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Compass -

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in the Middle East ANNOUNCER: News of oil shortages Brent Crude surging... sent the price of ..a frenzy on the market index plummeting... sent the Dow Jones The fall in share prices ..Dow Jones went into freefall. in the market... was the sharpest drop increase in the ice thickness ..but significant on the Antarctic continent... the oil crisis has led ..shortages following all over the country... to panic buying in supermarkets would be power cuts this weekend... ..the government denied that there that the number of people was announced today to a 30-year high... ..out of work has risen it means that... ..some scientists claim are being urged to check into ..people with young children run low on basic necessities... emergency shelters as families David Fanner Closed Captions by CSI -

This program is not subtitled

THEME MUSIC 'Ahead on Compass -' get treated like I'm stupid. The A-word comes up, I always Yeah, you get that. "Oh, I've got Asperger's." And you say it like, affect you?" "Oh, so how...does that... amplify the voice, And then you've got to "Oh, that's sad." a hearing impairment with my ears." "Yes, I've now got Hello there. Thank you for your company. A question to you - what if you were intelligent but are trapped within a disorder

inarticulate, odd or disabled? that makes others see you as What if you look like everyone else, and see and hear things but the way you think is really very different? between ability and disability This film explores the line of four adults who are autistic. by examining the personal stories They tell their own stories, of inviting us into their world and they extend us the privilege on their terms. GENTLE ACOUSTIC MUSIC that isn't even there # I feel a pressure # For I'm so very busy # Pretending not to care strange faceless people # About all these # That really wear you down. # Usually, with fresh tattoos the... I find mostly even English different. The Internet music makes sense. they'll get there. They'll get there, It was very hard for me as a child, that there was something... because I knew that I was different, I don't even know if I had the idea didn't like me. but I knew that other people

(LAUGHS) I'm not sure if... the full way. Well, I won't be driving

The typical world out there says, "You must look like this, at school." you must perform this well There's this box of... you have to be that shape. To be accepted we're this shape, you know? And we're not that shape, So we don't fit. Some people may wonder,

and all this?" "Why is that kid acting funny wouldn't understand what autism is. Like, that's what I mean. They and I wear my Crocs everywhere. I usually wear shorts have diagnosed you with Asperger's." "The files from the last few years I said, "What? The who?" He said, "This is what you have. or Asperger's." You have high-functioning autism that day. Um, and I was a bit shocked "Oh, OK. So I'm Rain Man, am I?" I sort of went, you'll get me to smile # The only way # Would be to hang me upside down. # Well, folks. This here car that I'm sitting on is a 1981 Mazda 626 Coupe. the L plate which is on it. As you can see, go for your license? WOMAN: When are you gonna Hopefully, later this year.

Autistic people often have... as an obsession, It's often described which I think is a bit cruel. really, really, really like. (LAUGHS) It's just something that they at Warrnambool Bus Lines, And my childhood dream was to work ie - becoming a bus driver. WOMAN: What do you like about buses? For a fact, it's a heavy vehicle at driving a heavy vehicle. and I'd like to have a go

is just outside the door here. Now, the bus stop when the bus is about that big At the top of the street and said, James stood with his sister It'll be one of the new buses". "There's the bus. she's thinking, "Is that a bus?" And she's still at the stage where which one it is - the 17 or the 32." And then he said, "Oh, I wonder And it pulls into the first stop. He goes, "Ah, the 32. flash a bit slower than that." The indicators on the 17 So this is my flat where I live. for three and a half years. I've lived here

that live in this block, I think. There's 12 people I know most of them. them and they're all pretty friendly. I sort of hang around with most of machine doesn't break down too often. It's pretty good. The washing

in there Once, people used to smoke bongs

thank God. That wasn't good. but they stopped doing that, or, alternatively, a beer. Good place to have a cup of tea

have a good old drink and a chat. Sometimes people sit out here and about behaviours, which I won't do. That's really it, apart from talking

she had a lot of friends at school. I don't think

and we weren't aware of that. She was very badly treated at school

actually making friends I had a lot of problems when I was little. but I'd always alienate them Um, and I would have friends,

do the wrong thing. because I'd always what friendship is, you're stumped. If you don't have a concept of How do you make friends? saying to me, Um, I remember a teacher "Wendy, you need to say, What's yours?" "Hello, my name's Wendy. And I said to the teacher, I know my name's Wendy." "Why would I do that? for me to kind of comprehend (LAUGHS) And it was very difficult between kids. the small talk that goes on # To be there for each other # In good times and in bad. # if any, friends his own age. At school, he has few,

conversations at that age level And that's because she said to him and he said to her. will rely on gossip and what really, for James. And that's not a conversation, An interesting conversation is an exchange of factual information. "How old are you? How many children do you have? Where do you come from? Where did your family originally come from? What job do you do? What car do you have?" All this is much more interesting than, "What do you think he meant when he said that to her?" WOMAN: Do you want to have friends your own age? I wouldn't mind, I actually wouldn't mind that. It'd be nice if I could try and get friends my age or possibly even get a girlfriend. (SIGHS) When I was 15 I discovered the socialists. Now, the socialists were marvellous. They had a set of rules. And if you agree with the socialists they're all your instant friend. If you say, "This is what we think about the Russian Revolution", and you get it right, then they all go, "Oh, wow. Listen to Jeanette. She's wonderful". Seriously, I went from having no friends to having about 100 friends. And, of course, it didn't work being a socialist in the school environment, so I'd come along with my big stack of socialist workers and go along and say, "Can I be a socialist worker?" And everyone would go, "Oh, the weird kid's a communist now". COW MOOS

I grew up in the country at a place called Tangambalanga near Mt Murramarang, Mudgee, MacKay, Tallangatta and all the other big, long names like that like Mudgegonga. In primary school I was not fitting in with all the other students. I was a funny, little geek on the side. I didn't play football. I was more interested in the library and parts of science and music. And when I was a tiny little whacker, little tacker, um, the local football, I was playing the 4ths, which are like the young teenagers, and the football went up and over my head that way

and up over my head that way. I studied the grass and the sheep dung. All the different parts of angles on the ground of how I could draw the way this sheep dung had gone there next to all the bits of grass. The ball went over my head and they ran up that way, then back that way.

I had absolutely no interest in the football at all. And, basically, you stood out. You had no interest in the norm or the culture of other people.

So I've been playing music since I was about four and a bit years old. And I've started performing music such as everything from weddings to church to gigs since I was about seven or eight years old. GOSPEL SINGING Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, we are going to have singers, singers and more singers. We are going to have people like the amazing chalk man, who's going to show you his amazing, wonderful song. We're gonna have the Club Wild All-stars perform cabaret. Club Wild was set up, like, yonks ago. Uh, it was more of a disco slash outing for people with...disabilities or a disability friendly zone. So the disabled or enabled community can actually have, not only a place to go, but they decide on how to run it. There is the outside normed world not there. There is no teasing or mocking because it doesn't exist in there. Nearly every Club Wild show, which is like a big nightclub, people with different disabilities can go completely nutty and just enjoy themselves. You would have done the... (HIS THROAT POPS) 'These guys have been with us since, like year dot. So we said, "All right. How about we form a splinter group? And we're forming The Divas.' I can't do that. LAUGHTER

SHE PLAYS TWO ELECTRIC NOTES HE PLAYS LIVELY PIECE What was that again? It was something in F. It was in the key of F, wasn't it? Try it again. There's a song about a bip? Akash, I know a song about a bip. Do you remember it? OK. Yes. # Bronwyn's in her wheelchair # And she's bipping all the way. # (PLAYS TUNE) OK, then. (CONTINUES TUNE) # ..bipping all the way as anyone can see # She's a lovely one till the end of time # I will adore her I'll make her mine. # # She's a fond one Ooh. Love you, Bronwyn. Mwah! (GIGGLES) Yeah. That's a cool little song there. of mostly young people High Fliers are a group with Asperger's, autism, ADD, on quite a regular basis, who meet together on a Wednesday. like once a month, roughly, where they understand one another. It's really nice to be somewhere finds friends easy. I don't think anybody Even romantic relationships? is even, I think, harder Romantic relationships because you've gotta find someone that wants to be with you as much as you want to be with them. I've heard a song before that's called Why Don't Women Like Me? "Why Don't Women Like Me?" Yeah, it's by an old comedian. Yeah. Oh, right. Don't know that song, James. who notices your qualities... But I'll tell you what, any woman I reckon, personally. Uh-huh. on to a good thing, Yes. Mm. Mm-hm. our options on that one. We might have to explore Can we start a separate support group with young, attractive Aspie women young, attractive Aspie men. who understand and they could do things together Then we could come together

and you never know. Yes, romantic relationships. Romantic relationships. that's in a wheelchair, Would you say to somebody "Look, you know, most of us walk, so get over it"?

SCATTERED LAUGHTER We wouldn't, would we? If somebody was visually impaired would we say, "I'm really sorry you're having problems seeing, but we live in a sighted world - get used to it"? No, we don't do that. We provide braille. We organise the world to make learning accessible for them. That's what we have to do for autism, too. I really believe that. My mum took me to a psychiatrist and he said, "Wendy, do you hear voices?" Oh, it's so clear... As clearly I remember it as now. I thought, "silly man", you know? So "Yes, I hear voices". Voices are meant to be heard. "What do these voices say to you?" And then he said, on whose voice it is". I said, "Well, it depends "Do you hear more than one?" And then he said, He then asked me... "Yes, I see things." He said, "Do you see things?" visual and auditory hallucinations So his conclusion that I had of literal questions was based on my understanding about voices and seeing. of schizophrenia. So I get a diagnosis that I spent huge chunks of time And it also meant in and out of mental institutions of my life. for that following 25 years that at the age of 42 So I'm very fortunate that explains who I am, I finally got a diagnosis on the autistic spectrum. (LAUGHS) which is that I am So, yeah.

when I see faces. I sort of blank out Like, I won't forget who you are while I'm talking to you but if I see you again you'll be out of context and I won't know who you are. When I was a kid I had no idea it even existed. I remember my mum coming home about body language. and saying something I'm like, "Oh, what's that?"

and the words were the meaning. I just thought people talked people's faces or bodies I didn't know that that other people could understand. actually said things For me, and for many of us on the spectrum for Wendy to look at the same time as listen. it's very, very difficult

I'm looking at you So to let you think in your general direction, I've learned to look usually at your eyebrows. you get quite upset Because, poor things, we're looking at you, don't you? if you don't feel like That's very hard for you, yes. things such as... And I don't understand "That person is bad

and moved their eyebrow up because they frowned and frowned on their face, and then they moved that they are going to rip me off," so, therefore, I must instantly judge have got this sixth sense. which other people, I gather, My bill has gone up nearly...

..getting close to $500,000 of what I've been ripped off in the music through the bunch of years.

I'm always surprised when people do things like that. Yeah, me too. It's happened so many times in my life, I would never be surprised, you would think It does very time. that I would expect it... Every time it comes as a surprise. Yeah. Every time it's like the first time.

what they wanted to do with me Uh, an older person would say in such a way, and because it was said "This is what I will do", then there is no... way you can escape that,

so, therefore, it will. because they've said it will happen, I hadn't any idea of what was happening for me. When I was a young child a man of 30 was having intercourse with me. All I knew was that it was painful, that I bled

and that my undies stuck to my bottom, which is not a pleasant thing to say, especially on camera. I hadn't any idea at all of what it was all about or what was happening. And I just knew this man would be waiting for me after school day after day after day, month after month. And, even now, when I make love to the person I love very much in my head I replay some of that stuff that happened as a kid.

And it's very difficult to put a lid on that and to actually see it as past. James got his license last year. Mm-hm.

in this family so far And James is the only person

the first time. who has ever got his license about that, weren't we? Mm. (LAUGHS) So we were pretty pleased VISOR SQUEAKS That's better. once I got my license. 'It was an exciting feeling It means I can just drive solo. an independent life.' I just wanted to live # I am cruel, cool like a cat. # I can trust objects. with objects. I actually make friends because they're all friends to me. And I can't part with anything The thing I don't like about objects, objects will actually come alive. I have this horrible fear that and stop being inanimate I'm frightened they'll betray me and gang up on me. and suddenly become alive # Coveting the toy of another boy. # I was nearly 32, Beatrice was 20. she related to my children, And I loved the way my kids adored her. we were firm, firm friends. Within six months

For me, personally, I'm absolutely 100% lesbian. I'm not at all drawn, sexually, to opposite sex. Never have been. And you say, "Well, why did you marry?" Well, somebody told me I ought to, and being quite literal as a 17-year-old, I took that seriously There's this young man in my life. and thought, "Oh, OK. a good thing, we should marry". We both like motorbikes. This is And we did. (CHUCKLES) to realise I wasn't a regular... I think, over time, I began ..whatever that is, a regular mum. they took kids swimming, Other mums drove cars, they ran the school tuckshop. they helped in the libraries, I can't do any of those things. to my own son about his autism When we tried to explain we used his sister. We said to Tim,

a different dress every day. "Katie likes to wear but that's what she likes to do. I know, it's not normal, She's constantly changing her mind. sorts of variety of foods. She eats the most awful And she won't grow out of it.

hang in there with her..." But we've just gotta LAUGHTER I'm going to have a baby soon. left to go. I have three and a half weeks Yeah, and you're gonna have a little girl. Yep. And you're gonna call her Alicia which might get 'Ali' for short. WOMAN LAUGHS Come here.

It's been two weeks since we walked, Mum. Mm. Last time we walked was with Beatrice. What's been great is the freedom of being yourself. There's been no taboos in our family. And knowing that I can just go to my mum and bring up absolutely anything and not be embarrassed about it and know that I won't embarrass Mum either I that that makes...

That's been a very good thing about having an Asperger's mother, if you could say it was...or if that's just a personality thing. Except you didn't like it... I remember you saying you brought some friends home, that I embarrassed you. You did used to do some funny things. (LAUGHS) Whose idea was it to walk over the grass? This is your idea to walk across the grass. Now I've got wet feet. I think you should carry me in your arms. Come on, be a man. Carry me in your arms. No. (LAUGHS) This was meant to be a joke, this was a joke. But Katie's husband, whose called Stuart, said if it has red hair or autism...

No. Ginger, not red. ..ginger hair or autism, you can have it. I was like, "Yes!" But they didn't mean it. No, it's just a joke. Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to chill, have fun, wiggle your tushies around... People with autism, it's not, "I'm gonna now act like myself". If we're acting like ourselves we'd be non-communicative and squash ourselves up in our own little reality and not talk to people. Get up, talk to your neighbours, talk to your friends... 'If I'm MCing Club Wild I'm copying all the other MCs, I'm not doing myself.' "Hello, Curious. How are you?" "Fine, thank you." 'My brain's got like 100 different behaviours of databases. You say, "Here's Dorothy. Dorothy works for the Department of Human Services, therefore I need to act semi-normal". Semi-normal, semi-normal... 1-8-B. Grab it. Put the disk in. Push play.

That means if she says, "How are you doing, Akash?" I go, "I'm actually quite well today. How are you doing? Love your office". GENTLE ACOUSTIC MUSIC The hopelessness is the worst thing about living here. Just being in this atmosphere where very few people want anything positive from life. Around here a lot of people have issues with addictions and have difficulties with boundaries. I'm not the world's most assertive person so I find it quite difficult to say, "Look, I can't cope with you being at my house all the time" or "I can't cope with you being drunk all the time" or whatever. When I was about 20 I was still involved in the socialist movement. And I met some people who were actually... They were more criminals than drug addicts and I was quite drawn to that darker side of life. I had this whole thing where I'd go to protests and just, like, be stupid with the sole wish of getting arrested and actually getting in trouble. And it became quite addictive. We found out about the robbery by Glenys driving home from work and hearing it on the radio and hearing her name mentioned, which was pretty horrendous. It was just astonishing to us. But it became obvious to us later that she was under the power of this guy that she was very frightened of, in fact. And he was a rather scary guy, too. Yeah. Unfortunately, as a result of my friendship with this man, I ended up in prison

and I spent probably, all up, about 18 months in prisons in my life. I think it's quite a trap for a lot of people with Asperger's who end up committing crimes and finding themselves in prison. I think the trap is the rules and the structure. So I really knew my place. I knew that if I set a foot out of line, you know, something would happen, there would be a consequence, which meant I could make sense of the world and also the routine of prison was really comforting for me. Um, I sort of got in quite a rut with the whole prison thing. And I would commit crimes just so I could go back to prison because I felt safe there. It was weird because I absolutely hated being there, you know, but I was really institutionalised.

I kept telling myself... Sorry. It's quite... ..hard to say this. Um, I kept telling myself that there's an end, that it won't be like this...

..say, 20 years from now it won't be like this. So somewhere between now and 20 years' time or even 10 years' time

something will change. GENTLE ACOUSTIC MUSIC # I've learned a lot about myself today... #

Do you know what's bizarre, is you bump into a bunch of auties anywhere and they've sort of got a similarity of taste. They're exactly the same... Pacific Cliff. Best & Less. Yes. (LAUGHS) My sister works at Best & Less. When the 'A' word comes up I get treated like I'm stupid. Yeah, you get that. You say, "I've got Asperger's". (SLOWLY) "Oh, so how does that affect you?" And then you've gotta amplify the voice. "Oh, that's sad!" Yes, I've now got hearing impairment in my ears. Thank you." It's like they're trying to sympathise, really. (LAUGHS)

# Seems we've found ourselves driving. # This is where I work.

And the job I do is serving customers petrol, gas, and, of course, diesel, checking oil, water and tyres if they ask for it. And everything's all good under here. What I do out here is a messy job. WOMAN: What do you like about this job? Um, I get to meet new people.

That's about it, really. # Driving down a gravel road # It's the same old road we were last year # You remember... # I'm 20 now. I'm turning 21 later this year. And I'll need to push Dad a little, go to VICRA make an enquiry, because Dad actually went over to the depot before and they said that you could... ..that you could get your 'Heavy Rigid' at 21. # It's the same old view I had growing up # But it's driving down gravel... # # Sitting on top of the world. # No. Second verse. # Watch us go by. # Yep. # Stare at us, why? # We are people who # Are just like you. # Now continue. I've done about 13 or 14 albums and I've never had anyone really listen to them but I'd love to be able to get people to hear what I can achieve and have people listen and go, "Ah, I can feel what you're saying there. I can understand your poetic music, I can feel your emotion that you can't express, that you can only speak through what you write". And that's my biggest problem. All of the emotions that I want people to feel never get heard.

OK, let's try that. # I have dreams and goals and... # They're my own. # Yay! Well done, well done! Yes! # Everyone in this world has different abilities # No two people are the same # We're all differently # Oh, yeah. # I have a cat called Sensei and she died and I actually grieved for her. And that's the only time I've grieved for anyone or anything in my whole life. I had a close friend who died and I felt really guilty, in a way, because I didn't miss her. And I realised her family were obviously very upset and her other friends were very upset, but I couldn't actually feel that grief. James was working on a piece of English writing. And he was talking about a character. And he said, "Oh, I want to write some more about this character. And you remember the character was mildly depressed. And you can remember why, can't you, Mum?" I said, "Is this the character whose mother had died?" "Yes." "James?" "Yes, Mum?"

"Don't you think he might be a bit more than mildly depressed if his mother had died?" "Oh, come on, Mum. If he was any more depressed than that he wouldn't be able to do anything, would he?" "James?" "Yes, Mum?" "Would you be depressed if I died?" "Mildly to moderately." Now, that's high praise, I think. (LAUGHS) I read about a bloke, a man,

who was diagnosed at 30, in his 30s, with Adult Asperger's syndrome.

But yet he was married, had kids. But when one of his kids fell over and hurt himself he just sat there, he didn't know how to react. But he says he'd have given everything to be a better dad and husband. After reading that, I sometimes feel, in my later years, I may not be a good father. And that's how I'd sometimes feel. Good. Yes. What's this hand doing? I think it's difficult not really knowing. Knowing that autism tends to be genetic, knowing that there's a higher probability isn't easy. And autism can be really hard work. Some of that is because people don't understand us. They're not sure what to do. It's a wonder she doesn't throw the whole lot up. She never does. No. (LAUGHS) I've certainly grown up with a mum who's an amazing woman. And her autism... If she wasn't autistic she wouldn't be the person she is today. I don't want her to be any different. And if she was autistic I would deal with it, you know? I don't see it as bad. There's blessings around it. If Alicia turned out to be on the spectrum, yeah, we would just set things up for her so she would learn and develop to her best potential and her future would look rosy, in my opinion. I wouldn't think of that as a hindrance to Alicia becoming all that she can be at all. MEAT SIZZLES at where I live and they are... We have friends around and they're talking loudly There's too many people talking and they're going... I'm hearing nothing. My head is hearing... (GARBLES) All I can hear is noise. It goes in a typical autie mode.

It's exhausting. Yeah, it is. And I have to sleep afterwards. when you're so overwhelmed There are times there's no time to process. in the past I have lashed out. If someone's in my space, I'd feel that I had to be aggressive or I had to hurt someone else. so I either had to hurt myself I knew it was the wrong thing to do. And I felt really bad cos And I could see it upset people. there were other things I could do. But I just didn't realise Whereas if something ever happens and I want to get away from it all all I do is I just go for a walk. Well, I walk around Warrnambool basically just to spend some time alone, alone. Yes, my "James" time, yeah. # One night in a dream I saw # And you seemed so shiny and blue # Down the winding roads # That nobody knows # With dust and bones. # So sometimes I'll have a bit of a panic attack when I'm down the town, just judging the distance, making sure things are safe, working out how to weave my way between people without knocking into anyone. I've had a couple of occasions been rocking, flapping, where I've, literally, as they went along the street. people were avoiding me

I was drunk or something. They must have thought CAR HORNS HONK in my own home. Those sorts of things don't happen You don't see autism here at home. when everything is so fast... But in the world outside, MUSIC BOX TINKLES RAPID FOOTSTEPS getting into the normal world Sometimes, for a person who has autism pure chaotic nightmare. is an absolute 'A shopping centre or a supermarket-type shop has lots and lots of aisles and lots and lots of people pushing trolleys

and children that might cry

and bright lights, usually florescent lights.' 'Grab every sound around you and then bring every sound just right next to you. You hear not only one trolley. You pick up on every trolley.' 'Everything, for me, is in slow motion because there's so much coming towards me that, again, I have to be careful that it doesn't just close me down. All I do is walk out.' Ten years ago, I was very stuck in that expectation of being, you know, a criminal. I didn't care about other people. I didn't care, you know?

I didn't care about myself. to have aspirations for the future. It wasn't part of who I was wanted different things for myself. And as time went on, I sort of I didn't want that negative stuff. I got to a point where I wanted positive things. that clicked in her mind First of all, one of the things The world can change for me". was "I can change. that life could be different, As soon as she realised she worked like hell. (CHUCKLES) thank you all for turning up. I've just gotta say, I really appreciate your support. I'm quite happy to sign it. Those of who bought the book That's my very brief speech. I enjoyed writing it. I hope everyone who gets one enjoys it. OK. Thank you. APPLAUSE I want to get to a point where the past is completely irrelevant. And I'm sort of almost there. And I think writing the book was really helpful. When I wrote the book I sort of let go of the past and I stopped holding it inside me and I gave it to the world. So it no longer owned me, you know? I owned it. I think that was really helpful. That's sort of been the start of where I'm at now, and hopefully I can keep going. GENTLE MUSIC # Well, I woke up just the same # As I did any other day # Though I remember dreaming # None could I recall clearly # And yet I felt it in my bones # Think I dreamed about my home. # because Beatrice has Asperger's. 'It is interesting impacts on her differently. But her autism of relating to people, She likes the idea

but it terrifies her.' No. Did you hear the frogs? 'People see us as being very able that we're not able in. and they don't see the situations as a team Beatrice and I are working very well

a lot of each other's difficulties. and we compensate for and protected environment But it's in a very sheltered in lots of ways. the maps, Beatrice sorts out the routes, how to drive, how to get there. I never have to think about it. and have my talk written. All I've gotta is get myself packed classically autistic And some kids start out but you look at them again at 14, they look more like Aspies. We're changing all the time. When I was a kid I didn't... of words ..have a lot of understanding till I was much older. very well till I was about nine. I didn't really read or write # Harry says they were small # Though he stood ten feet tall. # replied to yet, is saying, This one, which I haven't "I was at your presentation. who is two, two and a half, My little boy Joel he doesn't have any speech. he may be autistic,

I'd like to know when we speak to him." whether you think he may understand I think, for a parent. And that's the most worrying thing, that this baby will be born They have a dream for their child and will love them and welcome them. these little people with autism And quite often are just everywhere in the world... attached to parents They are absolutely for support, and they're looking to parents they just don't understand but there's so much the colour of a room changes that as soon as comes into their home or somebody else it's like everything's different. "Are we in the same place?" Some children get so stressed at not being able to work out where they are that they vomit and bang their heads against walls and... It's very distressing.

So I'll have to write a response to that a bit later but they're the sort of questions that parents tend to write. "Wendy? Wendy? Please look this way. Wendy? Wendy? Please come and play. I turn my head that glitters blue, green and red. and look instead at all You'll like it here, Father speaks. Come and play with Billy. Inside my head my brain just freaks. How can they be so silly? Why would I want to do this thing? My mind can find no reason. with a sparkly string. Please leave me This gives me such a feeling." (LAUGHS) Yeah. For me, the love thing is very hard.

and they keep saying "I love you" So you're going out with someone Me, too. Whatever." (LAUGHS) and you're like, "Uh, yeah. Um, so that's very hard they expect attachment, because they expect love, of giving it. and I'm not really capable go out with someone So I think I'd only really

at the moment, with Asperger's or autism we've got something in common because at least

know we're we're coming from. and we, to some extent,

who are on the autistic spectrum I know lot and lots of people

healthy sexual kind of appetite, who have a very normal, of what to do about that. but lack the know-how is, in one way, So the book I've written to answer simple questions like, how the hell do you do it?" (LAUGHS) "Flirting - I've never asked anyone out. With girls, I've had with a girl But the only contact was at the Year 12 Graduation. I finished school in Year 11, to the Year 12 Grad. but I was invited got me dancing. And a lot of the girls And when I was leaving, I ever kissed a girl, as well. it was actually the first time Mm. WOMAN: That's exciting. my Masters in Fine Art, Well, I've just finished which, um, is a great relief. on studying anything else I'm not planning for a considerable time, if ever. So I applied for this job ages ago and I didn't really expect to get it. "Come in for an interview" And then I got an email saying, so I did the interview. And, amazingly, I actually got offered the job. But it's conditional to having a police check and I have a fairly extensive police history from... ..albeit several years ago. So I'm a bit worried that I might not have it. So I'm not celebrating yet, you know? GENTLE MUSIC Look, if I don't get the job I'll deal with that when it happens. I'm definitely moving out, though. I've made a decision that I'm moving out before next winter. I need to be out of here. LAUGHTER Jokes are something. James has trouble understanding jokes and sarcasm. Ha ha ha ha. Hee hee hee hee. He came up to us one day and goes, "Mum, Mum, Nicola, listen to this. What do you get when you run over a box of vegetables? A pizza. Get it?" I went, "Well..." Well, before we start we say who we are and we saw where we're from. So I'm James and I was born and raised in central Warrnambool.

I'm Sue and I'm from Warrnambool. ALL CHEER I ran into Sue in town. And we just started talking and then she told me about laughter yoga. She said it was laughter and I just said, "I don't get jokes". And she says, "There's no jokes involved". Breathing in to forget. ALL: To forget. Breathing in to love. ALL: To love. To be loved. ALL: To be loved. When I told you the joke about crossing the kangaroo with the sheep what was difficult about that one? You know, when I said, "What do you get if you cross a kangaroo with a sheep?" BOTH: A woolly jumper. And my mind, the mind went "funny". And you said you did get it, all except the bit about the kangaroo. All except about the kangaroo, yeah. ALL WHOOP AND LAUGH It's a way of learning from other people. Cos when I first joined Laughter I thought they were just a bunch of...

..laughing maniacs. I must explain this to my friends over here. This is the sprinkler laugh, how I give everyone a good soaking and everyone has to duck to avoid getting wet. Now, are you all ready? Go! ALL LAUGH WILDLY

I am different and I need to be treated in a different way, I suppose, I suppose you could say. Go easy on the jokes. That's all, that's about it. Go easy on the jokes. EERIE ELECTRONIC MUSIC If I'm in my own zone doing music I'd lock myself out for 24, 48 hours.

In my brain I've written all of the tracks. If I'm writing a song that has 30-odd plus instruments I know all of the instruments, where they are, how they're going, what I'm writing. But my other external world has turned off. Part of the communication, the acting role of... "Hi, how are you doing, today? Good to see you." All that acting role is totally turned off. When I'm in my happy little autistic zone I might look like an absolute nutter

but my brain is thinking. My creativity and my music, my art, is flowing. But when I'm not in that and I'm acting to try and be normal... What is normal? Who we actually didn't have last week who is amazing, Tara. Hello. Tara is a spectacularly brilliant singer who is also from a similar species as myself which is the Aspergian species. We're both weird. (LAUGHS) Sorry. (LAUGHS)

# Music, talk about, music. # (BOTH LAUGH) And the funny thing is when we first met each other we sort of, or after that other workshop, our brains were very quickly... BOTH: ..connected. And it was... For the other three Divas I think it was incredibly scary. (PLAYS WAH-WAH ON ELECTRIC HARMONICA) I do that, too! I do that, as well. (LAUGHS) I think that actually could fit in. He's a total Aspie. Absolutely. This is what Aspies go through. Nutter. It's important to have someone who... Akash to go... ..for somewhere to go. Like, if you have doubts you can always go to Akash and he'll give you advice. (LAUGHS) That will never die, that connection. WOMAN: Hello? Hi, Annie. It's Jeanette. Hi, how are you? I'm good, I'm good! Guess what? I found out I got the job in Canberra! Yay! I know! So what are you doing? You're going to Canberra? I'm going to Canberra to be a public servant.

Mm. Can't you do that here? I can, but I got a job with the Commonwealth public service so I have to move to the national office. You're gonna be so proper! 'Oh, I'm gonna be frighteningly proper. I'm not sure it's healthy for me.

I know that I'm about as criminal as the Pope, you know? My friends and family know that about me. But, obviously, a big government department wouldn't know that. And what happened was they did an investigation, they read my book, they said, "There's no reason this woman shouldn't work here". So that is a really good sign that not only do myself and people that know me know that I'm not a danger to the world, but the wider community sort of agrees. ALL: Cheers, cheers, cheers. Anything else in there? Uh, no. I don't think... No, that's all going with me. A lot of hard work. (LAUGHS)

DOORS CREAK Well, that's it. I'm off to the airport. I'm going to Canberra. Yay! (LAUGHS) JAZZY PIANO Oh, yeah! Woo! # This is about a boy that I had a long time ago # He wasn't tall, dark or handsome This is for you, Johnny... # Again, again. Slow it down a bit.

(SASSILY) "This is about a guy." Hm! You know? (CHEESY AMERICAN ACCENT) "This is about a guy years ago, you know? Not really that great. Nothing amazing. And he had an affair!

Girlfriend. Mm! This one is for you. Go out the door. No more. Mm-hm." (ALL LAUGH) Yeah, I love that. # I had a boy years ago # Who didn't treat me right # No, no, no, no # This song is for you # Might get some clarity Why are you making me angry? # You give me butterflies # Tears are running down my eyes # Bye, bye, bye... # 'These guys never knew what it was like to do a professional gig. They'd done disability gigs.' # I'm an independent woman # Bye, bye bye... # 'So in the last few months they've done a gig in the Melbourne Museum, the MCG, Rod Laver Arena, they've done some very different type of gigs. I think that's their whole lot in the future. For these guys, maybe they can learn what it's like to get into the other world, to try and find a bit of the real-life stuff.' # Tears are running down my eyes. # 'There's a lot of people, I think, with autism and Asperger's and a lot of disabilities they feel pretty terrible about themselves after a while. When we feel like we have that moment of being recognised and appreciated by an audience I think a lot of that, for a while, goes.' # Bye, bye, bye. # I'm gone. I introduced Caetlin to James. I met her family through a work colleague and she told me that Caetlin had Asperger's. And she told me about the family. And I rang Caetlin's mother and we had a long talk. CHEERING I call this. James! Bad luck, Nicola.

Get a strike, James. I'm going to try and nail this one. Think carefully, James. Carefully, carefully. CHEERING Well done, James. (LAUGHS) CHEERING 'Yeah, the bowling with Caetlin went well. And she scored a few strikes, as well.' Thanks, James, for that. No problems. We had fun. WOMAN: Do you think that you'll stay in contact or what? Yeah, I'll probably stay in contact with her because I've got her number. I've also got her mum's number, as well. WOMAN: Ah! There you are. Beatrice and I went through a ceremony called a 'union', just like getting married. And that happened for us in Colchester, in Essex, in the UK. I was actually born in Colchester. So it was a bit special. WOMAN: Hello! You can't go in with that bag, Wend. What? You cannot go in with that bag. Why not? It's green. Beatrice proposed to me. She actually got down on her knee and said, "Will you marry me?" I thought she was teasing, you know? But she meant it. She said, "I'd really like us to... official and public and..."

Yeah. Well, I didn't even need to think about that. "Of course I will." Sorry, sorry. Hi, Mick. Hi, Al. WOMAN: Hi, Beatrice. Hi, Dinah. Hello. Pointing a camera. You're looking extremely glamorous. Cos we've been together for nearly 25 years

and I love her to bits. I call upon those present... witness that I take you to be my lifelong partner.

I'd like to offer you my congratulations and wish you every happiness.

When I was younger I couldn't have imagined being able to love somebody and share my life with somebody in the way that I do. I used to look at people who were friends with each other and think how interesting that was to observe.

But I couldn't work out how they managed to achieve it. And no, it was elusive. So, yeah, it's amazing to find someone who accepts me for who I am, loves me and who I can love back. Every day lovely. GENTLE ACOUSTIC MUSIC # I've lived some in lots of places # None long enough to call them home # It's hard to keep track of the numbers # Streets and suburbs keys and phones # I remember... # I've been here for about six months. And I really enjoy my job. It's good, it's challenging, and I like all the protocols, as well. It's a very good job for an Aspie cos there are so many rules and things you have to follow and procedures and things that you're supposed to do and it makes life a lot easier, so it's good. I can hardly believe where she is now, actually. She's... I mean, she's a public servant now, which is astonishing, really. She was a smart little girl and she's personable, she's funny.

And that's the picture...

..that was in my mind all the time. And I knew that it was possible

for her to get through that and carry on because that, to me, was who she was and who she is, not what was in between. So I just got home from work. Busy day, hard at work doing what I do, which is, you know, public servanting. (LAUGHS) And I've come home and I'm having a nice glass of wine.

Just one. I often just have one glass of wine.

And when I come home from work sometimes if I'm very daring I have two. It's a nice New Zealand sauvignon blanc. It's very pleasant.

It's much easier for us to understand autism than to make people who have autism be the same as us because it's not gonna happen.

And there's no reason why it should happen when it's so much easier for us to be a bit more understanding, I think. Mm. What do you think about that, James? Yeah, good. I didn't embarrass you, did I? Not really. Shall I try a bit harder? (LAUGHS) No, please. No, thank you. # Watch us go by # Stare at us, why? # We are people who # Are just like you # We can't even get # The world to move an inch # Scream from the top # What's there to see? # Everyone on the chorus! # Everyone in this world # Has different abilities # No two people are the same # We're all differently # Oh, yeah # Everyone in this world # Has different abilities

# No two people are the same # We're all differently. # Everybody! # Everyone in this world

# No two people are the same # We're all differently # Everyone in this world # Has different abilities # No two people are the same We're all differently

# We'll all differently. # CHEERING AND APPLAUSE # I've lived some in lots of places

# None long enough to call them home # It's hard to keep track of the numbers # The streets and suburbs keys and phones # I remember parts of all of them

# I remember hidden rooms # I used to sit out on that balcony # Again, it must be time to move # It must be time to move # I used to sit out on that balcony # Thinking it must be time to move # It must be time to move. # Closed Captions by CSI

And as I said, we were extended the privilege of being invited into four people's lives, and I think we're very much the beneficiaries of that. I invite you to visit our website for more about this program. And please let us know your thoughts on our message board. Next week - we're about to travel 400 years back in time to a defining moment in the stormy relationship between religion and science. The accused stands trial for one reason and one reason only - he defied the teachings of the Church. I'm not quite sure what a Pope's doing here at all. LAUGHTER And you called Galileo 'a pompous ass'. 'One extraordinary array of churchmen, scientists, historians, lawyers and philosophers have assembled here at the University of New South Wales to re-try Galileo.' I was surprised at just how far I had gone. One vain man supported by another. How do you plead? The Trials Of Galileo - you mustn't miss it. Until then, goodnight. Closed Captions by CSI

This program is not subtitled APPLAUSE AND CHEERING 12 September 2006, a night of utter triumph. Wonderful. Wonderful. So exciting. Thrilled to be here. Absolutely brilliant. Fantastic. The opening of Canada's first modern opera house, the Canadian Opera Company's magnificent new home. This hall really works. It's like Boulogne, in that sense. In this case, it's you and what's on stage and it's all held together by the hall. (Speaks French) 'The Four Seasons Centre For The Performing Arts' - An acoustic wonder, meeting the test of opera's greatest challenge, Wagner's entire 'Ring Cycle'. Four works, four directors, 15 hours of opera. It's a moment. And to catch both the, you know, the 'Valhalla' of the building and the 'Valhalla' of Wagner at a time when everything is coming into play. I wouldn't have done 'The Ring' without an orchestra that had got to this point. So, it's an extraordinary moment. This is the meeting point of two mighty processes,

the making of a magnificent opera house and the production of the massive Wagnerian classic. In the opera world Canada has come of age, now with its own home of the gods.

SINGS FROM 'DAS RHEINGOLD' (Sings from 'Das Rheingold') Some of the modern houses that you get in Germany, are very different in character to say somewhere like La Scala Milan,

or Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, which are the really old-fashioned, old-style theatres. And some of the more modern ones

present slightly more acoustical problems. But I have to say that this theatre here in Toronto is fantastic for sound. It is absolutely brilliant. It's a miracle because it's so new. Normally it takes a while for theatres to settle down and just sort of get used to being worked in. But this, on the first day, the first orchestral rehearsal was as though we'd all been singing in it for years. It's a miracle of achievement, I would say. I think we said to everyone that we were looking to build an opera house which was there for the acoustics and was also an intimate space with wonderful sight lines, that was a place which one felt

was in every way an intimate theatre. I think we started with that.

This house has been set out for people to enjoy opera, to enjoy themselves, but not necessarily to be awed by an architecture which has no relevance to the things that are going on. So everything there is in service to

the purpose of the building in the first place. What we have not set out to do is to build a signature building. We haven't started out to say, we're going to build a Bilbao, or a Sydney. Sydney's a good example. The problem with Sydney is, it's one of the most exciting things to see, when you come in an aeroplane to land, or when you go into that harbour, but it's a dreadful house inside. Around the world,

there are not that many performance spaces designed specifically for opera. In North America, barely two dozen. One of them would rise here, on a former parking lot in downtown Toronto. Years of planning and design, then three years of construction on a budget of just over $180,000,000 and this barren space would be transformed into one of the top opera houses in the world. Sketching something on paper generates ideas that you couldn't have thought of without that. And so the first sketch represents the transparency on University Avenue, the encapsulation by the forms on the sidewalks, on the streets, the encapsulation of the hall in the centre. All those ideas are there, certainly not worked out.