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.
If you’ve read my book, Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen, and even if you haven’t, you may be aware that information about autism and Asperger’s was non-existent as far as the public was concerned, until the late 1980’s. Even then it was sporadic.
So how amazing, how practical and helpful to have an internet full of candid, authoritative and informational resources. I am talking about blogs, web zines, and You Tube videos, like the one above. Here are just a few:
The Greatest Adventure: This blog is primarily aimed at allistic (non-autistic) parents of autistic children who will most likely have little to no prior experience of autism and who are looking for encouragement, information and support through shared experiences. https://thegreatestadventuresite.wordpress.com
Autism Parenting Magazine: As a parent of a teen or young adult on the autism spectrum, you have probably had to focus most of your attention on getting all the pieces in place to ensure your student has a successful transition. Whether your son or daughter is going to college, entering the workplace, or learning to live independently, being a special needs parent entails more than many people realize.
Expert advice from our team of respected professionals.
Solutions for dealing with sensory issues.
Advice for handling transitions.
Therapies to help develop your child’s potential.
The latest news and research that can help your family.
Real life stories from parents of children on the spectrum as well as from adults with autism to inspire and bring hope.
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:
· understanding and acceptance,
· respect and dignity,
· full citizenship,
· equitable opportunities and access,
· personal autonomy, and
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)
“Fortunately I am accustomed to inadvertently creating humour,” Professor Don Tillman states when his phone conversation causes his genetics class to burst into laughter.
The story is hilarious, yet wonderfully moving. The main character/narrator is totally engaging. This is because he recognizes his differences, but is undefeated by them.
Author Graeme Simsion, an Aussie IT consultant successfully reveals Tillman’s social awkwardness without making fun of him, making The Rosie Project a compassionate mirror to Aspies the world over.
A good friend gave me this book saying she wanted me to have it because she thought I could relate very well to the main character. And I did. Apparently many other people do as well, as the book to date has been published in 74 countries and many languages.
This book is great for anyone 16 years of age and older, for Aspies, parents and relatives of Aspies, and those who just plain like a good read.
Rosie’s language is not always pristine, but she is a very enjoyable character.
Buy it. Or persuade your local library to get it in. You’ll like it!
For more information on this book go to: https://www.textpublishing.com.au/books/the-rosie-project/