Autism Spectrum Disorders and learning social skills in a non-autistic world - a personal story by an adult on the autism spectrum


I found out that I was an aspie at the age of 30 and although the initial experience was enjoyable because it explains a lot that has happened in life, it has not made much difference to my quality of life since people would still treat me as less important despite the effort I made to contribute positively to other peoples lives.


My first reaction was "OK, now you know you have to explain things to me verbally and literally. Get it? Good." This simply doesn't work in the real world. I then tried a succession of new strategies that were designed to force some sort of communication with the people around me.


This only succeeded in upping the ante invested in the problem. The main strategy I had going was to find my less than useful habits and one by one expunge them from my system in favour of something new. In retrospect, this was "regression" and I think it was a good way to deal with the issues in the long run.


I finally decided to solve the problem once and for all by facing my communication issues head on. I planned to do this by bypassing the people around me who all seemed to be rather crazy and by going to pubs at the end of the week to try to develop my social skills with "fresh blood", but found that with each new hard learnt skill the problem just kept getting deeper and deeper. Furthermore, I found that with each mistake, more and more people would avoid me, and people would have a much lower tolerance for bad social skills.


At this point, I rethought the strategy and decided to seek information from the web. Realising that there was plenty of information about autism from a non-autistic perspective, I went looking for information that autism spectrum people could use, finding nothing but a handful of advertisments for books, and to Marc Segar's Survival Guide.


His book contains such detailed and useful information that it astounded me that a person could learn what he did in 23 years, let alone my 35, and I despaired to learn that he has died. Yet I found that his approach triggered memories of my childhood and how I had developed certain thought processes that had helped me to learn and survive family, school and work life, albeit badly.


After much research and study, even with the limited resources available, I began to realise that the non-autistic thought processes are far more complex than people make them out to be and there is in fact a great yawning gap in human knowledge about it. Yet there is a great deal of consistency in it too.


So, armed with some basic factoids, much of which had been gleaned from reading between the lines of non-autistic peoples comments about autism spectrum people, I set about figuring out exactly what it is that non-autistic people are doing. My new strategy included watching the social interaction in drama and in reality TV. This was a much more fruitful strategy. By time the Big Brother Australia 2006 program hit television, I was successfully predicting the outcome of every interaction.


People say that it wasn't an accident that killed Marc Segar at all and that he committed suicide. I have no trouble believing that this may be true. His entire passion in life must have been in hammering his way through this concrete mountain that separates non-autistic people from autism spectrum people. When he "got there" he must have been exasperated at the disinterest and negative reactions he received from those he was writing for.


In many ways this book is as much for my benefit as anybody elses. The lessons I've learned in life are too hard to learn and too easy to forget.



This autism fact sheet is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation and is adapted from an article called A Survival Guide for People Living on the Autism Spectrum, of which JWM has been a major contributor. Click here to read the full publication at WikiBooks.

Shut this Autism personal story about learning social skills as an aspie

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A man with Aspergers syndrome talks about how he developed the social skills to communicate better with non-autistic adults