Monthly Archives: June 2013

Speak To Me, Aspie. Or Not. Conversational Skills For Asperger Me.

One telling symptom of Asperger’s that most professionals agree on is the conversational habit of interrupting and overtalking.

For most  Asperger’s types, especially early on, ages three and up, the opportunity for social exchange is really limited.  But our brains are going all the time.

This results in a ton of thoughts and ideas bottled up inside of us.  Ideas we firmly believe are worth sharing!

We feel starved for verbal connection.  And the moment someone opens up that opportunity for us to be verbal , facts and observations totally unrelated to the topic of conversation can spew violently out, one thought immediately overtaking the last.

This feels rude and frightening to the person who has unwittingly engaged us.  When they try to bring us back around to the topic, we tend to talk over them or interrupt.

The other person’s comfort level is now in alarm state.  They feel an urgent need to escape our presence.

I have learned that self control is a major factor in making and keeping friends.

To have a real conversation, one in which others will gladly participate, I find these simple rules can be helpful:

1. Give others time to speak.

2. Concentrate on listening to them.  Be truly engaged with what they are saying and feeling.

3. Verbally respond in a positive way to what they have said.

4. Do not simply wait impatiently until they stop talking so you can start.

Learning to listen is a powerful aspect of conversing.  Really hearing and understanding what the other person is saying and responding appropriately  is the bridge that connects us to the rest of the human race; to our parents, our siblings, the people we want to have for friends, and our whole community.

And guess what?  Aspies aren’t the only ones who need to learn the art of conversation!

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean

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What Is Asperger’s Anyway?

This weekend so many people asked me, What is Asperger’s?  How can I tell if my son has it?

My book, “Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen” took a 1st place Journey award, and prompted a lot of questions about the syndrome.

People with Asperger’s find it difficult to read body language, voice intonation, and facial expression. This creates difficulty communicating and interacting with other people.

Asperger’s doesn’t always affect individuals to the same degree, or in exactly the same manner, which is why it is said to be on the “autism spectrum”.  That is, it is a highly functional and variable condition that alters how we relate to others, understand our community, and express ourselves.

Sometimes we feel hopelessly lost in a conversation.  We cannot always determine what is sincere and what is merely light-hearted social bantering.  Sometimes this is so isolating that we withdraw.  We do not understand what is being said or in what context and therefore we pretend to be disinterested.

This makes us very bad at small talk, which is society’s established method of feeling each other out before going into deeper conversations.  Small talk is a protective device that helps people locate each other in their social setting and their community, whether it’s school or work or something recreational.

People with Asperger’s tend to want to talk at a deeper level.  They have trouble understanding this is not appropriate much of the time.

We may not be able to tell when to join or start a conversation, or when the conversation is over.  We may talk over the other person and generally interrupt at lot.  A great website to look at for assistance is the UK’s National Autistic Society website at: http://www.autism.org.uk/about-autism/autism-and-asperger-syndrome-an-introduction/what-is-asperger-syndrome.aspx.

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