Category Archives: Adult Aspies and Social situations

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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The Canadian Autism Partnership: a website to remember.

In my book, Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen, I note that Autism wasn’t really a concern until the late 1980’s.  How wonderful it would have been if my parents and teachers (and I!) could have taken a survey like this one.

I received this survey request from the Autism Society of BC.  The Canadian Autism Partnership Project (CAPP) would like all Canadian persons with or dealing with Autism Spectrum in their family, social or professional life to take the CAP survey.

The purpose of the survey is to assist in identifying programs and services that are currently effective and those that are lacking.  Sounds like a good idea, does it not?

The proposed vision of the Canadian Autism Partnership is:

All Canadians living with autism have the opportunity to lead fulfilling and rewarding lives. This means that they are able to access the necessary supports and services in a welcoming and understanding society. 

The proposed mandate of the Canadian Autism Partnership is:

To mobilize partners across sectors on a national level to accelerate innovation and action to address complex issues affecting Canadians living with Autism.

The proposed foundational statement for the Canadian Autism Partnership is:

Canadians living with autism have the right to:

  • ·        inclusion,

  • ·        understanding and acceptance,

  • ·        respect and dignity,

  • ·        full citizenship,

  • ·        equitable opportunities and access,

  • ·        personal autonomy, and

  • ·        decision-making.

The national ASD working group has identified the following areas of focus for the Canadian Autism Partnership:

  • ·        Early detection and diagnosis

  • ·        Treatment and support across the lifespan

  • ·        Education, training and awareness

  • ·        Attachment to the labour force

  • ·        Community living (includes recreation, leisure and housing)

  • ·        Impact on caregivers (includes health, mental health, respite, and senior issues)

  • ·        Research

To take the survey go to:  www.capproject.ca

To view their website, go to: http://www.capproject.ca/index.php/en/

I know I can count on you!

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

Aspies, Anxiety and Acts of Kindness

Do you believe that being kind could relieve anxiety?  Researchers Jennifer Trew and Lynn Alden of the University of British Columbia might have suspected this was a possibility.

Recently the two did an experiment involving 115 socially anxious university students. The students were divided into three groups.  Each group had a different directive.

The first group of students were required to perform 3 acts of kindness two days a week for four weeks.

The acts of kindness included activities like washing a room mate’s dishes, mowing a neighbour’s lawn and donating to charity.

The second group was required to insert themselves into a social situation (after taking several deep breaths to calm them down).  These insertions could include actions like asking a stranger for the time, or asking someone to lunch.

The third group?  Was asked to journal about personal events.

At the end of the study, the researchers concluded that people in the first group had less instances of avoiding social interaction due to fear of rejection.

This makes sense to me, since asking someone to lunch, someone you don’t know very well seems somewhat risky in terms of the possibility of being rejected, whereas asking your room mate if she’d like you to do her dishes?  Is hardly a thing anyone would say ‘no’ to.  And the room mate is likely to look more favorably on you after you’ve cleaned up her scullery debris, whereas the person you asked to lunch?  Might be avoiding you so they don’t have to let you down again.

So, Aspies, to improve your sense of social connectedness and ease your way into social situations, try an act of kindness.  Why not?

Then you can work your way up to asking the recipients of your kindness out to lunch.

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An Aspie’s Easter: Ritual

Some of you may be somewhat familiar with my paternal Grandmother from reading Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen.  Well, every Easter up until I was eleven years old, my grandmother bought me a complete outfit.  I can only remember one of these: a light aqua terylene dress, with white collar, white gloves and white shoes.

Do you have a favorite memory of Easter?  Or maybe there’s new traditions you’re starting now. I’d be interested in hearing some of them.

Easter Sunday was special in those days.  Women wore their very best outfits, including a new hat.  I loved to go to church and see the pretty Spring colours.  The black and navy of winter was gone, and the women brought out the sunnier summer palette.

For me, Easter Sunday still means dressing up.  I love laying out my clothes the night before, choosing the accessories that I’ll wear to accent the outfit I’ve chosen.

More and more I’ve become aware that it is a privilege to attend the church of our choice, and a privilege to worship. We still have that privilege; I like to enjoy it while I can.

After church there was always a big family dinner, sometimes with friends joining in.  Roast ham or chicken, the last of the root vegetables from the cold cellar, home made breads, and for dessert, home made apple pie (there was no other kind in the ancient days) and ice cream. A feast of celebration.!  Who would say no to that?

As an Aspie?  These rituals are precious events, imbued with memories of days past, traditions I never want to relinquish.

 

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Asperger Poetics

In my book, Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen, I include a couple of poems.  Here is one that arose from a Business Networking Meeting I attended every Friday.  It’s just how I felt, being an Aspie on the outside of all the conversation:

Asperger Me.

I do not wish to tip toe around the polite perimeter of social exchange,

To avoid intimacy and understanding.

I do not wish to abstain from participation in the

socially connected sea of humanity;

to be silent when I am eager to speak,

To smile with others without knowing why,

Or listen to the negative impreachments of my peers.

I wish to connect

To find and open the portal to your innermost reality.

To hear you speak in words

as true and distinct as your heartbeat,

To know you for who you truly deeply be.

That’s what I wish, Asperger Me!

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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