LEARNING SOCIAL SKILLS
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
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
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
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.
Click here for the full range of Asperger's and autism fact sheets and personal stories
Click here to
read more personal stories from parents of children on the autism spectrum, and from adults living with Autism, Asperger's syndrome
and other Autism Spectrum Disorders.