Tag Archives: Aspie Teens & friends

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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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.

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Steps To Socializing Your Aspie Teen.

As you can see from my last post, the issue of socializing is huge for Aspies.  This is especially true in the late pre-teen and early teen years.

Arranging a social event with a friend isn’t always the answer if the child with Asperger’s has trouble communicating in a meaningful way.  Just getting them together with  a “neurotypical” teen in a social setting isn’t going to help.  In fact, it can be disastrous.

Anna Matchneva from Burnaby BC works one on one with Asperger’s children, and this is what she suggested in a talk to parents last year.

First, limit the time for interaction to ‘safe’ time, that is time when the conversation will most likely be of mutual interest.

How do you do that?

Anna finds getting your teen Aspie to invite a friend for pizza and a movie is ideal.

First on the agenda is going to the movie.  When they are driving to the movie, they can talk about what movie they want to see and all the things they have heard about the movie.

Other topics may come up, but the drive to the theatre should not be too long, and the parent driving them can always intervene a little if necessary.

Next, at the movie, the parent drops them off.  The talk will be about arrangements to be picked up, how to buy the tickets and what snacks they want.  This is very safe also.

Once in the theater, everything should be good.  Although in my experience?  The Aspie child may have to be warned to be quiet and not comment during the movie, but save all their comments for afterward.

The time from the end of the movie to pick up should be minimal, to ensure that the conversational requirements don’t tax the Aspie child.

Then to the pizza parlour.  Again, conversation will center around the children’s preferences, and the movie action and how the children rate the movie.

After pizza, time for the guest to be dropped off at his/her home.

This kind of managed social time gives Aspie’s a sense of confidence which should ease both the child’s and the parent’s anxieties over social situations.

Let me know how it works if you try it, please!

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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The How-To Behind Friendship (Not Just For Aspies!)

Making friends and keeping friends: Research confirms these are two areas that seem to seriously challenge children with Asperger’s.

 So says Anna Matchneva, a lecturer and one-on-one counsellor who works closely with children on the autism spectrum and their parents.

Rejected:  This is a category of children Anna often sees.  She is not referring to parental neglect, but to the playground or social setting.

The rejected child is one who tries to join a group but is denied access.

Mostly we will never know why some people choose not to be friends with us.  But totally there are things we can do differently.

For instance, we might approach a group and start talking about whatever is on our mind when really?  We need to listen.  Try to pick up on what the others are saying.  Take a little time to formulate a brief remark in line with their conversation.  Don’t try to work in your current interest.  Stick to their conversation.

But hey, that’s easy to learn, right?  Just take a little time before speaking.  Listen.  Try to understand what they’re talking about.  Not just what they’re saying, but what they mean.

 We Aspies get a little starved for attention sometimes and that can make us talk too much, too loud, too soon.  But it’s easy enough to get over those habits.

I know myself, I have to be careful not to dive hell bent for leather into a topic, completely overwhelming and boring the people who were kind enough to invite me into the group.

And anyway, not every group wants another member.  They may be having a private conversation.  They may believe they have nothing in common with you, and therefore, not see any point in trying to make friends.  Maybe they are happy just as they are.  Then you need to find someone else to talk with.

Remember, your focus can be a very good thing, even if others don’t want to share in it.  It’s similar to the single-mindedness that made Taylor Swift a star and Bill Gates a computer mogul.

Try to listen first.  Take a minute or two to find out what the group and the conversation is about.  And when you do speak, smile, keep a neutral tone, and above all, be brief!

And please note–Aspies aren’t the only people in the world who have trouble making and keeping friends.  Lots of people do!

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean

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Aspie Teens–The Future Can Be Bright.

As the New Year approaches, I want to tell others out there, especially those teens with Aspergers, that life does get better.

I want you to know that although we aren’t born with the ability to learn about initiating and maintaining social relationships by observing others, it is something we can and usually do learn as we mature.

I want you to know that people do fall in love with us and stay in love, and that there are nurturing relationships ahead.

If you are an Aspie teenager, all of this may seem impossible right now, but I promise you, these things do lie ahead.  Even for you.

I know.  I am living proof.

Love you all, and pray that you have a meaningful and sociable New Year.

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


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For Aspies: Friendship and The Science Behind It.

This week I will pass on a blurb from the BC Autism Society about Anna’s upcoming talk this Monday, Nov 26.

This Coming Monday: Richmond ASBC Parents Group Meeting:
“The Art of Friendship and the Science Behind It”

by Anna Matchneva, M.Ed., BCBA, PEERS-Certified instructor

Anna has extensive experience in providing hands-on therapy for children
with ASD, conducting functional assessment and developing behavior support
plans, training and supervising intervention team staff, conducting skill
assessment and developing programs that address each child’s unique needs,
developing and facilitating play and social groups, and conducting parent
and professional workshops.

Anna is a PEERS-Certified instructor, under Dr Elizabeth Laugeson from UCLA.

“The Art of Friendship and the Science Behind It”

Is your child having trouble making and keeping friends? Friendships are
important in helping children develop emotionally and socially. In
interacting with friends, children learn important social skills, such as
how to communicate, cooperate, and solve problems. Some children, however,
have difficulty forming friendships. The solution: teach your children
specific social skills they need to connect with their peers. As parent, you
are the best person to help your child solve friendship problems by
expanding their peer network and working together to promote successful

PEERS (Program for the Evaluation and Enrichment of Relational Skills) is a
parent-assisted intervention focusing on teens in middle school and high
school who are having difficulty making or keeping friends. It is the
developmental extension of an evidence-based program known as Children’s
Friendship Training (Frankel & Myatt, 2003). PEERS has been field tested
most extensively on teens with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), to a
limited extent on teens with developmental disabilities and fetal alcohol
spectrum disorders (FASDs), and has recently undergone testing with teens
with attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Date: Monday, Nov 26, 2012
Time: 7-9pm
Location: Tyee room at Steveston Community Centre – 4111 Moncton Street,

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