Tag Archives: asperger traits

An Aspie Read: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.

“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/

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

 

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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.

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Praise for Aspies–How Does That Work?

Being praised for being smart can unwittingly lead bright kids to a downward learning spiral.

So says Mary Loftus in an April 2013 Psychology Today article; Smooth Encounters.

Loftus suggests kids who are told they are bright may not put in as much effort, thinking things should come naturally to them.

This can lead to poor results which can make them doubt their ability.

Praise effort, Loftus suggests.  Praising the work leading up to the brilliant report or impressive project is often more helpful for the child seeking reassurance.  Praise persistence.  Praise performance.  Remind the child of obstacles overcome.

This kind of praise leads to intellectual and social success.

Try it!

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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To Touch or Not To Touch? An Aspie Dilemma.

Touch can strengthen relationships, show closeness, and increase co-operation.  This applies to touching in “safe zones”.

So says Laura Guerrero in an April 2013 Psychology Today magazine article.  Touch, Guerrero maintains, is important in developing social relationships.

As Aspies, we often don’t like to be touched.  And we almost never feel comfortable touching others.

So, perhaps more than non-Aspies, we can understand the need to observe the other person’s reaction, of how they respond to your intention to touch.

Do they tense up?  Pull away?  Don’t touch.

Do they relax, seem open to touch?  Keep to the safe zones.

Because touch is the first sense humans acquire, Guerrero maintains it is a key element in building relationships.

Staying within the safety zones, observing a person’s response to your intention to touch, these are key to successful touching.

Do not touch complete strangers, or people you hardly know.  That is an unwelcome touch.

Safe zones are hands, shoulders and arms.

Examples of safe-zone touches?  High fives.  Hand shakes.  Back slaps.  Shoulder taps.

In the office?  Let your manager, supervisor or boss initiate contact, Guerrero warns.

Keep your handshake firm.  Not limp, not bone-crushing.

And when in doubt?  Don’t touch.

Guerrero researches non-verbal communication at Arizona State University and is the author of the book, Close Encounters, Communication in Relationships.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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Asperger Me

I was born with Asperger’s so I had markedly different ideas and behaviours from the average girl, and definitely from my mother and father.

In my book, Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger’s Teen, I talk a lot about the lack of relationship between myself and my parents.  That sense of disconnection, the feeling that I was some sort of interloper.

At the time, in my teens, I thought Mom’s ideal daughter would have enjoyed sewing, crocheting, baking bread with her, and sharing her enthusiasm for Woman’s Day magazine.  I was into classical music, movies like Lawrence of Arabia, poetry, Shakespeare and boys.

Was I right about Mom?  I’m not so sure.

My mother’s house was always dusty, rather untidy.  She went out to work, you see, when few mothers did, straining in the steaming heat of the Empress Laundry or cleaning low-rent motel rooms.

Once you’ve been out to work, you’ll never want to stay home again, she told me in a rare moment of mother-daughter confidence.

And of course the housework had to be done by someone.  And as the eldest daughter by nearly eight years, naturally that lot fell to me and to my grandmother.  I talk about that in Unforgiving, too.  About how I just took these duties for granted.

What did Mom want?  Just a daughter who didn’t talk so loud? Who didn’t speak out of turn?  Who could get a job and keep it?

The truth is, I will never know. Relationships are complicated.

Deeper into my adulthood, Mom and I came a little closer.  When she got Alzheimer’s?  After Dad died she came to live with us.

Goodnight, Mom, she’d say as I tucked her into bed.

She had forgotten I was her daughter.  All she knew was that I was someone who lovingly tucked her in at night.  

Maybe that’s all we needed to know about each other.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean

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Perfect? Not This Aspie!

In case you think I’m writing this blog from a position of perfection, you should know: it ain’t necessarily so.

Once on a road trip with my daughter?  She was singing along to some CD’s she brought.  I think she has a pretty voice.  She loves to sing.  But like me?  She has a little problem with keeping on tune.

No big deal.  But she sings in a band.  So I said, in a very motherly way, if she would take singing lessons?  I would pay for them.

She wrote a whole blog about that.

If you don’t think I was out of line?  You probably have Asperger’s too.

Another time, I went to visit my other daughter, who at that time was a single mom.  There were a number of issues I wanted to discuss with her, so I made a list.  And pulled it out and started on number one.

She laughed so hard she nearly fell over.  That is so YOU, Mom.  A list of what to talk about!

Just thought you’d like to know—both girls still love me, still include me in their lives, and are only a phone call away when I need anything.

But don’t think the author of this blog has come to perfect her social relationships.  I do research so that we can learn together.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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Aspies: Two Generations Can Help Each Other

I introduced author John Elder Robison and his son, Jack, both Aspies, to you in the last post.

In the same Pyschology Today  April 13th  article, I found John’s observations of his son’s difficulties with office etiquette very typical of Aspies in the work place.

In the article, Robison explains that he became aware that his son seemed oblivious to his co-workers.  He’d get so immersed in his work that his co-workers felt he was ignoring and avoiding them.

He did not engage in office chit-chat or small talk, and he was unable to recognize when this behaviour was having a negative effect on others.

We’ve all been there!  We go to work to work, right??  Not socialize!  Ah, but then there’s the rest of the world.

People like to be acknowledged.  We sometimes get so focused, we fail to see that.  And even then, we may feel we are much too busy to do anything about it.

Give in, Aspies!  Acknowledging others through a brief comment or compliment is just a necessary feature of being part of the human race.

And getting back to our previous topic of small talk? Office lunch rooms are the perfect setting for exercising your small talk entries.

Note that you should not participate in any disparaging talk about other workers or your superiors.

But safe zone topics?  Like recent outings, current events, the weather, the traffic–they’ll keep you in the loop.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

 

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Aspies: Two Generations Can Have an Explosive Impact.

In a Psychology Today April 2013 article titled Father and Son, Aspies Alike author John Elder Robison describes the pitfalls of two generations under one roof having Aspergers.

His son, Jack, was fascinated by ‘energetic reactions’ in chemistry.  This meant that he liked building experimental things that depended on explosive reactions. Things like rockets. Other chemical formulations that he set to explode in the field behind their house.

John Robison knew that his son Jack was uploading instructional videos of his experiments to You Tube.  But it never occurred to him, as it might to some non-Aspie parents, that this might attract some undue attention.

In Jack’s case, it was the FBI FTA branch.

Jack was not charged with any offence and his brush with the law proved innocent enough.

But maybe it’s better when you’re seeking an outside opinion?  To ask someone who isn’t an Aspie.

John Robison’s books include Raising Cubby,  Be Different and Look Me In the Eye.  His son, Jack, along with Jack’s friends Alex Plank, founder of You Tube’s Wrong Planet, have created a series of videos about Autism issues.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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Small Talk: Three Tips For Aspies

Help!

I’m alone in a roomful of people–people I don’t know!

And I want to make a good impression.  What do I do now?

In  Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen, I talk about the gaffs I made at a dinner especially arranged to introduce me to some theater people.  I really wish I ‘d had Dr. Carducci’s book and Jeffrey’s videos back then!  These two experts on small talk really know how to ace a social situation.

You’ve just listened to Jeffrey’s video.  He’s a guy who’s given more than 3,000 presentations and met many people.  His comfort level with strangers is very high. But even he says it takes practice.

Dr. Bernardo Carducci is head of The Shyness Institute at Indiana University South East, so he has a lot of research behind his book, The Pocket Guide to Making Successful Small Talk; How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere about Anything.  

Like Dr. Bernardo Carducci, Jeffrey Benjamin says step up and introduce yourself to someone standing near you.

Don’t interrupt a conversation to do that.  Just find someone who is standing alone and go for it.

This is called breaking the ice and while to an Aspie it can feel just as dangerous as falling into freezing water on the skating pond, practising this manoeuvre will make it less stressful each time.

Both experts say listen.  Listening in this sense, means being able to repeat back key phrases of what the other person has just said.

Repeating back a brief summary or phrase tells the other person you truly are listening, not just waiting for a pause in the conversation so you can jump in with your favourite topic.  Listening like this also keeps you on topic mentally.

Benjamin actually says Listen more, talk less. This is the best advice anyone can give, and probably the hardest for an Aspie to follow.  Discipline yourself.

Benjamin’s last item?  Be positive.  Dragging negativity around is not only pointless?  It’s also terribly boring.  Bring a positive attitude to the party.  After all, you got invited didn’t you?

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

 

 

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Aspies and Small Talk: Ellen’s Monologue and Bernardo Carducci’s Guide.

I wish I could make small talk, an Aspie recently confided to me.   

Whether we’re visiting family, in a workplace or out with friends, small talk can feel like treacherous ground for an Aspie.  In my book, Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen, I show how impossible it was for me as a teen to make small talk with girls my age.

Nowadays there’s an excellent resource book, Dr. Bernardo Carducci’s Pocket Guide_To Making Successful Small Talk.

And the subtitle is encouraging, too: How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere About Anything.

Some tidbits?  Be nice but not brilliant.  You’re not trying to wow people, just converse politely.

Practice your very brief introduction speech.  Hi, I’m George and I haven’t met you yet.

Join in the conversation with a brief remark on the current topic.  If there is no topic, you are initiating conversation, current events are good.

Rather than just abruptly leaving the conversation, part with There’s someone I must speak with, please excuse me. Or, I must go, but it’s been really nice meeting you.

Get the guide!  I know it will help.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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