Category Archives: Adult Aspies and Social situations

Aspies in Relationships

Recently, while reading a Sydney Holmes’ article, one sentence really struck home:  I don’t know what it feels like to be relaxed.

A few days ago when my partner and my son-in-law were comparing notes on what it’s like to be in a relationship with an Aspie, a story about a bath experience triggered instant recognition and laughter.

The story is this:  A bath was lovingly prepared by the non Aspie partner.  He ran the water, perfumed it with beautifully scented oils, and placed candles all around the tub.

“Just relax in the tub while I make dinner,” the spouse said with a loving smile, fully anticipating that his Aspie love would be soaking for at least an hour.

“Six minutes later, she’s back in the kitchen!”

Personally, I cannot imagine being in the bath for more than ten minutes.  What do you DO in a bathtub for more than ten minutes?  In my experience you feel the water getting colder and your skin wrinkling like a prune.   What’s to enjoy?

My Aspie daughter and I share many similar traits which help us comprehend how we differ from much of the rest of society. But our spouses don’t have the same advantage and thus can find understanding our thought processes quite a chore.

It takes a lot of love and understanding to recognize our rationale sometimes.  The great news is that it does seem we’re worth it!

Recently I came across several books on Aspie and non-Aspie relationships. My preview of them indicates they could all be both interesting and helpful:

Alone Together: Making An Asperger Marriage Work.  by Katrin Bentley.

Loving Someone with Asperger’s Syndrome: Understanding and Connecting with Your Partner.  by Cindy Ariel PhD.

The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger’s Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to be a Better Husband.    by David Finch.

Asperger’s Syndrome and Long Term Relationship.   by Ashley Stanford.

Our Socially Awkward Marriage: Stories from an Asperger Relationship.    by Tom and Linda Peters (Kindle)

You can find these and other helpful titles by going to Amazon books and searching “Asperger’s”.

I am sure there is a lot of help in terms of shared experiences in these books, so why not take advantage!

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

Sydney Holmes quote came from an article in Autism Parenting Magazine, Sept 22, 2015: https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/dear-teacher-sure-fire-ways-you-can-help-asd-kids/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Aspies: How to Make Your Point Politely.

“No!” I blurted out.

The professor and the other students in the class stared at me, appalled.  In true Aspie style, I had directly expressed my complete and total disagreement with the lecturer’s statement.

Fortunately, that professor was open-minded and willing to listen to counter-statements, but in many classes that outburst would have netted me a failing mark for the semester.  People in general, and especially those in positions of authority like professors and managers, supervisors and bosses often do not like to hear dissenting opinions.

As Aspies, while we need not ever remain silent when we have an opinion which we wish to express, it is important that we express it in a manner which is most likely to be effective.

Consider this: If your response is considered confrontational, it is likely that the listener will simply shut down and shut you out. Would it not be more advantageous to encourage the listener to engage in dialogue with you?

So what is the most effective way of NOT agreeing with someone’s statement, and at the same time putting forward your own questions about their position?

A friend of mine, when he was in university learned to say, “It seems to me…”  This allowed him to advance his own opinion without either directly agreeing or disagreeing.  The beauty of this opening is that it allows for the advancing of a personal point of view along with evidence that backs up that point of view, in a non-threatening fashion.

“It became a sort of a trademark of mine,” he said.  “And it helped me navigate my way through some pretty touchy conversations.”

I have also heard of a very successful person who, when questioning practices in the workplace, would use lead-ins such as “I wonder…” and “I’ve noticed…”

This is a far less abrasive approach than exclaiming “No!”, or saying something like “Why do you do it that way?” or “Shouldn’t you …?”  Both of which are considered excessively confrontational by non-Aspies. (Go figure!)

When you convey your position in a non-threatening fashion it allows the listener to ask to have it clarified, to assimilate it, consider it, and perhaps ultimately, even to change their position.

Score one for the Aspies!

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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Monkmania: An Aspie Kind of Guy.

Eric Monkman is a young man who has captured the hearts of the British public.

A member of Wolfson College, Cambridge, this young Canadian from Oakville, Ontario is a member of the University Challenge team.

Recently he caused quite a stir when the popular, televised quiz show revealed Monkman’s idiosyncratic facial expressions, his fierce voice and aggressive style of firing out answers.

He wore the same outfit everyday, only changing it up by tucking his collar in or not.  People noticed.

Monkman responded by saying he wants to save his mental focus for more important things.

He has been described as having a grin “like an emoji for a forced smile” and an oversized titanium jaw.  He is noted for bellowing out his answers like a roaring sergeant major.

All these attributes of this man endear him to our Aspie hearts.  How wonderful to see someone so perfectly Aspie-ish capture the hearts of millions.

I am not saying Monkman has Asperger’s Syndrome.  I’m only saying if he did, he could be our poster boy.

See videos about him at #Monkman and on You Tube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdVTg04nTb0

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

M

 

 

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Aspies: Five Words That Can Create the Wrong Impression.

In my book, Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger’s Teen, I relate how I was often blasted for saying what I thought was expected of me!

Feelings of inadequacy don’t go away easily, so I’m always on the lookout for advice—especially advice related to conversing.  Here according to leadership coach Lolly Daskal of Inc.com in New York City, are five words to avoid:

  1. Won’t: When you say that something won’t work it conveys a defeatist attitude.  Instead say something like, I have some concerns; let’s work through them.

 

  1. Maybe: Saying maybe gives the impression of an inability or unwillingness to commit, (not good) and may signify a lack of intention or direction to your listener.  A better approach, if you have reservations?  I’d like to hear (or see) more details first.

 

  1. Sorry: This is the perfect word if you have an apology to make.  But if you’re asking for something?  Sorry does not belong.  Phrase your request without apology.

 

  1. Just: When you say, I’m just concerned… you may sound tentative, even apologetic to the listener.  You will come across as much stronger and more confident if you say, I’m concerned….

 

  1. Usually: This is a word that not only lacks energy, but indicates resistance to change (not that we know anything about that, right Aspies?  A friend bought me a charming new hat and was disappointed when I would not wear it.  I told him Aspies need time to get used to new things. We need to have it around for awhile before we can deal with it emotionally.  The same applies to ideas, changes in schedule, routine, proposed menu—you name it!) So, watch out for the word   It will give us away in the twinkling of its four syllables.  Instead, gather up your courage and say something like, Let’s give it a try. And mean it.

 

Aspies, I admire each and every one of you.  Thank you so much for following my blog.  I’d love to get your input on my posts, so don’t be shy about commenting!

Remember, just getting up each day and going through the motions is important.  Even more important?  Having a purpose.  Read next week’s blog to learn more about that.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean Adam.

This blog is from material published in January 9, 2017 Financial Post Column by Rick Spence, Free Advice to Live By.

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Aspies: Ten Steps to Mixing at a Party!

Happy New Year everyone!

Invited to a party?  Anxious about how that will go? Good news, Aspies: Mixing well at a party is really painless. Here are ten steps to being at ease at a party:

  1.  Be presentable.  Clean body and clothes, regardless of what you wear. Fresh breath and deodorant are a must.  No pet hair on clothes.  Lots of people are allergic and you don’t want everyone in the room moving away from you all night.

  2. Arrive on time, especially if it’s a dinner party. Don’t come early, and don’t arrive more than fifteen minutes after the specified time.

  3. Be thoughtful of the host/hostess. Where do you put your coat, etc?  Can you help with anything?  They will most likely greet you at the door, take your coat, and either hand you a drink or point you to the refreshment table/bar.

  4. Forget about YOU. This is a gathering of diverse people the host brought together with the overall idea of a fun/stimulating/entertaining evening.  Therefore each person regardless of appearance, abilities or disabilities, is worthy of your time and attention.

  5. Spend a little time with each guest as they become conversationally accessible. Introduce yourself, mention the weather or the funny hat the host is wearing, or how you know the host.  Ask the person about themselves: what do they like to do?  How do they know the host?  What is the best movie they’ve seen this year?  The worst?

  6. LISTEN: Really listen. You aren’t listening if you’re waiting to talk about your favorite topic.  And you aren’t listening if you’re looking around wondering who to talk to next.  To listen, look at the other person.  Absorb what they’re saying.  Think of something to ask that relates to what they are saying, or, if the conversation is complex, briefly rephrase what they’ve said to make it clear that you understand.  The point of any conversation is to draw the other person out, to see into their mind, their interests, their lives.

  7. Excuse yourself, when it becomes obvious the other person is never going to stop talking, or others have joined in and are pretty much carrying the conversation. Do not take offence that this has happened, it is a natural evolution of party talk. However, if you see people moving away from you? Probably you are talking too much!  Go on to the next.

  8. At the end of the night, say a brief goodnight to each person you chatted with, thank your host and check that you have everything; cell phone, purse or wallet, hat, scarf, gloves.

  9. Do not be the last to leave! Unless the host has designated you part of the clean up crew, exit the party in a timely manner. It’s okay to leave at any time, but probably best if you wait til after two or three others have left.

  10. The next day, call or text your host/hostess to tell them how much you enjoyed the event. Be only positive in this missive.  Do not point out how they could have improved the party or who they should not have invited or that your aunt has a better recipe for baked Brie.  Positive remarks only along with thank you.

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Aspie Christmas: Gift to Self? Being Yourself.

Aspies, want to give yourself a Christmas break?  How about forgetting that you’re not socially astute and just spend the day being yourself?  Relax into who you are, and listen, really listen when others communicate with you.

So what if you aren’t perfect?  Neither is anyone else in the room!

Here are some words of wisdom sent to me by a friend who follows this post:

Author unknown.

Wearing a mask wears you out.

Faking it is fatiguing.

The most arduous activity is pretending to be what, or who you know you aren’t.

Trying to fit some idealistic mould of perfection is a fool’s game.

It is much wiser to simply be yourself – faults and all!

Take off your mask and begin to be unapologetic about who you really are.

Remember, imperfection is beauty; madness is genius.

It is far better to be ridiculous you,

than ridiculously boring

by trying to be the same as everyone else.

 

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and the best of the New Year to those who follow my blog.

Remember, the key to happiness is having compassion for others and for yourself.

Love,

Margaret Jean Adam

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Anxiety: the Big Muscle in Aspie Brains?

 

Are we anxious because we unintentionally develop the anxiety muscle in our brains? My recent reading has led me to consider the possibility.

Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home and School by John Medina offers fascinating insight into the molecular processes that occur in our brains.

Although Medina is a developmental molecular biologist and research consultant chapters like “stressed brains don’t learn the same way” and “we are powerful and natural explorers” capture and entertain those of us with a more elementary knowledge of neural science.

In the chapter on “Wiring–Every brain is wired differently”, Medina tells us our brain is like a muscle: the more you do the same activity, the bigger and more complex that part of the brain that is utilized can become.

For us Aspies. this poses an interesting possibility.  Can it be true then, that the more we experience anxiety, the larger and more prominent our anxiety receptors become?

Temple Grandin, in her book The Autistic Brain,states that neuro-imaging shwoed her brain had a larger anxiety receptor than “normal”.

And does Medina’s conclusion explain why forcing ourselves to think positive, to build and maintain positive images of ourselves in social situations, can result in having a better day?

Is it because we are strengthening that part of the brain that builds confidence, feeds positive feelings and reduces our levels of anxiety?

If so, let’s go, Aspies!  Let’s exercise the positive neurons, or as Willie Nelson once sang: accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative!

Let us build our brains in a direction in which we are all longing to grow!

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

 

 

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Aspies: Loving Ourselves

A friend passed this text on to me: it’s a great affirmation for Aspies since we need encouragement to believe ourselves loveable.

can be the most beautiful person both on the inside

and out in the whole wide world,

and everyone who sees me is awestruck.

But if I, myself don’t see and feel it, none of it matters.

Every moment I spend doubting my self-worth, every moment I spend negatively judging myself is a tragic moment,

for it is a moment of my life that I choose to throw away.

will not do this.

I only have so many moments.

The love I seek is seeking me at this very moment.

I just have to open up to it, so that it can find me.

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Asperger’s: Help For Social Encounters.

Isn’t that video helpful for overcoming social anxiety?

You know, no matter how many successful social encounters I have, it seems the ones the Asperger’s ones that don’t go well are the ones that linger ghost-like in my mind, haunting me.

Recently I had an encounter where my aim was to convey care and concern for someone.  I totally missed the mark.

Instead of greeting that person in a pleasant way  to set them at ease, I began with the imperative  We have to talk!

Then, instead of asking how they were or how things were going for them, I launched into a prepared speech!

The target of my concern (and target is a most appropriate term) looked at me as if I were some alien being suddenly projected into the time and space slot before them.

Stunned and confused, possibly even hurt by my well-meaning verbal tackle, they said something abrupt and walked away.

Of course I immediately reviewed all the errors in my approach, feeling an absolute idiot. But then I remembered my advice to all of my fellow Aspies: have compassion for yourself.

I tried, but for the next few weeks, I shuddered each time I recalled the non-conversation.

However, I was redeemed.  When my birthday came along several weeks later, that same person left flowers on my door.  So I guess he got the message regardless of my delivery system.

Take heart, Aspies!  Sometimes our not-so-socially-correct way of communicating still manages to connect.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

 

 

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High School Years: An Aspie Looks at the Bright Side.

I am going to a concert tomorrow that is a bit like a high school reunion. It’s an unexpected pleasure to be invited.

Any of you who have read Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger’s Teen will know that my high school years were not exactly a piece of cake.  But take heart: how your life turns out? Depends on you, not the people who disparage you.

Take Hilary, (not an Aspie) who is conducting her own 70th birthday symphony in a Victoria concert hall.  We went to the same school, to a lot of the same classes.

Hilary played in the band. Generally regarded as a tomboy, she was good in sports, a bright student and a great kidder.

What we didn’t know?  Hilary was already playing in a symphony.  Our music teacher who claimed to be very into classical music and even took our class to the Victoria symphony, was dismissive of her talent.  He never let us know we had a virtuoso in our class.

No matter: Hilary pursued her music anyway, making music her life’s work, teaching music in high school, singing with choirs and smaller groups, playing in symphonies around the world as well as conducting.

And the end result?  This week Hilary will have a 70th birthday concert with an orchestra and chorus comprised of more than 200 friends and fellow musicians who have worked with her over the years.

So if you really love something, as Aspies often do, and yet you feel a lack of enthusiasm in the rest of the world, as Aspies so often do, don’t give up.

If you work hard at it, enjoy it and pursue it with determination, humour and joy, there will be great rewards at the end of that rainbow.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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