Monthly Archives: February 2015

To Touch or Not To Touch? An Aspie Dilemma.

Touch can strengthen relationships, show closeness, and increase co-operation.  This applies to touching in “safe zones”.

So says Laura Guerrero in an April 2013 Psychology Today magazine article.  Touch, Guerrero maintains, is important in developing social relationships.

As Aspies, we often don’t like to be touched.  And we almost never feel comfortable touching others.

So, perhaps more than non-Aspies, we can understand the need to observe the other person’s reaction, of how they respond to your intention to touch.

Do they tense up?  Pull away?  Don’t touch.

Do they relax, seem open to touch?  Keep to the safe zones.

Because touch is the first sense humans acquire, Guerrero maintains it is a key element in building relationships.

Staying within the safety zones, observing a person’s response to your intention to touch, these are key to successful touching.

Do not touch complete strangers, or people you hardly know.  That is an unwelcome touch.

Safe zones are hands, shoulders and arms.

Examples of safe-zone touches?  High fives.  Hand shakes.  Back slaps.  Shoulder taps.

In the office?  Let your manager, supervisor or boss initiate contact, Guerrero warns.

Keep your handshake firm.  Not limp, not bone-crushing.

And when in doubt?  Don’t touch.

Guerrero researches non-verbal communication at Arizona State University and is the author of the book, Close Encounters, Communication in Relationships.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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Aspies and Small Talk: Think Communication Bytes.

What is the main characteristic of small talk?

It’s SMALL.  Bytes of conversation as opposed to megabytes or gigabytes.

Keeping it short and impersonal can be challenging when you’re longing to express thoughts and ideas you have harboured inside yourself for so long that they are bursting to come out.  But you must manage your conversations, especially when you are first meeting someone.

Remember:  Bytes.  Little.  Little bits of conversation.

When you are first introduced to someone?  This is not the time to tell them about your fascination with engineering systems, national infrastructure or energetic reactions.  Save those conversations for networking meetings or gatherings of people with similar interests.

Socially?  Small talk is for when you first meet someone.  It’s a time to establish a safe conversational zone for both you and the person who is the object of your conversation.

Topics?  The weather.  Recent outings or vacations.  Current events.  Popular movies.

If the other person takes you deeper into their personal life, political or religious persuasion, fine, let them go on.

But rein yourself in.  Keep your conversation pleasant, interested and attentive.  Excuse yourself politely if you feel you must escape them.

Please remember, Aspies–it’s called SMALL talk.

Yours Truly,

Margaret Jean.

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Asperger Me

I was born with Asperger’s so I had markedly different ideas and behaviours from the average girl, and definitely from my mother and father.

In my book, Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger’s Teen, I talk a lot about the lack of relationship between myself and my parents.  That sense of disconnection, the feeling that I was some sort of interloper.

At the time, in my teens, I thought Mom’s ideal daughter would have enjoyed sewing, crocheting, baking bread with her, and sharing her enthusiasm for Woman’s Day magazine.  I was into classical music, movies like Lawrence of Arabia, poetry, Shakespeare and boys.

Was I right about Mom?  I’m not so sure.

My mother’s house was always dusty, rather untidy.  She went out to work, you see, when few mothers did, straining in the steaming heat of the Empress Laundry or cleaning low-rent motel rooms.

Once you’ve been out to work, you’ll never want to stay home again, she told me in a rare moment of mother-daughter confidence.

And of course the housework had to be done by someone.  And as the eldest daughter by nearly eight years, naturally that lot fell to me and to my grandmother.  I talk about that in Unforgiving, too.  About how I just took these duties for granted.

What did Mom want?  Just a daughter who didn’t talk so loud? Who didn’t speak out of turn?  Who could get a job and keep it?

The truth is, I will never know. Relationships are complicated.

Deeper into my adulthood, Mom and I came a little closer.  When she got Alzheimer’s?  After Dad died she came to live with us.

Goodnight, Mom, she’d say as I tucked her into bed.

She had forgotten I was her daughter.  All she knew was that I was someone who lovingly tucked her in at night.  

Maybe that’s all we needed to know about each other.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean

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Perfect? Not This Aspie!

In case you think I’m writing this blog from a position of perfection, you should know: it ain’t necessarily so.

Once on a road trip with my daughter?  She was singing along to some CD’s she brought.  I think she has a pretty voice.  She loves to sing.  But like me?  She has a little problem with keeping on tune.

No big deal.  But she sings in a band.  So I said, in a very motherly way, if she would take singing lessons?  I would pay for them.

She wrote a whole blog about that.

If you don’t think I was out of line?  You probably have Asperger’s too.

Another time, I went to visit my other daughter, who at that time was a single mom.  There were a number of issues I wanted to discuss with her, so I made a list.  And pulled it out and started on number one.

She laughed so hard she nearly fell over.  That is so YOU, Mom.  A list of what to talk about!

Just thought you’d like to know—both girls still love me, still include me in their lives, and are only a phone call away when I need anything.

But don’t think the author of this blog has come to perfect her social relationships.  I do research so that we can learn together.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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