Monthly Archives: March 2012

Happiness: Social Skills or Compassion?

In one large survey, one fourth of U.S. adults reported that they had felt extremely lonely at least once within the previous two weeks.

This quote’s from the Dalai Lama’s book The Art of Happiness (p.70).  Talking about causes of loneliness, co-author Howard C. Cutler cites studies that show that loneliness can arise from several sources, one of which is the inability to pick up conversational cues:  knowing when to nod, to respond appropriately, or to remain silent.

Cutler says this research suggests improving social skills should therefore be a good strategy for overcoming loneliness.  However, the Dalai Lama suggests a different approach.

Develop Compassion, is the simple message of this sage.  Recognize your interconnectedness with the world and you will be grateful for all that you have and do and are.

Cutler states he had always felt pride in his independence, in not needing anyone’s help to sustain him.  But when he thought about how many people were involved in providing an article as simple as his shirt, he began to see a new world vision.

He thought of the farmer who grew the cotton.  The person who sold the farmer his tractor.  The many people involved in the manufacture of the tractor, the repair and maintenance of it, even the people who mined the ore that made the metal parts on the tractor, and the designers of the tractor.  He thought about the weavers of the cloth, the people who cut and sewed the fabric, who colored it.  The cargo workers and truck drivers who got the shirt to the store.  The many clerks and administrators in the store.

Cutler realized then that “virtually every aspect of my life came about as the results of others’ efforts.  My precious self-reliance was a complete illusion.”

Something I’m sure, for every Aspie to think deeply about.  Would this be a good exercise?   When you are feeling isolated?  Just take a simple object and spend a few minutes considering how many people it took to put it in your hand.

Karl Marx said that one of the tragedies of modern society was the distancing of the producer from the product.  How isolated it made both the producer and the consumer feel.  It seems the Dalai Lama would agree.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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Autism Spectrum and Lying: A Doctor’s Opinion Vs. Real Life Experience.

Why do children lie? An Asperger Point of View.

Dr. Stephen M. Edelson states in an article, Lying in Autism: A Cognitive Milestone, at:  that people in the Autism spectrum don’t lie because they think everyone already knows what they know.  In other words, the child who takes a cooky when it’s forbidden will admit to taking the cooky because he thinks his mother already knows he did.

Some children lie for what they may deem “safety reasons”.  That is, to avoid being physically punished.  Asperger children have a reputation for not lying, for being painfully honest when a little white lie or any other kind of lie would have gone down better with the people they were being honest with. 

Dr. Edelson believes this is because the autistic child believes the knowledge he is imparting is already known.  While that may be true for some children, it was not true for me.   I would often tell the truth when it was painfully obvious that  a lie would have served me better.  Why?

First of all, I thought it was the right thing to do.  Regardless of the consequences, wouldn’t life be easier if everyone was just honest about each situation?  

When people concoct lies about what they did, turning their responsibility into blame which is deflected onto others, they are making a basic assumption about the society around them:  that it operates on distrust and blame.

The Aspies that I know?  Like to operate on the belief that we live in a world where everyone is accepted as they are.  We have, shall we say, an improved world vision.  Our ideal society is a world where mistakes are acknowledged as learning events, and we keeping to find this elysium has become a reality.

We prefer to assume that our community is not eager for sacrifice, not quick to blame, and we are ever hopeful that we will be seen as fellow travellers in the human condition, stumbling in some areas and excelling in others.

This puts us at risk, and yes, at first when we are young, we often set ourselves up unwittingly.  But when we are older, we will still stubbornly put ourselves out there, knowing the likelihood of social fallout, but hoping we will find some unique individual who understands and accepts us.  Someone we can trust.

I think that this trust is what Dr. Edelson and others would call “misplaced trust”.  I think that the constant disappointment in how that trust is received, could explain some incidences of depression, social disconnection and suicide. 

I cannot express strongly enough how terribly despondent some teenaged Aspies become when they discover how the “real world” operates.  They feel sad that society depends upon so much social deceit.

Why do Aspies keep telling it like it is, even knowing how the world operates?  Easy.  For that one amazing person that we find we can trust.  For us Aspies?  It’s like finding a diamond in a dung heap.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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