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View Full Version : Asberger's - advice?


One-Fang
03-03-2009, 07:38 AM
Along the lines of another thread title ... anyone got advice for befriending someone with Asberger's? It seems pretty mild, and he has apparently worked hard on learning the 'social skills' the rest of us take for granted.

He's a nice guy and we're getting on good anyway, but is there anything I can/should do to make him more comfortable or make anything easier for him?

Just thought I'd ask. :)

Shpepper
03-03-2009, 09:16 AM
Yes.

Don't change anything at all about the way you treat him or act around him. The worst thing you can do is to treat someone differently or try to make things better by doing something different than you have been. I watched things like this when I was growing up. My brother has learning disabilities and several other problems. The worst thing I saw was teachers after reading his records would treat him different than other people. The best thing I ever saw was when the football team got him to be their equipment manager (he is and never was athletic). There he was just one of the guys and no one cared about anything but the game and having a good time.


Just be yourself and be his friend. At some point down the road, you might be able to ask what people do that bothers him the most. But for now don't change a thing.

GingerBiscuit
03-03-2009, 09:19 AM
From what I remember (my friends brother has Aspergers) he won't be happy with sudden changes or unexpected things, so avoid springing things on him. Also, not too much eye contact unless he makes it first. People with aspergers and other similar conditions often don't like unsolicited eye or physical contact. You may need to make some stuff a bit more obvious then you would to someone without it, as he may not pick up on non-verbal cues, you may need to *tell* him you're happy or unhappy or whatever. You may not though, it affects everyone differently, just remembering what my friends brother likes.

He likes it when you talk to him, but don't touch him or make eye contact, and he likes it if you explain things to him in almost technical detail 'That makes me happy because I like these things and it combines them'. He's pretty mild too, but may be slightly more severe than your workmate.

Otherwise just continue being cool with him and don't make a big issue of it and it should be fine. And kudos to him for working on something that must have been pretty tough.

Toujin
03-03-2009, 09:33 AM
As an Aspie myself, I agree with alot of the stuff here, and my advice would just be a repeat of them. I don't like being touched, nor do I like sudden changes or surprises.

I also have some trouble regulating the volume of my voice when talking, and have to be reminded to 'turn it down' sometimes. Those who know me use a hand gesture or a polite reminder.

RootedPhoenix
03-03-2009, 10:08 AM
I think patience will do a lot for him. If he messes up on the social skills, just keep being nice.

I agree with GingerBiscuit. You might need to make things more obvious, because it's possible that he may miss non-verbal cues and other subtle hints.

I think the most important thing, though, is what Shpepper said. Don't treat him differently, just be his friend.

Setsunaela
03-03-2009, 01:25 PM
I'm currently making plans to marry a man with Asperger's, and he agrees with the advice already given. He also says that sometimes they tend to collect things, so maybe you could try and find out what that is, it could be a conversation starter. Also I've noticed that when talking to chris about his collections his social skills are a bit better :) Overall though he hates surprises, and sometimes the subtle cues go right over his head, but he's pretty good about them usually.

Seshat
03-03-2009, 01:45 PM
If he misses a subtle social cue, be forgiving. If you're the one presenting the cue, and it's important to you, make a stronger one. Up the strength until he gets it.

If he's interested in learning the subtler social skills, and willing for you to teach him, go ahead and explain the subtle cues he's missed. Even then, be prepared for misinterpretation. Some subtle cues are extremely similar to others!

Otherwise, I agree with everyone else. Treat him like everyone else, just with the awareness that he might (MIGHT, not will) miss subtle social cues.

Dreamstalker
03-03-2009, 01:47 PM
Another collector here. What can I say, I like cool stuff :)
The worst thing you can do is to treat someone differently or try to make things better by doing something different than you have been.
I would get that all the time. Disclosure (such as to an employer re: how I can and can't work) is one thing, but when people all of a sudden start treating someone with AS as "special" that can make things worse as they could think they're being condescended to.

I handle change very well, but every so often I'll get someone who thinks I can't. That gets annoying. Oddly, in an AS anime group I'm in, I come across as the most "normal".

MystyGlyttyr
03-03-2009, 03:18 PM
Further, as this is something I've had pointed out to me, do NOT ask a question unless you are really prepared to hear the honest answer.

And if he doesn't make eye contact or anything like that during a conversation, it's not that he's not listening. Eyes are just...creepy. :lol:

Dreamstalker
03-03-2009, 03:38 PM
Being as attracted to wolves/dogs as I am, it always seemed to me that direct eye contact = challenge. It's also just creepy. So while I'm certainly capable of making direct eye contact, I just don't see a pressing need to do so. What bugs the hell out of me is when certain people say "come on, look me in the eye" or otherwise try some method of coaxing.

I'd like to know who came up with the idea that not directly staring at someone = disinterested, dishonest or shady.

Lace Neil Singer
03-03-2009, 06:15 PM
As an Aspie myself, I will also add that if he seems to say something rude, don't go nuts; it's very hard sometimes to prevent myself from appearing rude, but I'm honestly not being so.

Also, if he goes on and on about an obsession, learn to interject and change the subject. :lol: My best friend has that down to a fine art, and it's a good thing as I can go on for HOURS about my obsessions without realising that everyone does not want to listen. :lol:

I certainly agree with the touching thing; I always have to initiate contact, myself. I hate people who are touchy feely and put their hands on me; that's a good way to end up being shoved away. O_o

Chazzie
03-03-2009, 10:58 PM
The advice here is stellar from what I've seen-- Especially Lace's. My brother has asperger's- since I grew up with him I don't see him as any different from anyone else, just a little more nervous to be friends with someone. You have to make the effort to keep in touch. Just be patient and things will be fine. :)

RetailWorkhorse
03-04-2009, 02:05 AM
"come on, look me in the eye"

*Blink*

*Turns pink*

.....GAH!

:runaway:

teller
03-04-2009, 04:35 AM
i found a small cheat thee during my school years I look slightly above the head I can honestly say that i have never looked any one in the eye. oddly enough i find it hard not to be able to touch some times it tends to be hardest part of work or the like that i can't get a good hug but i doubt i would want some to hug me unless i wanted to i guess. its never happened.

I also suggest never asking a question that you may not want to know the answer to. when some one does this we are compelled to answer and i have never known anyone with asbergers to lie in fact we tend to be overly honest.

some times i will sing mostly because if i am off in lala land we all have little habits.

crowds are always a big no-no with me also noisy areas nothing bothers me more i have never been great at picking up one voice in a crowd.

i don't know if it is because of my aspergers or some other thing but some time i will hear a high piched squeal it really hurts i can be a bit difficult during and just after.

Amethyst Hunter
03-04-2009, 05:46 AM
I'd like to know who came up with the idea that not directly staring at someone = disinterested, dishonest or shady.

And then can we throw them into your Cuisinart? :devil: (Yeah, I HATE the whole eye contact deal too, skeeves me out bigtime)

It's interesting to note that in many European/Middle Eastern/Asian cultures, eye contact is considered rude (some go so far as to call this "giving the evil eye"). We Yanks, AFAIK, are the only ones who make it our hallmark to have eye contact. :confused:

I've sometimes wondered, in recent years, if I could be Asperger, since I have a couple of the traits mentioned, but that could also be due to my ADD and general social suckitude. I've no idea how one is diagnosed, not that I can afford to hit up a doc at present. Ah well.

Lace Neil Singer
03-04-2009, 10:25 AM
Just remember; its you neurotypicals who are the weirdos. We are normal. :lol:

Shpepper
03-04-2009, 11:16 AM
There's one other thing that I have realized that I forgot to say.

Thank you One-Fang for asking someone what you might do. I realized as I read through this thread that no one thanked you for being so considerate. So many times people will just walk away or not bother to deal with someone who is different in any way. It could be the situation here or it could be that they use a wheelchair. Your caring for your coworker makes me feel really happy. So THANK YOU ! ! ! !

Toujin
03-04-2009, 01:24 PM
I never understood the eye contact thing either. I actually find being stared at unnerving.

I'm a collector too, my room is cluttered with D&D books, video game strategy guides, and manga.

Dreamstalker
03-04-2009, 01:44 PM
And then can we throw them into your Cuisinart?
Sure :devil:
We Yanks, AFAIK, are the only ones who make it our hallmark to have eye contact. :confused:
I don't get that either...maybe something to do with the lovely history of picking fights with everything? (but other cultures did that as well...)

I'm up for another neuropsych evaluation next week (to help with finding a job). I personally am interested in the results, as it seems in recent years fewer and fewer AS traits have actually fit me.

One-Fang
03-04-2009, 05:25 PM
Thanks all. Awesome advice, and I learned a few things about AS.

The volume thing is likely. I have noticed he can sometimes be a bit louder than social convention dictates. Not horribly, just ... a little bit.

Quite often he initiates touching, by handshake or high five. I'm wondering if that's a learned thing. I had noticed it as more than others do, perhaps he's "overcompensating". Or maybe he's just different to y'all. :)

The collections thing is interesting. I might throw that in one day and ask if he collects. Wouldn't surprise me. He's very organised.

As for the questions thing - YAY!! You mean finally a friend who I can pretty much trust means what they say?! Whoo hoooo!!!! I don't play "the game". I don't 'get' "the game". So I mean what I say, and much to my detriment sometimes, say what I mean. It's meant the end of some friendships, and I'm baffled by some people who obviously are playing "the game" and will be confusing and contradictory. So yippee if AS means this is a guy who is straightforward and honest. Couldn't be happier about that.

As for "don't treat him differently" yeah, I don't really want to. I mean, I've always felt that disabled people, gays, other races, or whatever, everyone deserves to be treated exactly the same. And I know the TV ads over here for mental disabilities push that you just treat people exactly the same regardless. But while I certainly do not intend to suddenly treat somebody differently, I think there's also some leeway for understanding the symptoms and issues of a disease and adjusting accordingly.

Interestingly, he is American and says he's having difficulty adjusting here in NZ to how readily he is accepted, even when he says he's got AS. Apparently over there it's just too easy to overlook someone, pass on them, pass over them, ignore them, move on, etc. Here, people go "so what?" and he's not used to it.

Thanks Shpepper - I made someone happy today, yay! :D

Lace Neil Singer
03-04-2009, 07:26 PM
I initiate touching; it means that I get to be in control about how far it goes. I hate it when someone suddenly touches my arm, or pats my shoulder, and I haven't said they could. My boyf is used to this; he tends to ask me first before he hugs or kisses me and my friends wait for me to hug them before they return it.

I hoard rather than collect; I adore my junk and hate throwing anything away. XD I used to collect "Things I Find By The Road." XD