Tag Archives: Asperger’s and social relations

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: Ten Steps to Mixing at a Party!

Happy New Year everyone!

Invited to a party?  Anxious about how that will go? Good news, Aspies: Mixing well at a party is really painless. Here are ten steps to being at ease at a party:

  1.  Be presentable.  Clean body and clothes, regardless of what you wear. Fresh breath and deodorant are a must.  No pet hair on clothes.  Lots of people are allergic and you don’t want everyone in the room moving away from you all night.

  2. Arrive on time, especially if it’s a dinner party. Don’t come early, and don’t arrive more than fifteen minutes after the specified time.

  3. Be thoughtful of the host/hostess. Where do you put your coat, etc?  Can you help with anything?  They will most likely greet you at the door, take your coat, and either hand you a drink or point you to the refreshment table/bar.

  4. Forget about YOU. This is a gathering of diverse people the host brought together with the overall idea of a fun/stimulating/entertaining evening.  Therefore each person regardless of appearance, abilities or disabilities, is worthy of your time and attention.

  5. Spend a little time with each guest as they become conversationally accessible. Introduce yourself, mention the weather or the funny hat the host is wearing, or how you know the host.  Ask the person about themselves: what do they like to do?  How do they know the host?  What is the best movie they’ve seen this year?  The worst?

  6. LISTEN: Really listen. You aren’t listening if you’re waiting to talk about your favorite topic.  And you aren’t listening if you’re looking around wondering who to talk to next.  To listen, look at the other person.  Absorb what they’re saying.  Think of something to ask that relates to what they are saying, or, if the conversation is complex, briefly rephrase what they’ve said to make it clear that you understand.  The point of any conversation is to draw the other person out, to see into their mind, their interests, their lives.

  7. Excuse yourself, when it becomes obvious the other person is never going to stop talking, or others have joined in and are pretty much carrying the conversation. Do not take offence that this has happened, it is a natural evolution of party talk. However, if you see people moving away from you? Probably you are talking too much!  Go on to the next.

  8. At the end of the night, say a brief goodnight to each person you chatted with, thank your host and check that you have everything; cell phone, purse or wallet, hat, scarf, gloves.

  9. Do not be the last to leave! Unless the host has designated you part of the clean up crew, exit the party in a timely manner. It’s okay to leave at any time, but probably best if you wait til after two or three others have left.

  10. The next day, call or text your host/hostess to tell them how much you enjoyed the event. Be only positive in this missive.  Do not point out how they could have improved the party or who they should not have invited or that your aunt has a better recipe for baked Brie.  Positive remarks only along with thank you.

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An Asperger Day: From Frustration to Figuring It Out.

Ever feel like you’re drowning in a social situation?  Like  if you don’t get to be alone in five minutes or less you won’t be able to breathe?

I’d spent a wonderful day with a friend.  We’d done the shops and lunch and it was all good.  When she dropped me off at home, I invited her in to see our apartment thinking, of course, that she would then leave.  That’s an Aspie for you.

Instead, she and my husband, Cash, struck up a conversation.  They had no idea that I was done.

To my dismay, Cash did what I, as hostess, should have done–offered her coffee.  I quickly put the coffee on, even thought it meant she would stay longer than I felt I could manage. I worked hard at not showing my disappointment as I brought in the steaming mugs.

Then my husband said the kids wanted to get together the next day for Father’s Day.  “Oh, what did they have in mind?” I asked,visions of them taking him off somewhere for the day dancing  in my head.

“They’re coming here,” he said.

I’m an Aspie, so caught off guard, no filters, right?  I blurted out, “Oh no!”  It was already 5 p.m. and we were having people for dinner tomorrow?   The bathrooms needed cleaning.  Dinner for six planned and prepared.

“Just coffee and dessert is fine,” he said, his face falling at my attitude.  My guest was shocked at my ungracious response.

To change the subject, Cash talked about the trip we were planning to the southern US to visit relatives. My friend had an inspiration:  “A road trip with George and I!” she exclaimed.  “Wouldn’t that be fun! We could take two or three weeks…”  She and my husband elaborated enthusiastically about the vacation.

In my present state, I was now forced to imagine three weeks in a compact car with three other people. In a very warm climate.

Mind and body immediately responded with all the symptoms of intense claustrophobia.

However, I managed to breathe more or less normally while smiling and nodding in some of the right places.   I did not want to hurt my friend’s feelings.  She is a lovely person.

My friend left at 6:20 p.m.

At 3 a.m. I woke thinking about the day.   I had enjoyed being out with my friend.   But, I realized I needed to make my expectations clear when we set out—tell her that when we came back I’d be bringing her in to see the suite, but then I had things to do.  And I should have reinforced that just before leaving the restaurant.

As for the kids coming over—I always enjoy them, but I like to have lots of good food ready, and I didn’t know if I’d have time to do that, and so I reacted badly.

Cash was up by then, too, and after talking things over, we decided to take a chicken out of the freezer.  He roasts a great chicken, and he’d be happy to do so.  I would go to the store and buy his favorite lemon cake and strawberries for dessert after making the apartment presentable.

We hugged after finding our happy solution, and went back to bed.

We had a great afternoon.  Not a speck of chicken was left.

As for the trip?  Well, that has four months to die a natural death.

I’m working on it.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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