Monthly Archives: May 2014

Aspies Ask “Why Volunteer?”

In his teens, my grandson asked me why I wanted him to find a volunteer position.  He thought it a very odd request.  

I couldn’t really explain my thinking at the time, but now, twenty-two years old,  he told me he wishes he had taken my advice.  You see, he is desperately trying to come up with five professional references who are familiar with his work habits.  Like most Aspies, his work history is a little sketchy.  And being largely anti-social, he didn’t join many clubs or participate in any sports.  So there is a dearth of references.

Volunteering could have provided him with references from people who could vouch for his work habits, his reliability and his ability to get along with a team of co-workers.  And at the same time, he would be contributing to his community in a meaningful way.

My grandson suffered one solid year of rejection.  Every single day he would dress up, take several copies of his resume and go out to various malls and shops and apply for work. For one solid year, no one hired him.  It was very depressing.

But, stop and think about it–volunteer workers are always in demand.  The likelihood of being rejected is far less than if you were applying for a paying  job.

And you can choose the kind of work you will do, the type of organization you would like to work in, and you are far more likely to be able to set your hours than you would be in a paying job.

If you like animals, you can volunteer at SPCA, or a wildlife refuge, or even the zoo or aquarium.  If you like libraries and books and videos, you can volunteer at your local library.  If you think you might like teaching, you can volunteer in a literacy program.  If you like art, try your public art gallery.  There are volunteers in some airports,  in thrift shops, in hospitals, in parks, in soup kitchens, and in your local church.

There are many different ways and places you can volunteer.  The important thing is to find the situation that best suits you, both with regard to location, scheduling and type of work required.

For Aspies, this type of situation is perfect.  You will do your best,and may make new social connections, learn new skills, and collect good references for when you go job hunting, or need to fill out your passport application.

At the same time, if the circumstances don’t suit, or someone makes your shift unbearable?  You can try a few different coping strategies before bowing out gracefully with no ill effects.

Help your community!  Build relationships!  Learn workplace skills!  Accumulate references!  All good reasons for Aspies to take Volunteering very seriously.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

Tagged , , ,

What Do Aspies Need From Their Parents? Stephen Shore’s Success Story



In my book, Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen, I often express the feeling of being disconnected from the rest of my family and my peers.

In the 1960’s, there was no diagnosis for Asperger’s.  My parents couldn’t figure out what was “wrong” with me.  In their eyes, much of my behaviour was inappropriate.  I resoponded differently to social situations and learning environments than my siblings.  This sense of being “wrong” while all too common for people with Asperger’s, does not have to be.

 In the introductory interview, Stephen Shore describes “the most important thing about my parents”, which is that they accepted him for who he was, and yet at the same time realized that he would face a number of challenges in his journey toward a normal life.

Many of us do not have parents who have this understanding.  Some of us have parents who are not educated enough or financially positioned to offer us the kind of interventions and therapies that Stephen Shore enjoyed.  Some parents are just too drained, emotionally and physically to offer us the support we need.

So we must learn to love and accept ourselves.  Understand this–we can make friends, be comfortable with some people, sincerely listen, pleasantly respond.

And parents please understand, whatever else you do, accepting your child for who they are is the first step on the road to your child’s integration into society.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.


Tagged , , ,
%d bloggers like this: