Are you an adult with High-Functioning Autism or Asperger's? Are you in a relationship with someone on the autism spectrum? Are you struggling emotionally, socially, spiritually or otherwise? Then you've come to the right place. We are here to help you in any way we can. Kick off your shoes and stay awhile...

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Showing posts sorted by relevance for query positives. Sort by date Show all posts

ASD [Level 1]: Disability or Unique Ability?

Any increasing number of men and women with ASD Level 1 [Aspergers, High-Functioning Autism] are refusing to be classified as individuals with a disability, syndrome or disorder. They claim that ASD is not a disorder, but a “different way of thinking.” 
 
Many claim that a “cure” for the condition would destroy the original personality of the individual in a misguided attempt to replace them with a “neurotypical” (i.e., a person not on the spectrum).

The “different way of thinking” perspective supports the model of ASD that says that it is a fundamental part of who the autistic individual is – and that ASD is something that can’t be separated from the individual. As a result, some “different way of thinking” believers prefer to be referred to as “autistic people” instead of “people with autism,” because “people WITH autism” implies that it is something that can be removed from the individual.

==> Online Group Therapy for Couples and Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder

ASD individuals with this perspective oppose the idea of a cure, because they see it as destroying the original personality of the individual, forcing them to imitate neurotypical people (which they believe is unnatural to the “autistic”), simply to make mainstream society feel less threatened by the presence of men and women who are unique.

“Different way of thinking” believers assert that the “quirks” of ASD individuals should be tolerated as the differences of any minority group should be tolerated. When there is discussion about visions for a future where the condition has been eliminated, “different way of thinking” believers usually see this as an attempt to end of their culture and way of being.

“Different way of thinking” believers certainly would enjoy having fewer difficulties in life, and they find some aspects of ASD painful at times (e.g., sensory issues), but they don’t want to have to sacrifice their basic identities in order to make life easier. “Different way of thinking” believers strongly desire society to become more tolerant and accommodating instead of searching for a cure. These unique individuals:
  • think that treatments should focus on giving them the means to overcome the challenges associated by ASD rather than curing it
  • support programs that respect the individuality of the autistic
  • prefer the word "education" over "treatment"
  • try to “teach” other ASD individuals rather than “change” them
  • are in favor of helping make the lives of people on the spectrum easier

 
The “different way of thinking” perspective is related to the controversy of the movement. Some moms and dads see ASD as something that gives their sons and daughters great difficulty in life, and therefore see is as a true  “disorder.” Adults with this perspective believe that a cure for ASD is in their kid’s best interest, because they see a cure as something that will alleviate suffering. This is certainly understandable, but at a different level, insulting.

Many researchers and doctors have the goal of eliminating high-functioning autism completely someday; they want there to be a future with no ASD. But, many autistic men and women see the condition as a natural human variation and not a “disorder,” thus they are opposed to attempts to eliminate it. In particular, there is opposition to prenatal genetic testing of ASD in unborn fetuses, which some believe might be possible in the future if autism is genetic. 
 
Many scientists believe there will be a prenatal test for High-Functioning Autism someday. Our culture has started to debate the ethics involved in the possible elimination of a genotype that has both unique challenges and abilities, which may be seen as messing with nature in general – and natural selection in particular.

Many individuals on the spectrum believe that society has an opinion about ASD that is highly offensive. This opinion compares it to a “disease.” Thus, one of the goals of “pro-autisitc” adults is to expose and challenge those claims they find distasteful. Similarly, Autistic rights activists reject terming the reported increase in theASD population as an “epidemic” since the word epidemic implies that it is a disease.
 

If you are an autistic man or woman, and you're tired of hearing about all the "deficits" associated with the condition – join the club! The world needs to know that there are many more positives associated with it than negatives. If it is “cured” someday – then there go all the positives out the window. These positives are well worth celebrating. Here are just a few:

1. How often do neurotypical individuals fail to notice what's in front of their eyes because they're distracted by social cues and random small talk? Individuals with High-Functioning Autism truly attend to the sensory input that surrounds them. Many have achieved the ideal of mindfulness.

2. How often do neurotypical individuals forget directions, or fail to take note of colors, names, and other details? Adults on the spectrum are usually more tuned-in to details. They may have a much better memory than their neurotypical friends for critical details.

3. If you've ever joined a group or club to “fit in,” you know how hard it is to be true to yourself. But for individuals with the condition, social expectations are often irrelevant. Interest and passion are what really matters – not meeting other’s expectations.

4. Individuals on the spectrum tend to be less concerned with outward appearance than their neurotypical friends. As a result, they worry less about brand names, hairstyles and other expensive - but unimportant - externals than most adults do.

5. We all claim to value the truth, but few of us are truly truthful. But to most ASD men and women, the truth is the truth. A good word from an autistic is the real deal.

6. Most ASD individuals don't play head games, and they assume their partners/spouses won't either. That’s a refreshing change from the emotional roller coaster that damages many neurotypical relationships.

7. Who's Richer? Smarter? More talented? Prettier? For ASD individuals, these distinctions hold much less importance than for neurotypicals. Autistics often see through such surface appearances to discover the real person underneath.
 

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

==> One-on-One Counseling for Struggling Individuals & Couples Affected by Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

 


Comments:


•    Anonymous …On a bbc documentary called living with autism (an excellent programme btw) Simon baron Cohen has a brilliant explanation for the autism spectrum and how most of the world population is on it somewhere. This explains very well why some adults who are aspergers do not get a diagnosis either becuase they are not considered to be affected badly enough or becuase their issues are assigned to something else. Why in my case my issues were put down to 'well every has this or that experience or problem'. True moreso now I have seen prof. SBCs explanation. He draws a line on a piece of paper and on one side puts zero and the other 50. He then puts 25 in the middle. He then explains most people have 'some' ASD characteristics from zero to 25. Then some have 26 and over. The ones under 25 may be considered normal whilst over 25 may be seen to be ASD. But he then added that even though someone may clearly be ASD, the professional may still decide to not diagnose IF in their view the ASD is not impacting severely enough to necessitate the label. I found it re-assuring to find that most of us have some characteristics found in someone ASD becuase of this confusion some professionals were having over diagnosing becuase other people had similar issues who were not ASD, what I did find a bit of a problem is that clinicians still get to decide who to give or not give a label to. Not becuase I label is a good or bad thing but simply becuase the clinician decides if the person with ASD is suffering enough. I do not think it should be the decision of a clinician to decide what constitutes a good or bad quality of life for someone with an ASD. The only person who knows is the person themselves and if they've gone to be assessed for an ASD then clearly there is an issue! The label is regarded by some as unhelpful. Unhelpful to whom? Why unhelpful? If someone has ASD symptoms and are ASD then the label applies. End of. It is preposterous to infer that by giving a label to it you're damning the person with ASD. How so. When you consider it is a developmental disorder the damage for the want of a better dictum is done before or at birth. So how exactly does giving a label to that damn someone? It is a label that defines what is already there you muppets. So help and support can then be sought for the symptoms by the sufferer. IMO the only reason for not giving a label is to keep numbers down and funds are then not needed for those people becuase they are not 'officially' in need becuase they are not 'officially' ASD. To suggest someone with an ASD will be harmed further with a label is rubbish. And it insults our superior intellect. Since being diagnosed with aspergers I have been able to grow. To understand better my symptoms and embrace my qualities that previously actually had been misdiagnosed as personality disordered etc. Really helpful right!? Misdaignosing me added years of torture and misery onto me and my family. Since the (correct) label was given to me I have become empowered. Sadly there is little support for me still yet I have been able to get some extra support becuase of the label so not damned but some help and I have been able vto help lyself and others have gained a better understanding of my condition too so tolerance and support all round. So again I ask, why exactly is is a problem for me to have a label exactly? The ONLY issue I see is being given the WRONG label not being given the correct accurate one. For someone with an ASD labels are brilliant! For a profession that deals with labels all the time and thinking about it we all use labels all the time to say that 'labels aren't helpful', are you kidding me?!? Take it from a 50 year old asperger's person aka sufferer, this label is definitely helpful to me and those in my life. For the help and support for my issues and for the qualities I now can finally embrace. That were mis-labelled by these same clinicians as personality disorder and character flaws. More (accurate) diagnosing and labelling please not less.


•    Anonymous …I have Asperger's and have a lot of work to do to improve my social skills and interaction. I find that having been a member of a nas (national autistic society) group, the other Aspie's in the group are affected very differently to myself. Unfortunately; attending the group didn't help me to make progress in any way; i felt I didn't really fit in. I was diagnosed with Asperger's at the age of 22. I'm now 34 and have an awful lot of progress to make. Any Aspie who suffers with depression; i too; understand how it feels. I have suffered with depression for many years since my Asperger's diagnosis. It can be very hard at times and I guess life is not always easy for anyone. I hope with time that things will get better and that I will move on and get back to being my usual happy self. Hopefully I can vastly improve my independent living skills too: and reach my goals in life. And get the right help to improve my mental health too.

Having a Positive Attitude with ASD


"I am 25 years old and have recently found out I have aspergers syndrome (or ASD), although obviously I have felt different all my life. I was bullied incredibly badly at school, and there were times when I had to leave for a month or so. Besides the bullying, I had a very difficult upbringing with an alcoholic father who passed away when I was 19. Despite this, I have a good job as a teacher and have dreams and aspirations of becoming a psychologist. Aspies find life difficult, overwhelming and stressful, and my struggle with all the symptoms is daily, but that doesn't mean we can't live a long, happy, successful and fulfilling life, which I 100% plan to do."




A positive attitude is very refreshing. I wish more people on the autism spectrum had a positive outlook on life. And there's no good reason they shouldn't due to the fact that there are significantly more "positives" associated with Asperger's than negatives.

Here are just a few examples:

1. They possess unique global insights. Their ability to find novel connections among multidisciplinary facts and ideas allows them to create new and coherent insight that "neurotypicals" probably would not have reached without them.

2. They have the ability to make logical decisions. Their skill at making rational decisions and sticking to their course of action without being swayed by impulse or emotional reactions allows them to navigate successfully through difficult circumstances without being pulled off course.

3. They possess an internal motivation rather than being swayed by social convention, other people's opinions, or social pressure. They can hold firm to their own purpose. And their unique ideas can flourish, despite the critics.
 

4. They are independent thinkers. Their willingness to consider unpopular or unusual possibilities generates new options and opportunities and can lead the way for others.

5. They can be highly focused. Their ability to concentrate on one objective over long periods of time without becoming distracted allows them to accomplish difficult tasks.

6. They have the ability to cut through the bullshit. Their ability to recognize and speak the truth that is being "conveniently" ignored by other people is crucial to the success of a project or endeavor.

7. They pay close attention to detail. Their ability to remember and process minute details without getting side-tracked or weighed down gives them a distinct advantage when solving complicated problems.

8. They tend to be 3-dimensional thinkers. Their ability to utilize 3-dimensional visioning gives them a unique perspective when creating solutions.

And this just scratches the surface. In addition to the positives listed above, people on the autism spectrum also have these attributes:
  • an ability to focus on tasks for a long period of time without needing supervision
  • are not tied to social expectations
  • excellent rote memory 
  • have terrific memories
  • higher fluid intelligence (i.e., the ability to find meaning in confusion and to draw inferences and understand the relationships of various concepts, independent of acquired knowledge) 
  • higher than average IQ in many cases
  • highly gifted in one or more areas (e.g., math, music, engineering)
  • less materialistic than the general population
  • passionate about their special interests
  • play fewer head games than most people
  • rarely judge others
  • tend to live in the moment
  • are very honest and loyal

People with ASD are unique individuals who carry a host of skills and attributes that have the potential to become powerful tools to self-empowerment. As with everyone of us, what they focus on will become their reality. 
 
So, if they focus on fixing their deficits, more deficits seem to show up in their life. If, on the other hand, they focus on their special skills, more of these skills begin to appear. This is why a positive attitude is so very important. A positive attitude literally drives your destiny!

Men With ASD: What Potential Partners Need To Know

Should you date a guy with Autism Spectrum Disorder?

In no way am I suggesting that one should avoid having a relationship with a man on the autism spectrum. However, if you are in the early stages of a relationship with one (or are contemplating getting into one), then you need to know a few things ahead of time.

Unconventional people have always existed, but ASD isn't always recognized as a possible cause of odd behavior in adults. Even though ASD Level 1 is on the high end of the autism spectrum, it can be mild (causing only somewhat curious behavior) or severe (causing almost complete inability to function in society without some assistance). 

Adult on the spectrum (similar to children with the disorder) have trouble deciphering the normal rules of society, which impacts their home, work and social lives. They often have high intellectual functioning – but diminished social abilities (e.g., they may use peculiar speech and language, seem egocentric, lack the ability to read non-verbal cues, lack social skills, have limited or unusual interests, follow repetitive routines, appear clumsy, etc.).



Some of the things you can expect to see from a man with ASD may include the following:

1. He usually prefers a structured life with well-defined routines. He may become agitated or upset when these routines are broken. For example, if he normally eats breakfast at 8 a.m., he may become agitated when asked to eat at an earlier time. However, unlike a person with classic autism (Level 3), the person with ASD Level 1will probably be able to keep his frustration in check. 

2. The individual with ASD may be reluctant to initiate conversation and require prodding to talk to you at all, especially if he is already engaged in a favored activity when you try to initiate conversation. 

3. Because a man with ASD typically struggles to understand emotions in others, he misses subtle cues (e.g., facial expression, eye contact, body language, etc.). As a result, he may appear aloof, selfish or uncaring. He may simply lack the social or empathetic skills to effectively manage romantic relationships.

 ==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

4. Because he tends to be a literal thinker, the autistic may have trouble understanding social metaphors, teasing or irony. 

5. He may be unable to think in abstract ways. He may be inflexible in his thinking, unable to imagine a different outcome to a given situation than the one he perceives. This rigid thinking pattern makes predicting outcomes of situations difficult. He may develop strict lifestyle routines - and experience anxiety and distress if that routine is disrupted. To avoid such disruption, he may keep extensive written to-do lists or keep a mental checklist of his plans.

6. The autistic may have difficulty interacting in social groups (e.g.,  he may choose inappropriate topics to discuss in a group setting or find making small talk difficult or even annoying).

7. The individual may demonstrate unusual non-verbal communication (e.g., lack of eye contact, limited facial expressions, awkward body posturing, etc.). He may speak in a voice that is monotonous or flat, and may engage in one-sided conversations without regard to whether anyone is actually listening.



8. He may have obsessive tendencies that manifest in many different ways (e.g., insisting all of his books be lined up in a certain order on the shelf, or that the clothes in his closet are categorized by color, style or season). Obsession with categories and patterns is a common symptom of the disorder.

9. The man's focus on just one or two areas of special interest often leads to a lack of interest in alternate topics and the unwillingness to listen when his partner is speaking. Such poor communication skills can lead to problems in relationships. The person with ASD may talk incessantly about topics that others have no interest in. His thought patterns may be scattered and difficult to follow and never come to a point. Speech patterns may have a strange cadence or lack the proper inflections. And, he may have difficulty understanding humor and may take what's said too literally.

10. Unlike an adult with classic autism, a person with ASD Level 1 wants to fit in with others. However, social and work-related difficulties can cause anxiety, anger, low self-esteem, obsessive compulsive behaviors, and depression. He may feel disconnected and distant from the rest of the world.

==> Skype Counseling for Struggling Couples Affected by Asperger's and HFA 

11. While a high-functioning autistic man often has above-average intelligence, he may process information more slowly than normal, making it difficult to participate in discussions or activities that require quick thinking. He may have trouble with organization and seeing the "big picture," often focusing on one aspect of a project or task. Also, he may be rigid and inflexible, making transitions of any type highly difficult.

12. Other symptoms of ASD include:
  • outstanding memory
  • inability to understand other perspectives
  • inability to empathize
  • highly focused in specific fields of interest often to the exclusion of other pursuits
  • great musical ability
  • follows strict routines
  • difficulty regulating emotions
  • difficulty managing appropriate social conduct
  • black and white thinking
  • appears overly concerned with his own agenda
  • a tendency to be "in his own little world"

Again, this is not an attempt to discourage anyone from developing a relationship with a man on the spectrum. And it should be noted that, while this article focuses on the areas of potential problems for man-woman relationships, there are many more positives associated with the disorder than negative. Below are just a few examples.

Many men with ASD also demonstrate the following characteristics:
  • work hard
  • will not go along with the crowd if they know that something is wrong
  • talented 
  • smart
  • respect authority 
  • prefer talking about significant things that will enhance their knowledge-base rather than “shooting the bullshit”
  • perfectly capable of entertaining themselves
  • notice fine details that others miss
  • not inclined to steal
  • not bullies, con artists, or social manipulators
  • honest
  • have no interest in harming others
  • gentle and somewhat passive
  • exceptional memories
  • enjoy their own company and can spend time alone
  • don’t take advantage of other’s weaknesses
  • don’t play head games
  • don’t discriminate against anyone based on race, gender, age, etc.
  • child-like innocence 
  • amazingly loyal friends 
  • adhere unvaryingly to routines
  • accepting of others
  • able forgive others

Unfortunately, in counseling couples affected by ASD, I've discovered that in some cases, all the positive traits in the world do not make up for the autistic man's (a) difficulty in understanding his lady's emotions and (b) lack of displayed affection. If those two things are missing, it's usually a huge disappointment (and sometimes a deal-breaker) for his lady, regardless of all the assets associated with the disorder.

==> More information on relationship problems with your Asperger's (or high-functioning autistic) partner... 


 

Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism: The Positives

Too many people forget to mention the good things about having Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism, so here are a few examples:



==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Does Your Boyfriend Have ASD?

“I’ve been reading about asperger syndrome and high functioning autism recently. I think my boyfriend may have a mild form of it. I’ve looked at all the diagnostic criteria, and I’m not sure he fits in perfectly. But that is hard to diagnose since I’m not a professional. I was hoping someone might point me in the right direction. I’m not sure if this is just some personality issue, or something bigger. But I swear he has some social problems whether it is asperger or not. How can I know for sure what I’m dealing with?”

So, you think your boyfriend may have ASD (high-functioning autism)? Well, here is an informal quiz that may shed some light on the subject:


Does your boyfriend have:
  • a discriminatory sense of smell and taste
  • a preference for following instructions and abiding by rules
  • a tendency to be very literal in his understanding
  • an ability to see in detail, or an inability to see the whole because of too much detail
  • an apparent lack of empathy
  • an extreme sensitivity to touch, textures and pressures, or a need for stronger textures and increased pressure
  • either an acute sense of hearing or the inability to hear clearly
  • extensive knowledge about a single topic
  • inflexible routines
  • the tendency to care way too much about organizing stuff
  • the tendency to need other people to provide clear schedules and expectations
  • trouble describing basic emotions
  • trouble displaying emotion
  • trouble figuring what is appropriate in social situations
  • trouble understanding other people’s emotions

Does your boyfriend find it difficult to:
  • engage in or understand small talk
  • maintain eye contact
  • show empathy and understand of others
  • speak untruths in order not to offend
  • understand body language and facial expressions
  • understand personal space
  • understand sarcasm, jokes, irony 
  • understand social rules which are not based on logic
  • understand the complexities of interpersonal relationships
  • understand verbal communication without corresponding verbal cues (e.g., notes, diagrams)

Is your boyfriend:
  • anxious by change, spontaneity and unplanned events
  • experiencing difficulties in comprehending abstract concepts (e.g., formality, spontaneity, fun, anxiety)
  • experiencing difficulties in coping with the unknown (e.g., new people, new places, new situations)
  • experiencing difficulties in remembering sequences without prompts (e.g., diary, personal planner, alarm)
  • obsessed with a special interest, place or person
  • reluctant to use his own initiative

Are there times when your boyfriend can seem:
  • thoughtless
  • self-centered
  • rude
  • lost in his own world
  • eccentric
  • depressed
  • disorganized
  • anxious
  • aggressive
  • absent-minded
  • abrupt

But there are positives involved as well. For example, many people with Asperger’s possess the following traits:
  • direct, open and honest
  • excellent memory
  • high level of vocabulary
  • mathematical and technical skills
  • precision and attention to detail

If any of the above sounds familiar, then you may be dealing with a boyfriend on the autism spectrum. Of course, the only way to know for sure is for him to seek a formal diagnosis.

Unfortunately, another fairly common trait of  men with ASD (undiagnosed) is “denial” that they may have the disorder. So, don’t expect him to run to their nearest diagnostician for an assessment any time soon. 
 
In fact, it would NOT be surprising if he became offended that you “think” he may have autism. If this turns out to be the case, be prepared for him to get defensive - and possibly blame YOU for any relationship problems the two of you may be facing.

Resources for Neurodiverse Couples:

==> Online Group Therapy for Men with ASD

==> Online Group Therapy for NT Wives

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples 

==> One-on-One Counseling for Struggling Individuals & Couples Affected by Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism  

==> Online Group Therapy for Couples and Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder

 ==> Cassandra Syndrome Recovery for NT Wives

 

From the Perspective of an Autistic Man: The Positives and Challenges of ASD

Hi. My name is Rick. I’m a 23 year old guy on the autism spectrum. These are my observations from a male perspective on how ASD affects daily life (these observations may or may not be true for you):

The Positives—

1. Attention to detail – sometimes with painstaking perfection
2. Can spend hours in the library researching, love learning and information
3. Excellent rote memory
4. Experts say that many people with ASD have a higher than average general IQ.
5. Focus and diligence – The ability to focus on tasks for a long period of time without needing supervision or incentive is legendary.
6. Higher fluid intelligence – Scientists have discovered that people with AS have a higher fluid
intelligence than non-autistic people. Fluid intelligence is "the ability to find meaning in confusion and solve new problems. It is the ability to draw inferences and understand the relationships of various concepts, independent of acquired knowledge.” 
7. Highly gifted in one or more areas (e.g., math, music, etc.)
8. Honesty – the value of being able to say “the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.”
9. Independent, unique thinking – People with ASD tend to spend a lot of time alone and will likely have developed their own unique thoughts as opposed to a “herd mentality.”
10. Internal motivation – as opposed to being motivated by praise, money, bills or acceptance. This ensures a job done with conscience, with personal pride.
11. Logic over emotion – Although people with ASD are very emotional at times, we spend so much time ‘computing’ in our minds that we get quite good at it. We can be very logical in our approach to problem-solving.
12. Visual, three-dimensional thinking – Many people with ASD are very visual in their thought processes, which lends itself to countless useful and creative applications.
13. We can be very loyal to one person.


The Areas of Challenge—

1. Being "in our own world"
2. Can obsess about having friends to prove we’re “normal”
3. Clumsiness / Uncoordinated motor movements
4. Collect things (in excess)
5. Desire for friendships and social contact, but difficulty acquiring and maintaining them
6. Difficulty understanding others’ feelings
7. Don't always recognize faces right away (even close loved ones)
8. Eccentric personality
9. Flat, or blank expression much of the time
10. Great difficulty with small-talk and chatter  
11. Have an urge to inform that can result in being blunt / insulting
12. Idiosyncratic attachment to inanimate objects
13. Lack of empathy at times
14. Lack of interest in other people
15. Likes and dislikes can be very rigid
16. Limited interests / Intense focus on one or two subjects
17. May have a hard time saying I love you, showing physical affection
18. May have difficulty staying in college despite a high level of intelligence
19. Non-verbal communication problems: difficulty reading body language, facial expression and tone
20. Often are attracted to a woman purely because she is attracted to us
21. Often times, we will make no motions to keep a friendship going.
22. Our attention is narrowly focused on our own interests.
23. Preoccupied with our own agenda
24. Rigid social behavior due to an inability to spontaneously adapt to variations in social situations
25. Shut down in social situations
26. Single-mindedness
27. Social withdrawal / may avoid social gatherings
28. Speech and language peculiarities / early in life, may have a speech impediment
29. Strong sensitivity to sound, touch, taste, sight, and smell (e.g. fabrics—won’t wear certain things, fluorescent lights)
30. Unusual preoccupations
31. We can be distant physically and/or emotionally.
32. We can be obsessive.
33. We can be very critical.
34. We can become quite defensive when our lady asks for clarification or a little sympathy. The defensiveness can turn into verbal abuse (usually not physical abuse) as we attempt to control the communication to suit our view of the world.
35. We find emotions messy and unquantifiable. If our partner tries to share her love for us, we may find her need to “connect” smothering.
36. We need to withdraw and have solitude.
37. We often feel as if our partner is being ungrateful or “bitchy” when she complains about how we are uncaring or “never listen.”
38. We take life too seriously.
39. We takes things too personally.


NOTE: I'm comfortable being who I am. This is why I used the term "challenges" rather than "deficits." I don't look at the 39 observations above as "bad" traits. Rather, they are areas that I will be working on to improve. And we all can improve ...we all have challenges. That's life! I'm going to meet these challenges head-on!! Won't you join me?
 
P.S. You should join Mark's ASD Men's group. It will change your perspective of yourself, I promise!

 
COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said... I was wondering last night how I could get into my son's head so I can get even a glimpse of how he thinks. Rationally I know I have to change my approach but sometimes I feel I have no way to relate. Even though you are a different person I see some of the things you are talking about in my son. I really appreciate you sharing this.
•    Anonymous said... My daughter is the same way.
•    Anonymous said... My son is 16 and has his first girlfriend first friend period and I see a lot of what you’re saying in him I think he likes her because she showed interest but it's been like 2 months and I can see he is not interested in keeping the relationship going like he can't be bothered anymore I'm not sure how to go out talking with him about it and all he says is he doesn't want to talk about it it's frustrating!!
•    Anonymous said... Rick, I love this post. My 15 year old accepted this designation when he was younger but now that he's in his teen years, he's denying it. He has many of the characteristics you name and though at times difficult, I love all the idiosyncrasies. Our "challenge" (a word I use regularly instead of "problem") is getting him to accept himself just the way he is.
•    Anonymous said... Wow I feel better for reading this and all your comments I thought I was a parental alien until now. Others who have no idea don't see what we experience as parents. Sadly I have had to endure so called professionals who cite horrid theories as to why a teen with HFA behaves in the ways stated in the article. That impacts vastly on relationships when you are not believed. My son is amazing being a teen is difficult for any child but for those with HAD it’s a minefield for them and their parents who generally are on the end of their frustrations. Brilliant article am very grateful.

*    Wifie said... Do aspies tend to lye even for the small insignificant stuff?
*    lgspence said... Thank you for this. Love how you see it as challenge and will work on improving. Yes, we all have room to improve. My son is now in college but still working to improve. I am so proud of him! I think these tips will help him clarify his progress and needs.
*    Matt Gardner said... I would add takes high risks other would advoid financial or spiritual. Or Even risk tolerance to high.

Post your comment below…

Understanding the Mind of Your ASD Mate

"My 29-year-old wife was recently diagnosed with autism [level 1]. This is all relatively new to me (although I have recognized some behavior that seemed rather odd to me over the 2 years we have been married). They say that autism is just 'a different way of thinking'. How can I understand the way she thinks? I love her dearly, but we are definitely not on the same page much of the time!"

People with ASD [High-Functioning Autism] have some deficits in the brain that cause problems in certain areas. For example, communication, focusing on “the real world” as opposed to becoming absorbed in their own thoughts and obsessions, learning appropriate social skills and responses, and understanding the thoughts and feelings of others. In addition, they are very literal in their interpretation of others’ conversations, and have difficulty recognizing differences in speech tone, pitch, and accent that alter the meaning of what others’ say.



Non-verbal communication is particularly problematic in that these individuals have difficulty understanding the appropriate distance to stand from another person when talking, how to tell when someone does not want to listen any longer, and how to interpret facial expressions. Also, they tend to be highly aware of right and wrong – and will bluntly announce what is wrong. They often recognize the shortcomings of others, but not their own. Thus, some of their behavior seems rude or inappropriate (through no fault of their own, in most cases).

Most people on the autism spectrum need routine and predictability, which gives them a sense of safety. Change often causes anxiety, and too much change can lead to a meltdown or shutdown. Routines and predictability help these individuals remain calm.

Other interesting (and sometimes problematic) features of ASD include the following:
  • They notice details, rather than the “whole” picture. The importance of the detail prevents them from understanding the bigger picture, so instructions may get lost in their focus on a single detail.
  • They are not able to access their frontal cortex or prefrontal lobe efficiently, so they must call on social skills from their memories. If a particular social skill was not taught when they were younger, they won’t have it. Thus, imagination, conversation, and other people’s points of view cause great difficulty. 
  • Anger often occurs due to over-stimulation of the senses or a change in routine. It is often the only response they know. Anger-control presents problems, because these individuals only see things in black and white, which can result in offensive behavior when they don’t get their own way or when they feel threatened or overwhelmed. Some bottle-up anger and turn it inward, never revealing where the trouble is. 
  • One of the most difficult thinking patterns for people with Asperger’s is mind-blindness, which is the lack of ability to understand the emotions, feelings, motivations, and logic of others – and not care that they don’t understand! Therefore, they sometimes behave without regard to the welfare of others. The only way some will ever change their thinking or behavior is if it is in their own interest to do so. Even then, convincing them to change their mind may turn out to be an uphill battle.

But, so much for the “bad” news. People on the spectrum also have many positive qualities, for example, most are:
  • smart
  • respect authority 
  • gentle and somewhat passive
  • especially talented in a particular area 
  • amazingly loyal friends 
  • able to adhere unvaryingly to routines
  • honest
  • perfectly capable of entertaining themselves
  • able to remember a lot of information and facts
  • able to notice fine details that others miss

…just to name a few.

Everyone has a mixed bag of strengths and weaknesses. People with ASD are different – but they are not flawed. We need all different kinds of minds – including the autistic mind. The way a person on the autism spectrum thinks should be viewed as a positive trait, which the rest of us can learn from. When our differences are embraced, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.

One NT husband states, "All Aspies are different. If you want to understand the real person you are married to you must work together to identify the way you both interact and communicate the specifics of your mental functioning and hers. It is not a one way street. Her Aspie traits are highly individual as your non-Aspie traits. Lots of reading and help from counsellors can help both of you work this out."

 

Denying the Diagnosis of ASD [level 1]

"My husband has an ASD diagnosis, but he still denies he has the disorder. The diagnosis came a year after we separated - following my son’s diagnosis. My husband no longer wants to work on our marriage and has given up. The divorce paperwork has been initiated. Is it common for a person with autism to refuse to accept the diagnosis and its impact in the relationship?"

No one wants to accept the idea of a lifelong disorder that makes him or her "different." When a spouse (or girlfriend) suggests to her partner that he "may" have ASD, it is not uncommon for the man to deny the possibility - and to refuse to seek a formal diagnosis. Instead, he may blame his partner for the problems in the relationship.

Some men go through divorce, job loss, and years of anxiety and depression before they accept the possibility that there may be an underlying issue which explains why their life has taken the odd twists and turns it has. Then - and only then - will these "on the fence" individuals consider seeking a diagnosis. And even then, they may refuse treatment (e.g., counseling), assuming they can "wing it" on their own without any outside assistance.






The "autistic" can have several reactions to the diagnosis:
  • He may react by minimizing it. In this case, he doesn't view ASD as something to be taken very seriously, and views himself as someone who  simply "thinks differently." 
  • He may react by emphasizing the diagnosis. Now, his disorder defines him as a person and becomes an uncontrollable force that dominates his entire life. He may even come to believe that his spouse or girlfriend must become his caretaker since he has a "disability." Rather than recognizing the many "positives" associated with the disorder, he instead focuses on the worst aspects.
  • He may respond positively, identifying the many constructive features of the disorder. Here, the individual embraces the diagnosis, is happy to finally find an explanation for the troubles he has endured, and attempts to take control of the challenges that arise along the way. Now that he has identified "the problem," he can work on his deficits AND capitalize on his strengths.

Many newly diagnosed individuals go through a wide range of emotions (e.g., disappointment, anger, fear, etc.). Some feel isolated, as if they are the only ones with the disorder. Still others are outraged that they have been singled out from the rest of the population.



The most common reaction to the diagnosis for the "neurotypical" partner is relief, because she finally and gratefully understands that she is not to blame for the relationship problems that have occurred. Also, she now has an explanation (not an excuse) for why her partner has said and done so many "hurtful" things in the past. She is grateful that it's "just" ASD, because she had come to believe that she was insane.

In any event, you really only have three choices: (1) continue to try to change your husband (good luck with that one), (2) take on more responsibility for the relationship than he does (not recommended), or (3) take care of your sanity in any way that seems appropriate to you.

Dealing with the Thanksgiving Blues: 50 Tips for Adults on the Autism Spectrum

Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time of gratitude, happiness, and fellowship with family. During the long Thanksgiving weekend, we are bombarded and inundated with reminders of past holidays. The multitude of reminders can be a trigger for several unresolved issues such as:
  • Anticipating a significant loss
  • Contrast between image of holiday joy and reality of one’s life
  • Contrast between then and now
  • Disappointment about now
  • Past loses
  • Sense of increased isolation and loneliness
  • Unresolved grief

We asked a group of 50 men and women with Asperger’s (high functioning autism) to:  

“Write down one piece of advice you would give to someone on the autism spectrum who is experiencing the Thanksgiving blues.”



Here’s what they had to say (and if you are a bit depressed as we head into Thanksgiving, hopefully you will find something here to help you through):

1. Create a box of old memories and traditions. Include in this box, new traditions that you want to create.

2. Connect with someone you have lost touch with.

3. Be careful about resentments related to past Thanksgiving holidays. Declare an amnesty with whichever family member or friend you are feeling past resentments. Do not feel it is helpful or intimate to tell your relative every resentment on your laundry list of grievances. Don't let your relative do that to you, either.

4. Remind yourself of the festivity of the occasion.

5. Set limits. Try to maintain a balanced diet, eat and drink in moderation.

6. Set up a gratitude box where each family member puts a piece of paper in it to briefly describe what they are thankful for.

7. Decide upon your priorities and stick to them. Organize your time.

8. Do one good thing for someone outside of the family.

9. Do something for someone else. Take the focus off yourself. It always feels good to help others.

10. Be reasonable with your schedule. Do not overbook yourself into a state of exhaustion--this makes Aspies cranky, irritable, and depressed.

11. Be realistic in your expectations. If you haven't got along with your relatives in 15 years, it's not suddenly going to change.

12. Invent new family traditions. This will help decrease longing for missing loved ones. Instead of being sad that grandma is no longer alive to bake her famous German chocolate cake, begin a tradition of baking German chocolate cupcakes with the kids in the family. This creates a new tradition, but honors grandma as well.

13. In the spirit of good will toward others, get involved with a volunteer activity. Check with local churches, food banks, soup kitchens, and youth organizations to see how they can benefit from your knowledge, skills and abilities.

14. If you find yourself feeling blue just remember: The choice is always yours. The sky is partly sunny, and the glass is half full and revel in our gratitude for our bounty, health, hope, and our courage to face each day with hope and determination.

15. If you drink, do not let Thanksgiving become a reason for over-indulging and hangovers. This will exacerbate your depression and anxiety. Contrary to popular opinion, alcohol is a depressant. People with depression shouldn't drink alcohol.

16. If you are feeling lonely, get out and get around people. Consider volunteering for non-profit organizations or visiting a nursing home as a good way to remember the spirit of Thanksgiving.

17. Don't expect Thanksgiving Day to be just as it was when you were a child. It never is. YOU are not the same as when you were a child, and no one else in the family is either.

18. Give priority to gifts that can't be bought--such as time, support and sharing of memories. (Last year we visited my Grandmother in Maine, which I will be eternally grateful that my husband got a chance to meet her.)

19. Give yourself a break. Create time for yourself to do the things YOU love and need to do for your physical and mental wellness: aerobic exercise, yoga, massage, spiritual practices, taking long fast walks, or any activity that calms you down and gives you a better perspective on what is important in your life.

20. Surround yourself with supportive people.

21. To put things into perspective, try waking up very early and watch a sunrise with a cup of hot cocoa or coffee.

22. Try to recognize (and put a positive spin on) unrealistic expectations.

23. Write down positives about past holidays. Start a new tradition of a journal with just 2 or 3 happy thoughts every year.

24. Go outdoors and get active.

25. Honor lost loved ones. Lost loved ones does not simply refer to those who have passed, but can also refer to those who are deployed with the military, or live in a different state. Send care packages, video tape activities and events, communicate via Skype. To honor those who have passed, have a special meal or a moment of silence or visit a place the person enjoyed.

26. Pace yourself.  Don't take on more activities, make more commitments, or try and do more than you can reasonably handle during Thanksgiving.

27. Pets help me through the holidays. They provide a lifetime of fun, laughs and companionship. Be realistic about the type of pet that’s right for you. Think beyond cats and dogs. Consider hamsters, guinea pigs, and birds.

28. Plan ahead. Set priorities and budgets before Thanksgiving. Plan a calendar for shopping, baking, visiting and other events. Create a "To Do List" if things get overwhelming.

29. Get plenty of rest.

30. Get involved with community service.

31. Volunteer to serve Thanksgiving dinner at a homeless shelter. Work with any number of groups that help underprivileged or hospitalized children at Thanksgiving. There are many, many opportunities for doing community service. No one can be depressed when they are doing community service.

32. Exercise regularly.

33. Enlist your friends’ help before Thanksgiving.

34. Enjoy those who are around you.

35. Enjoy some free activities. Check with local community and recreation centers, churches and shopping malls for a schedule of free activities.

36. Don't use Thanksgiving as a time for family therapy, whether before, during or shortly after.

37. Don't pretend that feelings of loss are not there if you have them. Say a special prayer, reminisce and continue counseling.

38. If the symptoms of hopelessness and depression last for more than two weeks, or if they worsen, you need to see your doc. Anyone having suicidal thoughts should seek immediate care, either through their own doctor or through the nearest hospital emergency department.

39. Keep the spirit of Thanksgiving alive in your home.

40. Isolation increases feelings of loneliness, hopelessness and helplessness. Maintain your regular work and leisure schedule as much as possible. Accept invitations to spend time with family and friends.

41. Invite family members to your home. Be realistic about the type of event you have. If the thought of a huge family dinner is too much to contemplate, then mix things up a bit. Smaller gatherings with fewer expectations reduce the stress of preparing for a large crowd and gives you something to look forward to.

42. If you are feeling grief or loss, acknowledge them. Recognize and accept that both positive and negative feelings may be experienced during Thanksgiving, and that this is normal.

43. Reach out to past friends and family. Send a card with a hand written note, make a phone call, send an e-mail, or search Facebook. Whatever the reason the relationship has grown apart probably isn’t still relevant or meaningful. Put those long-forgotten reasons aside and rekindle that relationship.

44. Make a list of the losses and the positives that have influenced the year. Deal with the feelings that the list evokes.

45. Make pacts with friends to motivate each other.

46. Minimize the number of negative people (even if these are family members!).

47. Plan unstructured, low-cost fun activities: window-shop and look at the holiday decorations, look at people's Christmas lighting on their homes, take a trip to the countryside, etc.--the opportunities are endless.

48. Reach out and make new friends, especially if you will be alone during Thanksgiving.

49.  Remember, no matter what your plans, Thanksgiving does not automatically take away feelings of aloneness, sadness, frustration, anger, and fear.

50. Spend time someone you care about. Accept invitations, give invitations. Don’t allow your negative symptoms to drive your behavior and perhaps drive away friends and family.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

How to Deal with Me: An Aspergers Man’s Note to His New Girlfriend

I understand that you are frustrated with me right now, and that I can ‘drive you crazy’ (as you say).  But I’m not a bad guy who is intentionally trying to be an asshole. Below are 10 things I would like for you to know about me. Maybe this will help you understand that I really am not a selfish or insensitive person.

1. Please don’t assume that I’m uninterested just because I’m not telling you on a daily basis that ‘I like you’ or ‘find you attractive’. Decide what you think of me and let me know. After I become aware of your attraction and am not confused about your nonverbal gestures and flirtation, it will be easier for me to decide if I feel the same way.

2. It would be helpful if you would ease me into large social situations (e.g., parties or group outings). Please understand if I am overwhelmed or decide not to go with you. There will be times when I prefer being alone or with less people.

3. If I talk in a confusing manner (e.g., use complex vocabulary or don’t answer your questions directly), please ask me for more clarification.



4. If I appear to have certain quirks (e.g., not wanting to talk on the phone), please understand that it is related to the disorder. But do feel free to confront me about any issues that bother you, and explain why it bothers you. I will try to understand.

5. Because my brain is wired differently, I have difficulty initiating interactions, maintaining eye contact, reading the non-verbal cues of others, responding to the initiations of others, sharing enjoyment, and taking another person’s perspective. These are the social skills that come naturally to most people. Not me. But feel free to help me in these areas. I consider myself to be a life-long learner and will always need to keep pushing myself to new levels.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

6. It would be great if you would learn what my interests are, and try to engage in a few activities that focus on those interests. If we could go on a few dates where social interaction isn’t necessarily the focus, that will help me be more engaged and conversational.

7. You can always tell me how you are feeling, especially if you are angry, and why. I may not understand your emotions and why you are reacting a certain way, but I promise I will listen.

8. The long-held notion that people with Aspergers lack an interest in social interactions is inaccurate. I do indeed desire social involvement, But I lack some of the skills to interact effectively. This lack of “know-how” often leads to feelings of social anxiety for me. Social situations can evoke a great deal of stress, and I may need to take a time-out from whatever we are doing at the time to collect myself. When I do, please do not perceive it as me being antisocial.



9. As juvenile as it may sound, romance can be puzzling to me sometimes, but again, you will probably see improvement after explaining the meaning behind it, why it’s necessary, and that it makes you feel good.

10. Lastly, please don’t use riddles or sarcasm in the same way you would with someone who doesn’t have Aspergers. If you do, ask me if I understood and then explain what you meant. Otherwise, I may just be confused.

Like everyone on planet earth, we are people with a mix of strengths and weaknesses. I am different – but not defective. The world needs all different kinds of minds – including the Aspergers mind. The way I think should be regarded as a positive attribute, not a shortcoming. I speak for all people with Aspergers when I say this: When our differences are embraced, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.

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