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forgiveme
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21 Mar 2021, 4:28 pm

Hi all,

Just got my diagnosis yesterday. On one hand I'm happy to finally have an answer, on the other hand I'm sad because I haven't been imagining it that there's something "wrong" with me.

Does anyone know any good resources i.e. workbooks, practical self-help books for people with ASD? I'm looking for something that's very structured and addresses common problems i.e. overexplaining things, problems with eye contact, problems with facial expressions and body language, problems with tone.

I have a few things I've learned over the years like:
- I've read that if someone's feet are facing away from you they want to end the conversation, but in my experience their feet don't move but they start to make restless gestures like they're trying to escape.
- Eye contact should be for 5-6 seconds. But tbh this seems to vary a LOT based on context. It seems like when passing by someone you should only look at them for a few seconds and you shouldn't look at them until you're about 6-10 feet away. But when you're in an ongoing conversation it's much more complicated.

Some things I really struggle with are:
-tone: I overexaggerate to avoid being monotonous, but then I get asked if I'm being sarcastic. When I am joking or being sarcastic, people think I'm serious.
-facial expressions: I make a ton of weird, strained, uncomfortable expressions all the time. I could try to just keep my face straight but it's really hard to remember.
-keeping a conversation going: when do you be supportive, when do you ask questions, how do you think of questions to ask, when is it your turn to talk? The last one is esp. hard in group settings. I spend forever waiting for my in because I don't want to interrupt (and I don't mean to talk about myself, I mean to validate or ask a question) and never get it and I guess there is a time to interrupt.

Honestly I'm real tired lol. Thanks for any help y'all can provide.



jimmy m
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21 Mar 2021, 7:13 pm

O.K. you want a tip. Most individuals learn to read the eyes and the area around the eyes as infants before they even learn how to talk and walk. They can look at a person and in less than a second judge if they are FRIEND or FOE. Somehow I missed that lesson. As a result, when people look at me, they often times misjudge me. I have found a way of stopping this from happening. I simple deprive them of looking at my eyes. I do this by wearing a special type of glasses. They are like mirrored sunglasses. I can see out but others cannot see in. And it works for me.

The lenses of my glasses have no internal tint. Therefore it is possible to wear them indoors because they are not true sunglasses. Mirror coatings can be solid mirror or flash mirror. Solid mirror coating lenses are completely nontransparent; whereas flash mirror coated lenses are partially transparent. I use a solid mirror coating. The glasses are polarized to prevent glare. Mirror finish lenses produce substantial reflective glare. Mine are tinted blue. The reason why is because:
* Blue is peaceful, tranquil and symbolizes loyalty. Blue is reliable and responsible. It exhibits inner security and confidence.
That is the image I wish to present. Here is an example.

Image

As far as resource, I am going to steer you in a different direction. Aspies experience significantly more stress than the average person. It is this stress that cause many of the problems we experience in life. If you can learn to offload stress, you will be a happier person. There is a good book that will start you down this road. It is called "In an Unspoken Voice" by Peter A. Levine.


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forgiveme
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22 Mar 2021, 4:50 am

I appreciate your tips but I can't wear blue glasses all the time. I have a client-facing professional job, and wearing tinted glasses would arguably be stranger to clients and coworkers than my "poorly modulated eye contact." I'm female and have been masking for 30 years, so it might be poorly modulated but at least it's something!

I appreciate the book recommendation as well, but I am looking for social skills not stress management. Thank you for your help nonetheless! It's nice to get some support from someone :)

I saw someone else posted this topic back in 2015 and got no replies. In case someone else is looking for this some years from now and sees this thread, I was doing some looking around yesterday and I found a book that will be published March 30th called "What to Say Next." I have high hopes for it from the preview that was available on Amazon. I'm also going to try to obtain and read Temple Grandin's Different Not Less.

There's another book too that I'm not as sure about. I'll post it here once I learn more about it. Would love any other social skills resources y'all have.



autisticelders
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22 Mar 2021, 5:52 am

I find that forums like this one are a great resource. I follow several blogs and participate in many facebook forums online, and also write a blog about my own late diagnosis (3 days before my 68th birthday) and how things change once we have diagnosis.
It has taken a good deal of time for me to understand that autism has its own politics, ins and outs, dos and don'ts and that there is a load of controversy over every area of autism just as there is over other topics. If there are 2 humans in a room together there are politics. Take what you can use and leave the rest. There is not just one way to "do autism". We are all different!

Mean time be kind to yourself, be patient with yourself, and learn about self forgiveness and self care.

I read a lot of scientific study reports, look for books that are more scientific than philosophical, have done all the online tests available, had my own neurology tested as part of my diagnosis. Learning your worst neurological struggles is very helpful to make self accommodations.

I suggest looking online for some of the answers, but take your time and learn more about how autism affects you as an individual first.
I started with my worst struggles. Things I had to do that caused the most pain, exhaustion, distress, confusion, frustration. I eliminated them one by one, or adapted or replaced those things in my life.

It has been 5 years since I first suspected my autism and began to read and research. I still have "aha" moments when I finally connect things of the past with autism. Nobody knew!
It was such a relief to learn everything in my past was not "all my fault" and that others here on the forum and other places online actually understood and accepted me! You are not alone. Congratulations on your diagnosis.
Check out autism (aspergers is still accepted in some countries as a diagnosis so maybe check that one too in spite of the PC shouting that will ensue in some places) forums especially for older adults and start asking questions. The combined knowledge, experience and insights of thousands of autistic people is much more reliable an information source than any book written by professional Neurotypical folks. ( my experience, your mileage may vary).
It took me a while to figure out my own neurology and to understand just how vastly different the experience of autism is for each of us. We will find similarities in many things but we are still unique individuals. Glad you are with us.



forgiveme
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22 Mar 2021, 7:38 am

Thanks for your reply! One reason I'm hopeful about the what to say next book is because it was written by a person with ASD! I'm more unsure about the other book because while it's ostensibly written for adults with autism it seems like it was written by someone who is a professional, not an adult with autism. It was really frustrating searching for books for autistic people and finding a ton of books to help NT people deal with autistic people. Like, wow, that bad huh? Part of me wonders - is anyone really neurotypical?! Like it seems so wild that life could be that easy.

Currently the thing in my life that causes me the most distress is interaction with coworkers. With clients there is a format for the interaction and prescribed roles, so I don't really struggle at all and enjoy those interactions. I've really loved being trained, and the detailed protocols of what to say when, how to structure the interaction, etc. I love my job. But the interacting with coworkers piece comes with no guidance. I literally just got off the phone with my supervisor and had said something inappropriate. He was like, ok, bye. Lol.

It's funny because now it finally makes sense why I'm like this. But at the same time it doesn't make sense (like you said, everyone presents differently) and I don't know how to "fix it." I know there's politics around not being a 'curebie' and I get that. I don't want to change the way I am. I have 100 thoughts running in my head before I even get out of bed and I consider that a strength, even if it is overwhelming. I just want to learn how to do a better job PRETENDING to be normal. Lol.

At the same time, it feels really really good typing to you guys and knowing that I can be myself. I wish I could be myself in the rest of the world but I can't :/

What are the neurological tests you talked about? Are there other forums for adults with autism that you'd recommend?



kraftiekortie
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22 Mar 2021, 7:49 am

You seem like a nice person.

“Forgive you” for what?

Feeling like you require forgiveness for being yourself might be at the crux of your discontent.

I would say recording yourself in “action” might benefit you. This would provide you with “evidence” that you come across as sarcastic when you’re serious, and things like that.



forgiveme
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22 Mar 2021, 9:23 am

Haha. Legit I'm wondering if I'm actually a narcissist sociopath who fooled the psychologist into thinking I'm autistic so I have an excuse for my selfishness and disregard of other people.

I've dealt with a lot of bullying and s**t from childhood through school, from peers and my own family my own parents, basically my whole life for being so inconsiderate and "selfish" for not going to social events where I would be overwhelmed, and idk, I've internalized it. Also raised in a shame culture, so that sucks.

I know what I sound like and what my body language is like, some of it through incidental recording sand some if through painful self-awareness. When I sound sarcastic it's because I'm trying to mask my natural monotone and show that I'm excited about something, or feel admiration for someone. I hear my voice and it doesn't sound normal but idk how to make it sound normal. When I get excited I talk quickly and mash words together. I can't judge what volume I should use in different situations. I'm afraid now if I just start talking in my natural monotone everyone will think I'm putting on a show of being autistic. I already regret telling my friends from college (who keep insisting on video chats despite my multiple attempts to explain I don't like them) because it made me even more self-conscious than usual during our video chat.

What I don't naturally show in my tone, I show in my body and cannot seem to control. I tremble and wring my hands if I'm nervous, I gesticulate and put my feet on things or put my arms over my head when I feel confident. When I'm bored I stretch all over the place and flop around in my chair. I have a close friend who I suspect has ASD as well and she always holds herself very poised and controlled. Other people at work have mentioned "You can't tell what X is thinking" and etc, but they seem to respect her. Is that better? I feel like whenever I try to do that I just come off super uptight and tense and it makes everyone uncomfortable.

Should I just talk in a monotone and flop everywhere with my body? Should I never smile, even though then it'll be my default brow-furrowed constipated (in the words of my father lol bless his heart) expression? Or should I keep trying to mask, and if so, how do I get better at masking? IDK that recording will help because I know what I'm doing wrong. I just don't know what I am supposed to do/how to do it right.

Thank you, though, for your response. Sorry if I seem overwrought lol.



kraftiekortie
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22 Mar 2021, 1:07 pm

It would be way easier to advise you if I actually "saw you in action."

I find, these days, that some people get over-sensitive to things----they seem to look for offense in everything people say. I wonder if you come across like you're offended by many things. Obviously, I can't know for sure. Or maybe you're just overly self-conscious.

This is in no way a "criticism" of you. It's only speculation. I can't know you well enough to criticize you; if people claim they do (know you enough to criticize you) on an online forum, I would avoid them.

When I was in school, I used to react to everything people said. I used to throw tantrums, and make a fool out of myself in general. People got a laugh out of my reactions.

When I got older, I was very self-conscious, too. I didn't like to look at myself on film. I thought I seem like a "retard" or something. As I gained experienced, and looked at myself more, I realized that I was really "my own worst enemy," and that people usually didn't scrutinize me as much as I thought they scrutinized me.

I guess seeming "poised," yet seeming to listen to others, is a good approach. And never seem "offended" by something someone said, even if you are offended by it "inside."



forgiveme
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22 Mar 2021, 3:00 pm

Thanks for your advice. It's true people are very easy to offend and I've offended others by correcting them many times, and have now realized it's almost never a good idea to correct someone lol, and when you do you have to be VERY gentle. When I was in school I got teased for having a big head, dressing funny, being quiet, and having weird finger mannerisms which I was really only doing to imitate an anime character lol, bless my heart. Nowadays I don't really get teased, just funny looks and misunderstandings of what I'm trying to communicate. And not getting invited to things, and getting made fun of behind my back, which I only discovered one instance of and was for giving a nickname when introducing myself to some new people because my real name is hard for people to learn.

I have had people tell me that the way I furrow my forehead makes me look like I'm angry. But it's just me trying to figure things out. Maybe working on less forehead action, more smiling would help.

To add to the resources: there's a PEERS workbook on Amazon that I looked at the preview of. It's intended for therapists working with groups of young adults. It's funny because I actually encountered this before watching the show "love on the spectrum" and they were talking about the "find common interests" step and I remember at the time it didn't make sense to me. But that's a big part of my issue. Like how do I find things that would be interesting to both of us, and how do I steer the convo towards those topics. I've been googling about it and I found a bunch of questions like, "What would your ideal sandwich be?" but like, how do you just bring those up in conversation. I guess if you're eating sandwiches it would be topical, lol. Also, idk what my tone should sound like when I introduce those questions. When I've tried that kind of thing in the past, my tone is very tense/excited.



kraftiekortie
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22 Mar 2021, 5:07 pm

I wonder if ordering a sandwich you really like might help.



forgiveme
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22 Mar 2021, 5:52 pm

Gosh ive eaten chicken wings, olives, carrots, popcorn all in the past hour or so. Idk that i could fit a sandwich too ;)



kraftiekortie
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22 Mar 2021, 5:59 pm

The good thing is:

Food and family are two things people tend to like to talk about.



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23 Mar 2021, 10:19 pm

forgiveme wrote:
I have a client-facing professional job

Is there any possibility that you could get transferred to a job that is just as "professional" (and, hopefully, has comparable pay) but is less "client-facing"?

If so, you would be under much less pressure to mask, which not only would be a whole lot less stressful and a whole lot less tiring, but would also allow you to focus more on learning the kinds of social skills that actually are intrinsically necessary for effective teamwork, such as active listening, assertiveness (without being aggressive), and responding gracefully to constructive criticism.


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forgiveme
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24 Mar 2021, 5:18 am

I prefer interacting with clients to interacting with coworkers, because I know the script for the interaction. It would be so much more tiring and meaningless if I didn't interact with clients anymore.