Aspies: How to Make Your Point Politely.

“No!” I blurted out.

The professor and the other students in the class stared at me, appalled.  In true Aspie style, I had directly expressed my complete and total disagreement with the lecturer’s statement.

Fortunately, that professor was open-minded and willing to listen to counter-statements, but in many classes that outburst would have netted me a failing mark for the semester.  People in general, and especially those in positions of authority like professors and managers, supervisors and bosses often do not like to hear dissenting opinions.

As Aspies, while we need not ever remain silent when we have an opinion which we wish to express, it is important that we express it in a manner which is most likely to be effective.

Consider this: If your response is considered confrontational, it is likely that the listener will simply shut down and shut you out. Would it not be more advantageous to encourage the listener to engage in dialogue with you?

So what is the most effective way of NOT agreeing with someone’s statement, and at the same time putting forward your own questions about their position?

A friend of mine, when he was in university learned to say, “It seems to me…”  This allowed him to advance his own opinion without either directly agreeing or disagreeing.  The beauty of this opening is that it allows for the advancing of a personal point of view along with evidence that backs up that point of view, in a non-threatening fashion.

“It became a sort of a trademark of mine,” he said.  “And it helped me navigate my way through some pretty touchy conversations.”

I have also heard of a very successful person who, when questioning practices in the workplace, would use lead-ins such as “I wonder…” and “I’ve noticed…”

This is a far less abrasive approach than exclaiming “No!”, or saying something like “Why do you do it that way?” or “Shouldn’t you …?”  Both of which are considered excessively confrontational by non-Aspies. (Go figure!)

When you convey your position in a non-threatening fashion it allows the listener to ask to have it clarified, to assimilate it, consider it, and perhaps ultimately, even to change their position.

Score one for the Aspies!

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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Monkmania: An Aspie Kind of Guy.

Eric Monkman is a young man who has captured the hearts of the British public.

A member of Wolfson College, Cambridge, this young Canadian from Oakville, Ontario is a member of the University Challenge team.

Recently he caused quite a stir when the popular, televised quiz show revealed Monkman’s idiosyncratic facial expressions, his fierce voice and aggressive style of firing out answers.

He wore the same outfit everyday, only changing it up by tucking his collar in or not.  People noticed.

Monkman responded by saying he wants to save his mental focus for more important things.

He has been described as having a grin “like an emoji for a forced smile” and an oversized titanium jaw.  He is noted for bellowing out his answers like a roaring sergeant major.

All these attributes of this man endear him to our Aspie hearts.  How wonderful to see someone so perfectly Aspie-ish capture the hearts of millions.

I am not saying Monkman has Asperger’s Syndrome.  I’m only saying if he did, he could be our poster boy.

See videos about him at #Monkman and on You Tube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdVTg04nTb0

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

M

 

 

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Asperger’s/Autism Diagnosis: How Does It Feel?

 My daughter phoned.  Her oldest son had been diagnosed ADD, ADHD, had been on Ritalin, and barely eight years old, had been the subject of repeated bullying and school yard ostracism.  “It’s Asperger’s Syndrome, Mom, and you and I have all the symptoms!”

That was seventeen years ago, but I vividly recall the conversation.

As we discussed the list of traits of people with Asperger’s, relief flooded through me.  At last I knew what it was that was “wrong” with me!

Anger came later, as I processed the information and with it, an understanding of my nature and how the very people who were close to me had taken advantage over the years.

And then grief.  Oh yes, I grieved the loss of the possibility of ever being ‘normal’.  I grieved for the child I had been, for the loneliness and isolation of all those years of trying to join our societal mainstream and just not getting it.

And I felt rage, too.  A deep anger at being shoved aside, at being made an onlooker, a non-participant, when I so poignantly wanted to belong.

And pride.  Pride in my ability to accept, even as a teenager, that the best I could be was ME, with all my faults and failings, my oddities, my strengths and weaknesses.  Yes, Asperger’s made me an easier target for my abuser, but the different way of thinking helped me to end that abuse as well.

And so I felt joy.  The joy and satisfaction of finally belonging somewhere.  Of finally finding that there were others, many others, like me.  Of understanding the close bond between my daughter and I.  Of finally feeling that I was, in my own newly recognized niche, a part of a larger entity.  I was not alone in my weirdness. in my unusual way of perceiving situations, patterns and people.

As an Aspie, I was fine, just as I was.

I still struggle some days.  As one of my friends says, “Margaret will always default to the Aspie truth.”  It’s his way of recognizing our straight forward approach to life.

He also says, “I know your intentions are always good.  That’s a no-brainer.”  So no matter how wrong something turns out, he understands that it was not my intention to create havoc.  This is the most reassuring response to my Asperger’s that I have ever had, and I bask in the glow of it.

Acceptance.  That’s what we all need.  To not only be accepted, but to be celebrated for who we are.

As I note in my book,  Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen,  it is easy to forget the most important thing:  You are perfect, just as you are.

The celebration starts in you.

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Autism and Asperger’s Resources For Us To Share.

If you’ve read my book, Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen,  and even if you haven’t, you may be aware that information about autism and Asperger’s was non-existent as far as the public was concerned, until the late 1980’s.  Even then it was sporadic.

So how amazing, how practical and helpful to have an internet full of candid, authoritative and informational resources.  I am talking about blogs, web zines, and You Tube videos, like the one above.  Here are just a few:

The Greatest Adventure: This blog is primarily aimed at allistic (non-autistic) parents of autistic children who will most likely have little to no prior experience of autism and who are looking for encouragement, information and support through shared experiences. https://thegreatestadventuresite.wordpress.com

Autism Parenting Magazine:  As a parent of a teen or young adult on the autism spectrum, you have probably had to focus most of your attention on getting all the pieces in place to ensure your student has a successful transition. Whether your son or daughter is going to college, entering the workplace, or learning to live independently, being a special needs parent entails more than many people realize.

  • Expert advice from our team of respected professionals.

  • Solutions for dealing with sensory issues.

  • Advice for handling transitions.

  • Therapies to help develop your child’s potential.

  • The latest news and research that can help your family.

  • Real life stories from parents of children on the spectrum as well as from adults with autism to inspire and bring hope.

My Unexpected Journey: Join me as I navigate Autism, Homeschooling, Depression & Anxiety; all with God’s help.                       http://www.myunexpectedjourney.net/?p=29

Autism in Our Nest  We are an autism family. We are one loving unit, and autism is a part of who we are.

These are just a few of the available resources, but enough to keep you focused for now.  Any feedback?  Please feel free to contact me at:

margaretjean64@gmail.com

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

 

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Aspies: Having a Purpose–Key to Health and Happiness?

In my book, Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen, I show the vividness of life when purpose is found and pursued, and the sense of disconnection a teen has when that purpose is lost.

And if you ask some Aspies, they will tell you the thing they know most about happiness, is how elusive it is.

Having a purpose can change that.  It will not only fuel your passion and get you out in the world doing something meaningful, “Purpose” also, according to Dr. Patricia A. Boyle PhD, a neuropsychologist with the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center, “somehow gives your brain resilience”.

And according to another study by cardiologist Randy Cohen of St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital in New York, Purpose can protect your heart health and contribute to your longevity.

So what is “Purpose” and how do you find it?  One thing at least two people agree on, is that action is the key.

Passion plus Daily Action Equals a Purposeful Life” writes author Shannon Kaiser in her article Three Unexpected Ways to Find Purpose.

In Mark Manson’s article, Seven Strange Questions that Help You Find Your Life Purpose,  he states important truths about purpose-finding.  “Get off your ass and discover what feels important to you,” Manson directs, adding:  “Embrace embarrassment.”  and “Everything sucks some of the time.”

Like Kaiser, Manson insists “Passion is the result of action, not the cause of it.”

Want to live longer, have a healthier heart and brain and do something you actually love?  First you have to find out what that is.  These authors give you fuel for the journey.

Read Manson’s article at: https://markmanson.net/life-purpose

Kaiser’s at:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shannon-kaiser/3-unexpected-ways-to-find_b_5176511.html

and discover research facts about health and purpose at:

http://www.everydayhealth.com/news/purpose-life-good-your-health/

Aspies: Five Words That Can Create the Wrong Impression.

In my book, Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger’s Teen, I relate how I was often blasted for saying what I thought was expected of me!

Feelings of inadequacy don’t go away easily, so I’m always on the lookout for advice—especially advice related to conversing.  Here according to leadership coach Lolly Daskal of Inc.com in New York City, are five words to avoid:

  1. Won’t: When you say that something won’t work it conveys a defeatist attitude.  Instead say something like, I have some concerns; let’s work through them.

 

  1. Maybe: Saying maybe gives the impression of an inability or unwillingness to commit, (not good) and may signify a lack of intention or direction to your listener.  A better approach, if you have reservations?  I’d like to hear (or see) more details first.

 

  1. Sorry: This is the perfect word if you have an apology to make.  But if you’re asking for something?  Sorry does not belong.  Phrase your request without apology.

 

  1. Just: When you say, I’m just concerned… you may sound tentative, even apologetic to the listener.  You will come across as much stronger and more confident if you say, I’m concerned….

 

  1. Usually: This is a word that not only lacks energy, but indicates resistance to change (not that we know anything about that, right Aspies?  A friend bought me a charming new hat and was disappointed when I would not wear it.  I told him Aspies need time to get used to new things. We need to have it around for awhile before we can deal with it emotionally.  The same applies to ideas, changes in schedule, routine, proposed menu—you name it!) So, watch out for the word   It will give us away in the twinkling of its four syllables.  Instead, gather up your courage and say something like, Let’s give it a try. And mean it.

 

Aspies, I admire each and every one of you.  Thank you so much for following my blog.  I’d love to get your input on my posts, so don’t be shy about commenting!

Remember, just getting up each day and going through the motions is important.  Even more important?  Having a purpose.  Read next week’s blog to learn more about that.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean Adam.

This blog is from material published in January 9, 2017 Financial Post Column by Rick Spence, Free Advice to Live By.

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Aspies: Ten Steps to Mixing at a Party!

Happy New Year everyone!

Invited to a party?  Anxious about how that will go? Good news, Aspies: Mixing well at a party is really painless. Here are ten steps to being at ease at a party:

  1.  Be presentable.  Clean body and clothes, regardless of what you wear. Fresh breath and deodorant are a must.  No pet hair on clothes.  Lots of people are allergic and you don’t want everyone in the room moving away from you all night.

  2. Arrive on time, especially if it’s a dinner party. Don’t come early, and don’t arrive more than fifteen minutes after the specified time.

  3. Be thoughtful of the host/hostess. Where do you put your coat, etc?  Can you help with anything?  They will most likely greet you at the door, take your coat, and either hand you a drink or point you to the refreshment table/bar.

  4. Forget about YOU. This is a gathering of diverse people the host brought together with the overall idea of a fun/stimulating/entertaining evening.  Therefore each person regardless of appearance, abilities or disabilities, is worthy of your time and attention.

  5. Spend a little time with each guest as they become conversationally accessible. Introduce yourself, mention the weather or the funny hat the host is wearing, or how you know the host.  Ask the person about themselves: what do they like to do?  How do they know the host?  What is the best movie they’ve seen this year?  The worst?

  6. LISTEN: Really listen. You aren’t listening if you’re waiting to talk about your favorite topic.  And you aren’t listening if you’re looking around wondering who to talk to next.  To listen, look at the other person.  Absorb what they’re saying.  Think of something to ask that relates to what they are saying, or, if the conversation is complex, briefly rephrase what they’ve said to make it clear that you understand.  The point of any conversation is to draw the other person out, to see into their mind, their interests, their lives.

  7. Excuse yourself, when it becomes obvious the other person is never going to stop talking, or others have joined in and are pretty much carrying the conversation. Do not take offence that this has happened, it is a natural evolution of party talk. However, if you see people moving away from you? Probably you are talking too much!  Go on to the next.

  8. At the end of the night, say a brief goodnight to each person you chatted with, thank your host and check that you have everything; cell phone, purse or wallet, hat, scarf, gloves.

  9. Do not be the last to leave! Unless the host has designated you part of the clean up crew, exit the party in a timely manner. It’s okay to leave at any time, but probably best if you wait til after two or three others have left.

  10. The next day, call or text your host/hostess to tell them how much you enjoyed the event. Be only positive in this missive.  Do not point out how they could have improved the party or who they should not have invited or that your aunt has a better recipe for baked Brie.  Positive remarks only along with thank you.

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Aspie Christmas: Gift to Self? Being Yourself.

Aspies, want to give yourself a Christmas break?  How about forgetting that you’re not socially astute and just spend the day being yourself?  Relax into who you are, and listen, really listen when others communicate with you.

So what if you aren’t perfect?  Neither is anyone else in the room!

Here are some words of wisdom sent to me by a friend who follows this post:

Author unknown.

Wearing a mask wears you out.

Faking it is fatiguing.

The most arduous activity is pretending to be what, or who you know you aren’t.

Trying to fit some idealistic mould of perfection is a fool’s game.

It is much wiser to simply be yourself – faults and all!

Take off your mask and begin to be unapologetic about who you really are.

Remember, imperfection is beauty; madness is genius.

It is far better to be ridiculous you,

than ridiculously boring

by trying to be the same as everyone else.

 

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and the best of the New Year to those who follow my blog.

Remember, the key to happiness is having compassion for others and for yourself.

Love,

Margaret Jean Adam

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Anxiety: the Big Muscle in Aspie Brains?

 

Are we anxious because we unintentionally develop the anxiety muscle in our brains? My recent reading has led me to consider the possibility.

Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home and School by John Medina offers fascinating insight into the molecular processes that occur in our brains.

Although Medina is a developmental molecular biologist and research consultant chapters like “stressed brains don’t learn the same way” and “we are powerful and natural explorers” capture and entertain those of us with a more elementary knowledge of neural science.

In the chapter on “Wiring–Every brain is wired differently”, Medina tells us our brain is like a muscle: the more you do the same activity, the bigger and more complex that part of the brain that is utilized can become.

For us Aspies. this poses an interesting possibility.  Can it be true then, that the more we experience anxiety, the larger and more prominent our anxiety receptors become?

Temple Grandin, in her book The Autistic Brain,states that neuro-imaging shwoed her brain had a larger anxiety receptor than “normal”.

And does Medina’s conclusion explain why forcing ourselves to think positive, to build and maintain positive images of ourselves in social situations, can result in having a better day?

Is it because we are strengthening that part of the brain that builds confidence, feeds positive feelings and reduces our levels of anxiety?

If so, let’s go, Aspies!  Let’s exercise the positive neurons, or as Willie Nelson once sang: accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative!

Let us build our brains in a direction in which we are all longing to grow!

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

 

 

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