Saturday, May 16, 2009

Social Functioning Impairment

One diagnostic criteria is "clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning." In clinical terms, the doctor told me that someone would have to be unable to keep employment or a family in order to legally classify as having Asperger's Syndrome. (I guess so the system of disability payments would not be abused?)

But Stanford (in "Aspergers and Long-Term Relationships") points out that this criteria may be evidenced in the impaired relationships with extended family. This may be seen in the aspie rarely reaching out to them, or having little desire to be "close" with siblings, parents, or other members of the family.

"Aspie Memory"

In "Asperger Syndrome and Long-Term Relationships" Ashley Stanford says it's possible that a person with AS doesn't remember much from his past. This could be because there were many stressful situations and he has "shut out" those difficult memories. But it may just be that most of his "aspie memories" revolve around objects instead of people. He may forget about parties, holidays, and other occasions most NTs tend to remember.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Aspies and Relationships

So far the best book I've read to help me relate to and understand adult aspies is "Asperger Syndrome and Long-Term Relationships" by Ashley Stanford. I needed to see the practical examples she offers for some of the medical lingo to make sense.

The most difficult thing I have encountered in relationships with aspies is stated by both Attwood and Stanford:
"Aspies are less able to learn from their mistakes."
Liane Willey described it by saying "Trials and tribulations will not become lessons learned, they will simply be memories that stand on their own with little relationship to anything other than the day they occurred."

This characteristic of "Weak Central Coherence" explains why the same argument comes up over and over and over again. The aspie doesn't apply the answer to a particular problem that has been dealt with in the past to a similar but slightly different scenario. It's like a whole new scenario being experienced without being able to apply the solution learned in the past. Stanford acknowledges that this was a serious struggle in her life until she tried to see a bright side to it. She now tries to view each (same old) argument as a fresh opportunity to try to find a way of communicating that works best with her aspie spouse, and to find a solution that makes the most sense to both parties.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

How to Communicate With an Aspie

Tony Attwood's book "The Complete Guide To Asperger's Syndrome" has been the most helpful book about Asperger's that I have read. It is current (2007) and comprehensive in scope. In the chapter on Language, he gives tips for conversing well with an aspie.

1. Avoid figures of speech.
2. Have a brief pause between your statements if discussing emotional issues or talk slowly about such things.
3. Be very clear without relying on subtlety.
4. Allow the aspie time to think of a response without rushing them to answer.
5. Do not feel uncomfortable if there is lack of eye contact.
6. Make facial expressions clear and consistent with the topic.
7. Avoid sarcasm and teasing.
8. The aspie may need assurance that you understand what they are saying.
9. Understand that the aspie may not know how to respond to praise or compliments.
10. Do not be offended by the aspie's blunt honesty.

In "Asperger Syndrome and Long-Term Relationships" (the best book I've read on aspie relationships) Ashley Stanford lists some ways to effectively use "Aspie-speak":

1. Don't generalize.
2. Be direct, honest, and clear.
3. Go straight to the main point--eliminate meaningless words.
4. Don't go off on a tangent.
5. Don't assume anything!

She says "a few generalizations may send even a simple conversation into that netherworld of incomprehensibility."