Why do I fall asleep over coffee?

This is a story of those spiky skill sets that autistic people have. I have already written about there being both more people with both dyslexia and hyperlexia with autism than is found in the general neuro-typical population. Here is another one. Today I drank a coffee again and fell asleep. I keep doing this as I am insensitive to caffeine, if just does not affect me that much. I used to joke at work that I was not human until after my second cup of coffee of the day. I’m not addicted, I can go without coffee without any withdrawal jitters.

The picture above is not an advert as I am not making any money for it, but it is my local coffee shop, and in my opinion the best coffee in Huddersfield, even better than Coffeevolution in the Town Centre. This is a shout out for Bex’s Coffee Shop in Marsh, Huddersfield.

I drink coffee because I like coffee. I do not get the buzz from coffee, not at standard strength. I like the taste unadulterated,I joke that I drink it as dark as my moods and as black as my memories.

My first thought on this was to search the internet for coffee and autism. Autism guide said, “I strongly believe that most people with autism are hypersensitive to caffeine,” with little evidence other than that she is autistic and hypersensitive. I am the opposite, with caffeine insensitivity. Spiky skill sets.

It takes a lot of coffee to affect me. A story from 2018:

I was having difficulty with my energy supplier. I had changed supplier six or seven months previously, the UK has a strange system that with one electricity cable going into the house and one gas pipe we can choose which company we pay for the energy. These companies make deals with the companies who generate the power. I had chosen a very inexpensive supplier, Toto Energy, one, I was to find out, whose customer service was non-existent. I had agreed to pay around £100 per month for electricity and gas combined. I got charged £100 each for electricity and gas, double what was agreed.

All previous energy suppliers had after a few months if I was in credit sent me a rebate and adjusted the amount I paid. Confident that the discrepancy would have been sorted out at the end of the quarter, I did nothing. My mistake. What happened at the end of the quarter was that I was put on a new scheme where I had to pay 50% extra for my power in the six winter months to cover higher costs and only 50% of the amount in winter. It was winter. I was now paying three times the agreed cost.

Thus really has something to do with coffee, I’ll get there.

Summer arrived. At last I contacted Toto to get my account sorted. I was told that I was £2,500 in credit. I was told that I had to leave £200 in the account, but it was not explained why, and that I should have the rest of what I had overpaid returned and the bill reduced in 28 days.

On day 29 nothing.

Again I called Toto. Again I waited over 40 minutes to get through. another 40 minutes of their hold music, Africa by Toto, on repeat. I was not given an apology I was given excuses. I was told that the 28 days was not 28 calendar days but 28 working days. I explained that that was nonsense, that my previous job had been with a bank and that the time given for financial transactions is actual days, not working days.

Excuse number two: I was told that the call centre that handled my complaint was not part of Toto but a third party.I explained that being a third party was irrelevant, they were representing the company. I told them it was possible for them to get the money into my account within four hours. I agreed to two days. These were working days.

The stress was kicking in. I mentioned at the top of this post that I have autism, I started to get regular meltdowns, these not only exhausted me but also caused lack of sleep.

Three days later nothing.

This time I could not get through. Over an hour of hearing, “As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti,” on repeat. Kilimanjaro cannot be seen from the Serengeti. I am now fed up that not only do Toto Energy lie to me, their hold music does too. I give up on the call and find online the email for Toto energy. I compose a long explanation, and sneakily include their CEO in a BCC that cannot be read by the recipient. This works, the CEO contacts me and promises to sort the account.

Now back to coffee.

A few days later is our churches weekend away. Already exhausted from having meltdowns daily or more frequent. The added pressure of being amongst people constantly, especially the noise of refectory meals and the “Let us break into small groups,” which is as autism unfriendly as it gets. Using break times for solitary walks in the grounds gets me through without meltdown, as does coffee. In the bar area is a coffee machine which is free. I put a mug underneath and hit the “espresso” button four times just to stay awake. As I said, caffeine has little effect on me. Dan, one of our students tries this — Caffeine does affect him, and he is extrovert at the best of time. Oops, I should not have mentioned it.

Back to Toto.

I get back from the church weekend.The money I was owed is in my account. The direct debits are down to the level first agreed when I changed supplier, but not to the lover figure agreed in the first phone call.I continue to the end of the 12 month contract and change suppliers again, after more hassle with Toto on getting my over-payments back and there is a clear discrepancy on the final reading. It takes months to sort out. Within a year Toto energy had ceased trading.

All this to illustrate that some people with autism are hypersensitive to caffeine and some like me are insensitive to it, another example of spiky skill sets. For a hypersensitive point of view, Autism Guide is here.

Just thinking back on my dealings with Toto Energy has made me tired, I need a Bex’s coffee.

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