on what I've been up to recently. First off, I'm currently in the process of having my first book, a collection of poetry under the title of "Ink in the Wind" published. That's right, you're going to be able to read my dribble in paperback! I don't have a release date yet, but stay tuned!

Secondly, I have finally been given a consistent shift at work. Which means I can now walk to work several times a week (and you all know how I love walking). Already I'm feeling the benefits, anxiety is down, health is up, fun is had and photos are on Instagram. Seriously, if you want to get into exercise, just find something that you love and do it. If you don't want to go to the gym, don't! Go play footy, go for a run, go dancing, whatever it is, just do it!

Also, if you haven't been on Facebook and liked Aspergers Syndrome Awareness: Bryan and Friends then definitely go do it! I'm one of the mods there now (an official Aspergers and Autism Advocate) and I love it! It's so good to be able to help.

Finally, on the back of "Ink in the Wind", I am now working on a very special project. This project is called "The Children of Wellsworth School" and it's childrens stories designed to introduce neurotypical children to neurodiversity and disability. Hopefully my voice will be just one of millions speaking out about acceptance and working together.

I promise that I'll try to update more regularly again! Keep an eye out for my next blog off the back of my last one - my Top 10 Favourite Wrestlers! Take care!

Monday, 3 April 2017

Thank You Taker

It's been nearly a year since my last update, but right now I'm heartbroken.

I am literally typing this through tears. The's finally over. It's so painful to see someone you loved, someone you feared, someone you looked up to go out like that. Not taking anything away from Roman Reigns, but to see someone like the Undertaker finally conquered forever...

For the longest time, the Undertaker was THE limit. Everyone fell before Deadman. No one was safe in his yard. It was no end of a thrill to see the Phenom get absolutely destroyed...only to sit right back up and END whoever was stupid enough to make him mad. Nothing was better than watching someone get a "win" against the Undertaker, only to regret it instantly when they got their backside handed to them.

Admittedly towards the end this aura of invincibility began to fade. I'm still filthy about Brock Lesnar. Even when Wade Barrett in his Nexus days laid Wasteland to the Deadman I was upset (and I'm definitely a Bad News fan). It was hard to watch him slowly become more and more...mortal, as time went on.

There was nothing better for a bad week than watching him take it out on someone. All of our power fantasies were lived through the Deadman. He was indestructible, We lapped it up. And even though we knew it was kayfabe, that all these Superstars were just actors who had a particularly violent job...the Undertaker was different somehow. Even without the theatrics, even behind a TV screen, his powerful aura was painfully obvious, so potent that he didn't even need to say a word. He worked hard, he gave his all, and he demanded respect. I think this is what made his act seem all the more real. Even though when the other Superstars looked terrified as he got up...was it really all an act?

As I tend to do, I'll honour the Phenom with a Top 5 list. My Top 5 Undertaker Moments!

5.  "You look like you've seen a ghost Mr. Kennedy!" Smackdown! 370, 22 Sept 2006

I don't know which was better - listening to Mr. Kennedy try to convince himself that he could beat the Undertaker, or King Bookers face when Bobby Lashley threw him back into the ring to face the music for low-blowing the Deadman. You really don't wanna make the Undertaker mad.

4. "MAYBE THERE IS SOMEONE!" Royal Rumble 2007

I love Shawn Michaels. Sweet Chin Music is easily my favourite finishing move, just purely for how entertaining it can be. Put him with the Undertaker in the best finale of the Royal Rumble ever (in my opinion) and you have magic. You could almost substitute this with either one of their Wrestlemania matches, but for me anyway this is my favourite of their bouts.

3. Brothers of Destruction

Yeah, this is totally cheating. But any moment with the Undertaker and Kane is always great, whether they're on the same side trying to outdo each other or against each other trying to kill each other, the pair have amazing chemistry and compliment each other well in the ring. My favourite though has to be the first Inferno Match. Cop THAT Kane!

2. "GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY, HE'S KILLED HIM!" King of the Ring 1998

Someone please tell me how exactly Mick Foley is still alive and in (mostly) one piece. This match just absolutely kills me every time I watch it. The sheer dominance of the Deadman is a sight to behold, and Mankind getting slammed pillar to post is just icing on the cake. HOW IS MICK FOLEY STILL ALIVE?!

1. "When Daddy wakes up, tell him the Undertaker took back his yard." Smackdown! 89, 3 May 2001

The Two-Man Power-Trip really shouldn't have messed with Kane. I know when people go after my siblings, I tend to get a touch irrational. I'm not surprised that the Undertaker went a bit ape. Throwing Stone Cold Steve Austin through a window, attacking him in the ambulance (while taking out Triple H at the same time) before belting the snot out of McMahon and scaring Stephanie with my favourite line in sports entertainment. The line is delivered in classic Undertaker style, cold, detached, and to the point. It's the perfect combination of the original Undertaker and the biker Undertaker. Beating up Rikishi was just icing on the cake.

The Undertaker has been a part of the WWE for a long, long time. It's hard to imagine the WWE without him. He gave us all so many great memories and amazing matches. Thank you Undertaker. Thank you so much for everything.