Do They Truly “Care”? (Part 2- A Blog Post About Facing Fears)

A Continuation of Part 1

When we experience a life threatening situation like a car accident, it reduces our self-confidence to great amounts. We think that cowering in fear will make the problems go away. Anxiety is a common characteristic in people diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorders, regardless of whether or not they are actually diagnosed with a particular type of Anxiety.  I’ve always hated therapists who tell me that I need to “put myself out there” if I want to make new friends. I am in college now, and the feelings of not “fitting in” have been with me for a long time. I am sure they will stay with me in any social situation. 

Throughout most of my (almost) twenty years of life, I have always known that I was “different.” I was “unpopular” in high school and the vast majority of my classmates either didn’t know that I existed or took advantage of it. Because of that, I found it extremely difficult to decipher whether or not people were merely trying to be kind. My former therapist, Mike thought that forcing me out of my comfort zone would magically cause an epiphany and end all of my problems. His demanding personality and use of scare tactics made me believe that he was not really trying to “help” me, even though he tried to convince me otherwise. The truth was that I really had no idea what was bothering me. I was just bitter about the fact that I was “not like everybody else.”

You are probably asking me to answer that one burning question. What is that thing that has caused me to feel so empty? So, you should know that I am “putting myself out there.” I now know I am a gay man. I knew that I was not ready to say that during my high school years. My classmates seemed to notice this and they used it as a way to provoke me. My small, unincorporated hometown in Western Pennsylvania mainly consists of Conservative Christians who are not very accepting of the GLBT community. Life in the Freeport Area School District was about conforming, fitting in and doing what was expected of me.

The school claimed to have a “zero tolerance policy” towards bullying. From elementary school until tenth grade, the schools seemed to think that displaying signs that read “bullying will not be tolerated” or “teasing hurts” would give students the message that bullying was not acceptable. The truth was, it did the exact opposite. The vast majority of the students paid no attention to the signs. My teachers were under the kind of mindset that we were in a perfect school in a small town and that any forms of intolerance and bullying are just a little pigment of our own imagination. As a matter of fact, I remember my tenth grade health teacher rambling about how he thinks it’s “funny” that our school district even needed a bullying policy. He was just one of the many Freeport teachers who lived under the “perfect small town” mindset. If you are still not convinced, look at the website and read the one and two star reviews written about the junior and senior high schools. 

Going back to my “drill Sargent” therapist, I can remember one thing about his tactic that truly infuriated me. His tone of voice was often very questionable, meaning I had trouble figuring out whether he was being genuine or being sarcastic. I was “not like everybody else” and I was not interested in most of the neurotypical activities, in particular, dating. I wanted to “be like everybody else” but I didn’t know how to. Just about every single session consisted of him trying to cause that magical epiphany. He wanted to me “put myself out there.” He would go on and on about how I should be interested girls, the sarcastically said “unless you like boys or something…”  That was one of the many comments that caused a major personality clash between the two of us. I didn’t know I was gay back then, so I just refused to respond to him. If I had known, I still would not have “come out” to him. This was due to the lack of respect and understanding from the vast majority of my peers, teachers and counselors. So, I am sure you can guess why I felt this comment was pretty questionable. His tendency to bombard me with questions, to get in my face and tell me how much I need to “open up to people” caused even more resistance. I most likely will never change my opinions about the man. He had no regard for the fact that I simply was not ready to discover and reveal what was really bothering me. 

If there are any Autistic and/or gay people who are reading this blog post, I am sure you know that we have many stereotypes and labels thrown at us. This is why I felt that “coming out” during high school was not safe. When people think of the word “gay”, they picture a male who is effeminate, materialistic, shallow and overly obsessed about sex. When people think of an Autistic person, they picture someone running out of control and throwing things in a screaming meltdown. It is true that there are gay and/or Autistic people who show those characteristics, but that most certainly does not excuse the acts intolerance and hatred that society throws at them. 

I have also noticed one thing when it comes to “cultural and neurological diversity.” There have been times where I have been around Aspies who negatively use offensive slurs such as “faggot”, “cunt” or “dyke.” I have also heard LGBTQ people negatively use offensive slurs like “retard”, “freak” or “psycho.” It infuriates me to hear anybody use those slurs, but especially those who know how it feels to be different. I have come to the sad realization that they use these slurs for the same reason that anyone would use them. They fear people who are different because they still believe the ridiculous myths and negative stereotypes that are always thrown at that particular “group.” It’s called the fear of the unknown. 

My Asperger’s has always caused me to be very careful who I choose for a friend, and I know I will have to be even more careful now that I know I am gay. This could very well mean that I could lose support from friends and family due to their religious stance on “homosexuality.” I will most likely endure my fair share of  the bible says it’s wrong” lectures. Those family and friends could start negatively gossiping about me and even use those slurs that always have and always will infuriate me. I know that I shouldn’t let them bother me, but it will truly hurt if this ever ends up being the case. All I can do is expel them from my life, tell myself that it’s their problem and hope they change their ways. However, homophobes usually don’t change the way they feel about people who are different. Their religious propaganda “molds” them into that kind of mindset. 

My priorities in a friend are now starting to change. I am experiencing a friendship where I am always the one who reaches out to the person, when they never seem to reach out to me. It makes me feel like I am the only one who seems to truly care. I’ve had friends who say they are going to help me with things then turn around and not do it. It makes me wonder if they really want to spend time with me. It also makes me wonder whether they are avoiding me or just “forgetting” about me. I know not to automatically take it personally, but I always have wondered what the real answer is. I ask myself two questions. Are they using that as a cover up? Do they truly care? This is the hardest part, but I must accept what the real answer is. 

I thank you for reading this very important post!

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Friend vs Acquaintance

We all know that the definition of a friend is a person who somebody likes, knows and trusts. Individuals on the Autistic Spectrum usually don’t understand the crucial differences between friends and acquaintances. Simply put, a definition of the word “acquaintance” is a person known to one, but usually not a close friend. An acquaintance may be somebody you see at work or school on occasions, but really don’t know anything about. For example, every day at around four in the afternoon, I see a woman walking down my street with her dog, which is a chocolate lab. The only thing I know about this woman is that she has a chocolate lab who she walks down the street everyday. If I ever did get a chance to talk to her, it would probably only be about her dog. I don’t think it would be appropriate to talk about anything else with her. In high school, you will have the annoying people who are considered “popular”. They usually hang out with people of similar interests, they consider the twenty or thirty people they hang out with “best friends” when they are either acquaintances or “casual friends”. This entry talks about the differences between an acquaintance and a friend

A casual friend is somebody you may hang around or talk to at events like social gatherings, work or school. If you do hang out with them, you usually don’t share personal information with them. I’ve had trouble with this in the past, I have considered people “real friends” when they really weren’t. I’ve tried “icebreakers” and asked them if they wanted to get together with me when they rejected me. Their response was the typical “no, sorry I’m too busy”. It was obvious that they really were not my friend because they wanted absolutely nothing to do with me. I would rather hear somebody tell me they want nothing to do with me then avoid me. When people avoid me it makes me feel that I am a bad person, or that I did something that offended them. I could tell that this person was avoiding me because they didn’t stop and give me a good explanation of why he was busy. Telling me “I’m busy because I have other stuff to do” tells me you really are not busy, you are just trying to get out of being around me. If somebody honestly tells me they want nothing to do with me, I will just move on and find another person to hang out with. I have been avoided by people my entire life, and it really hurts. Like I said, it makes me feel like I am a bad person and that I don’t deserve to have friends.

Sometimes acquaintances do become friends. After they have spent enough time with each other, feel comfortable around each other and trust each other is when a friendship starts to develop. Before you start to consider an acquaintance a friend, there are three things you should ask yourself.

1.) Do they try to keep in contact with you?

A true friend always keeps in contact with you no matter how far apart you are from them. When a friend moves to a different school or goes off to college, they get very busy and don’t have the time to spend with you. I have learned from past experiences with friends that a little contact goes a long way. Writing a letter takes up a lot more time than emailing or instant messaging a person. However, writing a letter really does show a person how much you really care about them. We teenagers from the 21st century should consider ourselves lucky, we have social networking sites such as Myspace, Facebook and Twitter and don’t forget cell phones! Call them as often as you can, even a five minute “how are you doing” call will mean a lot to the person. But, remember that a friend should also make an effort to keep in contact with you every once and a while. When you reach out to a person, you should expect them to reach out to you every now and then.

2.) Do they show interest in being around you?

This is one of the more difficult things to deal with in friendships. The fact is that you can’t be friends with everybody, and you probably will deal with that one person that just doesn’t show interest in being friends with you. Two signs that show a person is not interested in being friends with you is they will make excuses for why they can’t spend time with you, and they will avoid contact with you. One thing to remember about friendships is that you can’t force a person to be friends with you. When they start to make excuses and avoid you is usually a sign that you should move on and find somebody else to be friends with. If somebody doesn’t want to be your friend, it is their problem, not yours. A true friend is somebody who WANTS to spend time with you and who MAKES time to do it. I can understand when they are busy, but when you are in need, a you should expect a friend to help you. If they can’t be there physically, they should make an effort to call you and talk to you about the problem, whatever it may be. A friend must show interest in being around you, and they must show interest in getting to know you and helping you when you are in need.

3.) Are they accepting of you?

One of the characteristics in people that really turn me off is judgmentalism. You read that in my blog titled “what turns me off”. Have you ever been around a friend that gives a stereotype to every single person they see? I can’t stand people who act like that, being a student in high school, I have been around people like that many times. They can’t find anything else to do besides judging and making fun of other people. As I said in my “what turns me off” blog, I am not trying to sound hypocritical, I have caught myself doing this many times before. I’m sure every person has judged someone they don’t even know at least once in their life. As friends grow closer, they will learn what they tolerate and what sets them off. I have said this many times before, a friend is somebody who loves and accepts you for who you are, and won’t ever try to change anything about you. Those kind of friendships only happen once or twice in a lifetime.

I have learned that there are some real great people out there, and not everybody in the whole world is going to try to bring me down and make fun of me. You never know what will happen when you meet a new person, maybe they could end up being your best friend for life. When I first met Aaron, I never thought we would become such good friends. I am really glad that I had the opportunity to have people like him in my life. If it were not for Computing Workshop, I would have never met him. I have one more piece of advice about friendships, when you meet a new friend, just be cool and find out what happens. Don’t be pushy, because that will just draw the friend away from you. If the friendship doesn’t workout, just move on and find someone else. It is a larger world than you think, there are tons of people out there to be friends with. Close friendships are rare, and they take time to develop. Hopefully after reading this, you should have a general idea of who your real friends are and who they aren’t.

“Not Everybody Who Is Nice to Me Is My Friend”

A very simple definition of the word “friend” is a person who somebody knows, likes and trust. The title of this blog is actually Rule number six in Temple Grandin’s book “Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships”. My blog titled “How Can An Asperger’s Teen Know Who Their Real Friends Are” was just simply a “how too” guide on figuring out whether or not somebody is your friend. I have been taken advantage of people many times, because of one thing, kids with Asperger’s often don’t understand when someone is really telling the truth. When they are around someone who acts nice when they first meet them, they automatically think that they are their friend. I am very careful when I am meet a new person, because you never know what they are really like. Even when you are getting to know someone as a friend, it takes a while for their real personality to come out. When you know a person that seems really nice, and all of a sudden they say something mean about you or to your face, it is very confusing. That is especially true for individuals on the Spectrum.

Kids usually don’t start to learn this rule until their middle school. Temple and Sean both mention that younger kids are very honest when they are telling their feelings to others. When I start to get to know a person and think of them as friends is when they start to avoid being around me. I really get upset when people avoid me and ignore me for absolutely no reason. I would rather a friend be honest and tell me they don’t want to be friends instead of just sitting there and ignoring me all the time. Growing up in the small town of Sarver, Pennsylvania makes me feel that nobody even knows that I exist. It seems that the only people that actually do know I exist are the ones that want to just sit there and make fun of me for absolutely no reason. If you want nothing to do with me, than why the hell don’t you just tell me? Being honest and telling your feelings about me is better than sitting there and tolerating me when you don’t want me around. Besides, it is your problem if you don’t want anything to do with me, not mine.

If you remember me talking about my old therapist named Mike, who would push me to the limit and try to shove social skills down my throat. I always dreaded having to participate in sessions with him, and he knew it. He seemed to think that doing so would magically make me learn social skills I needed to know for life. People often say that “A Smile Says A Lot About You” and “People Fall in Love With A Smile”, I have to say that is the most ridiculous statement that I have ever heard in my entire life. When somebody is constantly happy, that most likely means that they are trying to hide something that they are upset about, whatever it may be. I personally think that a person that is happy all the time is a bit strange, balance is one of the things people need in life. Instead of hiding something you are upset about, why don’t you tell someone about it? Hiding something you are upset about makes the situation even worse. Back to my point, just because somebody smiles doesn’t necessarily mean they are a nice person. Even if they smile, they could still be the most arrogant, mean spirited and absent minded person on the face of the earth. And regarding the “People Fall in Love With A Smile” quote, nobody is going to fall in love with somebody just because they have a nice smile. I remember when our school’s website used to have our teacher’s ID photos by their names, and there were some teachers that smiled and there were others that didn’t. I looked at their photo IDs because I was going into my freshman year at the time, and one of the teachers had a really nice smile. But, when school started it turned out that this teacher was the most sour, unhappy person out of all the teachers at Freeport that hated their job and everything about it. The teachers I saw that didn’t smile actually turned out to be the nicer ones that enjoyed teaching at Freeport. My final thought about someone that smiles all the time is that they are hiding something they are upset about, or hiding the fact that they might try to do something to bring me down. When I first saw the teachers that smiled in their pictures, I thought they were going to me nice and friendly, but it turned out that wasn’t true. This teacher absolutely hated her students, the teachers and everything else about her job. When I was working with the therapist, Mike, he tried to make me smile in the mirror five times during each of our sessions. I always refused to do so, because I disagreed with him when he told me that a smile says a lot about somebody. I have been mistreated by people that have a lot of friends and that are happy most of the time, and it is hard to trust new people when I meet them. Instead of judging somebody that looks like they are unhappy, why don’t you talk to them and try to figure out what is wrong with them? If you don’t like that fact about me, then that is too bad. Rant over.

One of the things that people often ask when they meet a new person is “what are they like”? Because of the fact that they usually hide their emotions about another person, it is difficult to tell what their real personality is like. My first recommendation when you are meeting a new person is to ask them to introduce you to a few of their close friends. When you find a chance to talk to their friends without the new friend around, try to ask them some general questions about them. Try to ask them what their personality is like, what they like to do in their spare time, what their family is like, and if they have a boyfriend or girlfriend, you might want to ask the same questions about them too. When I meet a new person, I like to know a bit of general information about them so that I can decipher if they would be an appropriate person to trust or not. This is especially true when you are looking for a person to date, if it is possible, I would like to know some general information about the potential date so I can tell if they are the right person for me or not. I am not interested in dating, so I don’t even have to worry about that. One thing to keep in mind anytime you meet a new person, try not to be judgmental when they are around their friends. Just because they have friends that are different than you doesn’t necessarily mean they are a bad person. Just be cool around the person and don’t be pushy or controlling. That is one of the things that will draw people away from you.

To wrap up, people not following this rule is one of the reasons why there have been so many kidnappings and murders. People always assume that when they meet a new person that they are automatically a friend that they trust. I am not trying to scare anybody, but I am just trying to make people aware. There are people out there that you most definitely not trust and avoid at all costs. I hope this blog will help people, especially ones on the spectrum understand why this rule is very important in life.

I hope you found it interesting and informative, and I will be back to write soon!

“Everybody Makes Mistakes, It Doesn’t Have to Ruin Your Day” and “People are Responsible for Their Own Behaviors”

Have you ever been so frustrated that you can’t do something right? Have you wanted to give up? Have you ever held a grudge against somebody because of something they did wrong? Both of these rules are in Temple Grandin’s book titled “Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships. I wanted to incorporate both of these rules into one blog, because they tie in together. First off, the old saying goes “Life Is About Making Mistakes”, I remember the many times that I have gotten frustrated about not being able to do something right, or because of the mistakes that other people have made when they are around me. One of the simple facts of life is that you need to learn from the mistakes you have made, and other peoples behavior is beyond your control. The thing about this is that you need to learn how to forgive both yourself and other for the mistake was made, and sometimes it is not easy. This is true regardless of your relationship with the person.

I can remember when I was in either third or fourth grade, I had severe troubles with Math. Those were the years we were starting to cover all of the aspects of multiplication and division. When I would study my multiplication and division facts, I had absolutely no problem with them, but when it came to the long division and multi-step multiplication, I never seemed to be able to learn the concepts. When I would sit at my desk and do my homework, I got so frustrated about the fact that I couldn’t do the problems, that I would just go into a meltdown. My fourth grade teacher, Mr. Gaillot would give us these practice workbook pages for homework every night, and they contained about 25-30 problems total. That is quite a few math problems for an elementary student to have to do for homework, and especially for a student that is having difficulties learning the concepts. Teachers think that giving their students an abundant amount of problems to do for homework every single night will help a learning support student learn the concepts even better, when it will overwhelm them even more. There were nights that I wouldn’t even do the assignment. Mr. Gaillot had a policy where if you didn’t do your homework, you were given a homework slip that was to be signed by your parents, and you had to stay in for recess for the day. This policy was started after a few students that slacked off and did not do their homework, and I was one of those students. Back then, I dreaded it when he would do that, but now I realize that he did this because he really cared about all of his students and wanted them to try their hardest and succeed. Gaillot has also been the coach of Freeport’s football team for many years, and he mentioned one of his students that played on his team when I was in his fourth grade class. He was talking about how the student decided to drop out of high school because of failing grades. This student obviously was too afraid to ask for help, and thought that he was hopeless. I felt the same way back when I was in elementary school, I excelled in all of my classes, except for math. From fourth grade on, I always struggled in that class. I probably always will be frustrated with math, and I will try my best to take the initiative to ask someone for help when I need it. I made the mistake of not asking for help when I needed it, and refusing to do the assignment all-together. You absolutely have to ask if you need it, because if you don’t, you won’t do the assignment correctly and you will get a failing grade. Down the road, if you refuse to do something that you don’t understand on the job, you could end up being fired, plain and simple. Dr. Grandin mentions that you will have to deal with a bad boss at least once in your life, and that there are two types of “bad bosses”. These types of bosses are jerks who all the employees hate, and bosses who are nice to neurotypicals and don’t like aspies. Back to the point, you have to tell your boss that you need help, because they won’t realize it if you don’t. If they give you a hard time about asking for help, then you can talk to their boss about it. There is no need to deal with a person like that.

Now, I want you to put yourself in this kind of situation. You and a group of friends are out at a local restaurant. Your friend asks you to buy a few alcoholic drinks, and you are hesitant at first. You then give in and order one, and drink it. One of your friends is pushing the limit and going way too far, and they start acting totally out of their character. Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, that same person makes a nasty, derogatory comment about you. How do you react to it? Do you ignore them? Do you express your anger and throw a punch at them? Those are the two most common decisions people will make in a situation similar to this, but there are other options. If you throw a punch at the person, somebody could get hurt or killed. If you ignore them, the problem could escalate even more. About a week passes after the incident, and you hold a grudge against the person that made the derogatory comment about you. Now let’s imagine another thing about this situation, this person also happens to be your best friends girlfriend. There are many ways to approach a situation like this, you could hate your friend for dating this girl, and hate the girl for the nasty comment she made about you, or you could talk to your friend about the situation. I would most definitely recommend talking to your friend about the situation. You have a voice, so use it and tell your friend your feelings about the situation. But, do use caution about your tone of voice and the words you use. Always approach them in a confident, but polite way. Talking to them rudely will most likely jeopardize your friendship with the person completely. And don’t ever say anything derogatory about their girlfriend either, that is another thing that can cause you to loose your friendship with them. If the friend is rude to you, then I would most move on and find another person to be friends with. If he wants to date the girl that made a nasty comment about you, then that is his decision. I have said it before, and I will say it again, if someone doesn’t want to be your friend, it is their problem, not yours. I would just forgive the person, move on and find another person to be friends with. There are better people to be friends with than this jerk, so why should you worry about them? You are better of without them anyway.

As I talked about in the first or second paragraph, life is about making mistakes. People will learn from mistakes, and they hopefully won’t make them again. I have learned from my mistakes of not doing my homework, and I will never do it again. Your friends should also learn from the mistakes that they have made. If you want to be my friend, it’s okay if you make a mistake now and then. If you are really my friend than I will forgive you, but it may take time to do it. However, if my friend makes a bad decision, they better be willing to listen to me about my feelings. I am an honest person when I am around my friends, and I will tell you like it is when you are doing something that could get you into trouble in the future. The person probably doesn’t realize that their behavior is going to cause that to happen, so you need to be honest and tell them like it is. But remember to do it in a respectable manner, they will turn away from you if you don’t.

I really hope you liked this blog, and that you will take this advice in the future.

Four important qualities of a best friend

I wrote a blog about a month ago titled “How can an Aspergers teen know who their real friends are”? It talked about the lack of social skills makes it very difficult for people like me to make and keep friendships with other people. It talked about how to tell whether or not someone is interested in being friends with you,  and to tell whether someone really wants to be a true friend, use you and embarrass you. One of the things I’ve learned about friendships is that best friends are extremely rare, they usually only happen once or twice in a lifetime. I have been through middle school and high school years without a best friend, and it has been a very sad and lonely time for me. I have people that I consider acquaintances, but nobody that I consider “real friends”. As I have mentioned before, I have had people that have tried to convince me that they were merely trying to be my friend, when they were just one of those people that wanted to make fun of me and take advantage of me. They obviously thought that I wasn’t as smart as I really was, and they thought that I would actually fall for their tricks. Social skills groups are a good thing for some people, but they most certainly didn’t help me. There were people that most likely will not be able to function in real life like I can, and I wasn’t particularly interested in being friends with them. Growing up in the small community of Sarver, Pennsylvania has made it sound impossible to find that one best friend who appreciates me for who I am. From my perspective, there are five very important qualities that a best friend should have. If you don’t have these qualities in you, then you should definitely reconsider being friends with me.

1.) Honesty:

I put honesty as the first one on the list because it is the most important quality that any friend should have, whether or not they are a best friend, or a “go to the mall together” friend. One of the people that I detest more than ever are people who can’t handle the truth. People are frightened by the fact that I tell people like it is when they are doing something that could potentially harm them or the people around them, or get them into trouble in the near future. I know that many people don’t enjoy hearing the truth, and sometimes is may hurt their feelings, but I show them the truth about the situation because I care about them and don’t want to see the negative consequences that could happen as a result of them not listening to me. Many people out there have had friends that have gotten into trouble, severely hurt, or even killed because of not listening to the dangers of things like drugs, sex or alcohol. You hear about these things that happen, and it happens in almost every high school class across America. I am an honest person, and I show that in a way that will hopefully convince someone that I really care about them. And if it hurts your feelings, I am sorry. Sometimes telling the truth in a stern tone of voice will get the person to listen to you. Sometimes it takes a person to learn a lesson about something, and hopefully saying it in a stern tone of voice will convince them into listening to me. When I really care about someone, I will not give up telling them like it is until they listen and realize that what they are doing is wrong, and could get them into trouble, hurt, or even killed. Honesty is always the best policy, even when you think that it might hurt someones feelings. If you lie about something, they will eventually find out about it.

2.) Kindness

Aside from honesty, kindness is second on this list for many reasons, but the most important one is when I need help on something, my best friend will try their hardest to go out of their way to help me with the problem. When I ask them a question about a problem I am having, I don’t want to hear that bullshit “I don’t know” answer. To me, an answer like that shows me that you truly are not interested in helping me with the problem, and want to be stuck up and hang around anybody else but me. If a friend gives me a ridiculous answer like that, I will just walk away and find someone else to help me with the problem. There are other people out there who are more willing to help me than that person, and that person obviously doesn’t really care about me, they only care about themselves and their “little group” of friends. They were your typical stuck up, and rude high school clique. The thing about giving the “I don’t know response” when I’m asking for advice on something is that they didn’t even try to help me with the problem. A true best friend tries as hard as they can to help someone with a problem.

3.) Trustworthiness:

As I have mentioned many times before, I know how it feels to be “set up” by people. At Lenape Tech and Freeport, I only have people that I consider “acquaintances”. I personally don’t think it is a wise idea to invite them into my life because of how they have talked to me, I absolutely hate people that treat me like I’m not as smart as I really am. I hate people that think I am stupid enough to fall for their tricks. I am able to tell when someone is trying to be my friend or make fun of me. I may not find it out right away, but I will find it out eventually. I know how high school kids act, especially the stupid ones. A true friend is someone that will never bring you down or make fun of you, no matter what happens. I have a difficulty trusting people in school because they don’t really understand my Aspergers Syndrome, and I fear that they may make fun of me or try to take advantage of me in the future. I am very quick when it comes to finding out whether or not people really have friendship in mind with me. I don’t really trust most of the people I am acquaintances with because they most likely don’t accept me for the kind of person that I am. As I mentioned in one of my other blogs, I hate it when people expect me to participate in things just because “everybody else is doing it”. I consider it an insult when people tell me that I need to be “normal”. A true friend is someone you can trust fully, and someone who accepts you for who you are. A true friend is someone who listens to you, and takes advice from you.

4.) Sacrifice

In my opinion, this is the most important quality of a best friend. A true friend is someone who MAKES TIME to spend with you. It’s okay if a friend is busy, especially when they are in college or just getting ready to finish high school, but this is inexcusable when your friend is in need, whatever it may be. Even if they are not able to spend time with you, they should at least make time to talk to you on the phone, or chat with you online about something. When they start to make excuses about that, then you might want to reconsider being friends with the person. I have had friends that have made ridiculous excuses like that in the past, and it is something that you really can’t control. You can’t MAKE someone be friends with you. If you try to do that, they most likely will avoid you. Remember, if someone doesn’t want to be friends with you, it is their loss, not yours. It makes no sense to worry about someone who ruined a chance of making friends with you.

These qualities are all very important to me, they are in no particular order. If you want to be my true friend, you absolutely must have all of these qualities in you. For additional help, please refer to my other blog about friendships.

My experiences with mobile therapy

As you have read in my previous entries, social skills groups really didn’t help me learn the social skills I needed to know for life. The staff members tended to focus on the negative things about me, such as the minor noise making, and not being “verbal”.  I talked about situations where I’ve tried to be verbal, but they prevent me from doing it by telling me not to talk to them. One thing that irritated me about this group was that they complained to me about a small noise when the other members were displaying worse behaviors, such as making insulting comments to the other group members. When I was in the younger group, I had some troubles with depression because I wasn’t fitting in. It seemed like no matter where I went, I didn’t fit in with anybody. The director of Wesley thought it would be appropriate to hire a mobile therapist for me. She seemed to think that it would help improve my confidence in socializing with my peers.

The person she recommended for me was a man named Mike. One thing that concerned me from the start was that the director of Wesley never told me about this person. I dreaded having these sessions with him because of his very pushy and “in your face” type of personality. During his sessions with me, I tended to resist everything he wanted me to do. People on the Autistic spectrum tend to take longer to process information than neurotypical peers do, and when Mike would ask me a question, it took me a while to process an answer. An example of this would be if an autistic child falls and bruises their ankle, it takes them a few seconds longer to verbalize “ouch, that hurts”. A typical peer would be able to verbalize it as soon as it happens. In my case with Mike, when I was trying to process a response to his question, he would ask another question. He seemed to think that I was trying to avoid answering him altogether. It overwhelmed me so much that I dreaded having sessions with him. Another thing Mike did to overwhelm me was that he met with me two days a week instead of just one. His reason for that was because I wasn’t being “verbal and open enough”. He did that during the summer, and he pushed me even more then. During our summer sessions, he would have me do things like yard work outside, which was something I absolutely hated doing, and still is now. He thought that making me do something I hated doing was going to magically make me “come out of my shell”. He would also put me in social situations which made me feel very uncomfortable. One of which was when he came to observe me at my Computing Workshop summer camp. One situation which made me real uncomfortable was that he tried to get me to introduce him to four people at the computing workshop. The one thing I didn’t want the students and staff at Computing Workshop to know was that he was my therapist. He wanted me to tell them that he was my “friend”. I could either just tell them that he was my therapist, or tell them that he was my “friend”. I didn’t want him to get to know me, so why would I want my friends at Computing Workshop to know him. I refused to do it because I was angry at him about pushing me to the limit until I refused to cooperate with him at all. I felt that Mike was trying to punish me by putting me in social situations where I felt very uncomfortable. Therapy is supposed to be something that you enjoy, and that helps you with whatever your problems are. This obviously wasn’t the case with Mike. Because of this, I think that pushiness is uncalled for in social services. The more a client is pushed, the more they are going to resist what the therapist wants them to do. Mike’s therapy didn’t improve my confidence making friends, it made it even worse.

To me, Mike’s style of counseling was to make the client feel therapy was supposed to be a punishment, and not something that would help you. How is someone going to learn social skills when they are overwhelmed by the person that is supposed to be helping them? That’s just like a teacher berating student for not paying attention to their lesson when they barely know how to teach the material themselves, I’ve been through that many times. Going back to social skills groups, I’m also appalled by when they try very hard to teach social skills, when they demonstrate behaviors that show a lack of social skills. (Look at my blog about social skills groups to find out what I mean by that). I am hopeful that when parents try to find someone to counsel their kids, that they find out more information about the person. Find other therapists that may know the person, and have them give you their thoughts about the person. I am a person who likes to know information about something before it happens, and I knew nothing about Mike before he started working with me. And yes, I do understand that sometimes things don’t go as they were supposed to be planned. Only one person gave us information about him, and they only thing they said was that he was “highly recommended”. I wish I could have gotten other peoples opinions about him beforehand. Spontaneity leads to disaster.

In November 2008, my parents finally decided to discharge with him, and to find another therapist to work with. I was obviously hopeful that this person was going to be a lot less pushy and “in your face” than Mike was. He recommended a different organization. The organization Mike worked with was not allowed to drive their client to places, and he recommended another organization where the therapist was allowed to take the client places around the community.  If I Mike wanted to meet in public with me, my mother would have to provide transportation for me. My mom wanted to me to learn social skills so that I needed in order to make friends. When you have a friend, they will offer to go places with you. Like I said, I was pushed to the limit with Mike and it made it very difficult to learn social skills because I was too overwhelmed.  The person they recommended for me was named Darren. Darren is a more low key, and laid back kind of person, sort of like how Aaron was. Instead of sitting around at home talking about feelings, weaknesses and all of the other negative things about me, we go out in the real world and practice social skills. I am still trying to get used to him, but I’m doing it a lot better than I did when I was with Mike. I’ve said before that therapy is supposed to be an enjoyable experience, and something that helps you. I however am glad that I have the people in my life to teach me social skills that I need to know, without them I wouldn’t have the confidence to reach out to people like Aaron. Darren actually did get a chance to meet Aaron, and I was glad about that. He mentioned to me that Aaron made a compliment about how he enjoys reading my emails, and how I put a lot of thought into writing them. I am hopeful that Aaron and I will be able to get together throughout the year, and I am hopeful that he will reach out to other people that may need help, whatever problem the person may be having. I myself am going to try that when I go to Lenape Vo Tech. I am not going to let my Aspergers Syndrome prevent me from being the person I want to be in life, which is the kind of person I was when I went to Freeport. I am going to forget about those people that tried to bring me down and make fun of me. It makes no use to worry about a bully who is insecure about themselves, whatever the reason may be. I hope that people will use that the next time they feel down about themselves.