Tag Archives: asperger traits

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.

Tagged , , , ,

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.

 

 

Tagged , , ,

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.

Tagged ,

Caught Myself Asperger Talking Again…

I blew a conversation today.  You’d think at my age, I have it all figured out by now.  But I don’t.

I was in Starbucks waiting for my latte when a woman remarked that she liked my scarf.  I don’t wear them, she said, but that looks really good on you.

Thank you, I said.

So far, so good.  My latte came and I went over to the counter where they have the nutmeg, lids and other goodies.  The woman happened to be just putting the lid on her drink.

If you decide to get one for some one else, I said, and proceeded to tell her, in boring detail where the shop was, the name of the shop, how close it is to Super Store and how very inexpensive the scarves are there.

The one person I know who wears scarves, has lots, she said, and quickly left the store.

I do know how to handle a compliment.  I have told myself about a hundred times.  On the way out to the car, I reminded myself again:

If someone compliments you on something?  Just say thank you.  Leave it at that.

Unless they go on to ask you about the item.  Then, you can say one something about it.  Just two or three sentences at most.

The idea is to intrigue people into conversations.  Not trap them.

Tagged , ,

Grandin: Understanding Individual Brain Differences Can Help Control Behaviours

You really get Temple Grandin’s enthusiasm when she talks about brain differences.  Just knowing how your brain is unusual can help people with autism better understand and control their behaviours and emotions, Grandin says in her latest book, The Autistic Brain.

She gives the example of her own brain.  For instance, the amygdala is the part of the brain that processes emotions like fear.  Just so happens, Grandin’s amygdala is enlarged.  Since this is the part of the brain that signals the fear emotion, Grandin credits this brain anomaly with her hyper anxiety.

Because she now knows that her brain construction is probably responsible for her high levels of anxiety, she finds that anxiety easier to deal with.

Grandin gives the example of students talking  under her bedroom window at night.  This creates anxiety for her regardless of whether they are talking softly or loudly.

Knowing that this state of anxiety is not caused by any real threat, she can reassure herself that the problem is not outside;  the problem lies within her brain.

She can then deal with the fact that threat is not real.  What is real?  How she feels about it.  And that she can deal with.

 

Tagged , , , ,

Autism Spectrum Children Over-Protected: Temple Grandin

The main thrust of personalities on the autism spectrum is social awkwardness, Temple Grandin, an autistic scientist, best-selling author and public speaker maintains.  Her most recent book, “The Autistic Brain” is the topic of her speech available at  www.chicagohumanities.org.

“It’s like our brains have been programmed with all the social circuitry left out.” Grandin says.  “Who do you think invented the spear?”  She asks.  Certainly not those social types sitting chatting around the fire!

 

But Grandin is concerned that children today are allowed to become recluses in their bedrooms or the basement.  They are over-protected, she asserts, and as a result, they become adults on welfare sitting home playing video games.

 

Because kids on the autism spectrum are socially awkward, Parents may tend to protect them from social situations, allowing the children to avoid all participation. The problem as Grandin sees it is that as parents, we are not pushing our autistic children hard enough.  Listening, I can hear that Grandin is looking back at tasks she was made to do as a child which she dreaded at the time.  Now, however, she sees the value in her mother’s determination.

 

For instance Grandin’s mother forced Temple to play hostess at her cocktail parties, to take on family tasks and to visit relatives independently each year.  Nowadays, these daily routines are missing.  Grandin mourns the loss of paper routes which taught children how to work, and chores which taught children basic skills like cooking and sewing.  Grandin also regrets the loss in some schools woodwork and metalwork classes.  These lessons taught not only basic skills, but also practical problem solving and resourcefulness.

 

The solution?  Autistic children need their boundaries pushed.  Her message is that children need mentors and to have that, they must socialize.  Common interests are the threads that bind autistic people with others socially.  Her suggestion?  Retired people who work with the skill-sets that interest your autistic child are the kind of people who could be good mentors for your child.

 

Her talk is interesting and thought-provoking. For anyone with autism spectrum issues in the family, it is well worth the hour spent listening.  Her video is available at: http://chicagohumanities.org/events/2013/animal/temple-grandin?gclid=CjwKEAjw68ufBRDt0Zmrn4W_8AwSJADcjp1c8n1Utyy3mnJeYdd940H2AEKV1F2Imhly0MZsHZr5SxoChdfw_wcB

A shorter version can be found on You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWePrOuSeSY.

 

 

Tagged , ,

Asperger Traits: The Real Life Effects.

The traits I want to illustrate today are twofold: the way we give what people say a more literal interpretation than what others do, and two?  The fact that we do not naturally learn correct social behaviour from observing others.

My parents knew they had a problem child in me.  Their solutions for me were rote.  Whenever I’d set on a course they deemed foolish, like when I wanted to shave my legs or tint my hair, because the other girls were doing it, my parents had a standard response:

I suppose if all the other girls jumped off a cliff, you would, too?

Of course I wouldn’t, I’d reply, stung by the stupidity of the suggestion.

I took this saying quite literally to mean that I was not supposed to copy the behaviour of my peers.

I took it to mean that individuality was an  important factor in people’s assessment of each other.

Which made sense when you thought about because it also ensured the preservation of the species.   I mean, who knows what would happen to the population if herds of stupid teenage girls were always plunging off cliffs.

Not that I thought they were, but sadly I never paused to reflect that actually herds of teenagers, male or female, running lemming-like toward the ultimate plunge was an idiomatic warning meant to be directed at particularly dangerous behaviours.  I think partly what confused me was that what I wanted to do was more normal than dangerous.

I didn’t realize back then, as I do now, that the only real danger in tinting my hair or shaving my legs was the fact that it would cost the parents money which they couldn’t afford.

Not to mention the fear that no-one knew what colour Margaret Jean’s hair would end up.  In an era when strawberry blonde was a shocker, this was a real concern.

It wasn’t until I was very much older that I learned to watch how others responded to each other and the community at large.  And copy their behaviours.  Not their words, necessarily, but their timing and attentiveness.  And so far?  I haven’t found myself heading toward any cliffs.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

 

 

 

Tagged , , ,

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.

 

Tagged , , ,

For Adults with Asperger’s: Overcoming Obstacles to Getting That Job…

Famous people with Asperger’s give us hope….

80% of grown-ups with Aspergers do not have full-time jobs.

This alarming statistic comes from the webpage, “My Asperger’s Child”.  In a recent article, the authors maintain the reason behind this statistic is not the lack of education or intelligence, but the lack of social skills which would allow employees with Asperger’s to perform their tasks in a “socially acceptable” manner.

“Countless studies show individuals would rather have pleasant and personable co-workers than a co-worker who is always right,” the authors point out.

They conclude that people with Aspergers must compensate for their lack of social competence by “making themselves so good in a specialized field that individuals will be willing to “buy” their skill even though social skills are poor”.

They go on to state that Aspies “need to learn a few social survival skills,” but situating themselves in work groups that are highly specialized is what these authors see as the real solution.  In their minds, Aspies would have more access to social relationships involving work colleagues because of very specific work-related interests.

While I do consider this good advice, I also maintain that working hard at learning social skills is equally important.  There are so many books, videos and online lectures on the subject…Let us do our best in both arenas.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

Read more at: http://www.myaspergerschild.com/2010/10/best-and-worst-jobs-for-aspergers.html
Tagged , , , ,

About Autism Syndrome Disorder: Did You Know….

Bev & I blogMy adult daughter, who is diagnosed with Asperger’s, came home one day and told me how surprised she was to find that most people when they enter a room?  Look at the people.

“I always look at the layout of the room,” she explained, “how the seats are laid out, where the doors are, where the teacher is working from, what equipment is in the room, where the windows are.  I never thought to look at the people.”

This is an example of what Dr. Jim Tanaka of UVic says about difference in perception between those with and those without ASD.  It also illustrates Simon Baron-Cohen’s point that kids on the spectrum find systems more fascinating than people.

Other problems of perception happen because of focus.  At SFU, I was an English Lit major.  It took me ten years to get my degree as a mature student.  I can’t believe in all that time, I never realized that SFU has an Autism and Developmental Disorders Lab.  I was totally focused on English classes, which were in different wings than the sciences.

I now know that lab is headed by Dr. Grace Iarocci, and its current focus is the way in which visual perception is affected both negatively and positively by processes of attention.

This year, they’re co-hosting three community events about ASD kids, their families and the quality of life.  The idea is to open a discussion about quality of life issues for ASD  individuals, care givers, professionals and families.  It’s free, open to the public.  Watch their website for scheduling:  http://autismlab.psyc.sfu.ca/events

Dr. Iarocci apparently has influence with the government and bodies determining ASD funding, so please do attend and voice your opinion loud and clear.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

Tagged , , ,
%d bloggers like this: