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How to Be a Chronic Worrier: Asperger’s Guidelines to Increase Anxiety

As an adult with Asperger’s (high-functioning autism), you are probably an expert in experiencing anxiety. However, if you want to kick your game up a few notches, adopt the “beliefs” listed below. They are guaranteed to move your anxiety to an all new level.

Belief #1: You should spend copious amounts of time contemplating all the possible things that might go wrong in any particular situation, or else you won’t be adequately prepared. “What if ________ (fill in the blank) happens?” …should become your new mantra.

Belief #2: Make yourself adopt the notion that you are a “born worrier.” In other words, you “have to worry” because it’s a genetic trait, so there’s no sense in trying to change something that is totally out of your control.

Belief #3: Accept that you are unable to find solutions to most problems, and as such, worrying is the best option.

Belief #4: Adopt the idea that if you let other people know what they do that makes you anxious, they will change their behavior to accommodate your wishes. In other words, feel free to engage in “emotional blackmail” as needed.

Belief #5: Come to understand that if you worry about others, it will show that you care about them. You know how great it feels when you see that someone else is continually worrying about you – right? So, return the favor!

Belief #6: Realize that if you worry about something long and hard enough – it’s likely to happen. Thus, create as many “self-fulfilling prophecies” as possible.

Belief #7: If you “feel” really nervous about something, it must mean that it’s a real threat. Therefore, you SHOULD worry about it – because feelings make facts.

Belief #8: Spend a long time thinking through every aspect of an issue before making a decision, because “spur-of-the-moment” decisions are often deadly!

Belief #9: Be advised that just because something you worried about in the past didn’t happen, that doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the future. As such, “jumping to conclusions” and creating “worst-case scenarios” is highly recommended.

Belief #10: If you unceasingly worry about something (e.g., all day, all night, into the next day, etc.), you may be able to prevent bad things from happening. Increased worry equals fewer unwanted outcomes.

These are all beliefs that will raise your stress-level so high that your nearest competitors will be absolutely blown away. So, go ahead – lead the pack.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

23 Ways to Get Out of a Funk: Tips for Aspies

Here are some quick and effective ideas for improving your mood – quickly:

1. Achieve a small goal: Even little successes have big mood payoffs (e.g., getting the back yard mowed).

2. Be here now: The best way to stay cheerful is to stay centered in the present. In contrast, a wandering mind brings you down. 

3. Be mindful: Don’t dwell so much on the past and the future. Instead, tell yourself that nothing really changes regardless of how much you think about the past and, in most cases, the future.

4. Be nice: Holding the door for the person behind you or donating five bucks to a favorite charity improves your mood.

5. Breath: Belly breathing switches on the parasympathetic nervous system, helping calm mind and mood. 

6. Burn a candle: Flickering flames burn away stress and help you feel better all around.

7. Chew: The repetitive action of gnawing on gum or beef jerky promotes relaxation and reduces anxiety and stress.

8. Compliment someone: Complimenting people usually will improve their mood, and it also improves yours. 

9. Do something new: Even adding something small to a normal routine can brighten up a day. 

10. Drink green tea: It contains theanine, which has a calming effect on your body.

11. Eat dark chocolate: Eating chocolate makes you feel happy.

12. Get distracted: Step away from worries for a few minutes and get absorbed in something neutral (e.g., trimming a bush, drawing a picture). 

13. Get outside: A boost of vitamin D can keep the blues at bay.

14. Jump: Get endorphins pumping fast with some jumping jacks, jump rope, or random flailing around.

15. Masturbate: If you’re cranky at home (or somewhere else that’s private), orgasms can mellow you out.

16. Meditate: Just a few minutes of sitting quietly, focusing on the breath, and chanting a few Oms (silently or out loud) can snap you out of a funk.

17. Notice small miracles: Look around for small wonders (e.g., a butterfly).

18. Pet your pet: Cuddling, playing, or just chilling out with Sparky helps you feel happier and less stressed.

19. Rearrange the furniture: Changing an environment helps you feel refreshed, enabling you to bust out of a negative mood.

20. Sing: Sing along with a happy song (perfect pitch not required).

21. Smile: The act of smiling really does improve mood fast.

22. Sniff: Inhaling the scent of orange oil or lavender reduces anxiety and improves mood.

23. Snuggle: Climbing under a soft blanket for a few minutes makes you more relaxed and flexible.

Mood is determined by neurotransmitters (e.g., serotonin, dopamine and GABA). Low levels of these natural chemicals are the reason for a low mood and other emotional issues. Try some of the ideas above – right now – to get out of your funk.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Asperger’s and Difficulty in Understanding the Emotional and Social World

People with Asperger's have a tough time comprehending what’s going on in the social world. For example, they may pay attention to WHAT the other person is saying, but not HOW he or she is saying it (e.g., the term “thanks” may be a genuine expression of gratitude or a form of sarcasm, depending on the situation).

Many adults with Asperger’s have a desire to interact, but they often do so in an odd way. Many of them long to form romantic relationships (as they understand them) but may have little idea how to make the relationship work.

They may have very little insight into how they are perceived by others due to the fact that they have problems reading social or emotional cues. Their approach is often awkward and one-sided and reflects a lack of understanding that the other people in the exchange have needs and desires that have to be taken into account. As a result, “Aspies” may come off as pushy, insensitive, or strange.

The person with Asperger’s may be able to describe correctly (in a cognitive and formalistic way) the other person’s emotions and desires - but is often unable to act on this knowledge spontaneously and intuitively. As a result, the tempo of the interaction gets lost.

The lack of spontaneous adaptation and poor intuition is often accompanied by a significant reliance on rigid social conventions and formalistic rules of behavior. These traits are basically responsible for the impression of behavioral rigidity and social naiveté and that is often witnessed in the Aspie. Such social skills deficits may be somewhat masked in the early going of a romantic relationship - but may stand out in sharp relief once the Aspie begins to feel comfortable with his or her partner.

It is often said that the Aspie “lacks empathy.” In fact, some “neurotypicals” (i.e., non-autistic people) go so far as to say that the Aspie is sociopathic (e.g., extremely intelligent, but has no feelings for others). While this view may be understandable (especially in the eyes of a hurt, embittered neurotypical spouse), it’s far from being the case. 

A real sociopath is a cruel exploiter with a creepy ability to read and use others’ emotions against them for his or her own gain. In sharp contrast, the Aspie is simply clueless. For example, due to his social ineptitude and unawareness of social rules and expectations, he may make blunt requests of a sexual nature, or his intense “special interests” may lead him to commit strange acts associated with those interests.

Many people with Asperger’s are also accused of being rude and critical. Why? Because they tend to say what they are is thinking without the “social filter” that neurotypical people make use of. The Aspie may make a comment on somebody’s appearance, level of intelligence, disability, race, or political affiliation without any awareness that such a comment is hurtful.

The unapproachable and aloof Aspie has often been likened to Mr. Spock of Star Trek (all logic and no emotion). The less aloof Aspie may resemble Mr. Data (also of Star Trek fame). He was an android who, like Pinocchio, wanted to be a “real” person, but had great difficulty understanding romance, emotion, and humor. Both of these characters offer an opportunity for insight into what it may be like to be an Aspie – so smart in some ways, so lost in others.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

What's The Best Therapy for Adults with Aspergers?

“My name is Josh and I’m a 24 y.o. recently diagnosed Aspie and was wondering what the best therapy would be. I have (and had for many years) anxiety issues, depression, difficulty connecting with some people, some sensory sensitivities, just to name a few.”

No “best” therapy exists since every Aspie is different. What may be highly effective for someone else may not benefit you in the least. But, there are several standard courses of treatment that can address different issues, depending on the individual.

Here are some of the most prevalent options available:

1. Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA): Although the majority of ABA is done with kids, experts are starting to work with adults, too. Basic living skills is a popular goal for this therapy (booking a flight, renting an apartment, preparing for a job interview, etc.).

2. Speech and Language Therapy: This therapy deals with social communication, and in some cases, social skills (e.g., how to get better and reading non-verbal cues and body language).

3. Social Skills Training: This therapy can help you learn how to relate better to others (e.g., details such as personal space and understanding slang, how to recognize social cues and gestures, making and keeping friends, etc.).

4. Sensory Integration Therapy: This therapy will help you get your sensory systems in synch.

5. Physical Therapy: This therapy addresses the physical clumsiness that sometimes comes with the disorder (e.g., problems with balance, awkward gait, etc.).

6. Occupational Therapy: This approach is basically used to teach independence (e.g., typing, handwriting, social skills, sports skills such as bowling, etc.).

7. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This method is used to treat the emotional side of Aspergers (e.g., obsessions, anxiety, depression, etc.). CBT will help you form the connections between emotions and behavior.

Best of luck Josh!

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Aspergers Employees and Workplace Anxiety

Many Aspergers and high-functioning autistic employees experience work-related stress. The possible stressors include: social, task-related, and environmental. Let’s look at each of these in turn.

Social Stressors—

Many employees with Aspergers experience some level of anxiety in social situations they encounter on the job. For example:

• Employers— A good experience with a caring employer can cause a lasting impression on an employee’s life. A bad experience can also make a lasting impression! While many employers do their best to provide their workers with a positive workplace experience by coaching and advising them on how to perform at their peak, many people with Aspergers are better suited for certain coaching styles and work-related tasks. If there's a mismatch between employer and employee in this regard, the “Aspie” can form lasting negative feelings about work and his/her own abilities.

• Workplace Bullies— Many places of business have anti-bullying policies. Though bullying does still happen in the workplace even with these policies, help is generally more easily accessible than it was years ago. The bad news is that workplace bullying has gone high-tech and may not necessarily happen on the job-site. There are some people who use the Internet (e.g., Facebook) to target a fellow employee that they have a “beef” with. One reason for this is that they don't have to face their target, so it's easier to shed any empathy that they may otherwise feel in face-to-face interactions.

• Workplace Ostracization— There are many reported cases in which the individual with Aspergers didn’t necessarily get bullied in the fullest sense of the term, but he or she - for whatever reason - has a “bad” reputation in the workplace (possibly for being too quirky or self-absorbed in the eyes of others). As a result, fellow employees purposefully ignore and reject the Aspie (a form of bullying with no repercussions).

Task-related Stressors—

The following are some of the main sources of task-related stress for Aspergers employees:

• Work That's Too Easy— Just as it can be stressful to handle a heavy and challenging workload, some Aspergers employees can experience stress from work that isn't difficult enough. Unfortunately, many Aspies are given job assignments that are significantly beneath their potential and capabilities. As a result, they run the risk of developing a cynical, bitter attitude about their employment, which can lead to poor performance, mask the root of the difficulty, and perpetuate the problem.

• Task Anxiety— Many of us experience work-related anxiety when we are moved to a different department or are given a new job assignment. Unfortunately, change is very difficult for people with Aspergers, as they prefer to maintain a consistent routine. Studies show that greater levels of task anxiety hinder performance on the job.

Environmental Stressors—

Certain aspects of an Aspergers employee’s environment can also cause anxiety that can spill over and affect performance. The following are some stressors that Aspies may not realize are impacting them:

• Lack of Sleep— Many Aspies report having sleep problems (often related to chronic anxiety issues). As schedules pack up with overtime, extracurricular activities, and family time, they often get less sleep than they need. Operating under a sleep deficit doesn’t just mean drowsiness, it also leads to lack of coordination, moodiness, poor cognitive-functioning, and other negative effects.

• Noise Pollution— Many people with Aspergers have sensory sensitivities. Noise pollution in the workplace has been shown to cause stress that impacts some employees’ performance on the job.

• Poor Diet— With the surplus of convenience food and the time constraints many people experience these days, the average person’s diet has more sugar and less nutritious content than is recommended. This often leads to mood swings, lack of energy, and other negative effects that impact anxiety levels. This is magnified in the individual who is already experiencing undue stress in other areas of life.

Signs of workplace anxiety include:

•    Withdrawal
•    Excessive shyness
•    Stomachaches
•    Meltdowns
•    Frequently calling in sick
•    Nightmares
•    Negative attitude
•    Cynicism
•    Anger control problems
•    Shutdowns
•    Headaches
•    Feeling unsafe in the workplace
•    Fear of getting laid off or fired
•    Excessive worry and fear about job performance
•    Difficulty going to sleep
•    Loss of appetite
•    Increased appetite
•    Excessive alcohol consumption
•    Drug use

You can’t eliminate or escape anxiety that may occur in the workplace. It’s a fact of modern life. Nonetheless, workplace anxiety is a serious subject. More than one third of American workers experience chronic work-related stress, which is costing American businesses billions of dollars a year in medical bills and lost work hours.

Here are a few simple, yet highly effective suggestions for those who may be experiencing workplace anxiety:
  1. Schedule quality social time. Each week, schedule some time with a friend to just hang out and laugh.
  2. Meditate regularly. Even 5 minutes a day can help lower blood pressure, and can help you control the thoughts that trigger anxiety. 
  3. Learn to say “no.” Being overworked and over-committed leads to anxiety. Don’t feel obligated to say “yes” to everything for fear you won’t be liked.
  4. Reconnect with your spiritual roots. When you’re chronically stressed, it’s easy to forget about your place in the bigger picture. Prayer, meditation, chanting, or other rituals are great ways to get perspective on what’s stressing you – and relieve that pressure. 
  5. Get enough sleep. Work-related anxiety is magnified when you’re sleep-deprived and foggy-headed. 
  6. Get creative. Carve out some time to tap into your inner child (e.g., cooking dinner, handwriting a card to a friend, creating a vision board, etc.).
  7. Exercise regularly. Physical activity releases stress-relieving chemicals. 
  8. Eat whole foods. Processed food can cause you to feel even more stressed than you already are.
  9. Cultivate a grateful attitude. You can take the sting out of negative events by focusing on what’s good in your life. 
  10. Engage in appropriate sexual activity. Sex increases the production of oxytocin (often referred to as the “love hormone”). Before achieving an orgasm, oxytocin levels in the brain surge and are accompanied by a release of endorphins.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

How to Think When You Feel Like Giving Up: Tips for People with Asperger’s

Have you ever felt so beaten up and worn down that you just wanted to quit life? If so, welcome to the club. My name is Sara. I’m 34 years old and was diagnosed with AS at age 26. 

I’ve been asked to share some ideas that I tend to focus on when I feel like giving up, so here goes:

Bravery doesn’t always roar. Sometimes it’s just a little voice in your head which reminds you that tomorrow is another day – a day in which you can try again. I focus on the good things I will lose if I STOP trying, rather than worrying about the potential mistakes associated with trying.

I believe that the universe has a plan for all of us.  We will see that plan when the timing is right – and not a minute sooner. The problem with some of us on the autism spectrum is that we have little patience to wait for that right timing, and so we give up. “It hasn’t happened by now, therefore, it will never happen,” you might think. Unfortunately, with that thought in your head, you have just guaranteed that the plan the universe has for you will never come to fruition.

If you never step forward again, you’re stuck right where you’re at. If you never go after it again, you’ll never have it.  So, be careful what you say to yourself, because you believe what you say about you more so than what other people say about you.

Life never turns out like we expected it to. This is a universal truth. So, stop thinking that things “should be” different for you right now. Your genetics, the environment you grew up in, your personal choices …all brought you to where you are today. You’re right where you’re supposed to be.

Stay in the present moment, rather than looking back in regret or looking forward in fear. Decide to focus on what you can create in this day. If you do, tomorrow will reveal itself exactly as it should, just as yesterday already has.

Life is about taking just one step at a time, telling yourself that you’re able, respecting your integrity, making mistakes, and learning from those mistakes so you can keep moving forward and grow.  If you’re making mistakes, then you’re actually DOING something and getting real world lessons.  Real learning comes from making mistakes.

Some of us with Asperger’s are perfectionistic. As such, we may become devastated when we make a mistake. We look at it as a failure. But, mistakes are simply small stepping stones that lead to success – the opposite of failure, indeed.

Don’t be afraid of mistakes. But, DO BE AFRAID of dreading tomorrow.  And DO BE AFRAID of allowing regret and resentment about something that happened yesterday to enter your mind. These thoughts will keep you frozen in your tracks, unwilling to try, unwilling to make a mistake, and therefore unable to learn the associated life lessons.

The more mistakes you make, the more lessons you receive. The more lessons you receive, the more wisdom you possess. The more wisdom you possess, the better decisions you make. And this makes for a more satisfying life all the way around.

Unless you have committed suicide, your track record for getting through tough days is 100% so far. How many times have you looked back at a hugely stressful event and said to yourself, “How did I get through all of that mess?” See! You know how much courage that took. You know how strong you really are!

Discomfort is inevitable – but suffering through the period of discomfort is optional. Giving up is a form of suffering. Viewing mistakes as failures is also a form of suffering. So, if you’ve thought about giving up on relationships, on God, and on life, you owe it to yourself to give YOU another chance.

If you keep pushing, the pieces will all come together eventually. Good things will emerge in your life, even if they don’t turn out exactly the way you thought they might.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

How to Stop Crossing the “F*%@ It” Line: 10 Tips for Rage-oholics

Despite your good intentions, as a partner or spouse with Asperger’s (high-functioning autism), you may turn into an asshole from time to time (at least according to your significant other). There may have been many occasions where you lost all patience/composure and thought, “Fuck It! I’m sick of being treated like shit, and I’m going to go off!” You lashed out like a frenzied crazy-ass. Then, after the dust had settled, you regretted everything you said and did.

When you find yourself infuriated and unable to calm down, you need to have a plan in place. Haven’t you burned enough bridges already?! If you want to improve the relationship with your partner or spouse, then use some of the simple, yet highly effective tips listed below.

10 tips for the Aspie with rage-control problems:

1. Do a “personal status check” to see how your body is responding to an anger-provoking situation. Are you clenching your teeth? Is your blood pressure rising? Are you getting hot? These are physical signs of impending rage that you can have some control over – IF YOU CATCH IT EARLY. Thus, in these times, immediately go into prevention mode (“intervention mode” will be too late at this point):
  • Breathe
  • Consciously attempt to relax your neck muscles
  • Slow down your rate of speech
  • Artificially lower your voice

This not only has the effect of slowing down your rage response, it also has the potential side effect of having your partner lower his or her voice since that is the only way that they can hear you.

2. In the early stages of getting agitated, try to shift your attention to something else and don’t stew in anger and resentment. Don’t look at your partner, and don’t field any questions or comments he/she makes. Tell your partner that you will discuss the matter when you have calmed down. 

3. If you fear a rage attack, remember this one word: Disengage. If you can’t use your anger constructively, then you shouldn’t use it at all. Having a little anger now and then is o.k. – and even can be a good thing. But, you have to gain the right focus and stop letting your emotions yank you around. That’s what a good warrior has to do, even if the fight exists solely in his or her mind.

4. In the “heat of the moment,” put physical distance between you and your partner. In the typical case of a person with Asperger’s, “where there’s heat, an explosion is not far behind.” You’re about to be emotionally hijacked by your rage, and words will not be enough to prevent any hasty behaviors on your part.

5. In the event you can’t leave an argument or hostile situation (e.g., the two of you are in the car), you can still squeeze your fists and breathe. Important point here: Practice this during controlled moments of anger or when you’re by yourself and feeling calm! If you make this technique a habit, you’ll have an easier time utilizing it subtly in any situation. This is called “prevention.”

6. Know that hazardous situations usually end up being about “having the fight” instead of about what led up to it. If your true goal is to fight, then by all means, go ahead and knock yourself out. If your goal is to avoid a fight, then keep your mouth shut. Bite that damn tongue until it hurts, because if you allow your current state of mind to go one more second, you will probably not be able to control your words or behavior from that point forward. Don’t add to your long list of regrets.

7. Let’s be realistic. You will get into arguments from time to time – there’s no way around it in relationships that you truly care about. But you can argue without losing your freakin’ mind. You can never escape confrontation 100% of the time -- but you can’t resort to handling it like a bouncer at a nightclub. Constructive conflict is a varsity-level skill in the game of anger-control, but one you must learn. Create a set of "diplomacy strategies," write them down, and use the often!

8. When you are getting upset, “appeal” to your partner so that he or she can “run interference” for you. Tell him/her that you’re about to “lose it” and need help to cool off. How can your partner help? By allowing you to take a time-out for starters.

9. When you start to get livid over something that is relatively minor, it’s a good idea to tell your partner that you (a) don’t want to get any angrier than you already are, (b) want to slow the pace of the conversation, (c) need to focus on the problem in question, and (d) want to recognize how your partner feels without judging him or her.

10. Lastly, you may have experienced numerous occasions where you “threw gas on the fire” during a heated argument. This is because you think less and feel more during those times. STOP and ask yourself, “Why do I feel this way, and what kind of resolution am I looking for?” And you can do the same thing with your partner (i.e., ask, “Why do YOU feel this way, and what kind of resolution are YOU looking for?”).

This will get him or her to think about their response. In addition, it makes you a thoughtful listener and gives you more time to create a calm response. This can help defuse angry outbursts – and even allow your partner to realize that he or she is an equally contributing member to the problem in question.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Wife of a Man with Asperger's Provides Some Pointers

"One of the things I have learned while married to my husband with Aspergers syndrome is that I have to allow for processing time. Robert needs longer processing time, particularly for verbal instruction. He can't instantly react to my requests.

For example, a few months ago, I came home from work and told Robert that I decided I'm taking him out for dinner. And he said, "No!" His response confused me and also kind of hurt my feelings because I was making a kind gesture. But in his mind, although he hadn't already cooked dinner (and he is the cook at our house), he had already decided what we would be doing for dinner, and to quickly change his internal plans was difficult for him to do. Situations similar to this one had occurred quite frequently.

I realized now that instead of throwing a last-minute change on my husband, I need to give him a heads-up. So, a better method for me has been to call him earlier in the day while I am at work, and ask him what he thinks about us going out to eat dinner that evening. Robert needs to adjust to the idea, and by the time I get home, he has warmed-up to it.

Time to adjust has proven to be even more critical when a serious decision has to be made (e.g., issues related to our children and financial considerations). My method now is to approach my husband, suggest my idea, and then leave it alone and wait for him to respond. Sometimes that may be days later, which in most cases is not a problem because it allows us to carefully consider the implications.

Over time, we have learned to trust that we will not be pressured into making a decision that we are not comfortable with. Taking a little extra time helps to ease tensions that used to result in heated arguments.

The other important thing I have discovered during my marriage is I need to avoid assuming Robert automatically knows my needs. For example, a while back I came home with two arms full of groceries and struggled to get in the front door. Robert could see me struggling but didn't get out of his chair to offer to help me. As I returned to the car for another armload, I became very frustrated. Robert continued to ignore what I considered to be obvious struggling. At my wits end, I screamed at him and asked why he didn't help. He reacted with shock and hurt and yelled back, "I didn't know you wanted my help!" (Then my thought: "WTF!")

I have since learned that people with Aspergers do not read body language that is obvious to people without the disorder. Robert didn't come to my aid because he couldn't read my body language that exuded frustration while struggling to carry groceries through the door.

Now when I need his help, I approach things differently. I often say, "Can you help me sweetheart?" This simple request has helped save a lot of frustration and tension in our relationship. I used to think that if he doesn't know, I shouldn't have to ask. That's not going to work in this kind of situation where one person cannot pick up on another person's needs without words. Over time, my husband and I have established a routine of clearly outlined expectations. I don't put him in a situation where he has to guess what I need in the moment.

In a nutshell, now that I give my husband some time to process things, and give him specific instructions on what I need him to do, things have gone much more smoothly. I wanted to share these revelations in the hope that other neurotypical wives may benefit from just two simple adjustments that can make such a huge difference."

==>  Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

5 Crucial Tips for How People with Asperger’s Can Make and Retain Friends

Regrettably, making and keeping friends isn’t always easy for people with Asperger’s (high-functioning autism). Meeting new people is often overwhelming for these individuals. But, with some effort and willingness to step outside of their comfort zone, “Aspies” can indeed make -  and keep - friends.

If you are confused about how to go about forging new friendships (or strengthening old ones), here are 5 simple – yet highly effective – ideas that are more creative and practical than the old “just be yourself” strategy:

1. For the Aspie who likes a specific topic, he/she should try searching for a location where he/she can meet people who share that interest (e.g., attending a church, Mosque, temple or other house of worship; joining a club, such as a science club; joining a band or choir; volunteering time at a local nursing home, hospital, or a non-profit organization).

2. Aspies can join a club or go to church, but they still won't make friends if they don't actually talk to others. By the same token, they don't have to be involved with an organization to be social.

As one 34-year-old male Aspie stated, “Any time I talk to someone, I have a chance at making a friend. Most conversations are a dead-end of sorts, and I may never run in to that person again. But, every once in a while, I actually make a friend. I make a point everyday to talk to several people, such as the clerk at the video store, the person sitting next to me on the bus, the person behind me at the checkout line at the grocery store - just to name a few.”

3. If Aspies have an unfriendly facial expression or body language, people are less likely to be receptive to their friendship. Squinting, looking bored, frowning, or folding one’s arms practically scream "don't talk to me." Such habits make Aspies look troubled or disinterested. Looking the person in the eye when he or she is speaking - and offering a warm, friendly smile - goes a long way in getting the other person to feel comfortable.

4. Learn a few “conversation-starters.” For example, give a compliment ("That's a nice car" or "I like your tennis shoes"), make a request for help ("If you have a minute, can you help me carry a few boxes?" or "Can you help me decide which one of these is a better gift for my girlfriend?"), or try making a comment about the weather ("At least it's not snowing like last week!").

5. Introducing one’s self at the end of a conversation is another great way to be friendly. It can be as simple as saying, "Oh, by the way, my name is John". Once one introduces himself or herself, the other person will usually do the same. Also, try to remember that person’s name.

As one 28-year-old female Aspies stated, “When I show that I remembered things from my past conversation with the other person, it kind of makes me look intelligent, and the other person knows that I was paying attention and am willing to be a friend.

Best of luck!

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Lessons from a Pessimistic Aspie

Hey all. My name is Max, and I’ve been asked to talk about “pessimism in adults with Asperger’s.” So, I will be using myself as an example here (see if you can relate):

Pessimism was part of a defensive posture I used to take to protect myself. It was usually triggered when I feel hurt by something someone said or did. Instead of dealing with the hurt directly, I would allow it to gnaw at me and blur my outlook.

To make matters worse, when I grew pessimistic toward one thing in my life, it wasn’t long before I became pessimistic about a lot of things going on in my life. Pessimism was like a cancer for me in that sense. Have you ever had something go wrong, and then that one event colored the rest of the day such that it felt like EVERYTHING was going wrong?

I’ve discovered that when I get pessimistic about something, I’m usually just indulging in a self-righteous attitude, and have formed some expectations that people “should” behave a certain way. Pessimism often surfaces when I direct my own negative perceptions that I have toward myself outward onto those around me.

Many of my pessimistic emotions come about when I’m feeling vulnerable. In those moments when I’m feeling disappointed in something or somebody, I’m far more likely to react by getting defensive (i.e., asshole syndrome). An increased vulnerability to pessimism is usually a sure sign that I’ve turned on myself. When I enter this mindset, I begin to view those around me through the same critical filter through which I see myself. 

This judgmental self-talk tells me that I’m not good enough or that I don’t “fit in.” Yet, this inner voice is projected outward onto the people around me. I start seeing others solely for their flaws - and fail to have empathy for their own challenges. When I’m in my pessimistic mood, I’m indulging in a "me versus them" mentality that pins me against a certain person (or group).

Ultimately, it’s always in my own self-interest to be open and vulnerable rather than to be cynical and write people off. The only person I can control is me. When I get pessimistic, I’m the one who suffers. Why make myself suffer over the flaws in others?

Avoiding pessimism is about alleviating my own suffering by dealing with emotions directly without letting them color the lens through which I view the world. Instead of getting defensive toward someone I feel provoked by, I can think about what is triggering my pessimistic reactions. Have I possibly slipped into a point of view that is not my own? Am I projecting my self-attacks? Am I experiencing hurt?

Fostering an attitude of empathy (in which I’m curious, open and accepting of myself) is crucial to fighting pessimism. When I’m able to feel secure in myself, I’m better able to have empathy toward others. I can start by recognizing that everyone has issues. Often, when people do something that hurts me, they are acting from a place of defense and hurt themselves. Some people may have worse characteristics than others, but everyone has weaknesses.

We each have independent minds that think differently, but at the same time, we are all in the same boat, and we are all hurt in our own unique ways. Empathy counters pessimism by allowing me to feel my pain and frustration without taking these emotions to a dark place that end up hurting me and those close to me.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Tips for Dealing with Judgmental "Neurotypicals"

Are you an individual with Asperger's (high-functioning autism)? Then you have probably been on the receiving end of criticism, stereotyping, judgmentalism, and even discrimination. Here are some tips for dealing with judgmental people: 

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Comment from Chance

I am no longer a teen, however I would like to share a bit of wisdom that I have accumulated that has really helped me - and maybe one of you - to successfully integrate both socially and professionally. 

When i was a young child, I often did not understand simple things like when I was the butt of a joke, or when I should or should not say the things that crossed my mind, etc. At some point I decided to study my peers and there interactions with each other the way somebody might study a foreign language. Honestly that's a pretty accurate comparison for me. 

Although I internally still miss the social mark, outwardly I've gotten so good at decoding body language that i can often predict social outcomes before others even realize they are developing. 

Although I still have a difficult time relating to others' feelings, now it's just a matter of cause and effect. I became one of the popular kids in high school, and now have a successful career.

Hope that maybe looking at things from a different point of view may help in some small way.