Category Archives: UNFORGIVING

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.

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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 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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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.

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Help For Aspies–Can Be Found Where?

Growing up in the 1960’s when nobody knew about Asperger’s syndrome, when it hadn’t even been officially accepted or even described by the AMA, was confusing and frustrating.

In my book, Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen, I talk about that frustration.

 And if it was bad for me, I hesitate to think how tough it was for my parents to have an Asperger’s Syndrome child in an era when manners and social conformity meant everything.

Thank goodness now there are several organizations whose sole purpose is to guide parents and adult Aspies through the maze of diagnosis, treatment and general support.

Positive affirmation is the guiding principle.

I am impressed to read in the Autism Speaks website (www.autismspeaks.org) that many adult-diagnosed Aspies “make great strides by coupling their new awareness with counseling”.

The Autism Speaks website is a great resource, with it’s many articles and references.  Especially popular is their Asperger Syndrome Tool Kit.

Included in that tool kit is Ellen Notbohm’s Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew.  I wish my parents could have read it.  Maybe your child feels that way, too.

And if you’re an adult with Asperger’s?  Read it anyway.  It can help you let your friends know how to help you.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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Aspies and Small Talk: Think Communication Bytes.

What is the main characteristic of small talk?

It’s SMALL.  Bytes of conversation as opposed to megabytes or gigabytes.

Keeping it short and impersonal can be challenging when you’re longing to express thoughts and ideas you have harboured inside yourself for so long that they are bursting to come out.  But you must manage your conversations, especially when you are first meeting someone.

Remember:  Bytes.  Little.  Little bits of conversation.

When you are first introduced to someone?  This is not the time to tell them about your fascination with engineering systems, national infrastructure or energetic reactions.  Save those conversations for networking meetings or gatherings of people with similar interests.

Socially?  Small talk is for when you first meet someone.  It’s a time to establish a safe conversational zone for both you and the person who is the object of your conversation.

Topics?  The weather.  Recent outings or vacations.  Current events.  Popular movies.

If the other person takes you deeper into their personal life, political or religious persuasion, fine, let them go on.

But rein yourself in.  Keep your conversation pleasant, interested and attentive.  Excuse yourself politely if you feel you must escape them.

Please remember, Aspies–it’s called SMALL talk.

Yours Truly,

Margaret Jean.

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Two Big Reasons Aspies Need To Learn Small Talk

Why perfect the art of small talk?  The ability to to communicate socially on what may seem to Aspies to be the art of meaningless chit chat?

Two reasons:

First, for your physical health.  That’s right!  Dr. Dean Ornish cardiologist and author of Reversing Heart Disease says this:

“being able to initiate and maintain relationships is integral to heart health.”

He goes on to explain:  “being able to interact meaningfully in a reciprocal relationship with another human being relieves stress and the feelings of loneliness and isolation.”

Isolated?  In my book, Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen, I show how I felt that way a lot, and how damaging it was to me socially to be unable to connect with my peer group as well as my parents and elders.  As Aspies, I’m sure we all know what those feelings are like.

And the second reason to learn small talk?  Because it’s the key that opens the door to successful social relationships.  It seems meaningless, but on the contrary: it’s important!

Small talk is the way people conversationally explore their comfort zone with the other person.

It’s where you and the other person communicate briefly about the world you both live in before deciding if it’s desirable or even safe to go into further fields of conversation.

Initially?  Keep it small, keep it light, and get connected.  Ultimately, small talk is good for the heart and good for your mental and emotional health.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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What Do Aspies Need From Their Parents? Stephen Shore’s Success Story

 

 

In my book, Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen, I often express the feeling of being disconnected from the rest of my family and my peers.

In the 1960’s, there was no diagnosis for Asperger’s.  My parents couldn’t figure out what was “wrong” with me.  In their eyes, much of my behaviour was inappropriate.  I resoponded differently to social situations and learning environments than my siblings.  This sense of being “wrong” while all too common for people with Asperger’s, does not have to be.

 In the introductory interview, Stephen Shore describes “the most important thing about my parents”, which is that they accepted him for who he was, and yet at the same time realized that he would face a number of challenges in his journey toward a normal life.

Many of us do not have parents who have this understanding.  Some of us have parents who are not educated enough or financially positioned to offer us the kind of interventions and therapies that Stephen Shore enjoyed.  Some parents are just too drained, emotionally and physically to offer us the support we need.

So we must learn to love and accept ourselves.  Understand this–we can make friends, be comfortable with some people, sincerely listen, pleasantly respond.

And parents please understand, whatever else you do, accepting your child for who they are is the first step on the road to your child’s integration into society.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

 

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Office Etiquette: Humour Has It’s Place…

In my book, “Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen”, I talk about finding myself in an unfamiliar environment on at least two occasions.  If I had known the appropriate etiquette, I could have been spared much embarrassment.  So to save you, my friends, from suffering the same awkward moments at work, I’m offering you these Office Behavior Etiquette Tips:

Choose humor over swearing.

When conversing, give co-workers a respectable distance of 15 inches.

Smile often and acknowledge them as a sign of respect. 

Cell Phones:

Screen your calls using caller ID.  Set your phone to vibrate and let voice mail pick up.

Anticipate potential callers and call them first — before work.

Never answer your phone when you’re in a meeting.  If it’s life and death urgent, leave the meeting.  Go out of the room, and speak quietly if you really must take the call.

Don’t make your phone visible on a desk or a lunch table.

When you do eat with others, chew wisely and while they are talking instead of when you are talking.

These rules of office etiquette come from:   http://ca.askmen.com/money/professional_150/161_professional_life.html

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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Review: “Unforgiving: Memoir of an Asperger Teen”.

Recently at the Surrey International Writer’s Conference, I had the privilege of spending some quality time with a writer who has greatly influenced the development of my writing.

Vanessa Grant writes romance novels, but the concepts she talked about years ago at a VPL event helped me in developing every relationship in my book.

I am proud to call her a friend as well as a mentor.  Here is the review she posted after reading my memoir: Unforgiving.

Published by Vanessa Grant on

Write it forward – the best gift

 November 12, 2012 | 3 Responses

Last month when I met Margaret Jean Adam at the Surrey International Writer’s Conference (SIWC), I had no idea that she was going to give me a treasure.  When I first spotted her, she was standing behind the BC Federation of Writers’ booth at the conference. We chatted for a few minutes before she mentioned that she’d attended a workshop I gave a few years ago.

“I learned something very important from you,” she said suddenly. “You taught me that characters must experience personal growth from their relationships.”

I learned most of what I know about writing from other authors – either reading their books, or listening to them speak about writing. I love talking about storytelling, and giving the occasional workshop, so it’s a pleasure to learn that I passed on something useful, a truth I didn’t fully learn until I’d written a several books.

The next day she gave me an autographed copy of her most recent memoir: M. J. Adam’s Unforgiving – the Memoir of an Asperger Teen

I’ve  just finished reading Unforgiving, and I can tell you, M. J. Adam is one hell of a writer.

Unforgiving – the Memoir of an Asperger Teen is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read.

M. J. Adam has crafted an inspiring book, a definite must-read for anyone who has, knows, is, or was an Asperger’s teen.

I highly recommend it for anyone who cares about child survivors of any kind of trauma, and for teens struggling to understand themselves and the world they live in.

I cried when I read this memoir. I laughed. I cheered Margaret Jean’s indomitable inner strength, and felt honoured that she had shared herself so deeply with this reader.

I like to think that I write good books, and I hope they give pleasure to my readers. M. J. Adam has done something more – she’s written a great book about life and relationships and coming of age.

Unforgiving is a rare treasure.

The events that happened to Margaret Jean should never happen to any child. Yet they did happen, and the miracle is that each page of Margaret Jean’s memoir rings with love, the amazing power of healing, and the spirit of survival.

I’ve learned something important from you, M. J. Adam.

Thank you

Vanessa

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