Geeks Vs Loneliness: Doctor Who, autism, and finding home

Alix is 16, lives her life with high-functioning autism, and wants to have a chat about Doctor Who...

Welcome to Geeks Vs Loneliness. This is our place on the site where we stop for a minute, and try and natter about things that may be affecting you, or people you know. As always, we don’t have magical solutions, much though we wish we had. Furthermore, not everything we write here is going to be helpful to everyone who reads it. But hopefully, across the series, there’s something that can help. If nothing else, know there’s a wonderful community of people in the comments who want to talk and help, and that – for what it’s worth – us behind these words are rooting for you.

Let us stop for some hugs.

Moving on. Earlier this year, Anne Brown wrote to us. Her daughter is nearly 16, and is, in her words, “bright as they come”. Alix is high-functioning autistic, who left school in the end due to bullying, to be home-educated. In the words of Alix and Anne, and they asked that we used this description, Alix has “the natural social skills of a dead pot plant”.

As Anne told us, “one of the main things that helped her to find the courage to tackle the outside world again was her love of Doctor Who, and that led to a chance meeting with other geeks her own age who admired her artwork and showed her that she would have been welcomed and accepted”.

Ad – content continues below

What’s more, Alix has now written us an article. And good lord, we think Alix is brilliant. Not only can she write, but she’s wonderfully open, and keen to help others. We think Alix is a terrific human being, and we proudly hand the floor over to her…

At school, I was always the odd one out. Being autistic means you can’t be like everyone else, and some people are afraid of people being different. When people are scared, they gang up on whoever they are afraid of. There were people in every year that picked on me, and in four out of five years they were allowed to get away with it. By the time I left school, I was feeling like an unwanted freak.

Even when I was out of school, I couldn’t get away from them. They threw stones, and yelled threats until I didn’t feel safe anywhere, or want to do anything. In fact, I felt like an ape.

Cut to 2010, and series five of Doctor Who, right at the start of Steven Moffat’s tenure as showrunner. Mum encouraged me to watch it because she thought I would love it as much as she did when she was my age. I watched it from the start of the season, and was immediately entranced by Matt Smith’s incarnation of the Doctor.

During the season, there was one story that stood out for me.

Cold Blood stood out because there was a definite fear of the ‘other’ between human and Silurian. This fear drove people to do things that they regretted when the pressure was off. Also, there was one line which felt like it was written for me. You have to be “the best of humanity”, no matter how you are treated.

Ad – content continues below

I’ve tried to be the best I can be ever since, and watched it multiple times.

In 2013, I was getting deeply into Who, and Mum suggested Den Of Geek to me, so I could hang out with fellow Whovians, somewhere safe, where I would be just like everybody else. That’s how I heard about the 50th anniversary special, and what monsters would be in it.

By then, we had worked out that what was happening was hate-crime, something which hits autistic kids and adults alike. Mum and I watched The Day Of The Doctor time and time again. There is a line which summed up what we felt about hate-crime. “No more”. Mum could handle the Council and Police, who were at first blindly on the side of the yobs.

In that year, I found out about the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff. As Cardiff was a long way away, it encouraged me to stay away from home for the first time, at a quiet farm in Wales. It turned out to be amazing, and we’ve gone back.

In 2014, the Experience was shut for updating, so we couldn’t visit in September. However, there were filming locations we could visit like Puzzlewood and Plantasia in Wales. That taught me to be a little more flexible. During the 2014 stay, I was getting into drawing the monsters in the series. When we went to Blaenavon, which is a mining museum in Wales, I had my drawing book and was drawing what I thought was a Skovox, because I wasn’t all that interested. There was a school trip going on that day and a boy from the trip spotted my artwork, and told me it was great, which nobody at my old school had done. I think that was the last straw for being a doormat, because I realised that it wasn’t me, it was the bullies who picked on me.

Between 2010 and now, I went to the Dalek invasion at Bovington, and at Yeovil, and loved being among my own tribe. These were small, local events involving local groups, and they were fun. In 2015, Comic Con came to Bournemouth for the first time, and yet again, Mum suggested a visit to it, with Dad. It was an extremely busy, noisy place, but I learned that if I can do Comic Con, I can do anything involving large numbers of people.

Ad – content continues below

What it means to be a geek is different for everyone, but to me it means you can hang out with people like you in a yob-proof website, and in the worlds provided by writers of science fiction and fantasy movies, TV shows and books. The closest thing to a yob on the site is an Internet troll. Don’t feed them by responding to their comments and always be the best of Humanity. I’ve learnt not to feed them, and most of the time, I’m happy because I’m among the best of Humanity being on the site.

Thanks, as always for reading…