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How to cope with having Aspergers... any advice?

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ProdigyEng
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How to cope with having Aspergers... any advice? « on: November 24, 2013, 01:05 PM »
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As many of you on the Forum are aware, I was diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome in August, when I was aged 20.

The reason why I am starting this thread is because I honestly don't know how to cope with this illness or whatever it is. Ever since I found out I had the illness, I have been in depression over it. I am mad that it wasn't found earlier, and I feel that certain aspects of what should be a great time of my life have been ruined because of living with an illness I didn't know I had, and therefore not knowing what to do in certain situations. If I had have known about the illness earlier, I would have been able to get support, and certain things which I find really difficult at the moment, would not have been so difficult. Instead there's multiple things which someone my age should be really enjoying/doing, but for me these things I have real difficulty with/find impossible to do. Things such as talking to girls; I'd love to have a relationship, or at least a fling with a girl, but embarrassingly enough the last time I did anything of note with a girl was when I was around 12 or 13, since then I have been shy as **** around girls, and it's not for the want of trying either. I cannot make proper eye contact with them, and my self confidence around them is just low. Also I find getting a job a daunting task now, due to numerous failures when I have been searching. I am certain it's down to my Aspergers that I can't get a job. I mean, I worked for Asda on a temporary contract, but even now they won't employ me, when I have applied to the company over 30 times! Even MugDonalds rejected me. I think the equal opportunities lark is a load of bull****, companies don't want to employ disabled people, and that is a clear fact, especially considering my two best mates who don't have any disabilities found it easy to get a job. I also find socialising in general difficult, I do have mates, but with new people I find it really difficult. It took me ages to settle in at University, because I found the environment very tough, and whilst I do have friends there, I am not as close with them as I am with my mates I have known since primary School.  I avoid clubs because the environment makes me anxious, and I find them overrated. I much prefer pubs and clubs, but sadly most people my age would prefer to get totally smashed in a club full of chavs, slags and sticky floors. Annoying really.


I am just wondering if there's other people on here who have Aspergers, or have experience of it through people they know. It's really stressing me out now. I am not in a good mood due to this, constantly feeling down, and even crying at times due to things being too much. I would appreciate some advise guys, or just to discuss things in general.

Thanks,

Joe
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Re: How to cope with having Aspergers... any advice? « Reply #1 on: November 24, 2013, 02:33 PM »
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Never been diagnosed, but your symptoms remind me of a young me, and my 10-y-o son has Asperger's. Don't really have any advice but there's a lot to be said for self-acceptance. Try to accept that you don't like clubbing and that you're not all that sociable. It's just who you are.

Also try to ignore the label, cos that's all this diagnosis is. Methinks you'd be a lot less anxious if you hadn't been labelled as having Asperger's. Everything has to be categorised these days.

Have you thought about Internet dating? Or just using the Internet to meet girls, getting to know them a bit online, then if it sounds promising, meeting up in a quiet pub just to talk? You'd be getting practice that way, without the pressure of it having to lead anywhere.

As regards jobs, what about doing voluntary work? It would give you a chance to build up confidence and pick up some skills along the way.
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Re: How to cope with having Aspergers... any advice? « Reply #2 on: November 24, 2013, 03:32 PM »
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I have been in contact with a few youngsters with Aspergers and they have always been brilliant in one area, so I think you should look at the positives rather than the negatives. As for clubbing etc I wouldn't worry there are many of your age who don't like clubbing or getting legless and in my book that is a virtue rather than a vice.
Our hero Andy has managed to overcome his innate shyness over the years and is able to deal with the press and lime light admirably now, he too has never enjoyed drinking or clubbing. Be yourself and enjoy your time with your true friends.
As Grabcopy has said accept yourself and the fact that you are a generous young man, with much going for you, the rest will follow.
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Re: How to cope with having Aspergers... any advice? « Reply #3 on: November 24, 2013, 04:46 PM »
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I'm not the best one to advise you on the Aspergers Joe, as I've never known anyone who has it, or at least I haven't known about it and probably neither did they! As Nigel says.....it's only a label! However, what I can tell you is that you strike me as a very personable and bright young man, with a good sense of humour and I really do admire your courage in not giving up! You have good mates and you're well liked on here and don't worry about being shy. Not all girls like pushy lads you know! There are plenty who find shyness very attractive. I think both Nigel and Michelle have both given you some very sound advice, so take it and look online to see if there are any groups or societies for others with Aspergers. By sharing experiences, you'll be able to find out how others have dealt with or overcame the pitfalls like finding a job for instance. Meanwhile, keep your chin up sweetie hug
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Re: How to cope with having Aspergers... any advice? « Reply #4 on: November 25, 2013, 02:03 AM »
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Hey Joe, not sure where to start but probably by saying I'm sorry you're feeling down about coming to terms with your diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome.

Most folks here (including your good self) know my 21 yr old son is an Aspie.. so I thought the best thing would be words from him and his bestest buddy who is a fellow Aspie, aged 20. I showed them your post tonight, and asked them what advice they could give from their own personal point of view.

This is what they had to say, and I swear these are their own words:

"I just see things in a different way."

"Any fears about social interaction can be put to bed."

"You can learn to do things. So-called 'normal' people also need courage, you have to stand up and take action."

"Joe sounds like he's creating reasoning as in 'this is why that didn't work out.'"

'The big thing is that this is a developmental disability.. not an illness. It affects the way you process things and causes limitations, but you need to accept it because it is not an illness. It doesn't mean your life can't be less enjoyable than anyone elses'."

"The disability doesn't define you"

"Never get down on yourself for not being able to do things."

"Be aware of it, but don't fixate, and don't assume I can't do this because my brain is wrong."

"Aspergers is not an illness because 'illness' implies you take a normal healthy brain and put a cloud of **** on it. It's not a regular brain that's broken, it's a completely different 'type' of brain. The point is: having to process information differently. It doesn't mean you cannot do anything. You are just as capable of doing anything, same as anyone else. Nothing is ruled out."

"This isn't a bad thing. He's thinking there's a normal Joe buried under this ****-cloud of Aspergers. That's wrong."


-----

Okay, back to me.
Wanted to give you some advice about your nerves/shyness during social interaction:
Eye contact: Look at the bridge of the person's nose. They can't tell the difference. Try it.
Wiggle your toes inside your shoes. No-one will know, and it will ground you.
Take deep breaths in through your nose, hold it, then slowly release out your mouth
Keep your shoulders down. When you're nervous/stressed your shoulders will rise which will subconsciously telegraph your nerves, and will give you headaches/backaches.

I know you're upset about being diagnosed so late, but trust me, there are MANY adult people who are undiagnosed. And it really is just a label. You are still YOU.

Speaking of being labelled.. try to have a think about how you would have felt during your school years if you were treated differently by school staff. You seem to be really sensitive to how people perceive you, so maybe that would have been even more detrimental to you.
You've made it to Uni, all by yourself. That's amazing!
My son is currently out of Uni because he just couldn't cope with the workload, but he plans to return next year.

btw.. He has offered to talk further to you. It would be via a PM here through me because he is fierce about his privacy and hates social media like Facebook/Twitter. No problem for me. Let me know if you want to do this because he's keen to help.

You should be careful what you put out on FB etc. Once it's out there, there's no taking it back. Be aware of this for any jobs.

And my son just got a job, nothing fancy but A JOB. He applied for LOADS, and we just kept plugging away.
I got him hooked up with a Government funded agency for disabilities who helped him with his resume, and they did workshops and interview techniques. I don't know what's available for you in the UK, but there should be some resources for ASD.

Hope some of this has helped. x

PS: They are not clubbers/partiers.. they like what they like, and avoid what they don't. And they're completely fine with that.
They're not in any mad rush for girlfriends, although both have had a gf.

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Re: How to cope with having Aspergers... any advice? « Reply #5 on: November 25, 2013, 02:19 AM »
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^ Linda - I'm not trying to upstage you, but you got your extremely helpful post, based on your own first-hand experience of Aspergers, in just as I was finishing off mine!  Hopefully Joe will get some benefit from this too.


So here's my original tuppence-worth:

Unfortunately, Joe, I don't know anyone personally who has Aspergers but, as you might be aware, I do have a form of depressive illness as well as suffering from agoraphobia and a social phobia as well, all of which have been part of my life for 20 years, so I have some understanding as to how you're feeling and can also suggest some ways in which you could help yourself

First, try to stop feeling angry that it took so long for this to be diagnosed.  While it's true that it's most often diagnosed in childhood, it isn't uncommon for this to be delayed until the person is in their teens or even later, because the symptoms can be so vague and so varied that it's difficult to pinpoint accurately Also you're only 20, so have your whole life in front of you.  People with aspergers are well-known for their intelligence and creativity, so it's worth focussing on the positive rather than the negative.

Second, I agree with Nigel because your feelings of shyness and lack of confidence remind me of myself when I was younger, especially when it came to relationships with boys.  I was so painfully shy and self-conscious that I just used to clam up if a guy came and spoke to me, with the result that I had to listen to all the girls both at school and at secretarial college talking about their boyfriends while I had none. In fact between the ages of 15 and 23 I can boast of only two, and neither were serious relationships, then I joined a badminton club where I met my first 'proper' boyfriend - and discovered he was about as shy as I was, although it was through being with him and meeting his mates that a lot of that shyness and self-consciousness began to disappear and my confidence began to grow.

So - have you thought of joining a club or a group of people who share your own interests?  Not all of them charge fees, which is the unfortunate aspect of tennis clubs, and it occurs to me that their might be a society at Uni that you could join.  You might actually find that it isn't as hard as it seems, and it's worth remembering that, despite outward displays of confidence and bravado (something a lot of young people, especially males, are very good at), there could well be many for whom it's only a front, but scratch the surface and they're probably as shy as you are.

Third, accept that you are the person you are as you come across to us on MW (see Caz's post with which I agree entirely).  True, it can be argued that there is some difference between the virtual world and the real world, but I firmly believe that our main character traits cannot be hidden so easily and will come across, perhaps not at first but certainly the longer a person stays on the forum.

Fourth, there's nothing to be worried about because you don't want to get yourself totally plastered in a club.  You're obviously able to have a good time, and enjoy a drink in a pub, without the need to get to the stage where you don't know what you're doing and end up making a complete idiot of yourself (just remember the reason why Andy says he doesn't drink).  These blootered individuals may think they're having fun, but not only are they facing having a monumental hangover the following day, they're also at risk of seriously damaging their health.  It's you who's the lucky one, not them.

Fifth, try to find yourself some voluntary or charity work.  OK so you won't get paid for it, but I've done voluntary work myself and the benefits I gained, particularly when I was unemployed for quite a while, more than made up for the lack of money.  Not only is it a good way to build your self-confidence, improve interacting with other people, and raise your self-esteem, but also, which is what happened to me, a voluntary job might just lead to something more permanent.  Even if it doesn't it'll still look good on your CV, and you could well pick up some new skills along the way which could be helpful when it comes to finding temporary or permanent employment.

I'm assuming you're at Manchester Uni and not MMU, and if so this might be helpful - http://www.careers.manchester.ac.uk/students/employable/volunteering/findvoluntarywork/ - if not, try googling, as I've just done, "How do I find voluntary work in Manchester" and see what comes up!

Sixth, do not give yourself a label. You aren't an item in a supermarket, but a human being who happens to find some aspects of life difficult to cope with - and having said that, try, if you can, to see these problems as challenges or minor inconveniences rather than insurmountable obstacles.  Also it can be self-defeating to go around thinking "I have Aspergers, or depression, or whatever", because that only makes you feel worse.  Unfortunately in today's society there's a tendency to want to put a tag on just about everyone and everything, but that doesn't mean that you have to do the same.  I know this is a slightly different thing, but people of my age are labelled by the medical profession as being 'geriatric'.  However, if we went around thinking "I'm getting old", then we sure as heck soon would be!

FINALLY, if you haven't already done so, I strongly recommend that you get in touch with The National Autistic Society, which is for adults (and you are, after all, an adult now) with autism or Asperger syndrome - http://www.autism.org.uk/living-with-autism/adults-with-autism-or-asperger-syndrome.aspx

It also occurs to me - are you able to get any help from a properly trained counsellor which could help you come to terms with this diagnosis?  We can try to help you all we can, but ultimately we don't know you personally, so this is where having a face-to-face chat could be more beneficial.
[ Last edit by Aileen November 25, 2013, 05:07 AM ] IP Logged
scotnadian
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Re: How to cope with having Aspergers... any advice? « Reply #6 on: November 25, 2013, 02:25 AM »
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^ No worries, Aileen. We're all here to help Joe, that's all.
The word "upstage" does not even hit my dialogue. hug


Joe.. forgot to say you might want to check out this forum:
http://www.psychforums.com/asperger-syndrome/
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Re: How to cope with having Aspergers... any advice? « Reply #7 on: November 25, 2013, 02:31 AM »
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^ Thanks Linda. hug  I'm grateful though that, as a result of having to do a little research on the subject, plus reading your post, I am now much more aware of just exactly what Aspergers is and how it can be coped with so that those who have the condition (I detest the word 'sufferers') can lead a life that is as normal and as fulfilling as possible.
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scotnadian
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Re: How to cope with having Aspergers... any advice? « Reply #8 on: November 25, 2013, 02:40 AM »
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I wish everyone could become more aware. But kudo's to you, Joe, for putting yourself out there.

There are many, many people who are Aspies. Most don't even know it.

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Re: How to cope with having Aspergers... any advice? « Reply #9 on: November 25, 2013, 11:01 AM »
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Joe, here's a few 'famous achievers' who were either 'known to have' or 'believed to have had' Aspergers! Albert Einstein.....Charles Darwin.....Sir Isaac Newton.....Michaelangelo.....Van Gogh......Alfred Hitchcock.....Bill Gates.....Michael Jackson.....Jane Austen.....and that's just a few......Sir Charles Rennie Macintosh.....Sir George Bernard Shaw.....I could go on and on! Go look on the net and you'll find hundreds more! Somewhat illustrious company......wouldn't you say?  Whistle These people were all 'special'.......just like you! Maybe you should make your own list and take it to your next interview......eh? I've read comments on the net from people who have Aspergers and they are all so proud Joe......so you should be too!
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Re: How to cope with having Aspergers... any advice? « Reply #10 on: November 26, 2013, 08:05 AM »
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Check out "Feeling Good" by David Burns. You'll find reviews of it on Amazon.
BTW try not to  let a medical diagnosis hang round your neck like a mill stone, spoiling it. Life is not fair and we all have to play the cards we are dealt. 
You are obviously intelligent, sensitive and self-aware. Brilliant start, I'd say thumb up
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Re: How to cope with having Aspergers... any advice? « Reply #11 on: November 27, 2013, 05:37 PM »
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Joe,

I have three grandsons and two have been diagnosed with being in the autism spectrum.  The third may be as well.  They are all really smart.  Yes they are a little different, they walk on their toes, and get stiff and their hands stiffen and shake when they are processing learning something, but it amazing to watch them.  The oldest boy (10) was learning a song and would listen to it and would focus on it with his body rather rigid and when the song ended, he stood up and sang the song, notes and words all correct.

I am sure in many ways you are just as amazing, but do not think of yourself that way and just think about this condition you have been diagnosed with.  If you look around the world, you will see there are many people with conditions much worse than what you have.  But I certainly understand your being distraught at this time.  I have posted an article that may be helpful to you and others who may not understand Aspbergers.

What is Asperger’s Syndrome?
Understanding the Symptoms and the Beauty of Asperger’s

Is Asperger’s syndrome autism? What are the symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome? Learn about this misunderstood condition and how God still uses it.

How do you explain Asperger's syndrome?
Simply put, people with Asperger's syndrome must teach themselves the rules of successful and appropriate social behavior that most people learn instinctively as they grow up. In this sense, "Aspies" must navigate social situations logically rather than instinctually. As a result, Aspies tend to have difficulty understanding how to relate in social situations.

So what are some of these "rules" that Aspies must train themselves to use?
Rather than just "picking up" how to use body language, intonation, and eye contact in social situations from years of experience in those situations, Aspies have to deliberately train themselves to mimic other people's responses. These responses include:
•Understanding sarcasm and irony in conversation
•Understanding the give-and-take nature of conversation
•Understanding facial expressions
•Grasping another person's emotions in a conversation
•Reading body language
•Knowing appropriate topics of conversation for given audiences (e.g., not cussing in front of one's boss, not telling certain types of jokes in front of some people, and not assuming a certain level of familiarity with acquaintances)
•Employing intonation and changes in speech to communicate emotion
•Making eye contact in conversation

What are the symptoms of Asperger's syndrome?
Social: Look for "stiff" or "unnatural" behavior in social situations-- though you cannot put your finger on it, you know there's just "something strange about Jack." Does the person have a monotone way of speaking? Does the person have difficulty interacting with others, or does she/he make friends easily? Does the person have trouble maintaining eye contact? Trouble understanding body language?

Mental: Does the person seem to have an extreme ability to focus on a given task? So much so that the person obsesses over a given interest or subject? Does the person have a great memory, able to recall tiny details? These are often signs of a person with Asperger's. Remember, the founder of Asperger's described his first patients as "little professors," extremely knowledgeable within their chosen favorite topics.

Physical: Does the person seem to have a heightened sense of smell or taste, able to smell even the faintest odors? Sometimes this is an indication of Asperger's syndrome. Does the person have some sort of eccentric movement they do a lot? Is the person clumsy or awkward physically, perhaps uncoordinated? These may be indications of Asperger's.

Behavioral: Does the person use a lot of strict routines in her/his life (e.g., getting dressed in a particular order)? These sorts of routines could be Asperger's-related since routines are part of the process of learning rules for social interaction.


Autism vs Asperger's Syndrome
Recently, the American Psychiatric Association adjusted its classification of Asperger's syndrome to fit it within the category of autism. Whereas previously, Aspies were considered a separate category, the latest manual for diagnosing mental disorders (the DSM V), classifies Asperger's syndrome as a type of autism.

The Beauty of Asperger's and Difference
How are the followers of Jesus supposed to respond to differences in each one of us? There's a key concept in the Bible's teachings: the idea that the followers of Jesus make up a body. Just as, in a body, there are all kinds of different parts-- some on the outside, some on the inside, some that have clear functions, some that have more complicated functions, some that do one job, some that do another job-- in the body of Jesus' followers, there are many different parts. Listen to how the Apostle Paul describes the body:

“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ...Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body….If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?
But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body….In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary.” (1 Corinthians 12)

“Some parts of the body that seem the weakest and least important are actually the most necessary.” That means that, if you have Asperger's, you're a valuable part of the body! You have a purpose and a value, even if you're different from some other parts of the body. Part of living as a follower of Christ is coming to appreciate our wonderful differences. Differences in personality, ability, appearance, and interests all make us who we are, Asperger's or not.
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Re: How to cope with having Aspergers... any advice? « Reply #12 on: November 27, 2013, 06:43 PM »
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Thanks for the support guys. I just gotta try cope the best I can, and we'll see what's going on.

And thanks for the PM's Aileen, Caz (I think) and specifically Linda. Lot's of great advice in your Pm Linda and I will send a personal reply to you this weekend, just got to get essays done as well as I can!
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Re: How to cope with having Aspergers... any advice? « Reply #13 on: November 27, 2013, 08:26 PM »
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Thanks for the support guys. I just gotta try cope the best I can, and we'll see what's going on.

And thanks for the PM's Aileen, Caz (I think) and specifically Linda. Lot's of great advice in your Pm Linda and I will send a personal reply to you this weekend, just got to get essays done as well as I can!
Just keep on hanging in there Proddy, and remember that we're all behind you to give you our love and support. hug
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Re: How to cope with having Aspergers... any advice? « Reply #14 on: November 27, 2013, 08:57 PM »
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^ thumb up grouphug
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