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Should You Try to Act "Normal?" – Tips for People with Asperger’s

It probably goes without saying that people with Asperger’s (high-functioning autism) should not feel ashamed of who they are. I think it’s worthy of mention though, because some of these individuals – at some point in their life, and if they’re honest with themselves – have indeed felt “flawed” to one degree or another (usually as a result of repeated rejection and criticism from “typical” people).

If you’ve got a spark to you, and you’ve got things you’re super-interested in, don't kill it by trying to “conform.” Don't throw away one of best things you have going for you: your passion, even if it's living life on your own terms. Never settle for a cookie-cutter existence.

Many people with Asperger’s are so excited about their “special interests” that they barely notice they're the odd ones out (or if they do notice, they simply don't care). Use your talents and passions to find your “niche” – at school, in the work place, and elsewhere.

Many “quirky” Aspies find refuge in the arts, drama clubs, social networks, and so on. It’s always possible to find a place where you “belong” and can be accorded respect.

If there's a particular subject you’re interested in, see if you can start a club or online group – and find other people interested in the same thing. If you do encounter some harassment or rejection, you will already belong to - and have found success in - enough other activities that it won't really matter much.

When you encounter problems (and I say “when” - not “if”), try to find ways around some of the biggest trouble spots. Keep reminding yourself of how great you are. But the most important thing you can do is continue to allow yourself to simply be “you.”

When you let your true colors show, you will find focus and direction, establish boundaries, build courage, establish your own identity, and live in alignment with your values and beliefs.

So, back to the question of: Should You Try to Act Normal?

Well, that’s actually a trick question. You are already “normal.”

Are you “different” in many aspects? Yes, of course.

But, are you “abnormal”? NO!

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Telling Others That You Have Asperger's

  • Do you prefer to be alone?
  • Do you find it difficult to make friends?
  • Do you find it difficult to keep a conversation going?
  • Do you find it difficult to imagine how someone else feels?
  • Do you find it distressing when things change?
  • Do you have a special interest?
  • Do you find body language difficult to understand?
  • Do you find it hard to tell what emotion others are feeling?
  • Do you find it difficult to say what you mean?

Knowing this can be very useful as you will then be able to tell others about these difficulties - and also work on improving them.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Why Do Some Adults with Asperger’s Get Labeled as “Stubborn”?

One frequently observed trait of Asperger’s (high functioning autism) is inflexibility in thought and behavior. Inflexibility seems to pervade so many areas of the lives of people with Asperger’s. As a result, many get labeled as “stubborn” by their significant others (e.g., family members, partners, spouses, co-workers, etc.).

Here are some of the reason why people with Asperger’s may come across as stubborn:

1. Some “Aspies” can be moralistic (i.e., a self-righteous and inflexible adherence to nonnegotiable moral principles that is usually out of context with practical reality). An example might be the Aspie who criticizes his wife who has run a yellow traffic light when she is on the way to the emergency room for treatment of a burn or cut.

2. Novel situations often produce anxiety for these individuals. They may be uncomfortable with change in general, which can result in behavior that may be viewed as rude and insensitive.

3. Routines and rules are very important to people with Asperger’s in providing a sense of needed order and structure, and thus, predictability about the world. When routines or rules are disrupted, anxiety often follows.

4. People with Asperger’s may have some fears in addition to those related to unexpected changes in schedules (e.g., large groups of people, complex open environments such as bus stations, an unexpected academic challenge, having too many things to remember or too many tasks to perform, etc.).  Such highly-stimulating situations tend to overwhelm these individuals.

5. Many people with Asperger’s have sensory sensitivities, and therefore may refuse to do certain things or go certain places (e.g., refusing to go with his or her spouse to a family function in order to avoid the over-stimulation of a large group of a people – all talking at the same time).

More reasons behind perceived stubbornness may include:
  • the Aspies’ misunderstanding or misinterpretation of another's action
  • other people changing something from the way it is “supposed to be”
  • anxiety about a current or upcoming event )no matter how trivial it might appear to others)
  • lack of knowledge about how something is done
  • the Aspie’s need to avoid or escape from a non-preferred activity
  • transitioning from one activity to another (often a problem because it may mean ending an activity before he or she is finished with it)
  • the Aspie’s reluctance to participate in an activity he or she can’t do perfectly or an activity that is too difficult 
  • difficulty “taking in” what is going on around him or her
  • problems “reading between the lines”
  • the inability to fully understand social cues

“Facts” are what people with Asperger’s learn and feel less anxious about. Since they have a hard time with all the normal rules of society, having strict rules and routines has a calming effect on them. Unfortunately, this coping strategy can be perceived by others as severe inflexibility.

Understanding what causes so much anxiety and inflexible behavior may help “neurotypical” partners and spouses to know where their Aspie is coming from. In other words, his or her “stubbornness” can be viewed (at least some of the time) as a coping mechanism to reduce anxiety rather than willful and malicious conduct.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Help for Adults with Asperger's (high-functioning autism) and Their Partners/Spouses

Help for Adults with Asperger's (high-functioning autism) and Their Partners/Spouses:

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