“Being Polite Is Appropriate In Any Situation”


Can you remember the last time you had to be around a person who has the worst manners you have ever seen? You and your family are sitting at a restaurant and one of the members of your party burps out loud, where everybody can hear them. Everybody turns around and looks, but the parents do absolutely nothing about it. After it happens, everybody continues with their meals. A few minutes pass, then the child acts up again. This time, he starts asking people inappropriate questions, the questions dealt with the three major “turn off” topics, which are sex, politics and religion. The kid is so loud that people from across the room can hear every word he is saying. Their parents pay absolutely no attention to the child, and everybody else in the restaurant gets irritated. The other customers finally had enough and they complain to the waitress. Because of the kids inappropriate behavior, they ask the party to leave without their money back.

I actually did witness something like this happen, but this time it was not a kid and the parents not paying attention to them, it was a group of college kids and their girlfriends. My family decided to go out to eat at an Applebees, and we did not enjoy our meal because of the behavior coming from these kids. I am surprised that their girlfriends didn’t even walk out on them, I most certainly would not want to be around someone who acted like that. They obviously didn’t understand this unwritten social rule. Manners is a must have skill if you want to have social interaction with people.This is rule # 5 in Temple Grandin and Shaun Barron’s “Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships”.

Temple mentioned something that I thought was pretty interesting and true, the quote from the book states “As a whole, people in our society have become ruder and cruder than ever before. People behave in social settings today in ways that would have been considered really impolite when I was growing up in the 60’s and even in the 70’s and 80’s, and it’s tolerated. Over the past twenty years or so, having good manners and being polite in social interaction — the whole idea of there being a “right” and a “wrong” way to act in social settings– has become less and less important. Fewer parents take the time to instill manners and teach proper social etiquette to their children. It’s having a ripple effect. Young parents today aren’t even conscious of some Miss Manners’ rules, which used to govern society when I was growing up”.

Asperger’s kids are not alone, there are neurotypical adults who show behavior that demonstrate a lack of social skills. A perfect example is a therapist I had to deal with when I was in about first or second grade. There were two times when she wouldn’t show up for our sessions, and she never called us and informed us she was running late. We were supposed to meet two times a week, and there was no sign of her both sessions. The next week she arrived thirty minutes late and said there was “traffic on Route 28”. I have heard from many people who traffic congestion and car troubles are both not an excuse to be late in the work world. I was scheduled to be her first client of the day, and she only lived in Kittanning, which is only about 20 minutes from Sarver. I also noticed that she would make that excuse more often as the weeks went on. That wasn’t the only issue we had with her, there was a major personality clash between her, my mother and I. Instead of teaching me social skills, she talked to me in a very threatening tone. She was only focused on reprimand me for my behaviors instead of teaching me social skills. Her attitude pretty much sounded like “I will fix that f***up if he continues acting like this. I am the boss and he does everything I say.” I told my parents I was sick of her, and we finally decided to discharge services with her. When a child demonstrates inappropriate behavior, their parents and therapists need to explain to them why the behavior was wrong and a more appropriate way of handling whatever the situation was. Parents, teachers and therapists need to also help them understand why their behavior will cause people to not want to be around them. They need to keep practicing until they get it. Repetition is a must in social skills training because later in life they may make a mistake that will help them realize why it was inappropriate. The child may not like every activity their therapist or teacher does with them, but they should realize that he or she may not function well in the work world if they continue to act the way they do. You should also teach the child that teaching them social skills is not a punishment, you are doing it to help them. Just verbally reprimanding them and saying “don’t do that again” won’t change their behavior, they will just keep doing it even more.

Remember what the word “tact” meant? The rule “Honesty Is Different From Diplomacy” goes with this rule as well. Sometimes kids with Asperger’s Syndrome are too honest and the things they say offend people. Here are some basic conversation don’ts that I have learned along the way, Temple did not mention some of these in the book.

  1. Don’t ask another person about the cost of their possessions.
  2. Don’t talk about the three major turn off topics (sex, politics and religion)
  3. Don’t use swear words in public.
  4. Don’t use swear words on social networking websites. (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter)
  5. Don’t talk about people behind their back.
  6. Don’t laugh about people’s age, appearance, weight, sexual orientation, etc.
  7. Don’t call adults you don’t know well by their first name. (Use “Mr.”, “Mrs.” or “Ms.” instead)
  8. Don’t burp, belch or pass gas any time you are around other people. (remember to apologize appropriately if it slips out)
  9. Don’t make comments about another person’s bodily functions.
  10. Don’t hug a person unless you are in a romantic relationship, or they are a close family member or friend.

As I have said before, teaching a child manners in social interaction is not a punishment, it is intended to help them function in life. Learning these manners will help them succeed in the social and work world. I hope you found this very interesting and informative, and I hope you will use this as a guide in the future.

Why Did People Avoid Me?


Everybody in the world needs at least one close friend. We all need that friend who will stick up for you when somebody is mistreating you and that will always be there in time of need, whatever it may be. In life, I have never really had that one person that I could consider a “true friend”. I have been through a real sad and depressing time in high school and I have never understood why people didn’t want to be friends with me. There have been days where I have come home crying because I didn’t have friends. As a result of that, I became severely depressed and anxious. If you remember my blog titled “Honesty Is Different Than Diplomacy” it talked about the word “tact”. A definition of the word “tact” simply is “a keen sense of what to say or do without giving offense; skill in dealing with difficult people and situations”. The word “diplomacy” simply meant “tact and skill in dealing with people”. Many children with Asperger’s want to make friends, but they don’t have the understanding of what is appropriate and what is not appropriate when trying to establish any kind of social relationship with someone. I wanted to write about some of the experiences I’ve had with people and I wanted to write about some of the things I have done with friends in the past that have caused them to not want to be around me. I hope that after reading this, people realize the things I have done, and that you won’t make those same mistakes.

I’m sure people have dealt with that one friend who treats you like you’re an unpaid servant. This friend is always bossy, and they want things to go their way. If things don’t go their way, they get very angry and uncooperative. In my opinion, these are the most difficult people to deal with. For example, you and a few friends decide to go to a movie, but one person wants to go see a different movie. That one friend argues and argues with you until everybody gives in and see’s the movie the friend wants to see. Nobody enjoys the movie because they are so irritated with the friend that argued and argued with them. As another example, at the Computing Workshop summer camp we went on a field trip, and at the time we ate at the LaRoche College cafeteria for lunch everyday. The group wanted to find a fast restaurant in town so we could get back in time for the afternoon class periods to start. We had a student that did not want to do that, so instead of going with the flow and doing what everybody else wanted to do he decided to throw his water bottle on the floor, swear and throw a temper tantrum at everybody. We eventually decided to give in and hurry back to the cafeteria before they closed it for the day. We luckily made it back on time, we had only twenty minutes to eat our lunch, and we could have had plenty of time to eat if we found somewhere to eat in Pittsburgh. The fact is, when you are out with a group of people, and you don’t want to do something everybody else wants to do, you sometimes have to just suck it up and do what they want to do. We never took this student on any field trips for the rest of the summer because of his behavior.

One thing that I have caught myself doing, which has also caused friends to not want to be around me is expecting too much from them. On an Autism forum website a few weeks ago, a teenager was complaining about a friend ignoring his messages. He mentioned that he had a friend in school that he would text message a lot, but he would become frustrated about his friends not replying to every single text message he would send. In the post, his tone sounded very demanding. It pretty much sounded like “I expect my friends to reply to me when I text message them, I don’t care if it takes them a few hours to text me back, I just want them to reply”. If this person wants to keep his friend, he should not make demands like that. Doing so can make the friend feel like you are a burden to be around. Nobody wants to be around someone who acts like a burden. I agree that it is upsetting when friends don’t keep in touch as often as you would like them to, but sometimes they just don’t have the time to do it. I used to get very upset about this and feel that every time a friend does not answer messages that they have something against me. I try to be cool when I am around my friends, because if I act pushy they will definitely start avoiding me.

This brings me to my next topic, which is jealousy. You may think it is stupid to write about, but I have dealt with people who are jealous of me for many reasons. These were the people who tried to convince me they were trying to be my friend when they really weren’t. I am good at making PowerPoint presentations, and I have done many school projects with the program in the past. Most of the PowerPoint projects I have done in school are group projects, and I was usually the one that was in charge of doing the PowerPoint presentation. People realized my ability to do PowerPoint presentations like that, and they would take advantage of me and make me do most of the work. When the teacher was not around, most of my group members would sit and socialize with their friends instead of helping me work on the project. When the teacher would come in the classroom, they would sit there and pretend to do be working. When I would add a slide background they didn’t like, or a font they didn’t like they would rudely tell me how much they didn’t like it and to change it to something else. I talked to the teacher about it the next day, and he gave the group members the typical “do your work” lecture. They were pretty angry that I complained to the teacher about how rude they have been to me, they then proceeded to yelling at me and telling me what to do throughout the project. After that, I had enough and asked the teacher to give me an alternate independent assignment. I got full credit for the assignment, and I never had to work with those people again. Another funny thing about this was that they asked me to sit with them at lunch one day, and I simply said “no”. They then asked me “But we thought you were our friend”. It was obvious they were not my friend because of how they took advantage of me, and they knew how disrespectfully they treated me.

I am not trying to blame everything on other people, I have caught myself being jealous of people many times. Some of the people who I have gotten jealous of were my close friends. One or two of them do have girlfriends, and there have been times where it seemed like they were spending more time with the girl and her friends instead of with me. I started becoming extremely angry and jealous when I would hang around them. The anger then turned into sadness, I can remember asking myself “why are they spending more time with the girl and her friends instead of with me?” I asked my counselor and my parents about it, and they both told me to talk to them. I did exactly what they told me, but I said it in a tone of voice that was not appropriate or friendly. I made the mistake of saying incredibly rude and inappropriate things about their girlfriends. They then proceeded to walking away from me, and that was the last time I ever heard from them. Going back to my blog about Honesty, I was honest, but I said it in a crude and inappropriate way that caused me to lose my good friends. The words “tact” and “diplomacy” never existed in my world then. I could have changed the way I talked to my friends about the situation, I could have politely and sincerely told them my feelings, and that I am upset that they never spent time with me. I don’t think I should have been that jealous of them in the first place, if they spent more time with me instead of their girlfriends, their girlfriends would be jealous and upset. I should have waited a few days, then talked to them in private about it. I didn’t do that either. As soon as I found out they were dating the girls and hanging out with their friends, I got angry and overreacted to the situation. Like I said, I said some things about their girlfriends that were pretty mean and inappropriate, but I am not going to talk about it on here. Just because a friend gets into a relationship with somebody doesn’t always mean they are going to drift away from you and forget about you. They still liked me, but I just had trouble dealing with the change. I should have just accepted the change and stayed friends with them.

To sum things up, I now understand why many people avoided me in the past. Every mistake I make will help me become a better person, because I learn not to do it again. I learned not to treat a friend like an unpaid employee, expect to much from them, or be jealous of them. I realize that will cause people to avoid me and not like me. If I didn’t get the opportunity to meet my friend Aaron, I probably would not be the person I am now. I would still be the depressed, unhappy person that John Elder Robison was as he described in his book. Hopefully all the school work he is doing right now will pay off and give him a job he will like. I am proud of him for that. Anybody enjoys seeing their good friend succeed. I will learn more social skills as I grow older, and they will hopefully make me become a very successful person. Hopefully after reading this, you will not make the mistakes I made. Life is about making mistakes and learning from them. I thank you for reading this, and I will be back to write next week!

“Look Me In The Eye” by John Elder Robison


Recently my parents bought me the book “Look Me in The Eye” by John Elder Robison. I found an audio CD of the book that was read by the author for sale on Amazon.com. I find it easier to listen to the author read the book then just sit there and read it. Depending on the material we’re learning about, I learn it easier by listening. For the most part, I consider myself an auditory learner. The book talked about his life with Asperger’s Syndrome, and how it affected his social performance throughout his life. He lived a very tough childhood, his father was an abusive alcoholic and from what I remember his mother suffered from severe depression. Because of this, his parents never gave him support about his social difficulties. Because of these issues, he dropped out of high school in the 10th grade. John Elder started his successful career when he started working with the rock band KISS. There, he designed exploding, fire-shooting special effect guitars for Ace Freshley.

After years of working with KISS, he was employed at a company that designs electronic games. His social difficulties prevented him from advancing in the job, as a result he quit his job. From there, he started his hobby of working with cars. He worked on cars when he was in high school, and he wanted to start it again. He wanted to make money doing the thing he loved, but he wasn’t sure how. Then came J.E Robison service. His business repairs and customizes cars, and it became one of the most successful independent repair shops in New England. He discovered he had Asperger’s Syndrome from a therapist who came to his repair business. He showed him the book “Asperger’s Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals”. When he read the book, he said the book perfectly described him.

I am glad I found out about Asperger’s Syndrome when I was young. I was in about second or third grade when I found out about it. If John Elder found out about it long before he did, things would have been much different for him. Because of his father’s abusive drunkenness and his mothers severe depression, he did not get any help from his disorder. Professionals often misdiagnosed him for disorders like schizophrenia. I am getting very sick of people gossiping about me and giving me labels such as “anti-social”, “psychopath”, “retard”, “loser” or “freak”. I am not any of those things, I want social interaction with people and I want to fit. I’ve dealt with pushy, overly involved therapists and counselors who thought they understood my diagnosis and how it affected me. They obviously didn’t! I am perfectly capable of making friends with the people I want to be friends with, and if they don’t want to be friends with me it is their loss. I am willing to be friends with anybody who accepts me for the kind of guy that I am and who won’t be judgmental and give me stereotypes. I am not going to be upset about not having twenty “casual friends” like most teenagers I know. I am going to try to find one close friend who will respect me and stand up for me. I don’t really have friends that will let me be myself, and I am real upset about that. Kids my age believe the labels the fools give me. Because of that, I don’t have that many friends in school. If I didn’t find out about my Asperger’s Syndrome when I did, I could have considered dropping out of high school like John Elder did.

I am thankful that I have people who support me and accept me for who I am. This book was very painful to read because of the things that John Elder had to experience. His father mistreated him by hitting and not just plain not believing in him. He is very lucky to have gotten where he is now. These days, you need to have education to get just about anywhere. I realize the importance of education, but the thing is we don’t have teachers that are certified to work with Autistic kids. A classic example of this is the story “Gerald Mcboing-Boing” by Dr Seuss. The story is about a young boy named Gerald Mcloy, instead of using real words he would make a “boing boing” noise. His parents called a doctor to try to find out what was wrong with him, but the doctor could not figure out what was wrong with him. His parents thought that sending him to school would teach him how to use words instead of making noises, but it didn’t go well. When he got home from school, his parents left him a note telling him that he was completely hopeless and that he would keep making noises for the rest of his life. Gerald did not realize that when he makes noises, nobody wanted to be around him. He then became very upset and ran away from home. Gerald’s “inappropriate noise” making eventually landed him a job at their local radio station. He got a job doing the thing that people love to do the most, which was make noises. When a child with Autism or Asperger’s demonstrates any kind of inappropriate behavior, teachers often get the impression that they are “ignorant and hopeless”. John Elder Robinson struggled in school because of his fathers alcoholism and his mother’s severe depression and, as you heard earlier he dropped out of high school because of the social shunning and his difficulties at home with his parents. He overcame that depression and he eventually became one of the most successful aspergians to ever live. This book is recommended for all people to read, especially parents and teachers. Hopefully after reading both the book and my review of it, you understand Asperger’s Syndrome more.

Asperger’s Syndrome and Sensory Issues


Life with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome can be very hard, not understanding social skills is one of the main symptoms of the disorder. Aside from that, kids with Autism often are very sensitive to sounds, touch and sights. This is called either sensory integration or sensory processing disorder. They also tend to react so sights and sounds that typically don’t bother most neurotypicals. As a result of this, they can’t participate in many every day activities that people do. The thing that really bothered me was loud noises. I couldn’t go to things like restaurants and amusement parks because the loud noises would overpower me. This really stressed my parents out because they couldn’t do things that most kids really enjoy doing, such as going to amusement parks, birthday parties, firework shows and some school events.

I was about four or five years old, and we were waiting for our flight back to Pittsburgh from the McCarren International Airport in Las Vegas. We just finished a week long visit at my aunt and uncles house who lived in town, and from what I heard, our plane was delayed until about three or four o’clock in the morning. We were sitting at the gate and waiting for our plane until we heard a real loud “whoop, whoop”.  Somebody seemed to have set off the airport security alarm, which went off throughout all the airport gates. I sat, held my ears and dealt with it for about three minutes, when my mom put ear plugs in my ears. The noise became very overpowering and I started crying and screaming. My parents, along with my sister decided to get on the tram and go into the terminal. It was noisy in there, but at least we didn’t have to listen to the security alarm in the gate. We stood there for about thirty minutes and we had to go through security to get on the tram back to the gate. When we got off the tram and went back to the gate, the alarms were finally turned off. We sat down at the gate and I was fine. We got on the plane and we went back to Pittsburgh without problems. I am sure there are parents out there who would just sit there and let the kid scream because they thought that I was crying just to get attention.

I can’t stand going to parties, it’s not necessarily because of the loud music, but it is because of how shy I am when it comes to meeting new people and social interaction. When I was younger, one of the things I couldn’t stand was loud parties and balloons popping. Anytime I would see a balloon, and I would tense up and become very irritated and nervous because of the fear of the balloons popping. I was afraid of them popping because of how sudden the popping sound was. It always happens when you least expect it to, and I would cry and scream when they would pop. Most of the people around me when I would go to birthday parties thought I was upset because I was trying to get attention, like a baby. One of my neighbors down the street was babysitting me, and they had balloons left over from a family member’s birthday party. One of them popped because they were sitting underneath the heating vent, and I started crying because the sudden noise frightened me. The balloons were in their kitchen, which was next to the living room. I would not go in the kitchen or the living room because I had the fear of the balloons popping again. I didn’t stop crying because of that fear, I cried for about thirty minutes because I was so afraid of the balloons popping. My mother came and picked me up later on, and I finally calmed down. One of the things that upset me when I was at my neighbor’s house was the change in the environment. One of the symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome is the difficulty adapting to change, I think that was also one of the things that upset me when I was at the neighbor’s house. They thought I was only upset about the balloons popping, but I was also upset about the change in the environment.

A few years ago I went into Mrs. Casey’s third grade class at Buffalo Elementary School. They just finished remodeling the first part of the school building. We were all adapting to the change of being in a brand new building. A few weeks into the school year, we were getting ready for lunch. When we went in line to go to the lunch, we heard a very loud, high pitch chirping and screeching sound. I had no idea what the noise was, until I saws the alarm strobes flashing. When we walked outside, I held my ears and cringed from the shrill, loud noise. When we went outside, everybody complained about how loud the alarm was and how their lunch time got interrupted. When we went outside and walked to the cafeteria, I started talking about how loud the fire alarm was and how it scared me when I first heard it. I went on about the fire alarm for about thirty minutes until somebody finally blurted out “Derek, we are sick of hearing about the fire alarm. Stop talking about it”. It was obvious that they didn’t want to hear about the alarm anymore, I kept myself quiet the rest of the lunch period. Looking back at that situation, I realize that I talked about the fire alarm because I had the fear that it was going to go off and hurt my ears. My method of getting rid of the fear of the alarm going off was obsessing about it. I didn’t understand that talking about the fire alarm and fire drills got them angry, because there are other things to talk about besides that. When I would start talking about it, they would just ignore me or rudely tell me to talk about something else.

Aside from the fear of balloons and the fire alarm, there were quite a few things that have bothered me in school and at home. These, however are not fears, they are just sounds that really bothered me and distracted me from my schoolwork. I remember when I was at Buffalo Elementary, we had these carpeted areas around each of the grade level sections called “pods”. Our teachers would send us out there to study or finish homework assignments. The thing that really bothered me about these “pods” was that they were right beside the hallways. When people would pass by, it would really distract me. The school had a “no talking” rule when we were in the hallway because people are usually sitting in the pods working. When teachers were not looking, they would still talk and goof around. My teachers aide always took me out there to finish worksheets, and anytime I would get distracted from people walking by they would rudely yell “Derek, look at your paper and quit looking around”. I can’t tell you how many times I heard that annoying line when I was at home and at school.

Another thing that really distracted me when I was in elementary school was when the heater or air conditioner would come on. I would make a comment about it, and most people usually don’t even notice it when it comes on. When I did that, people thought it was strange. That was one of the things that caused teasing, name calling and labeling. I have gotten over my fears of loud noises like balloons popping and the fire alarm. As I got older, I naturally found out appropriate ways to deal with sensory issues. Kids need to be sure to tell somebody that a noise bothers them. People won’t know something bothers you unless you tell them. Parents, if you have a school that is unwilling to address your child’s needs, it is time to find a different place for them to get their education. If you stay with the school that is uncooperative with you, school life will become miserable.

To wrap up, when I look back at situations like this, I realize that it is typical for many people with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. I have been in many situations where people have thought of those things as “weird”. I think the people who label and make fun of me because of my differences are the “odd” ones. My best advice for that is to just sit back and pretend it doesn’t bother you. It is not worth getting upset about people who label and make fun of you. Hopefully after reading this entry, you learned more about me and my Asperger’s Syndrome. Thank you for reading!

Making Social Plans with Friends


I am currently reading two books that I bought recently, one of them is “Look Me In The Eye” by John Elder Robison. Just like me, he wanted to connect with other people, but he didn’t have the skills to do so. The most obvious behavior he exhibited was not looking people in the eye, you can tell that from reading the title of the book. His father was an alcoholic, and his mother suffered from severe depression. Because of his odd social behaviors, his parents thought he would grow up “pumping gas for a living”. Robison had the ability to visualize electronics circuits, as a result of that he found a job with the rock band KISS. When he was with KISS he designed special effects guitars. After that, he landed a job as an engineer in a toy and game company. His lack of social skills prevented him from advancing in the field, as a result he left his job. That still didn’t prevent him from working with machines, he still kept fixing his own cars. His passion for working with cars inspired him to open his own business, J.E Robison Service. There he repaired and customized cars. Despite his social difficulties in school, he became a very successful person.

The other book is “Freaks, Geeks and Asperger’s Syndrome” by Luke Jackson. The book simply talks about his teenage life and how he suffered with Asperger’s Syndrome in school. It is written as a guide for Aspergian teenagers on how to deal with issues such as bullying, friendships, issues in school and dating. I strongly reccomend both of these books for Asperger’s teens, parents and teachers.

These books do talk about how to find, make and keep a friendship with somebody, but they don’t necessarily talk about the high importance of making plans. The fact is, everybody makes plans. When I lay in bed at night trying to go to sleep, I try to think about what I am going to do the next day. Most aspies are good at making plans for themselves, but when it comes to making plans with other people is when they have the most difficulty. The fact is that you are dealing with another person other than just you, the person you want to spend time with may be busy, or they just don’t want to spend time with you. I knew how to reach out to somebody and ask if they want to spend time with me, but I just didn’t have the confidence to do it because I didn’t really have that many friends to spend time with in school. When kids are younger, parents usually make social plans for them, when you get older you have to learn how to do them for yourself. If you are a teenager and your friend calls you and asks your friends parents if you can spend time with them, it would be pretty awkward. Of course, that depends on the aspie teens functioning level. This is a social skill that is very important, especially if you want to keep the friends you have. Nobody wants a friend that won’t spend time with them, regardless of what their excuse is. These are four easy steps when you are calling a friend and asking them if they want to hang out. I really hope they help you!

1.) Be sure to know who you want to hang out with, and ask them at least three hours in advance so they can have some time to plan and get anything else they have to do out-of-the-way. As a common courtesy rule, don’t call them before 9:00 in the morning or 9:00 at night. Their family won’t be very happy if you wake them up and it could jeopardize your chance of spending time with them in the future. If they answer, be sure to give them an appropriate greeting and have a short small talk conversation. When there is a break in the conversation, that is when it is appropriate to change the topic and ask what their plans are.

2.) Talk about what you want to do. If at all possible, try to think of some things you would like to do with some things you would like to do before you call them. I don’t normally like to call people on the phone, and when I have to I usually spend about a minute thinking about what I want to say. In this case, think about what you would like to do and where you would like to do it. This is especially true if it is a person you haven’t hung out with before. It will make phone conversations seem a whole lot less awkward. You should also ask them if they have a suggestion on what to do. Remember to listen to them and acknowledge you are doing it by making interjections.

3.) Tell them where and when you want to do it. This is the most important thing when you are giving somebody an invitation to spend time with you. If your friend can drive, be sure to ask them if they know how to get there. If they don’t, be sure to give them directions that are easy to understand. Be sure to include landmarks that you will see along the way and about how long it should take to get there. Be sure to include the date and time you want to meet with them, and make sure that time works out for the person. If that date or time doesn’t work out for them, be sure to ask them what date would be best for them. You don’t have to ask them a specific time, just ask them a general time, such as “Can we hang out sometime next weekend?” If they are not sure about their plans, wait a few days before asking them again. Then be sure to ask them what date and time will work out for them.

4.) Be sure to ask how you are going to get there. If you have a friend that drives, kindly ask them if they could give you a ride to or from the outing. If it is a lengthy drive, it would be nice if you offered your friend money for gas. It is a lot to ask a friend to drive them to and from an outing, especially if the ride is longer than twenty minutes. As you know, gas is very expensive. This is a courtesy rule, your friend will think that you are using them for a ride if you don’t give them money back for a long drive. It shows them appreciation for what they did for you.

Additional Points to keep in mind

  • Ask your parents for permission. Be sure to give your parents information about everything you plan to do with your friend. Always make sure you have the phone number of at least two trusted family members in-case anything goes wrong.
  • If your friend is picking you up from your house, be sure to be ready fifteen minutes before they arrive. That way you can leave as soon as they pick you up, and you won’t be late if you are meeting other people at the destination you’re going.
  • Don’t take it personally if your friend rejects you, they could be busy and just not have time to spend with you. If it does seem like they are avoiding you, just move on and find another person to be friends with. It is their loss if they don’t want to be your friend.

Five Bad Personality Traits In A Therapist


Most parents want their kids to know that they want the best for them. Because of my Asperger’s Syndrome, social skills and making friends are very difficult for me, The bad therapists that I’ve had in the past have made my problems even worse. The fact is that counselors and teachers want their kids to work very hard on “social skills”, but some of them demonstrate behaviors that show a lack of “social skills”. After my past experiences in the Wesley Wonder Kids “social skills” group, and my former therapist, Mike, I know that for a fact. Mike and the staff members at Wesley are not the only bad therapists that I have experienced, I have dealt with many of them over the years. There are people like this everywhere, but if you are considering being a therapist and demonstrate these kind of characteristics, this is not a career choice for you. I am not doing this to offend anybody, but I am stating the truth. I Google searched “bad therapist” and “bad counselor”, and the only things that came up were complaints about bad marriage counselors. I found nothing regarding complaints about bad counselors who work with kids who have Autistic Spectrum disorders. I wanted to talk about this so parents can be aware of who not to hire when looking for someone to counsel their kids.

1.) Incompetence:

A Webster online dictionary definition of the word incompetent is inadequate to or unsuitable for a certain purpose. Simply put, it means the person or thing can’t do the job right. My former therapist, was named Mike would always try to push me to the limit and make me do things that I really was not comfortable doing. “pushiness” is one of the other qualities I will talk about later on this list. Back to incompetence, Mike’s personality was “in your face”, he seemed to enjoy shoving “social skills” down peoples throat. Because of my Asperger’s I had a difficulty making friends and socializing in school, I didn’t seem to understand why people didn’t want to be friends with me. One of the things Mike always did with me that I absolutely dreaded doing was role-playing. Role playing is when you act out a situation to understand another person’s behavior. The only things Mike would do in social role plays was have me ask questions like “what is your favorite sport?” How is answering questions like that going to give me advice and help me make good friendships with people I can relate to in school? We always did role-playing in my house, and sometimes he would have me do it with my parents and my sister, which made socializing in general even more awkward and more dreadful. I have never felt so awkward around a therapist in my life, and the personality clash between him and I contributed to it mostly.

2.) Sarcasm

In my opinion, sarcastic therapists are the ones that are the most difficult to deal with. Some sarcastic people are just angry, and some of them do it to be funny. A sarcastic joke is okay every once and a while, but if it keeps up it can get on people’s nerves really quick. I have been around sarcastic people who make jokes about peoples religion, race, sexual orientation, size, and so on. If a counselor ever makes those jokes, you should not take it lightly at all. To see a counselor demonstrate a characteristic like this is unacceptable, they are supposed to be a person you can trust and seek for advice, not hurt you and make your problems worse. In kindergarten, I had a counselor who worked with me during school, and he would ridicule me with the most sarcastic jokes that were about very sensitive topics. When I informed my parents about his actions, they finally decided to end services with him. Shortly after we discharged with him, I heard a rumor that he got fired. I don’t know if that was true, and if he did I don’t know if it was because of the way he treated me in front of everybody in school, but I was glad that he was finally out of my hair. Not only was that unacceptable for a counselor to do, but it is beyond unacceptable to do it to a kindergartener of all people! It is sad that these rude, sarcastic people who consider themselves “therapists”.

3.) Forgetfulness:

Have you dealt with that incredibly forgetful person? Can you not stand that employee who constantly arrives to work late? What about that person who constantly forgets deadlines? I have dealt with therapists who are like that, and I absolutely can’t stand them! I realize that you should not judge other people, but forgetfulness is bad when you are trying to find any job. Counselors are supposed to be people who help you with your problems, and it is very frustrating when they can’t remember anything. I had one particular therapist who would constantly ask the question “Do you remember what we did during our last session?” I’ve had to spend most of the time reminding her what we did during our last session, which was very frustrating. It was a major waste of time, because it seemed like I was counseling her. She met with me at my house, and she would constantly arrive late. Because of that, we never had time to get anything accomplished. Another thing she did was make excuses about why she arrived late, her excuses were something like “there was traffic on the Route 28 expressway”. I noticed that she came up with that excuse every time she was late, I met with her three times during the week, and she would arrive late at least two days during the three sessions. I am amazed that there are people who push their clients to work really hard on social skills, and they demonstrate behaviors that show a lack of social skills. That is the sad truth.

4.) Pushiness

I don’t like people who stand there and constantly try to shove things down my throat. Like my friend Aaron, I am a pretty calm and laid back most of the time. You can’t shove social skills down an Autistic person’s throat, it will overwhelm them and they won’t want to learn social skills anymore. The thing about my old therapist, Mike was that he would constantly overwhelm me and put me in social situations where I felt really uncomfortable. From my perspective, his style of therapy was pushing the client to the limit until they think like he does. One particular situation was when he was observing me at the Computing Workshop summer program when we were at LaRoche college. Mike wanted me to introduce him to four people who don’t know him, and I was overwhelmed even thinking about that. I was afraid of the students knowing that he was my therapist, so he told me to tell him that he was my “friend”. First off, a therapist is not supposed to be your friend, they are supposed to be your helper. You need to have a professional relationship with a client, not a personal one. I did not want to introduce him as a “friend” because I simply don’t consider a therapist a friend. I did not want to introduce him to these people because I was to overwhelmed by what he wanted me to do, and that I don’t connect with him well in the first place. He asked me if I was going to do it and I refused to do it. I am not going to let somebody force “social skills” down my throat, being pushed to the limit and overwhelmed makes my social anxiety and depression even worse. Nobody can change anything about me, it is who I am!

5.) Intolerance:

A therapist should not have the right to push religion or spirituality on their client. Because everybody has different religious beliefs. If you have a therapist who tries to do this, you should definitely find somebody else to work with. The type of people I can’t stand the most are people who take everything from the bible literally, and who try to rub their beliefs into your face. When I worked with Mike, he would try to ask me questions regarding my religious beliefs. I find that very offensive, and I will get very angry if somebody does try to do that. In America, we have the right to believe what we want to, however, it does not give you the right to harass people who don’t believe the same things you do.

To wrap up, I wrote this blog just to remind parents to be aware of who they are hiring to work with their Autistic children. I am not using this to offend anybody, I am just doing this to inform you that there are bad therapists out there, just as there are bad teachers and lawyers. Hopefully you will take this information into consideration when finding a therapist for your child.

Here are some other blogs about similar topics:

Do social skills groups help all students on the spectrum?

https://dwarren57.wordpress.com/2009/08/02/can-social-skills-groups-really-help-all-students-on-the-spectrum/

Do social skills groups help all students on the spectrum? (part 2)

https://dwarren57.wordpress.com/2009/08/02/can-social-skills-groups-really-help-all-students-on-the-spectrum/

Should an Asperger’s teen try to be “normal”?

https://dwarren57.wordpress.com/2009/08/25/should-an-aspergers-teen-try-to-be-normal/

My experiences with mobile therapy

https://dwarren57.wordpress.com/2009/08/18/my-experiences-with-mobile-therapy/

What turns me off?

https://dwarren57.wordpress.com/2009/09/20/what-turns-me-off/

What turns me off?

https://dwarren57.wordpress.com/2009/10/09/what-turns-me-off-part-2/



“People Act Differently In Public Than They Do In Private”


If you remember my blog titled “Not Everybody Who Is Nice to Me Is My Friend”, it talked about how when you first meet a person, they may seem nice, but when you get to know the person their real personality comes out. This is rule # 7 in Temple Grandin’s book “Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships”. People who are on the Autistic Spectrum often take things literally, as a result of that they don’t understand jokes and humor, because pf this, they are often teased and picked on in school. When a child with ASD meets a new person who has a smile on their face, they tend to think that they are happy all the time. In the book, Temple gave the example of when you Google search the word “happy”, the only results that show are information about the word “happy”, they don’t show anything about the word “sad” or “angry”. To put it in simpler terms, an extremely happy person may be hiding that they are angry or sad about something. As mentioned in the book, kids on the Autistic Spectrum demonstrate black and white thinking, which is taking everything they see and hear literally.

In the book, Temple mentioned that “If people acted any way they wanted, at any time, in any setting, we would be living in a chaotic, messed up world. We wouldn’t have basic structures that provide us with the essentials we need to survive, like food, clothing and shelter.” As I have said before, kids on the Autistic spectrum don’t understand boundary issues, in this case it is what is appropriate in public versus in private. Go back to Temple’s example from the book, it mentioned how her mother would not tolerate her messing up the living room, but she will tolerate it if she messes up her own bedroom. The fact is that parents do not teach their kids appropriate behaviors when in public. There are some teenagers and young adults with Asperger’s Syndrome that want to make friends, and take part in activities like dating, but not respecting boundary issues and public versus private behavior will prevent them from doing so successfully.

This rule also related to another characteristic that individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome may show, and that is making assumptions and generalizing. Shaun Barron mentioned how when he would go to public places like a shopping mall or a restaurant, he would see young couples holding hands. That got him very tense and upset. When they came home, he angrily made the comment “Everybody is in a great relationship but me”. This was another “black and white thinking” situation. When you see a teenage couple at the mall or at any other public place holding hands, they look happy, therefore they are happy together. That unfortunately is not always true, they hide their relationship issues by holding hands and acting happy. It is not a good idea to make generalizations about people because you don’t know their real story. Their private life could be completely different, they could be arguing and fighting about things you never could have guessed they were going through when you saw them happily holding hands, smiling and kissing in public. This is true when you meet any person, for example, there is a kid that talks about you rudely behind your back, and you are really getting sick and tired of hearing him do it. I strongly agree that it is extremely rude and inappropriate to do that, but the person may be having similar feelings of not belonging with their friends, and they make fun of other people to try to stand out with their friends. It could also be because of the mood they are in. When somebody is ill, they usually are not very sociable and friendly. Being sick, even if it is just a small cold can really affect a persons mood and ability to do their job. As I mentioned before, when you see a person who is demonstrating the characteristics of a “happy go lucky” person, that doesn’t always mean they are “happy go lucky”. They could be hiding that they are angry or sad about something. I am going to give you an example that every single high school and college student can relate to. It’s Wednesday in Chemistry class, and your teacher gave you a lab assignment that was to be completed by the end of the class period on Friday. You really do not want to do this assignment, and to make matters worse, your assigned partner is a person you are not very fond of. While you work on the lab, you and your friends make up jokes about how much you enjoy the lab and the person you are working with. If somebody on the Autistic Spectrum was in this situation, they would take their jokes literally and think that they really enjoy working with you and that they love the teacher and the class. Kids with Autism often don’t understand sarcasm, which very well could lead to teasing and bullying in school. I have been in situations where people have told me jokes, and I took them the wrong way and became upset about it. Kids with Aspergers Syndrome often don’t understand that some jokes are inappropriate for certain settings, which could also lead to teasing, bullying and trips to the principals office. Going back to my example, humor makes getting through a situation easier than complaining about it. It is not socially acceptable to complain about things that don’t go your way, because the simple fact of life is that things won’t always go your way. I completely agree with Temple and Shaun when they talk about that particular unwritten rule being unfair, because it is unfair. The cold hard truth is that nobody wants to be around somebody who complains and mopes about things all the time. Complaining about things is more appropriate to do in private than in public. Once again, that is because nobody wants to listen to a complainer.

To wrap up, I have been around many neurotypical people who demonstrate a lack of social skills and understanding of this rule. My philosophy is that the “normal” people are the ones with problems. Many of them are ignorant enough to call people names just because they are different from you. The best thing you can do is to not listen to them, and think of them as the ones who lack social skills. Hopefully after reading this, you have a better understanding of some of the experiences I have been through in life.