Aspies: Back to School Stress: What helps?

School is a stressor for most of us.  While we love the learning, many of us suffer through the social aspects of every class from kindergarten to university.  A recent survey shows that 25 per cent of new high school students will rate their anxiety level at seven out of ten*.  Here are some ways to deal with that discomfort whether you’re starting high school, middle school, university or college.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the geography of your school, especially if it’s new to you. Where are the washrooms?  The lockers?  The labs?  What is the shortest route to take between classes? With your class schedule in hand, do a practice run from room to room to see where you’ll need more time to make the change.  Many schools have portables; do you know which portable your class is in?  How long will it take you to get from the main building to that class? Even if you attended the same school last year and the year before, chances are you’ll have some classes in new locations.  Knowing where you’re going and how to get there will give you a sense of confidence even before the class begins.

  2.  Check your supplies and organize them for easy access.  If you’re still using handwritten notes in a note book, keep the subjects separate, and the notebooks with the applicable texts.  Being organized means less time spent hunting down materials which means ultimately, less time spent on homework.  Who’s going to argue that?  One website, https://www.verywell.com/top-school-stress-relievers-for-students-3145179 has more suggestions for organizing and utilizing your study space.

  3. Always write assignments in one place.  This could be the notes app on your cell phone or lap top or at the end of your class notes.  Just be sure they are easily accessed and you won’t have to rack your brain about what assignments are due tomorrow.  For tips on how to organize your homework/study area and how to approach homework and studying, getting those assignments done and done well see this article at PsychCentral.com: https://psychcentral.com/lib/top-10-most-effective-study-habits/

  4. Study regularly; don’t just cram before a test.  Cramming seldom works.  Regularly familiarizing yourself with the information is the most helpful way of learning.  Talk about what you’re studying with someone else who is truly interested.  If you can help someone else learn, you’ll remember it far better at exam time.  For some excellent study tips try this website:  http://www.youthcentral.vic.gov.au/studying-training/studying-tips-resources/top-10-study-tips

  5. Learn to destress yourself.  At Wellcast’s website, you can learn 100 wellness techniques in 100 days.  This URL will take you to the one on meditation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWIFMfEgc8A

So head back to school with confidence and determination, visualizing a successful year.

Using these tips will help you do just that.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

*McGill University Research conducted by Dr. Nancy Heath.

 

Advertisements
Tagged ,

Aspies Relax? How a Neurodivergent Rebel Learned to Meditate.

Apparently many people have issues with relaxation.  This week’s post is a reblog from a writer who goes by the moniker “Neurodivergent Rebel”:

TO EVERYONE WHO “CAN’T MEDITATE”

Mindfulness and meditation have been a big part of my life for several years now. I’m always happy to share with people how helpful meditation is for me.

Unfortunately almost everyone I talk to about meditation “can’t meditate”.

“I wish I could meditate. My mind isn’t made for that!” or “I can’t stand being still”, a few of the most common excuses why people tell me they “can’t meditate”.

People assume meditation was always easy for me, while in reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

I started meditation because of a deep internal need for change.

My twenty-fifth birthday was coming at me like an out of control locomotive with a sleeping driver. The number made me uneasy and it was coming too fast. Like a doe, hypnotized by the headlights, I felt helpless to stop it.

Something was wrong, missing, empty and completely inexpressible. I’d been searching my entire life for something. . . peace, stillness, answers, meaning maybe?

In my mid to early twenties, I was very out of touch with my own feelings and emotions.

At first, my meditations were distracted, plagued with racing, unwanted, thoughts. When the goal was to count to five without allowing your mind to wander off, sometimes I only got to two or three before starting over, and over, and over.

It was hard, but as I kept on it things got easier.

Finally, with Buddhism, I was beginning to unlock the tools needed to understand and shape my own mind. Somedays progress crawled along at what felt like a snail’s pace, but every week as I continued to practice it got easier.

As I’ve grown older and incorporated mindfulness into my life over the years, things have greatly improved. I still meditate every day but the way I meditate has changed.

I meditate all the time. At times I may meditate for only a few minutes or seconds, whenever I need to calm and relax my mind, think more clearly, or gather the words for an important conversation.

Meditation has become the tool that I use to recalibrate my brain. Sitting tall I close my eyes and bow my head as I take in a deep, slow breath. As I breathe in I focus on the feelings of my feet on the ground or my butt in a chair (depending on where I am).

As my lungs expand I shift my focus to the feelings of my breath. With eyes closed, I listen and feel, asking myself – “what’s happening now?” Depending on available time I may stay for a while, eyes closed, nose pointed at the floor.

This micro-meditations can be as quick as a few breaths. I’ve even learned to meditate with my eyes open, although I wonder if I have a blank stare when I do this.

I take the time that I need and if I get flustered I remind myself not to rush, gently whispering in my own ear “relax, stay in the present”.

Every day I am needing to remind myself less and less, thanks to a very conscious choice I made years ago to change my life.

Dear people who “can’t meditate” – keep trying.

For more great posts from Neurodivergent Rebel go to: https://neurodivergentrebel.com/

Hope this helps!

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

Tagged ,

To Everyone Who “Can’t Meditate”

Neurodivergent Rebel

Mindfulness and meditation have been a big part of my life for several years now. I’m always happy to share with people how helpful meditation is for me.

Unfortunately almost everyone I talk to about meditation “can’t meditate”.

“I wish I could meditate. My mind isn’t made for that!” or “I can’t stand being still”, a few of the most common excuses why people tell me they “can’t meditate”.

People assume meditation was always easy for me, while in reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

I started meditation because of a deep internal need for change.

My twenty-fifth birthday was coming at me like an out of control locomotive with a sleeping driver. The number made me uneasy and it was coming too fast. Like a doe, hypnotized by the headlights, I felt helpless to stop it.

Something was wrong, missing, empty and completely inexpressible. I’d been searching…

View original post 383 more words

Aspies in Relationships

Recently, while reading a Sydney Holmes’ article, one sentence really struck home:  I don’t know what it feels like to be relaxed.

A few days ago when my partner and my son-in-law were comparing notes on what it’s like to be in a relationship with an Aspie, a story about a bath experience triggered instant recognition and laughter.

The story is this:  A bath was lovingly prepared by the non Aspie partner.  He ran the water, perfumed it with beautifully scented oils, and placed candles all around the tub.

“Just relax in the tub while I make dinner,” the spouse said with a loving smile, fully anticipating that his Aspie love would be soaking for at least an hour.

“Six minutes later, she’s back in the kitchen!”

Personally, I cannot imagine being in the bath for more than ten minutes.  What do you DO in a bathtub for more than ten minutes?  In my experience you feel the water getting colder and your skin wrinkling like a prune.   What’s to enjoy?

My Aspie daughter and I share many similar traits which help us comprehend how we differ from much of the rest of society. But our spouses don’t have the same advantage and thus can find understanding our thought processes quite a chore.

It takes a lot of love and understanding to recognize our rationale sometimes.  The great news is that it does seem we’re worth it!

Recently I came across several books on Aspie and non-Aspie relationships. My preview of them indicates they could all be both interesting and helpful:

Alone Together: Making An Asperger Marriage Work.  by Katrin Bentley.

Loving Someone with Asperger’s Syndrome: Understanding and Connecting with Your Partner.  by Cindy Ariel PhD.

The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger’s Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to be a Better Husband.    by David Finch.

Asperger’s Syndrome and Long Term Relationship.   by Ashley Stanford.

Our Socially Awkward Marriage: Stories from an Asperger Relationship.    by Tom and Linda Peters (Kindle)

You can find these and other helpful titles by going to Amazon books and searching “Asperger’s”.

I am sure there is a lot of help in terms of shared experiences in these books, so why not take advantage!

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

Sydney Holmes quote came from an article in Autism Parenting Magazine, Sept 22, 2015: https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/dear-teacher-sure-fire-ways-you-can-help-asd-kids/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged

An Aspie’s Workplace Experience

When he graduated high school, college was not an option. He spent a year going out five days a week with his resume tucked under his arm.  He got two interviews.  No job.

At the end of that year, he heard about a temporary labour agency where you showed up and signed up for the day.  If you got called, you got work and you were paid at the end of each day.

For the following year, he caught a bus at 4 a.m. so he could be one of the first in line for the 5 a.m. assignments.

He had a little experience doing some pressure washing and clean up for his grandfather’s painting company. Eventually he got chosen for some warehouse work, some clean up work and other odd labour jobs.

His favourite was a demolition site where he got to smash all the walls with a sledge hammer.  One company hired him to unload pallets for three months.

Working for the temporary labour company, he learned some important lessons.

  • You don’t get on the bad side of the guy who’s in charge of handing out the jobs.

  •  Working steadily and finishing what you start will get you called back.

  •  Save your money.

When a doctor told him that injuries suffered in a previous accident meant he couldn’t continue to do warehouse work, without serious repercussions, he had to rethink his situation.

He had a friend who worked as a security guard.  He was encouraged by the fact that security guard work involved very little social interaction, and was compatible with his skill set. Using some of the money he had saved, he took a course and became a licensed security guard.

He learned about timing.  He was trying to break into the security guard business in a city that had just hosted the Olympics and therefore had approximately 1200 out of work security guards.

He finally got a temporary assignment; three weeks work.  When he asked around about the possibility of getting a full time job, he was told “none”.

Being an Aspie, he made a point of walking the exact beat assigned by the company.  In his mind, it was a fitness routine and he got paid for doing it.  Bonus!

He performed each of his checks on his rotation, signing off with the date and time at each required location.  None of the other workers were doing this. They ridiculed him for doing so. There was no supervision, it was graveyard shift and there was no activity on the premises.

But he’s an Aspie and that’s what Aspies do.

At the end of the three weeks, he was hired.  Full time. The job was routine, but it kept him fit while giving him a lot of time to think on his feet. Eventually he was promoted to supervisor.

He learned some valuable lessons from his supervisory position.  It taught him responsibility and how to assert himself in a small office setting.

He decided he wanted to be a paralegal.  As a detail-oriented and focused individual, it seemed a good fit.

Working part time as a security guard, and using a combination of student loans and savings, he signed up for the course.

Recently he received his certification and started work in a law firm.

So Aspies, if you find yourself in what is perceived as a no-brainer, low-paying job, do not despair.  Learn what you can. Do your best, and look at the positive aspects of the situation.  What you do with what you learn is up to you.  Who knows where it could lead? It is entirely up to you!

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

 

Tagged

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.

Tagged , , ,

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

 

 

Tagged , ,

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.

Tagged , ,

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.

 

Tagged ,
%d bloggers like this: