Asperger’s at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference (SIWC)
This weekend the SIWC takes over the Sheraton Guildford, with hundreds of writers, including Asperger me, swarming the premises. A volunteer at the Federation of BC Writers’ table, I took the opportunity to promote my book, Unforgiving, the Memoir of an Asperger Teen.
People were frank in expressing their curiosity about Asperger’s and I was delighted to be able to clarify about and advocate for Asperger’s and Autism.
Many people have heard about Asperger’s but aren’t sure what the term implies. Not only did people want to know what behavioural anomalies were associated with Asperger’s, but also what that might look like in a person’s life.
I explained that Asperger’s kids generally are very honest, almost unable to lie. Deceit and manipulation are usually beyond them. They also go largely by spoken word, and are unable to pick up on tonal variations (sarcasm, innuendo) and facial expression.
This makes these children extremely vulnerable to bullying.
At the very least, Asperger’s kids are often socially challenged, not learning how to respond to others by observing others in a social setting. They mostly need to be taught, step by step, with the how and why of each type of social encounter. Even then, the child may get it wrong, either because of mistaking the type of social interaction he is responding to, or because of feeling “safe” in the situation having passed the first few minutes in acceptance, and then getting it wrong beyond that point.
In my book, Unforgiving, I show some of the blunders I made, some of the vulnerability that comes from being unable to communicate in an appropriate way both with adults and peers. Having Asperger’s can make one a target for bullying, for pedophiles, for all sorts of difficult situations.
Keeping the lines of communication open, and understanding the syndrome is crucial to keeping your Asperger’s child safe.
I was glad for the chance to talk to people at the SIWC about Asperger’s. Hopefully, it will make a difference, however small, in someone’s life.