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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.

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