The revelation that I am an aspergarian has been like finding myself at the theater of my life, seated comfortably in a mezzanine seat, viewing things straight forward and as I have been directing them to be viewed. Then, someone taps me on the shoulder and tells me to change seats, moving me closer to the stage and a bit to the side, where I get a different perspective on events. Suddenly I see that things that I once thought were formidable and stable, are but two dimensional stage sets. Oddly, the play makes more sense from this perspective.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

"Learning To Love, And Be Loved, With Autism" part 1

The above title is in quotes for a reason.  I recently listened to a radio discussion on NPR's The Talk Of The Nation which featured John Elder Robinson's son and his girlfriend discussing their love life.  It went on to an open discussion (via phone and email participation) on the difficulties of having a relationship when you have Aspergers.

Learning to Love, and Be Loved With Autism

Unfortunately, I was not able to listen to the show as it aired on Jan 19th, and therefore could not participate, but here, now. Let me chime in.

                   Me too.


                   True Dat.


The sublteties of courtship are really lost on me.  I'm blind as a bat! Try as I might to decipher them, I mostly wait till the neon sign comes out saying "hey! I like you! wanna go out?"

I have little in common with Jack Robinson, who doesn't like kissing.  Let's just say I am a sensory whore.  A hand down my back can light me up like a Roman candle.  However, getting to that point with a guy is a whole other matter.

Aspergers has been referred to as a "social blindness"  and that is exactly how I feel about it.  The fact that I have been forced from an early age to socialize at parties and later made a study of human interaction (psychology, sociology, anthropology - all facinated me as I saw them as living and active sciences going on all about me).  However the clinical approach to high school doesn't exactly work.

It wasn't until college that I first read an actual "self-help" type book that I really got a hold of how to handle things.  The book that drew me in was the Holy Grail of "self-help" books for anyone, especially Aspies, was written long ago.  How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie.  I don't think I would have opened it up and read it, were it not for it's reputation - (I was swayed by the fact that it had been around so long - boasting over 15 million sold, ergo it wasn't some faddish thing like "I'm OK, You're OK").

Is it any wonder that HTWF&IP is so good for Aspies? The first section of the book focuses on helping the reader get people to like them.  The list is like a DSM list of things Aspies aren't good at.

Six Ways to Make People Like You
  1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
  2. Smile.
  3. Remember that a person's name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  5. Talk in terms of the other person's interest.
  6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

Once I cracked the self-help isle with HTWF&IP, I began looking up books on all sorts of things; body language, flirting, dating do's & don'ts, speaking in public, etc... 

I felt like I had cracked some sort of code.  Suddenly life was getting more fun.  I worked really really hard on remembering names, smiling, and especially eye contact.  I got pretty good at these social skills and more  -- but it was exhausting!  I look back at what I used to do in my mid-twenties and early thirties and . . . I just don't know how I did it.

Alas, getting dates is only part of the equation.  Dating, relationships, etc.. .   I've exhausted this article.  I will write more on dating at a later date.


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