Category Archives: Aspies volunteering

Aspies: Ten Ways Volunteering Can Help Us Learn to Adapt.

When someone else changes plans which also affect us, as Aspies we may become temporarily stuck in a “this is unacceptable!” zone.  How can we become more adaptable?

What activities or new experiences may best help us handle change so that we might adapt to other’s needs and acquire a healthier focus; one which does not lead us to a feeling of dread when we must deal with a changed agenda?

Save The Children’s Marc and Craig Kielburger give a possible solution in a recent newspaper article*:

“Youth who volunteer through our service programs…are more comfortable adapting to change…”

Renowned for creating the Save The Children Foundation as a young teen in high school, Craig Kielburger still operates the organization that was originally entirely run by and for children.

In their article, the Kielburger brothers note the following ten ways in whiuch volunteering helps teenagers adjust to school and other stresses, including aversion to change:

  1. When you do something for others, your stress levels are reduced.  This is proven by research**.

  2. Volunteering may give you an alternative social scene, in which you can find a sense of community and belonging.

  3. Volunteering for a cause you’re passionate about will connect you with mentors who have similar interests.

  4. Helping others puts your focus outside of yourself, encouaging you to see your own situation in a different and possibly more positive light.

  5. Volunteering broadens your outlook.  Your own problems may seem far less significant when you come face to face with the plight of others.

  6. Seeing other’s problems, Kielburger says, can help you build both perspective and empathy.  Kielburger also notes that doctors state that empathy is a powerful antidote to stress.

  7. As a Volunteer you enjoy increased self-esteen.  According to research done within the Foundation, volunteers for Save The Children are 1.3 times more likely to “have a strong sense of self”.

  8. The kind of stress found in volunteering — that is, helping others with their problems — can be an opportunity to overcome challenges, to build resiliency and to develop self-esteem.

  9. Volunteering can build leadership skills.

  10. Volunteering helps develop a  life – long habit of giving back.

Find a cause you are passionate about, Aspies and get involved!

Maybe sorting clothes at the local hospice society thrift shop won’t do it for you, but perhaps volunteering in a Wildlife Preservation Society or starting up a chapter of Save the Children will.

Whatever you choose, if you give it your all you will find yourself thinking about situations, people and places beyond your own inner world.  Go for it. And, most importantly, enjoy!

*According to an independent study by research firm Mission Measurement.

**See:  https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/the-science-of-kindness

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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Aspies: Five Ways To Lower Anxiety

What is the difference between anxiety and fear?  I’ve heard it said that fear is a specific dread–for instance, you might be afraid of the man next door because you have heard he’s a pervert or because he always looks angry.

Anxiety on the other hand is the dread you experience but can’t explain.  You might be having fearful feelings but not be able to say why.  This is very challenging because not knowing where the fear comes from, means you have no way to face down the fear.

But relax.  There is help.  And I know we’ve talked about this before, but with more than fifty percent of 100,000 college students rating anxiety as their biggest issue when visiting a campus clinic, and the Canadian Anxiety Disorder Association stating that anxiety is now the number one mental health problem in Canada, this information bears repeating.

So here is help:  Five ways to fight anxiety and come out a winner.

  1. At the end of each day, think of three things that went right.  Focus your thoughts on those incidents.  Did you hand a report in, and get a good mark?  Did someone compliment you?  Did you finally make that phone call you’ve been dreading to make? Did you balance your budget?  Smile at someone who smiled back at you?  How did you make that happen?

  2. Be grateful.  Think about something you have–your health, your living space, your cat,–and be thankful for it.  It can be something as simple as a beautiful day, or rain for your garden or the sun on your face.  Feeling and expressing gratitude leads to reduced anxiety.

  3. Be kind.  Doing a good deed doesn’t just lift the spirits of the recipient of your kindness; it somehow magically transforms something inside of us to a good emotion.  And here’s the great thing–it doesn’t matter if you save someone from getting hit by a train (very anxiety producing in itself!) or if you just say hello to the lonely senior living down the street–it’s all powerful anti-anxiety medicine..

  4. Volunteer: think of some charity you’d like to lend a helping hand to, then go and sign up as a volunteer.  You’ll meet people with similar interests, see that you are better off than some people, and possibly make new friends.  At the very least you’ll have social contact and feel productive.

  5. Be compassionate to yourself.  Forgive yourself your blunders. Tell yourself you’ve learned something from that embarrassing situation and will do better next time.  try to see the humour in it, and understand that you are loveable, you are unique and you are worthy of happiness.

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Which is more limiting? The Autism Label? Or Our Parenting?

Temple Grandin, whom I greatly admire,  refers to parenting as a “major source of therapeutic momentum”.  But she adds, when children are diagnosed on the autism spectrum, parents may not have enough expectations for their children.

 

They bring the child through school to graduation, but in the meantime, they have not given the child the kind of experience that teaches them life skills, leaving the graduate either unemployed or under-employed.

Autistic children need to learn how to work, Grandin asserts.  They need to learn basic coping skills, like how to shop, how to order food in a restaurant.  Showing up on time, being responsible for a task outcome, these are skills that are needed in order to learn how to be on the job.

 

That’s why I personally feel that involving kids on the autism spectrum in some kind of volunteer activity, where they must show up regularly, and perform expected tasks, is invaluable to today’s kids, autistic or not.

 

As a volunteer, they must learn to be courteous (a missing factor in today’s world, Grandin laments) and to be reliable, to learn certain work routines and to cope with organizational structures.

As a volunteer, they will also meet retired people who have similar interests and who can mentor them.

The best part?  The child can choose the type of organization he/she wishes to volunteer with and select from a schedule of available days and times those which would be most suitable for them.

These kinds of situations force spectrum kids to interact with others, and Grandin says to insist on social interaction for your child is not only desirable, but necessary if you want him to succeed.

 

“The skills that people with autism bring to the table should be nurtured, for their benefit and for society’s.”  That’s why Grandin believes parents must help their children get out into the work world, learn coping skills and the basics of social etiquette.

As parents, we either help, or hinder.  While we cannot help how children are viewed by others, our most important work is in how we encourage our children to see themselves.

 

Quotes from: http://www.templegrandin.com/

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Ten Benefits of Volunteer Service From An Aspie’s Point of View.

Volunteer Services are a great way to prepare for work in the real world.  Volunteering can be a sort of head start program for Aspies.  Here’s why:

1. It gets you out of the house and interacting with people in a positive way that benefits you and your community.

2. It’s a non-threatening way of finding out what kind of work you like, what kind of hours you can handle, and how long you can stand to be part of a work place interaction.

3. If you don’t like it, you can quit.  You will still give notice so that someone can cover your shifts, but if you find the co-workers snarky, or the clientele is too much for you to handle, well, no harm done.

4. You will learn to schedule your responsibilities.  You have to make a commitment.  You have to show up when you say you will.  You have to be good at what you say you are good at.  You have to know that you can get there  (public transit, walking or bicycling) on your own.

5. You will learn to be reliable and punctual.  You will get good references if you do,.

6. You will learn to work with other people of varying ages, professions and education levels.  You will become part of a team.  You will learn how to interact with them in a non-abrasive way.

7. You will learn to understand heirarchy–how people rank in an organization, and how they fit together.

8. You will learn to follow orders–to listen carefully, to ask questions if you don’t understand or are not sure of what is being asked of you, and to find out what special tools or equipment is to be used in the carrying out of these orders.

9.  You will develop different skills, to varying degrees of competence.  These skills do count on a resume.

10.  You will experience limited rejection–most organizations are more than happy to greet new volunteers.

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