Betwixt and between – An Autistic Puzzle

I often find myself quite torn. 

Especially when it comes to socialising, even everyday interaction with people. I don’t enjoy it although that is not a reflection of my relationship with people on a personal, individual level. 

So I don’t go out much. If we leave the necessity of work out of the equation then I am, if truth be told, a bit of a hermit. Yes I can walk to the shops, interact withshopkeepers and the doctors, everyday, mundane “normal” stuff. 

But I don’t socialise. 

But there’s a little piece of me that wants more. It’s my social personality. It’s not very big, it’s not very gaudy and it just peeks out occasionally to suggest I should get out more. 

And it gets ignored. 


I’m not good with people. Okay, correction, I could be very good with people in my dream role. I have been very good with people when placed in a position of control. But, no, not a people person. 

So I miss out. I miss the Autistic events (though there’s an element of geographical displacement there as well) where I might meet….would meet, kindred spirits. And that might be a shame. Or a blessing from their perspective!. 

I’m actually very introverted. The mask suggests otherwise but I am basically shy and withdrawn. I never know what to say because everyone is much more knowledgeable and intelligent than I am. They know stuff. I always feel dim or stupid and if you have nothing to contribute then you stand there looking out of place, awkward and, ultimately, unwelcome. And nobody shares my interests. 

Even amongst my own kind I’d be hideously intimidated. 

And I don’t think I’ve got anything that will interest people. I don’t have a talent or a skill that’s useful. Nobody would want to hear me speak (stand up comedy was once suggested by my psychologist!) because I wouldn’t use the language they’d expect. “Dumbed down speaking for high functioning people” would not be a big draw. 

I’m very envious of people who seem to flow so naturally with others. Who find their place so easily. 

But that’s life. 

Part of me wishes I had something, anything, to contribute. Part of me wants to hide away. Part of me says, get out there. Part of me fears for its life. 

Perhaps I’m just a coward. 

But it’s a puzzle. This attempt to reconcile all my parts. This attempt to find some sort of stability. I’m always torn in so many ways, the ground beneath me is fragile and I fear I’ll fall. 

Betwixt ? Between ?. 

A puzzle. 

Behind the Mask : Losing identity

Sometimes I get very down. 

Sometimes I get very down for a reason that would probably surprise some people. 

I get down because I mask too well. 

I’m too “normal”. 

Being normal as normal people would see it is an everyday not thought about process. It comes naturally. There’s no thought process behind it because it’s how normal people act. Now I say that whilst also accepting that even normal people mask feelings such as anger and disappointment so as not to upset others. Masking is for all of us, at times. 

But that’s uncommon masking. It’s not everyday, it’s not life governing. It’s incidental, occasionally accidental. 

Masking is tough. Try not being who you really are for an hour. Two hours. A day. A week. A month. A year. Try living your life (effectively), as a lie. 

Masking dulls the edges of my Autism. It erodes it and it erodes my true identity. 

People I work with have, I think, certain expectations. They expect knowledge, a quick wit, an ability to get things done, an ability to see to the heart of the matter, a certain use of language and so on. That, to them, is me. That’s how they identify me, it’s my skill set, it’s my identity. 

But I don’t think they realise how much pressure that creates. How much I feel the pressure to conform to their expectations. 

I spend most of my working life screaming inside. I scream at the banality of the conversations. I scream at the inability of individuals to keep their desks organised. I scream at the interruptions, not to my work but to my thought processes. I scream at people expecting quick wit and for me to come in with a snappy comment. I scream at being asked stuff I know and don’t know. I scream at their inability to see my lack of ability but still presume my ability must be greater than theirs. 

I scream a lot 

I mask this because I am not the sort of person who, routinely, wishes to upset others. And I don’t want to upset others. But these expectations on my shoulders, whether genuine or merely perceived, erode my true identity. 

I don’t have the knowledge people think I have. Not about the job anyway. It doesn’t interest me so I actually take little notice of it. Quick wit was once spontaneous (yep, another thing we Aspies are not supposed to be) but it now has to be carefully planned (“its 11.07 and we haven’t had a joke or a pun since 9.35!. Quick, think of one!”). I don’t want more to do. Not because I’m lazy. I’m not, I work damned hard but I don’t like the job, it’s depressing, I have no interest, I get no satisfaction from it. Why would I want more ?. I don’t see the heart of the matter. I guess well (and am wrong 50% of the time at least) and the language I use just sounds fancy. It’s over elaborate and word heavy. Anyone else could do better. 

But that’s what people expect and what they get. 

I don’t mind helping. Seriously. This blog might say differently but no, I don’t mind. It’s not that which upsets me.

It’s people only seeing the mask now. It’s the presumption that the mask is me. That the mask is who I am. 

Who I really am never really comes up. It’s not a conversation piece. Maybe because there are so few common areas between myself and my colleagues. There’s so little room for genuine interaction. 

So, tomorrow, the mask will be back on again. I’ll do what’s expected of me. Act in the way the mask says I should. It will slip occasionally because, after all, keeping it on is hard work. 

But behind the mask there’s a real Aspie wanting to be let out. He’s 51 …

But his real identity ?….

That’s slipping away.

Riding the storm

There’s a storm in my life and it’s focused on me,

But I’m riding it out although I’m washed out to sea,

It’s waves are a-crashing, green-blue in hue,

And they’ll run after me and not run after you,

Dark winds a-howling, dredged up from hell,

But when they will hit me, can never quite tell,

I’m pushed and I’m pulled till I’m blue and I’m black,

But push me too hard and I’ll push ’em right back,

They hammer me down, rub my face in the dirt,

They never can know the real depth to my hurt,

So I get up again, wave a fist in their face,

And beg them, cajole them, again, to give chase,

The eye of the storm is where calms meant to be,

But I’ve yet to find it, I’ve yet to break free,

That storm keeps on pounding, I’m battered and bruised,

I’m washed out and tired, I’m sore and confused,

Been beaten so long, bones cracked and brittle,

Face bedecked now with blood, sweat and with spittle,

I’ll drool and I’ll foam, cry tears of frustration,

All hope is now lost, all seen is damnation,

But deep within me, in my pulverised whole,

There’s the tiniest spark in the depth of my soul,

It’s no right to be there, it doesn’t belong,

But it refuses to die despite everything wrong,

It won’t let me die, it won’t let me end,

It’s hanging on in there, got a message to send,

I’m riding the storm and I can’t let it win,

It’s seen me through thick, now will see me through thin,

And while it’s still there I will keep fighting back,

Although bloodied and broken, beat down with each smack,

Yes I’m riding the storm as best as I can,

Just living, just hoping, there’s no master plan!.

A Musical Interlude

It’s very rare for me to talk about or blog about things that make me “happy”. Anhedonia has virtually destroyed my life these last two or three years so pleasure, of any kind, is fleeting and I have to concentrate overly hard to get anything from books, TV, films, anything of those genres. 

And the same goes for music. 

Thankfully music comes, in the main, in small pieces. A song lasts three or four minutes and even something classical, although longer, is shorter than a TV programme or film. There’s something there to latch onto. 

As a child I remember vividly the music of the 1970s. That was my era. Top of the Pops was a huge thing for my elder sister although, looking back now, those memories are sullied by the likes of Saville and Glitter. They seemed such innocent times and the music, for we should concentrate on that, was lively and joyful. Ah the days of Mud, Showaddywaddy and The Rubettes. 

My fathers tastes were Classical and Country. He had a den where he did his stamp collection, huge jigsaws and smoked his pipe to the accompaniment of Dolly Parton or Schuberts Lieder. 

My mother had more varied tastes. She liked Classical and Country but interspersed that with Pop. She loved the early work of Jean Michel Jarre, Cliff Richard and, in later life, Enya. 

So, given these Country, Classical and pop influences it’s only right…

That I became a Heavy Metal fan! 

My father hated guitars. My mother wasn’t keen although she liked Dire Straits. 

I didn’t have friends who liked that genre (I didn’t have friends) so I kinda stumbled across it by accident, listening to the radio one night, under the bedclothes. I don’t even remember the first song or band that got me hooked. 

Perhaps it was because it wasn’t popular that I, as with so many things, latched onto it. I identified with what was different, unpopular with the cool people. 

Soon I started going to concerts. An Autistic hell with the noise and the crush of people, the smell of sweat, tobacco, illegal substances but somehow I was able to screen much of it out and put my focus entirely on the performance. True I didn’t “head bang” like others. I was into the music but I wanted to watch not rattle my brain about. 

Heavy Metal has a bad name. It’s a stupid name if truth be told and I much prefer it simply to be called “Rock” music. People lambast the genre for just being noise and ignore the exceptional talents who ply their trade in rock bands. Yes of course the genre, as a whole, contains some hideous dirges but people hear those or think only of those and ignore the stunning ballads, the wonderful hooks, the melodies. 

Whenever I hear music these days on popular radio stations I admit that 99% of it is just noise. It’s rap (make that Crap) or songs that sound identical by artistes I’ve never heard of. Most of it is hyper repetitive and drones on and on. I hear no talent but an overproduced tune that anyone could have written. Individuality is a crime, it seems. 

Admittedly much rock music sounds pretty similar but the overwhelming majority of it is being played on real instruments by real people and not just fed into a computer. To me it’s real music played by real people. It’s individual. 

And there’s real talent. Real skill. 

Listen to the great guitarists. No, there is no “best” guitarist or best anything. It’s all subjective and there’s no competition. But yes, listen to some of the greats, John Petrucci (Dream Theater) or Alex Lifeson (Rush). The great drummers, Neil Peart (Rush) or Simon Phillips (ex-Toto – yes they of “Africa” fame) and tell me there’s no talent there. 

And the singing isn’t all screeching (okay there’s some but it’s not all), there are the incredible voices of people like Myles Kennedy (Alter Bridge) or David Draiman (Disturbed) amongst many. 

Oh, and if you haven’t heard Disturbeds cover of Simon and Garfunkels “Sound of Silence” then do so. Seriously, it’s incredible and not what you’ll be expecting. 

So, “Metal” is my thing. 

I did take some influences from my parents. I adore Enya (ideal mood music) and Abba (unparalleled use of melody). I like Jean Michel Jarre, at least his early stuff like Mum did. My iPod contains Gene Pitney, Don Henley, Jarre, soundtracks to the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit as well as Gladiator. There’s Enya, Abba, Sky (the instrumental supergroup containing John Williams), a host of rock bands and a wealth of Classical, a genre I really only discovered in my mid 20s but am now passionate (Anhedonia aside) about. 

I couldn’t live without music. 

I hope that, one day, I’ll really get back into it and be able to enjoy it again rather than use it as a diversion. Perhaps I’ll get the guitar out of the loft ?. 

Until then..

Rock on!!!!. 

A question of identity

Autism is a spectrum. 

It’s a big spectrum with many people on it. Some exhibit “classic” autistic traits whilst, for others, those traits have been dulled or changed by life experience. 

Today I’ve been querying my place on the spectrum. I’ve been asking who I am. 

Each of us is, of course, individual. You don’t meet two of us who are exactly the same. We may share certain commonalities but our personalities and experiences are very different. 

There are some savant like individuals. Geniuses. There are some who are designated “high functioning” and some who can barely talk or who are incapable of caring for themselves. But we are all autistic. 

I was diagnosed (twice) with Aspergers. That very label pushes me towards, or into, high functioning. That’s a phrase I loathe. It makes me uncomfortable because (a) it implies some higher intellect or skill set and (b) to me it implies that I’m somehow better than those who are low functioning. 

Trust me when I say that I have days I barely function at all!. 

I find my identity questionable by the fact that I so rarely identify with what others on the spectrum say. I don’t get it. Leave aside the knowledge that many have about autism and other topics that are closely linked. Leave aside the technical knowledge displayed and the use of high functioning language to make points or argue a particular stance. I don’t have any of that. 

But a simple comment will get me thinking. An observation. A picture that’s commented on. 

And perhaps my isolationism within the spectrum is compounded by the fact that so many of these comments are supported by others who will agree wholeheartedly and say things like ‘That’s exactly what I was thinking” or “I couldn’t have put it better”. 

And I’ll be thinking “Seriously ?” Or “I don’t think that at all”. 

Perhaps it’s about support. I notice the same small groups of people agreeing with each other. Re-enforcing each other. Banding together. There’s that support of that autistic viewpoint. 

There seems to be that common ground. 

Now, of course we are all individuals. I simply may not see it that way for a number of reasons. 1. I don’t care or have zero interest in that view, 

2. I don’t understand the view for technical reasons, 

3. My experiences of life are such that I hold an opposing of different view. 

Part of me doesn’t want to say anything because I know the odds are against me. I know I don’t have or won’t have support for my views so I withhold them to avoid conflict within the community. Part of me doesn’t say anything because I simply chalk it up to experience. My experience and accept that others may experience things differently. 

And perhaps that’s it. We are similar but different. 

My struggle with my autistic identity is, in part, down to a lack of perceived support within the community. The fact that my interests don’t gel with others so I lack commonality. The fact that I am not talented enough at anything by which I can promote myself and thus gain a level of acceptance or interest. 

It’s also down to a late diagnosis. A diagnosis after years in which the real me has been submerged under neurotypical behaviours that are alien but now almost comfortable due to the dulling my true autistic self. I’ve never really expressed me because family, job, life in general have dictated otherwise. Being truly autistic would not be acceptable in those roles. 

Deep down I know I am Autistic. I exhibit those traits. I dislike social interaction, don’t get small talk, avoid eye contact, don’t make friends, have very narrow interests and very specific ones, have sensory issues surrounding smell, taste, touch, noise and lighting. I stim. I take things literally. I don’t get jokes (although I laugh at my own). I’m told I have a very quick wit based on puns and wordplay (apparently my humour is intellectual not base). I am clumsy, have a poor gait, can be loud, act inappropriately in public (that’s others opinions, not mine. Dancing with the shopping trolley in the supermarket is cool!) and the list goes on. 

I do know my identity but I just can’t get it out there. I can’t release it. It’s like being trapped inside my own body. It’s subdued but it wants out. 

So yes, it’s a question of identity. 

I’m Patrick, I’m 51, I am diagnosed with Aspergers. I am Autistic. 

And perhaps, one day, I’ll find my place. 

That comes in Nandi (A bit of Bull) 

Travelling in India is really rather special. 

My first visit was my worst holiday given that it brought down upon me the misery of Dysentery and it took me 24 years to summon the courage to return but I am so glad I did. 

I’m a bit of a templeaholic. Egypt, my spiritual home, has an abundance of them. Thankfully so does India and one aspect of Indian temples I find particularly interesting is the Nandi Bull. 

Nandi is the vahana or mount of the God Shiva. As with most Indian mythology the stories associated with Nandi are often complex but, essentially, Nandi was the son of the sage Shilada who underwent severe penance to be granted a boon, an immortal son dedicated to Shiva who was born wearing diamond encrusted armour. Nandi himself underwent penance before becoming both Shiva’s gate keeper and his mount. 

And I think he’s rather cool. 

Each temple depicts him slightly differently although the basic pose, lying down, seems universal. 

So here’s a few different images from India. 

This one, at the Ekambarashwara Temple in Kanchipuram is quite ostentatious in its design. It reminds me of a fairground ride, a carousel animal. 

These two images from the Sri Kailasanatha Temple, also in Kanchipuram, are more austere and weather beaten due to the lack of cover. 

This Nandi lies behind the Arjuna Ratha, a small temple dedicated to Shiva and which stands in the coastal town of Mahabalipuram on India’s East coast. 

This one is from the Airavatesvara Temple in Kumbakonam.

One of my favourites is this beautifully carved example from the Brihadeeswarar Temple in Tanjore. It’s enclosure also has a beautifully painted ceiling. 

Finally we have the Chamundi Bull. This Nandi, the third largest in India, stands on a hill overlooking Mysore. In better light and without the ugly scaffolding it would look even better than it did. 

So, as you can see, there are many different depictions of the Nandi but I really like them. They’re individual, unique yet to my eyes combine both strength and grace in their carving. 

Nandi. That’s a lot of bull! 

The worlds gone crazy..and I can’t cope with it..

I hate this world. 

The news is just one unremitting piece of misery after another. If it’s not Brexit then it’s another Scottish referendum. The fact they had one five minutes ago seems not to register but, as with Brexit, perhaps we should just have referendums till we get the result we want. I love Scotland but Mrs Sturgeon and Mr Salmond I find totally loathsome, always demanding, always threatening. No hint of compromise or concession. 

My view ?. Give them a referendum. Give them one now. Six weeks. Run it, accept the result whichever way it goes and then shut up about it!. Oh, and have a General Election as well. Put everything on hold until both are done and then see who is in power and what way the referendum goes. 

I can’t stand two years of listening to this! 

A u-turn on national insurance for the self employed. I hate the hypocrisy of the Labour Party here. Complain when it’s imposed, jeer when it’s withdrawn. You can’t have both so stop the crowing. God, Politicians are all as bad as each other!. 

If our problems aren’t enough then there’s always Donald Trump to cheer us up. The daily inanities that spew forth from the so called leader of the free world are surely signs of narcissism?. The focus on him, his campaign, his executive orders. He seems to have totally lost sight of helping anyone save his cronies and wants to alienate everyone else. The very fact that he is President is a deeply scary thing. 

There’s famine in Somalia and Sudan. Once more we are overwhelmed with adverts featuring grossly overrated and overpaid “celebrities” imploring us to contribute to a worthy cause. That’s fine but how much are these multi millionaires giving ?. Anything ? Or are they actually being paid to appear in these adverts ?. 

Cynical I know. Forgive me, I am very jaded. 

Election expenses scandals. This is barely news at all unless your a leftie hoping political capital can be made of it. Who cares ?. Seriously ?. Yes there are rules but I’ve never been convinced to vote for anyone based on a leaflet or someone stopping me in the street. I don’t see it making any difference at all but perhaps that’s just me. No doubt there’s a “bigger picture” I am missing. Oh, since all parties have been fined they’re all as bad as each other. Untrustworthy and shallow. 

I watch the news and it brings me close to tears. This rampant nastiness. The constant battering of bad news. The constant malice, threats, bile that pours forth from everyone’s lips. 

To compensate for this news we get insipid “celebrities” “winning” awards. Oscars, Baftas, Brits, Emmys, Grammys, Golden Globes. An endless list of smug self congratulatory awards given, in the main, to people I’ve never heard of. People I wouldn’t know if I saw them in the street. 

And that’s even more depressing. 

A bunch of nauseating and, in most cases, hugely and undeservingly wealthy people who expect the world and their “fans” to hang on their every utterance. Rappers with blatantly homophobic, sexist and racist language are lauded as “talented” because they “appeal” to today’s youth!. Appeal ?. How ?. Are people so shallow or brain dead that they think DizzyD or whatever ridiculous name they have, is more talented than Beethoven ?.Mozart ?. Where has real music gone ?. 

But these people’s stories are added into the news, their marriages, divorces, children, to somehow compensate for all the misery. 

The worlds gone crazy …

And I can’t cope with it..

Messing about on the river! 

Sometimes, and it’s very rare, my mind goes quiet. 

For the briefest of moments time stands still. 

There’s a space in time which only I inhabit and which brings upon the most wonderful aura of tranquillity. 

Such times are rare. But they are to be treasured. 

This is Kerala. Gods own country. A slice of western India populated by backwaters of the most sublime and romantic nature. 

I’m on a houseboat. The temperature is in the mid 90s yet the fierce heat is mollified by the cool breeze that ruffles my hair. 

This is paradise. 

Houseboats ply their trade up and down the backwaters. Modified rice barges housing between 4-12 guests. Lush waterside greenery caresses the eyeline as I drift along, for once, without a care in the world. 

Oh to be in this heavenly place forever. 

From the backwaters spring narrow canals. Here the scenery is more urban as the canals are lined with houses and daily life is laid bare before us. 

The housewife rhythmically beats her husbands longyi upon a rock. Schoolchildren, all smartly dressed in their uniforms, hurry to and from school. Colourful washing flutters in the breeze. 


A man is bathing in the canal. His head, disembodied, nods to us as we drift past trailing his soap suds in our wake. A water snake, head raised proudly in the air, gives us not a glance as it surges thrillingly close to our boat. 

Everyone smiles. 

Dusk settles on the backwater. Dinner is served by our marvellous crew. Three fine Indians, stout of body and warm of heart, good humoured, welcoming and generous. Their dark eyes follow us everywhere, ensuring we are safe and catered to. 


I sleep a deep dreamless sleep rocked by the gentle sway of our boat. 

We have but one night here in this idyllic place and morning comes too soon. 

Breakfast is served by our attentive crew and all too quickly our captain, his steady hand on the wheel, is taking us back. 

Morning in gods own country. 

Drifting through paradise. 

For that briefest moment I’ve felt real joy. But more than that, I’ve felt peace. Serenity. That my mind and body are as one. Finally in tune. 

True there is much beauty in the landscape. The weather is fine. Birds cartwheel in the bluest sky and the only sound I can hear is the soft lapping of the water as it breaks against our bow. 

Ah the sheer joy. 

Messing about on the river. 

The Stain on the Spectrum : An Angry Autistic 


Yes I’m talking to you. 

I am so angry right now. Furious. Fed up. Pissed off. 

With you. 

I am fed up with so called “high functioning” Autistics thinking they’re better than me. Thinking that because they’re “high functioning” they can ram their superiority down my threat. They can crow about their cleverness and quote the latest learned journal in support of their “high functioning” ability! 

Many of them don’t actually have a diagnosis. They’ve read it in a book and decided that certain traits fit them. So they are Autistic or Aspergian. 

I’ve been told that their self diagnosis is more worthy than my actual diagnosis. More worthy!  Why ?. Because I was diagnosed by neurotypical psychologists and psychiatrists and they aren’t fit to make the diagnosis!.

So. Let’s get this straight. A book written by a neurotypical in which the traits of Autism are established and which you take as being evidence sufficient for self diagnosis, is more worthy of my diagnosis by two psychologists and a confirmation by a psychiatrist ?. 

Total bullshit!!!!

And because you’ve read a learned journal and you can quote the latest DSM you label yourself as “high functioning” and then think you’re entitled to lecture everyone on the subject! 

Piss off. 

Just piss off. 

I know it’s hard to get a formal diagnosis. It took me six or seven years. That’s called persistence. I didn’t read it in a book. I heard about Autism and I wondered about myself so I went and asked. I was taken through a process and formally diagnosed. 

I appreciate that’s not open to everyone but how come everyone who self diagnoses thinks they’re “high functioning” ? 

God forbid you aren’t. God forbid you weren’t. 

I “have” Aspergers. That’s my diagnosis. And guess what ?. Apparently I am “high functioning”. 

That makes me laugh. Most days I do not function at all. I hate that term, it sounds arrogant and makes out I’m someone or something better than someone “low functioning”. 

I’m not better. I’m different. 

We are supposed to be a community and yes, communities need leaders, but not self indulgent arrogant types who display more of the traits of a narcissistic personality disorder than an ASD. Who call me (and others) vile names yet squeak and demand their slavish followers complain, report, block, if someone calls them the same or something less offensive because they can’t fight their own battles. 

I don’t want to be in a community run by domineering, sneering, name calling bullies who put a stain on the spectrum by their actions. 

So I’m out. 

I’m leaving the spectrum. 

You can keep it. 

What should be a place of safety and gentleness, of mutual support, quiet reflection and observation, suggestion and help is little more than a dysfunctional family run by self satisfied bullies and tyrants who think they speak for everyone and that everyone should fawn over them. 

I don’t fawn. 

In a community I wanted to call my own. In a community where I wanted to belong (I’ve never felt I belonged anywhere) I find that I can’t. 


Singing your own praises..

Anyone else find that difficult ?

I do. 

I think there are two main reasons. 

Firstly, I am surrounded by very talented people, both Autistic and neurotypical, who have actually achieved stuff. They have degrees, qualifications, success in life on a scale I can only imagine. 

So I feel I pale by comparison. 

Secondly, I have nothing to actually be proud of. I haven’t achieved anything, never went to university, haven’t got fancy qualifications, haven’t been successful at things. 

So there’s not a great deal to be proud of..

But then people will say “considering everything you’ve been through I think you should be very proud”. Of what ?. Survival ?. 

We all survive to the best of our abilities. That doesn’t make me better than the next person. It doesn’t make me stand out from the crowd. I don’t see it as praiseworthy. 

“You’re good at your job”. Another meaningless phrase. Good in what way ?. I answer the phone, I answer the questions. We all do. I’m not better at it than X or Y. Again, it’s not praiseworthy in my eyes. 

I suffer from a terrible lack of self esteem and self worth, that much is true. I think virtually nothing of myself and perhaps, as I get older and I am less likely to achieve anything, the rot has well and truly set in. 

I’m trying to think about job hunting and the inevitable and daunting interview. The “selling yourself” bit. I am awful at it. I never know what to say. I never know how to promote myself as an achiever when I’ve achieved…well, nothing. I can’t brandish a clutch of certificates and say, look at these, look what these say I’ve achieved. 

I can’t produce an average CV and say to interviewers ” Look at that. It doesn’t tell the full story. It doesn’t tell you how the lack of support for an Autistic child led to him panicking in exams and doing far less well than expected. So he failed his A levels and never went to University..etc”. That might have some truth to it. But I can’t say it. 

Singing my own praises ?. 

I wouldn’t even know where to start!