Monthly Archives: April 2018

An Aspie Memoir: “Unforgiving” by Margaret Jean Adam.

I handed the ‘Life Writing’ assignment in to my professor.  It was entitled “The Fictional Story of My Life”.

He gave it a high grade, but asked me, “Why fictional?”

I told him, “because important factors have been left out.”  I didn’t say what.  Like not understanding how ‘social interaction’ worked. Or, like being repeatedly abused by a sexual predator.

“You should write the truth,” he told me.  His name was Roy Miki, it was to be his last class before retiring from a long and illustrious career at Simon Fraser University.  He knew all about hard truths.  As a young Canadian of Japanese ethnicity he and his family had been interned during the Second World War.  He had since fearlessly examined and written his own truths.

At that time I had in mind five books which I wanted to write.  My life story was not one of them.  But Miki’s words haunted me and I found I could not work on anything else. So, almost reluctantly, I began to recall and piece together my teen years.

“Focus upon an event or period of time that was pivotal, and write around it,” Miki advised.

So I did.  I wrote about the summer I auditioned for a part as the lead actress in a National Film Board production.  About the boys I loved and the numerous times I made an Aspie faux pas.

And about the humour and sometimes the horror of situations that arose as a result of not understanding the underlying messages in conversations or events, inferences that everyone else seemed to pick up on automatically.

The resulting book is not a fictional version, but the truth, or at least as much of it as I felt people could endure.  As much as I could remember.  As much as I could bear!

Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen is a book that is not so much about what Asperger’s is, but instead one which intends to illustrate the naiveté and social disconnection characteristic of Asperger’s.

I wanted to express how the realization that one is excluded from socially contextual understanding leads to strong feelings of rejection.  And how this sense of isolation then denies a person those meaningful ties which would otherwise develop to allow a teen to have a sense of security within her immediate community: family, friends, peers and lovers. A social shelter without which, she is isolated and vulnerable.

Easy prey.

And I wanted to express how, as a teenager, when I recognized this abandonment, and the full force of my emotional aloneness in the world, I found myself to be unforgiving.

 

To order a copy of Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen, go to:

https://www.amazon.ca/Unforgiving-Asperger-Margaret-Jean-Adam/dp/0973136421

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Hey, Aspies! Here’s the Key to Social Connections.

 

Do you often feel like an outsider?  Unable to connect in a meaningful way with others?  In my book, Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen, I talk about how, as a teenage girl, “the entire female species was as foreign to me as a zebra to a long-horned steer.”

Fortunately, early in my adult life I found Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. I strongly suggest you find a copy and read it. His main lesson for social success is simply to get other people to talk about themselves while you actively listen.

And you may be surprised to learn that just being quiet while someone else is talking doesn’t mean you’re listening.  Really hearing what the other person is saying is the key to social connection.

This is especially true for us Aspies, because real interest happens only when we allow someone else into our neural space.  For me, this can only happen when I shut up and listen.

Only then can I ‘get’ everything the other person is communicating.

For instance, if the other person is speaking about the weather, or their vacation, that’s probably a good indication that, at this particular time, they don’t want to hear about world affairs, software engineering or other complex subjects with which you may be currently obsessed.

And if you think you may like to get to know this person, you need to keep the conversation on their level.  You need to ask specific questions related to what they’ve just told you, and you need to do so in a way that expresses your understanding and interest.  

Some people are lonely because they haven’t learned to listen.  They believe they are right–more intelligent, educated or experienced–and they bully their way through conversations, correcting people, and boring everyone with what they know on the topic. Sound familiar?

This conversational hi-jacking impresses no-one.  The fact that these people are knowledgeable, intelligent, highly educated and/or experienced in their field may be both true and appreciated. But it does not override the other person’s need to be recognized.

We all enter into conversations to feel validated.  And if that validation doesn’t occur, the brilliant intellectual is going to find himself or herself alone in a room full of uninterested people.

Listen.  But do not stand quietly waiting to say what you have to say.  Actively engage the other person while being polite, and attentive. Take care to address what they are saying.

You want attention, right?  So does the person speaking with you!

And if they really have nothing to say that interests you, excuse yourself politely and move on.  Do not be rudely dismissive. Everyone wants and needs to feel important. It is not always all about us.

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