Category Archives: UNFORGIVING

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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Asperger’s at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference (SIWC)

This weekend the SIWC takes over the Sheraton Guildford, with hundreds of writers, including Asperger me, swarming the premises.  A volunteer at the Federation of BC Writers’ table, I took the opportunity to promote my book, Unforgiving, the Memoir of an Asperger Teen.  

People were frank in expressing their curiosity about Asperger’s and I was delighted to be able to clarify about and advocate for Asperger’s and Autism.

Many people have heard about Asperger’s but aren’t sure what the term implies.  Not only did people want to know what behavioural anomalies were associated with Asperger’s, but also what that might look like in a person’s life.

I explained that Asperger’s kids generally are very honest, almost unable to lie.  Deceit and manipulation are usually beyond them.  They also go largely by spoken word, and are unable to pick up on tonal variations (sarcasm, innuendo) and facial expression.

This makes these children extremely vulnerable to bullying.

At the very least, Asperger’s kids are often socially challenged, not learning how to respond to others by observing others in a social setting.  They mostly need to be taught, step by step, with the how and why of each type of social encounter.  Even then, the child may get it wrong, either because of mistaking the type of social interaction he is responding to, or because of feeling “safe” in the situation having passed the first few minutes in acceptance, and then getting it wrong beyond that point.

In my book, Unforgiving,  I show some of the blunders I made, some of the vulnerability that comes from being unable to communicate in an appropriate way both with adults and peers.  Having Asperger’s can make one a target for bullying, for pedophiles, for all sorts of difficult situations.

Keeping the lines of communication open, and understanding the syndrome is crucial to keeping your Asperger’s child safe.

I was glad for the chance to talk to people at the SIWC about Asperger’s.  Hopefully, it will make a difference, however small, in someone’s life.

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The Ram’s Head Writer’s meeting is always engaging.  Hosted by Lisa Hatton in her home, it’s a friendly get together of several writers at varying stages in their careers.  Lisa is disbanding the group temporarily while she goes for surgery, and the camraderie and Lisa herself will be sadly missed.  When we left, we all admonished her to get well soon and email us the minute the meetings were back on.

Most people read some of their work, and the stories were engaging, the critiquing, sound.  Some of us got stuck on the word “inception” and a lot of discussion followed about the appropriate usage of the word.   We heard children’s stories, and in contrast, Jason read a chapter where his murderous antagonist runs amuck.  All great stuff.

For me, the hardest part about writing a book is understanding how it sounds to readers.  Last night at Lisa’s, I read chapter eleven of Unforgiving aloud.  I chose that chapter because it deals with the predator stalking Margaret Jean, choosing her as his target, and testing the family waters to see how the family will react.  This is a tense chapter largely fueled by a child’s outrage.

While reading, I looked up occasionally to see if my audience was engaged.  They were sitting up, leaning toward me, totally focused.  After the meeting, they all handled the book, some jotted down the title, and asked me where they could buy the book. 

I drove home, thrilled and excited.  Until I realized what I had forgotten– That I had five copies of the book in my trunk!

The Ram’s Head…

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