Category Archives: Aspies Socialization

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.

Advertisements
Tagged , , ,

Asperger’s/Autism Diagnosis: How Does It Feel?

 My daughter phoned.  Her oldest son had been diagnosed ADD, ADHD, had been on Ritalin, and barely eight years old, had been the subject of repeated bullying and school yard ostracism.  “It’s Asperger’s Syndrome, Mom, and you and I have all the symptoms!”

That was seventeen years ago, but I vividly recall the conversation.

As we discussed the list of traits of people with Asperger’s, relief flooded through me.  At last I knew what it was that was “wrong” with me!

Anger came later, as I processed the information and with it, an understanding of my nature and how the very people who were close to me had taken advantage over the years.

And then grief.  Oh yes, I grieved the loss of the possibility of ever being ‘normal’.  I grieved for the child I had been, for the loneliness and isolation of all those years of trying to join our societal mainstream and just not getting it.

And I felt rage, too.  A deep anger at being shoved aside, at being made an onlooker, a non-participant, when I so poignantly wanted to belong.

And pride.  Pride in my ability to accept, even as a teenager, that the best I could be was ME, with all my faults and failings, my oddities, my strengths and weaknesses.  Yes, Asperger’s made me an easier target for my abuser, but the different way of thinking helped me to end that abuse as well.

And so I felt joy.  The joy and satisfaction of finally belonging somewhere.  Of finally finding that there were others, many others, like me.  Of understanding the close bond between my daughter and I.  Of finally feeling that I was, in my own newly recognized niche, a part of a larger entity.  I was not alone in my weirdness. in my unusual way of perceiving situations, patterns and people.

As an Aspie, I was fine, just as I was.

I still struggle some days.  As one of my friends says, “Margaret will always default to the Aspie truth.”  It’s his way of recognizing our straight forward approach to life.

He also says, “I know your intentions are always good.  That’s a no-brainer.”  So no matter how wrong something turns out, he understands that it was not my intention to create havoc.  This is the most reassuring response to my Asperger’s that I have ever had, and I bask in the glow of it.

Acceptance.  That’s what we all need.  To not only be accepted, but to be celebrated for who we are.

As I note in my book,  Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen,  it is easy to forget the most important thing:  You are perfect, just as you are.

The celebration starts in you.

Tagged , ,

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.

Tagged ,

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

Tagged ,

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.

 

 

Tagged , ,

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.

Tagged ,

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.

Tagged , ,

Autism Society BC Workshop in Burnaby–How to Help Your Child Be Successful in School.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TSlti5bioQ%5B/embed

My Book, Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen, talks about a time when kids and parents alike had no idea about Asperger’s and there were no support groups.  Fortunately, that is no longer true today.

]The following is a notice from the Autism Society of BC about an October 16th lower mainland Workshop that will give you ways to help your child get organized at school:

ASBC Burnaby Support Group Meeting – Fri Oct 16th 10-12‏

Do you know what  Executive Function is and how it affects our planning, organizing, attending to the right information at the right time, making decision accordingly, flexibility…?

We are pleased to have Michele Shilvock, Behavior Consultant, to present the following workshop in our October meeting.  All are welcome.

 Our upcoming ASBC Burnaby Support Group meeting details:

Date: October 16, 2015 (Friday)

Time: 10:00 am to 12:00 noon

Place: Studio, Suite #301 – 3701 East Hastings, Burnaby BC (North East corner on Hastings and Boundary)

Directions:  Walk from north side on Hastings from Boundary towards east, past a mail box and a bus stop, look towards the building (Enterprise Centre), walk up a few steps to see a long flight of stairs at your left, walk up the stairs from G/F directly to 3/F (if you see 2/F it’s the wrong staircase).  Suite #301 is at your left.

Topic: Executive Function Skills and how these play out in the school (elementary and high school)

Executive function plays a key role in all students learning and specifically looks to target skills that help one decide on what information to attend to, how to interpret the information and ultimately make decisions based on it.  They allow a learner to organize, plan out, sustain attention and assist with task completion both in their social and academic worlds.  The focus of this presentation is to offer attendees a greater understanding for the different components of executive function and how children on the autism spectrum may be impacted by deficits in one or more areas, both in the elementary and high school settings.  Further more, strategies for how to improve in these areas will be discussed in a general format both for implementation in the home and school settings.

Speaker: Michele Shilvock, Behaviour Consultant, BCBA

Michele is a board certified behaviour analyst who has been working in the field of autism for over 15 years and brings with her a wealth of knowledge and a passion for wanting to work with others. She is very dedicated to the training of individuals in the community through workshops and speaking engagements.  She has and continues to work closely with families and school teams to assist in the facilitation of team oriented working relationships. Michele works closely with children in the home and school settings and has a keen interest in the social, emotional and executive function of individuals on the autism spectrum.  Her focus ranges from working with infants and toddlers, to supporting skill development through the preschool years and into adolescents and teen years.

 Coffee/tea and refreshments will be provided.

Hope you all can make it!

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

Tagged ,

Young Adult & Adult Aspies: Who Is In Charge of Your Life?

Who will navigate us successfully through life to success?  To achieve the goals we set for ourselves?

Dr. Phil as he is commonly known, says it has to be us.  We, ourselves.  And he has developed a set of what he calls “Life Laws” which he has used to help many of his clients find their way out of seemingly hopeless situations.

In his book, Life Strategies: Doing What Works, Doing What Matters, Dr. Phillip McGraw stresses that what is vital is “…understanding and controlling the cause-and-effect relationships of life; in other words, using your knowledge to make things happen the way you want them to.”

That we are responsible for learning the social strategies that will get us where we want to go, is probably, as Aspies, the last thing we want to hear.

But whether or not you are familiar with Dr. Phil’s non-nonsense TV Show style of therapy, I strongly suggest that every Aspie young adult and adult read this book at least once.

He goes on to state that “We live in a social world.”  This book explains why social skills are key to success and how to organize and manage your life in the direction of your own definition of success.

Perhaps the two most important aspects of this book, are 1) the insistence on one’s duty to self when it comes to learning social skills, and 2) the notion that we manage ourselves.

If you haven’t read this book, you might look at your current self-management strategies and ask yourself:

How’s that working out for you?

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

 

 

Tagged , ,

Autism Spectrum:  The Benefits of a Rich Internal Life

People who are different somehow are often subjected to unpleasant treatment.  Sometimes very harsh treatment.  Social isolation.  Bullying.  Discrimination.  Unfortunately,  people on the autism spectrum can often find themselves in these unpleasant situations.

Many now-famous people have found themselves in very dire situations, suffering treatment or circumstances which might easily have left them forever emotionally scarred if not dead.

One such man, Viktor Frankl, imprisoned in Auschwitz for several years during WWII, was fascinated by his own and others’ ability to survive conditions which should have killed them.

“Sensitive people who were used to a rich intellectual life…” Frankl concluded, would often survive, even if they seemed more fragile emotionally and physically than other men.

In his book, Man’s Search For Meaning, Frankl credits their survival to an interior sphere of intellectual stimulus to which they could retreat.

This brings to mind the biography and now, movie Unbroken.  Cast adrift on a raft for weeks with no food or water, Louis Zamperini and his pilot survived.  Both credited their survival with intellectual discussions and debates which took their minds off their plight.  They were also able to devise ways to catch fish (rarely) and capture drinking water from the occasional rainfall.

Also, the story of Nelson Mandela, (movies, Invictus and Long Walk To Freedom) a man who endured unthinkable punishment in prison under the Apartheid system of South Africa.  He had a dream to live for; to see his people live freely in their own country.

While most Aspies or high-functioning autism spectrum individuals will never live under conditions as dire as these, it is encouraging to know that interior intellectual lives have meaning and value.

It is important to learn to cope socially, to hone our social skills to the point where we can move freely in our societies with confidence.  However, nurturing that rich interior life can help move us through periods of suffering.

Frankl says also that people who had an unfinished work that only they could complete, people who had a dream to fulfil, and people who had someone else (a loved one) to live for, also found reason to endure.

Frankl notes that unavoidable suffering gives a person a unique opportunity to express his finer self in how he/she manages or bears his suffering.

Please note that Frankl is speaking of unavoidable suffering.  To suffer when it is avoidable, Frankl maintains, is mere masochism.

Hope this helps!

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

Tagged , ,
%d bloggers like this: