Autistic Survival Guide
What is this book about?
The work on Marc Segar's survival guide stopped early in Marc Segar's life. Marc Segar's survival guide does not say anything about managing a job, getting married, or raising kids. The aim of this book is to collaboratively write an updated survival guide for autistic people. Right here on this page. Feel free to start right here by clicking on "edit this page" and start writing!
Marc Segar's list of "typical" behaviours of people is interesting. It does not mean that these behaviours are desirable, nor does it necessarily mean that they are helpful for atypical people, other than for understanding how they are different from a majority of people. What I find much more helpful is what typical and atypical people have in common, because that is going to be the basis of mutual understanding, when it happens.
First of all, only few people are good in all these things Marc Segar lists. To use the list to value oneself against what is normal may be harmful rather than useful. If the Monotropism hypothesis is right to some degree, the difficulties for autistic people are multitasking - to think of all these rules all the time is extremely stressing for single-minded people. Lots of typical people feel the same, even if their capacity to multi-task may be better than those labelled as autistic. Besides, if you are a male and try to assimilate with normals in order to get a girlfriend, there might be a risk of becoming a nice guy syndrome.
The key for understanding other people and being understood is to understand that what people feel often matters much more than how they look, dress or behave. People's empathy labels them attracted to what feels good, and pushed away from what feels bad. That means people like you more if you feel good, and like you less when you feel bad. Thus working towards yourself feeling good rather than pleasing other people's norms is the key for social interaction. If you work on feeling good for yourself, other people might pick up on it. On the other hand, if you feel insecure trying to pretend to be someone else, people feel that as well and might turn away after some time.
It is worth noting that the question "what is normal anyway" keeps re-occurring when talking about psychology in general, and that question may possibly be answered in the works of five- time New York teacher of the year John Taylor Gatto and author Thom Hartmann. The central premise behind these works is the fact that the compulsory school system is designed to "socialise" children into the work force by making them docile, predictable, willing to take the word of leaders as truth, and dependent upon others for a sense of self worth. This goes a long way towards explaining neurotypical behaviour, and why neurodivergents don't fit in: Neurodivergents simply fail to be socialised this way.
The following is an attempt to continue Marc Segar's book A survival guide for people with Asperger Syndrome. It is done in the same style as this book because the rationale behind that style appears to be sound. The sections are designed to be small and specific enough to allow people with possibly conflicting perspectives to collaborate in its development by adding new sections, while preserving the "structural integrity" of the thoughts contained within each section.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that every autie has a different life experience that every other autie can learn from, and everyone is therefore encouraged to contribute to this work by adding new sections in a brainstorming fashion, though it is worth bearing in mind that the rules in Marc's book are clear, unambiguous, constructive, and typically promote Positive Mental Attitude (PMA). Those rules, however, aren't always explained, which may be a problem in this work since other collaborators typically need to understand the reasoning before being able to build upon the ideas.
This book will probably not make much sense if you haven't read Marc's guide and see the value in it. Be aware that Marc seems to have spent much of his life working not only on this problem, but on how to express the things he has learned properly. His work is quite difficult to live up to.
It should be noted that this book is NOT intended to be an instruction manual to teach autistic spectrum people how to become non-autistic. It is designed to be used in many different ways, particularly in ways not yet envisaged, in the same way that a map shows how to get from any of many different locations to any of many other locations.
A note to professionals
In the 60 years since autism was first "discovered", remarkably little has been established about it, and virtually all of the "discoveries" ultimately come from autistic spectrum people themselves.
The fact that social skills training is now being used as a treatment is due in no small part to the line at the end of Marc Segar's survival guide, which this book is based on, and which reads "autistic people have to understand scientifically what non-autistic people already understand instinctively".
I fear that this line may have been misinterpreted, or not articulated properly. The idea of social skills training is based on the interpretation "autistic people have to understand scientifically what non-autistic people LEARN instinctively", and it entirely misses the interpretation that autistic spectrum people may need to understand scientifically how non-autistic people instinctively learn.
I'm not sure whether Marc Segar understood this before he died, but I am absolutely sure that he was very close to it, since he left clues in his guide referring to "solving the puzzle" and how non-autistic people think.
Perhaps a good example of the impact autistic spectrum people have had on this world is the fact that "the autism problem" is so intractable. Autistic spectrum people are the most likely people to "solve" it and from this perspective, it is impossible to do so without knowing what the non-autistic world is. It strikes me that perhaps the wrong question is being asked. What we should be studying is what non-autistic people have that autistic spectrum people do not. Knowing this appears to be part of any practical "solution" anyway.
To this date, Marc Segar's guide is the only thing I have found on the internet that actually talks about how non-autistic people think in any constructive way. The majority of the self help material available today is locked away under copyright with steep license purchasing fees to access, and I find it deeply offensive that Marc Segar's work probably contributed to the development of it all. Even more so that this document might be used that way.
This book is licensed under the GFDL and CC-BY-SA license and as such, people are free to do what they want with it, however if, as a professional, you find yourself using the material here, I ask that you not only make links to or copies of this document available to your clients, but links to or copies of Marc Segar's survival guide as well.
I sincerely doubt that should I purchase any of the self help material, any of it will be as useful to me as Marc Segar's guide. There is clearly far more information contained in it than it may at first seem, and this is in part what this book is about.
Positive things about being on the autistic spectrum
This is an extension of the Looking on the Bright Side section of Marc's book.
- Being on the autistic spectrum means that any social skills you want to learn have to be learned manually rather than developing them naturally. You may find however that some of these social skills aren't particularly constructive and in this case it is possible to learn better social skills than non-autistic people have available to them, especially when socialising with other people on the autistic spectrum.
- Being on the autistic spectrum means you are likely to have a different emotional range to most other people. While this may occasionally cause you problems in some areas Autistic First Aiders, Doctors, Emergency workers and Managers have found this to be advantageous in certain situations as they are able to continue to make good decisions in situations where NT's have become incapable of functioning, or at best have highly impaired judgement.
More distortions of the truth
This is an extension of the Distortions of the Truth section of Marc's book.
- "Debate framing" is a particularly nasty form of manipulation described in a book called "Don't think of an Elephant". The idea is to change the context of a debate to put it in a light favourable to one side. Some examples of this are:
- The premise, theme or synopsis of the book is that the attacks of 9/11 were promoted as an act of war by the Bush administration rather than a crime, and that in this context, justice, the rule of law and due process do not apply as they would if it were a crime, thereby giving the Bush administration an excuse to launch wars on those they wanted to.
- Due to the architecture of western society, the measure of a person's worth is typically how well they obey orders in school and in the workplace, despite any other qualities they may have.
- Some more really good examples can be found in the history of this document, where certain individuals keep rephrasing and distorting the first example given above.
- DON'T try to follow these rules too closely (use your own judgement here). This section is STILL in its beta phase.
- Questions are the things that enable autistic spectrum people to survive in this world.
- Knowing how to find the information you need and weed out the stuff you don't is likely to be one of your best survival skills.
- It is necessary to understand that you as an autistic spectrum person are very probably unique as a person; with your own goals, features, flaws, needs and perception(s) of life. You are probably the one who is most willing and able to find out what you need to know to achieve something.
- This guide is not any kind of real answer to life the universe and everything; however, asking questions from people you know and trust is probably a good start.
Types of questions
- Personal questions are ones that ask a person to reveal something about themselves, or their "subjective" opinion about something. No particular answer is correct, and not answering is also an option.
- Leading questions are questions asked in such a way as to lead a person to answer a particular way. These are often, but not always, forms of manipulation.
- Rhetorical questions are ones designed to get people to think about the answer rather than to answer them directly.
- Queries are requests for "objective" or "definitive" information. The answers you get to these questions are rarely objective or definitive. The best way to deal with this is to query again for more specific answers. This method is not unlike dealing with Google.
- Open questions are used in conversation and allow the person being asked to talk for as much as they want for a reply.
- Closed questions are used in conversation and which require short clarifying answers. These are often good "listening tools".
- Statements are about telling people something. Telling people that you don't know something in particular can prompt someone into explaining it but often it gets NOTHING as an answer.
Getting useful information from people
- If the person you're seeking information from has bad experiences answering your questions then they may avoid doing so.
- If the person you ask questions of sees that you don't take answers to heart, they may put less effort into their answers.
- Questions usually have assumptions, and if they don't, then they often SEEM to have assumptions.
- These assumptions are statements that can often be more offensive than when they are stated outright.
- Example of a question with an assumption: "Why is X stupid?" assumes that X is stupid and rules out an answer that may explain X.
- Example of a question that seems to have one: "How do you talk to people?" is too broad a question, probably leading to the assumption that it's a personal question. That is, "how do YOU talk to people?"
- The best questions are almost certainly the ones that assume nothing but that the answers to former questions are true.
- Starting a "questioning session" with the assumption that the former rule is correct leaves us no option but to ask a question with no assumptions.
- Examples of such a question: "Is it fair to say that ... (any given statement)?"
- NEVER ask a question that you aren't prepared for an honest answer to, and if you aren't prepared for the answer you get, never over-react.
- Bear in mind that "knowledge is power" and asking certain questions MAY reveal gaps in your understanding that other people MAY be able to exploit.
- I find it's usually easier to find the information I seek by staying focused on acquiring it in a form I understand. This is an art in itself.
- It is usually OK to ask a few questions you already know the answer to test the person's answering abilities, so long as you don't ask them for the purpose of "showing them up".
Using questions to teach
- Questions are so powerful that people have had to come up with some ingenious defences against them.
- These defences involve never answering the questions properly, or dissuading people from asking or pursuing them.
- "I am asking the questions here."
- "I disagree with your question on the basis that it doesn't entirely reflect my reality in all the minor details and so I am going to repeat your question in full whilst imposing my own vocal interpretation in the most dramatic of ways without actually clarifying anything in the hope of obfuscating the situation as badly as I can in the hopes of leaving all but the hopeful few actually interested in an answer or in pursuing the matter so flabbergasted that they won't, and those that are with much less time to do so."
- Trying to understand political discussion is not an un-worthwhile pastime these days.
- Stating solid opinions will show others that you have something to contribute to society.
This is an extension of the Conversation section of Marc's book. It is drawn in part from articles posted on wrongplanet.net, and from discussions with my mother and those on the WP channel. JWM. The (alpha) and (beta) tags next to each section's title indicate the state of development that they're in, given that it seems to me to be an extremely important part of the book.
- Wiktionary defines conversation as "expression and exchange of individual ideas through talking with other people".
- Conversation is similar to speech and discourse in that ideas usually generate new ideas in other people.
- Conversation is different from speech and discourse in that those new ideas can be communicated back immediately.
- When people meet to hold a conversation, they usually want those ideas exchanged as fully as possible.
- When ideas are being exchanged as fully as possible, they usually also want those ideas exchanged as quickly as possible.
- When ideas aren't being exchanged properly, there are many potential remedies that basically involve the listener getting the speaker to repeat, restate and/or give up communicating the idea.
- There have been many, MANY other books written about conversation, but most of them rely on knowing these basic ideas.
Conversations between people
- The conversation between people who want to meet each other for the first time on agreeable terms usually follows a particular protocol.
- Such a conversation usually starts with greetings and small talk, during which both parties thresh out each other's disposition regarding certain things such as:
- How willing the person is to talk with the other.
- What kind of threats the person could represent.
- The person's place in any relevant pecking order.
- What kind of mood the person is in.
- What kind of person they are generally.
- What the person's pet areas of interest might be. Yes, non-autistic people have them too.
- How much of the information that was gleaned from any previous encounters still applies.
- The interaction takes the form of questions and statements designed to elicit responses from, while not offending or embarrassing the other person; or rather, avoiding the consequences of doing so.
- If someone asks how you are, they really are not wanting to know the true or literal answer. This is a way of judging another person's outlook. A short answer is always best, and if you're trying to make a good impression, an answer that indicates a positive and confident mood such as "well", "doing great", or just "good" is best. It may be acceptable or appropriate sometimes to give a short one sentence answer that communicates a "status report" in something you were talking to the person about before. In all cases, remember to follow up with a similar greeting if you haven't already.
- If, on the other hand, you don't want to interact with people who introduce themselves to you, the "best" way to "get rid of them" is to AVOID using the most direct method, and to use the least offensive way of communicating that with them you can find. This way you won't get a reputation for being brash and bad mannered. If this doesn't work, it's OK to use more direct methods. Starting with avoiding eye contact is not a bad idea.
- The key thing to look for in responses is whether the person has positive or negative reactions during introductions or when a subject has been brought up.
- People with negative outlooks and body language are usually avoided, and may in fact be trying to be avoided.
- People with un-confident or inconsistent body language are also often avoided. The best way to deal with this by far is to just "be" the emotion you want to be.
- Based on each person's responses and body language, the conversation then gravitates back and forth between areas of common interest and small talk.
- Any time during the conversation, participants may switch to another topic, switch back to small talk, or use a distraction to pull out of the conversation.
- It is considered acceptable to tell white lies to end a conversation when no other distractions are available, but not ones that are obvious.
- Failure to respond can lead to people being scared off.
- Responding inappropriately can lead to being misjudged.
- Reading responses incorrectly can lead to misjudging people.
- It is much more important for the person starting the conversation to follow the protocols closely than for the other person.
- It is best to stay away from negative and contentious things unless the other person displays an interest in debating them constructively.
- It is important for both to try to develop an understanding of what the other person is thinking and feeling while talking. This is rapport.
- It is worth noting that autistic spectrum people often end up in passionate conflicts with each other due to failing to understand each other's disposition. Small talk is actually quite a neat and useful trick.
Rapport and Friendship (alpha)
- Rapport is NOT something you have when you "get" someone or consistently understand their behaviour, or when you think the other person gets you, but when the other person also shares the same feeling. Your mirror neurons are capable of misguiding you.
- Friends share rapport, but rapport is not about friendship.
- One definition of Rapport is "a feeling of mutual understanding or trust and agreement between people".
- Rapport may be when both people "get" each other or share a sense of "connection".
- Rapport between two people develops over time as they gradually learn more about each other and develop trust and appreciation for each other's worth. This is particularly true for friendship.
- THEORY: Mirror Neurons WORK in autistic spectrum people the same way they do in non-autistic people, but the psychological effects are quite different due to the NUMBER of people those mirror neurons work for. It is possible that they work just like a neurotypical person's does, but only when dealing with Autistic spectrum people (and then only when the two people are thinking the same). Because AS people usually lack the ability to unconsciously conform, their thinking is much less likely to be the same as someone they're talking to.
Reciprocal disclosure (beta)
- During a conversation, people will often take turns to trade personal information in the hopes of learning more about each other and developing some rapport.
- One person may elicit information from another either by asking direct questions or by disclosing personal information in the hopes of getting the other person to disclose similar information.
- The latter case is often used when a question may be considered too personal since it doesn't REQUIRE an answer. Disclosing something else or changing the subject is quite acceptable.
- Disclosing too little information can be seen as being withdrawn or not willing to talk, or simply not willing to disclose a particular piece of information.
- Disclosing too much information may have the following consequences:
- Being seen as someone who is too trusting. Perhaps even a potential victim.
- Being seen as someone less trustworthy, who can't keep secrets well. Particularly if the information is about other people.
- Being seen as someone who is dangerous or ditsy, based on the nature or relevance of the information disclosed; particularly if other relevant pieces of information haven't already been disclosed.
- Being seen as being aloof, distracted or detached from the flow of the conversation.
- Being seen as needy, clinging or childish.
- The mystique created by knowing and obeying the reciprocal disclosure rules also contributes to charisma.
- People will have expectations about how far they want to take any relationship that develops, and also how quickly. Those expectations will change as the conversation develops, and it is a bad idea to try to push this process further than the other person wants to take it.
- There are very good reasons for everyone to be careful about how deep they go into any given relationship. The deeper they go, the more compatible they need to be for the relationship to remain positive, and the harder it can be emotionally to remain in, or end, a negative relationship; therefore the more they need to be sure of being compatible.
- In fact, an ability to know when to stop going deeper is probably one of the best survival techniques.
Approaching people (alpha)
- This section is at the end because it is probably the most difficult part of any successful conversation.
- If you have absolutely no ability to start worthwhile conversations, it is a good idea to think about the way people introduce themselves to you to get a feel for how it is done before embarking on the mission of learning this skill yourself.
- In fact, it's a good idea to have practised your other conversation skills first with people who introduce themselves to you.
- It is important to have practised voice tones prior to attempting a conversation. Telling someone their fly is open at maximum volume is not a good idea.
- Pay particular attention to the subjects people raise. They may have something to do with the current environment or situation or perhaps they are trying to confirm things about the impression they have of you. If different people keep raising the same subjects, it may be due to your image or appearance.
- Also pay attention to the care with which people approach you.
- An example of the last statement is that I realised once that people kept raising the subjects of consumerism, biking and heavy metal. And when I thought about it, it clicked that I am quite a big man, with a long beard and hair who wears a biker jacket and no jewellery. People were thinking I might be a biker or a hippy. I didn't like the biker image, so I stopped wearing the jacket.
- Avoid trying to learn things from how people greet (and interact with) each other unless you know about their relevant backgrounds and their relationship to each other. Friends greet each other in different ways from strangers, and greeting strangers like friends is quite a dangerous thing.
- It is quite important to be in a happy, comfortable, confident mood when meeting strangers. If you are going to go somewhere to meet strangers, try to prepare yourself beforehand by thinking about things that make you happy.
- Conversation starters are also known as "icebreakers" or "openers".
- The best icebreakers are "closed questions" about the situation or something good you notice about the person followed up by "open questions".
- Don't feel bad if your efforts to start conversations fail. Most first-conversations between strangers don't turn into extended ones. Ask people about this sometime.
Please note, it would be silly of me to say that any one way to visualise social interaction can be 100% effective or appropriate at all times. In fact, non-autistic people seem to approximate everything at best. It is worth noting though that visual thinking is an autistic strong point, and it is very likely that a visualised understanding of social interaction is going to be the most effective.
- Marc Segar talks about "plot" and "detail" in his book, but leaves it to the imagination as to what the exact differences are. One can only speculate, but my understanding is this:
- "Plot" is exactly like the plot in a movie or TV show. The sequence of events is more important than the exact details about the events themselves.
- The information gleaned from observing the events and their sequence goes towards building a picture of the situation an observer is currently in. This is "situational awareness".
- This situational awareness is related to self interest in the non-autistic mind and provides the observer with information about threats and opportunities in the social environment.
- Also, the information gleaned from observing what other people do goes towards building a picture of "who they are". This may be what Marc Segar was talking about when he talks about "slates" and keeping them clean.
- This picture of "plot" vs "detail" is incomplete if one does not understand the forces driving non-autistic people, but this is beyond the scope of "plot".
- There is another possible way to think about plot vs detail:
- People who are not experts at something need to consciously think about doing it until they become experts. This is a rather "static" way of thinking.
- People who are experts at something know their field so well that they base their real time actions on their detailed understanding rather than conscious thought. This is a much more "dynamic" way of thinking.
- conscious thought tends to get in the way of doing something efficiently even for experts, however using conscious thought is usually necessary when fixing mistakes.
- It may be the case that non-autistic peoples fluid behaviour in social situations is based on this kind of expert understanding, however the fact that they have no conscious technical understanding of what they're doing DOES lead them to make mistakes that are difficult to fix.
- If this particular interpretation of "plot vs detail" is correct, it is incomplete without knowing what non-autistic people are experts at.
- If this particular interpretation of "plot vs detail" is correct then autistic spectrum people prefer to keep learning rather than actually being experts on anything.
- The single best way I have found to keep a grip of what's going on is by applying the second commandment, "You Must Love Your Neighbour As Yourself".
- One translation of this rule reads "Do Unto Others As You Would Have Others Do Unto You".
- Another plausible translation could read "Don't Do Unto Others As You Would Not Have Others Do Unto You".
- The pagan tenet "anything which causes no harm is probably OK" seems to approximate this rule, as does Plato's conclusions about justice in Platos Republica.
- Most people seem to try to follow this rule even when they don't know about it, and those that aren't, try to appear as if they are.
- Nobody ever succeeds in following it 100%, however, honest people will usually try to fix their mistakes when they realise them, and they usually try to do so according to this rule.
- By working out all of the things a person is doing to other people that they would accept other people doing to them, it is possible to "zone in" on acceptable behaviour.
- By working out all of the things a person is doing to other people that they would not have the other person do to them, it is possible to work out whether someone is being malicious or not, and even the nature of that malice.
- In the case of conflict, it is often possible to perform this "calculation" for every deed involved and come up with extremely equitable resolutions based on the things that people should be doing, before other people even realise there's a problem.
- It is often possible to figure out if someone is trying to deceive or manipulate you by working out whether the person is willing to do themselves what they are trying to convince you to do. Asking detailed questions can reveal the deceit.
- People who clearly have no interest in following this rule are usually well worth avoiding.
- The second commandment is not a bad rule to live by either, but it doesn't work perfectly if you don't know what's important to other people.
- Even so, if you wish to question or challenge people on the basis that they have broken this rule, then you pretty much need to be obeying it yourself. Otherwise you can be seen as a hypocrite.
- It is fair to say that everybody has their own personal preferences about how they like to be treated, and it would therefore be breaking the rule to not treat other people according to those preferences once you learn about them.
- On the other hand, using your own preferences when you don't know the other persons, as the rule would at first suggest can be a good starting point for people you don't know. Beware though that you may not know whether you like to be treated a particular way by strangers until you experience it.
- It is possible to take this rule way too far and end up never doing anything for yourself the way Jesus or Socrates might.
- Many of the laws of physics seem to apply in the average social interaction:
- For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. EVERYTHING that happens has meaning.
- Plot vs Detail may also refer to a scale, as in Tactical vs Strategic. Plot may refer to the general overall thing (like a Strategy in a war) and Detail would be the close-up pieces (like Tactics in warfare/battles)
Understanding non-autistic thought processes
- NOTE: This section does NOT explain everything that happens in SOCIETY, but it goes a long way to understanding SOCIAL situations.
- It is impossible to overstate the importance of self confidence in this world.
- Self confidence is invaluable in at least three aspects of life: attracting partners, dealing with people in general and in personal wellbeing.
- Understanding the role of self confidence is possible in the context of this framework, and although I think that it is true, it doesn't actually matter whether it is or not since it approximates non-autistic behaviour very well:
- Self confidence is a huge biological factor in animal mating rituals.
- Animals within a single sex of a species will compete amongst themselves by challenging each other in various ways to determine who dominates and submits to who. The end result of this is the "pecking order".
- Being high in a pecking order involves having few leaders and tends to increase "alpha partner" neurotransmitters that make an animal much more confident.
- Being low in a pecking order involves having many leaders and tends to cause more stress which decreases confidence and also shortens an animals life.
- Being confident is hard to fake since being bold tends to attract negative attention from the competition and may lead to fights.
- The opposite sex are attracted to the most confident since confidence is a key indicator of being the best of the competition.
- Since the opposite sex are attracted to the most confident and therefore successful within the pecking order, the offspring tend to get better DNA, and the species benefits.
- A females hormonal cycles make her more aggressive during the time that she is ready to mate, adding yet another confidence test in the case of a male.
- A male will tend to have these hormones most of the time, forcing a female to be much more selective.
- In species such as ours where the offspring are nurtured and raised by at least one parent, strength of character, generosity and sensitivity are huge factors in attractiveness.
- In species such as ours where raising offspring is a two parent job, compatibility and loyalty are also huge factors in attractiveness since the parents may be in each others company for quite some time.
- These rules seem to apply even when people are avoiding having children or only interested in casual sex. It simply appears to be so instinctive to non-autistic people that they don't even think about it.
- In this context, the following should be clearer:
- Most human endeavours and behaviours that are not related to survival are probably related to climbing the pecking order so that the individual can build self confidence and become more attractive.
- Clubs and sports are examples of social hierarchies that are often designed for the purpose of having a pecking order that can be challenged.
- Financial success, popularity and charity are often also social status games, though sometimes they have more to do with survival.
- Non-autistic people often believe something largely on the basis of how confidently it has been said. This is a powerful rule. None of the famous leaders or despots of the world would have gotten as far as they did without having consistently displayed an air of rock solid self belief.
- People often do things in personal interaction that are designed to test or demolish a persons confidence or challenge the pecking order.
- People also often use an attack on peoples confidence to communicate dissatisfaction. If the message isn't communicated properly, the situation can escalate.
- People often resort to telling a white lie or a "hint" rather than a truth which may appear to be an attack on someone's confidence. Considering this to be nice is probably a good idea.
- The concept of equality (or equity) that autistic people seem to hold so dearly often simply doesn't exist in non-autistic people, despite platitudes to the contrary.
- Presenting an air of confidence while assertively avoiding conflict can be a good strategy for surviving social situations generally.
- Presenting an air of confidence while assertively deflecting challenges can be a good strategy for thriving in some social situations.
- Initiating and winning challenges is a difficult thing for NT's to do, and is a recipe for disaster for autistic spectrum people.
- To initiate a challenge and not win is to lose. Since it is far too easy to be seen as initiating a challenge when trying to negotiate serious issues with other people, it is very important to make sure the other person knows that you're trying to negotiate rather than challenge.
- Small talk and body language help to avoid many potential conflicts which may come about according to these rules by communicating the basics about where people are coming from.
- Self confidence in and of itself enhances a persons ability to function effectively.
- To interact with people you like, it is often necessary to be part of a social hierarchy with people you don't like.
- There are men in this world who have no claim to any form of social status and whose confidence comes directly from being able to pull women.
- The difference between self esteem and self confidence is subtle yet significant.
- Where does the autistic spectrum mind fit into all of this? Perhaps we are stuck in "survival mode". Perhaps we are capable of finding fulfilment in things other than sex and relationships. Perhaps we are trying to play the social status game by developing passions to share with others.
The Physiology and Energy of Self Confidence
- Lack of self confidence can also be observed at physiological and energetic levels. Therefore the question of self-confidence can also be addressed at these respective levels. Actions than can be taken are numerous, and can include sport, art, meditation, nutrition, and complementary and alternative medicine that understand correlation between self-confidence and physiology and/or energy.
- Just as in strategy games, the social status game has complex strategy, or unwritten rules which all stem from the simple idea that every player is out to win the game according to a specific measurement of success defined and limited by relatively simple written rules.
- In the social status game, the measurement and limitations seem to be part of Sexual_selection. To win in the game, one must mate as often as possible with appropriate partner/s. The implication of this is that one must BE the best possible mating partner that they can be as often as possible. In turn, one must perpetually be displaying examples of these characteristics.
- In fact, when people talk about maturity and development, they're usually talking about how far someone has progressed in this game.
- Examples of how these basic rules and goals end up translating into life's unwritten rules:
- Attractive people are nice to be close to and associated with and are therefore clean and otherwise physically attractive to appropriate partners.
- By being accepted by friends who are fellow competitors in the social status game, one gets to practice and display strength of character, loyalty, and other characteristics required to be accepted rather than dominated by such people.
- By helping others "less fortunate", one displays generosity. If done appropriately, this displays sensitivity. Put-downs often come under this rule.
- By having a good income and by being independent, one displays the ability to support a family.
- By having a better education and better marketable skills, one has access to better income opportunities.
- By being good at sports and by being able to resolve conflicts without losing face, one displays the ability to defend a family.
- By putting others slightly above or equal in the pecking order down, rank can be gained when swapping places in the pecking order. Done correctly, this should look like "helping someone less fortunate" or "resolving conflict without losing face" otherwise, this can look like bullying, which it often is, and backfire.
- By finding and maintaining an "image" and manner that appropriately reflects ones personality, one helps potential partners determine compatibility.
- By being subtle and discreet about your goals in this game and not promiscuous, one displays the characteristics required to remain loyal in long term child rearing relationships.
- Since equality/equivalence only ever exists between people who haven't determined who dominates in the pecking order, "difficult" children and other inferiors are always trying to assert leadership and the remedy is to show them who's boss. When this doesn't work, they have a disorder or an attitude problem.
- By being inventive and creative in such a way that the world becomes a better place, one almost by necessity has to worry less about personal gain and the social status game and ends up displaying only some of the characteristics of good mating partners and perhaps eccentricity, arrogance, mind blindness and lack of situational awareness.
- By going into unnecessary detail on any given subject, one fools with the plot mode picture building process, displays a lack of connection with their conversation partner and appears to be self absorbed.
- By playing with friends and losing, one gets a chance to learn from their mistakes, develop the characteristics of good mating partners and "mature". Therefore, over-reacting is missing the point of play.
- By playing with friends and winning, one gets a chance to prove ones value in their friends development. Therefore, playing too competitively and lording it over the loser is inappropriate.
- By having friends that are not at the same maturity level as oneself, one does not contribute and benefit contstructively from the relationship, therefore one has to "move on".
- By being a happy person generally, one displays comfort with ones place in the world, an ability to survive difficult situations and a readiness to mate.
- By being popular with, and "acquiring" potential partners, one has achieved the primary goal of the social status game, and therefore has little need to build further status. The object now becomes to put the characteristics displayed into effect.
- Since most children will grow up to marry and have children of their own, "development" is about accomplishing this goal and "maturity" is a measure of success.
- XXX This subsection needs to be rewritten and expanded into a book. The idea that non-autistic people are out to a> survive, and b> mate is the beginning of EVERY social story that is likely to help autistic spectrum people understand the non-autistic world.
- The subtlety here is that "displaying" is just as much about subconsciously proving to ones self where they stand in the pecking order. This is then reflected to potential partners by way of an outward display of confidence.
- The trick to understanding this game is that (particularly non-autistic) people tend to assume everyone is striving to play it ALL THE TIME. Every single action performed by everybody must somehow be an attempt to maintain or improve ones position on the ladder legitimately or illegitimately or to "cash in" and mate, or to survive so as to be able to do so, or to give in because one is unable to do so.
- One thing that I find helps me understand why NT's don't consider the practice in the last statement unethical is that their one and only philosophy is that EVERYBODY is playing social status games, and that kinda makes sense ethically. If everyone is playing social status games to win, then making them lose is OK.
- Please don't take this section too seriously, and if you do, try to read it constructively. Please also note that this section is likely to be a recipe for becoming a sociopath, if taken to heart.
- Personal observations:
- When I first observed autistic spectrum peoples behaviour as a child, it was as if they appeared to be more "real" than the non-autistic people, who seemed rather like ghosts or half people to me. I imagine that this was because my mirror neurons were firing for the non-autistic people.
- When I adopt a mindset in which everything happening around me socially must somehow be related to the primary goal as stated above, I can often work out where non-autistic people are coming from fairly quickly (not real time) and the ghost people are a lot more real to me. This makes it much easier to communicate with them too, but when I want to communicate with autistic spectrum people again it takes effort to switch back and rethink what is happening.
- Something that convinces me that this theory is close to the mark is that when I am thinking with this mindset, I tend to jump to the same conclusions about other autistic peoples social endeavours that non-autistic people do.
- One consistent point of failure in my social endeavours is when people realise that I am not interested in playing the social status game even when I've never broken any social rules. The first impression is always that I must be a whacko.
- These last statements tend to be consistent with observations I made of drama shows while researching this subject. Every show seems to have an odd collection of geeks, manipulators, and otherwise typical people. The manipulators always get a better "social deal" than the geeks, and both are tainted with the same brush when one screws up. It's as if people consider geeks to be less "mature" manipulators.
- Some may observe that the examples stated above assume that people are heterosexual and (relatively) monogamous and therefore the theory cannot be true. In answer to this, may I point out that there are in fact large rifts between gay, lesbian, heterosexual and non-monogamous cultures, perhaps for the very reason that the rules are necessarily slightly different for each of these cultures.
- Apparently this is not even a New Concept. See also w:Sexual selection and Geoffrey Miller.
- Reconciling this theory with other theories:
- It could even be said that this game forces players to use the plot rather than detail view of the world since everybody has to be on the lookout for threats and opportunities and that non-autistic people are monotropic about social status rather than polytropic.
- Multiple causes of autism:
- Throw a piece of mud at a wall.
- Notice that the wall does vaguely nothing.
- Notice that the piece of mud does many things. First amongst them, dividing into many differently behaving pieces of mud.
- The social status game is EXTREMELY complex and there are MANY ways to deal with it when it's difficult to play. This doesn't mean that the different methods have different causes.
- Theory of Mind:
- Understanding the context of any given situation is quite necessary before theory of mind is possible. One must understand something about mechanics to be able to assign motives to a mechanic from watching him work. The social status game described above is just such a context.
- Extreme Male Brain XXX:
- Central Coherence Deficit XXX:
- Executive Function Deficit XXX:
Reasons that understanding the non-autistic world is necessary
- To be able to "defeat" your autism spectrum problems, you must be able to think like a non-autistic.
- Learning what the reward will actually be like when you succeed is worth the effort.
- Understanding the context of where non-autistic people "are" is an extremely useful TRANSLATION tool.
- Understanding how non-autistic people work tends to make them more predictable and helps to reduce social anxiety.
- To be able to survive in the non-autistic world while retaining self esteem one needs to know how to not give people reason to attack it.
- To be able to withdraw from the non-autistic world, one needs to know how to do so without stepping on peoples toes and be able to leave the door open for a return.
- To know how to enter and leave the world at will, one is able to waste less of ones time.
- To know the similarities and differences is to be able to recognise and communicate with fellow auties more effectively.
- Autistic spectrum people may have some similarities, but realistically, we all live in our own individual worlds, largely separated even from each other.
- To know how non-autistic people think, one is better equipped to create things for them. Think user interfaces, books and art.
- To be able to manipulate this environment, it is necessary to know what it is so that you don't end up destroying it and pissing people off.
- There is no point in trying to understand what autism is in technical terms without knowing what it is to be non-autistic, in technical terms. I strongly agree with Marc Segar on this.
- Understanding what is happening in the autistic spectrum world will be easier if autistic spectrum people know what the differences between the worlds are.
- The non-autistic world is making inroads into the autistic spectrum world lately and is quite willing to address any issues they see arising from our differences, some of which are quite real and many of which are not. We may have a sense of security in the vastly diverging differences amongst us, but if we do not make an effort, the solutions to these issues are likely to be theirs alone.
Reasons to avoid understanding the non-autistic world
- It has long been known that an autistic spectrum person who gets too drawn into the non-autistic world will suffer. PeopleTemplate:Who? have said that Marc Segar killed himself because of this.
Reasons that non-autistic people have issues making room for autistic spectrum people and probably always will
- Non-autistic people may know at some level what's going on and often explain it in their language, but rarely know in technical terms what they're doing.
- There is only ONE context of understanding in the non-autistic world. One approximated in this section. Switching to another is extremely difficult for anyone, let alone someone who has never done it before.
- There are in fact people who have bad higher level social skills who make a practice of taking advantage of others. These people are called manipulators or sociopaths and many of the social rules are designed as protection from them.
- Autistic people are often mistaken for sociopaths or manipulators because most people are not used to dealing with people who are very honest and/or genuine in their mannerisms. They often feel there must be some sort of agenda behind one's actions.
- An alternate view to the last statement: Autistic spectrum people are often mistaken for sociopaths or manipulators by non-autistic people because sociopaths and autistic spectrum people have the same fundamental characteristics in the non-autistic persons minds eye, only, the sociopaths are more worth talking to because their understanding of the non-autistic world is better because they focus more on interaction between people, as it interests them more.
- Another alternate view to the last two statements: Autistic spectrum people, especially people with aspergers (simply because people with aspergers tend to make social efforts more than autistics), may be viewed by non-autistic people as sociopaths because the autistic people may match the image of a sociopath. This is simply because autistic people may appear to not care in both their actions and words, while at the same time they may appear to not be genuine. This is a simplistic and uninformed view, of course, because it might be said that autistic people are the opposite of sociopaths: The autistic person cares and is often making an effort, an effort which may not come naturally, to appear social and to relate, while the sociopath is adept at being social and lacks concern or care for other people.
Non-Autistic Thought Process Factoids
- Non-autistic people do their "developmental thinking" between social interactions, as opposed to during one or never at all. XXX define "developmental thinking".
- Non-autistic people seem to be able to quickly imagine and choose between the myriads of different ways that a conversation can go. I think this may be VISUAL THINKING.
Ways to build self esteem
- Fear is detrimental to self esteem.
- Finding gaps in your knowledge and filling them or otherwise addressing them can lessen the fears associated with those gaps.
- Fear can be a good guide to finding gaps in your knowledge.
- Taking time regularly to meditate about recent events can be beneficial and dangerous too. XXX (anon65 - conflicting objectives)
- A danger for autistic spectrum people that Marc Segars guide talks about is getting into circular reasoning traps. See the section on "self maintainance" for more on this, and how to avoid them.
- Comparing recent events, good and bad, with what you would have expected to happen can teach you more about social interaction, or reinforce what you already know.
- Having hobbies and engaging in personal interests is one of the best ways to build self esteem. The better you are at them, the greater the reward will be, but:
- Be very careful to investigate and understand the dangers in your hobbies. Take safety seriously. There's no point in developing a skill today that you can't use tomorrow.
- Don't let anybody force you into taking up a hobby.
- Don't let anybody manipulate you into giving up a hobby.
- People may try to get you to give up a hobby by saying that it is childish or dangerous or takes up too much time. There may or may not be some truth in what they say.
- They may try to imply that YOU are childish or ignorant or dangerous for having your hobbies and interests. This is almost certainly wrong.
- If you take your own safety and the safety of others seriously, then ignoring warnings is a bad idea.
- In virtually all cases it is possible to negotiate compromises that enable a hobby or interest to be pursued, while avoiding its dangers.
- People who keep coming up with new reasons why you shouldn't keep pursuing your interests and hobbies when their old reasons have been proven wrong and who avoid negotiation are almost certainly not trying to help you.
- If someone is persistent in doing this, then there may be other underlying issues on their mind that need to be addressed. Finding out what they are and dealing with them can be an educational and rewarding experience.
- Successfully helping someone else achieve something they need is an incredible self esteem booster.
- When doing this involves sharing or developing your personal interests, it is even better.
- It is possible to experience negative emotions from assisting people too. If you feel this happening, it's often best to reconsider.
- Beware that placing yourself in danger to save someone and getting hurt yourself means that both of you need to be rescued, and this means that such an act can ultimately hurt the person you're trying to help, because you end up halving the attention the rescuers have for the victim.
- Autistic spectrum people can succeed in learning the social games that people play with some effort, but are nearly always at a severe disadvantage. Therefore, developing interests that are useful to others is well worth the effort.
Ways to maintain self esteem
- See also the "worrying" section in Marc Segar's Survival Guide. In particular, learning to laugh at yourself, and to recognise your mistake, apologise and just move on can save many a bad situation.
- The single best way to reinforce self esteem is to know where to go to be safe from making mistakes that have ongoing consequences, and to know that you can get there. These can be places, behaviours, or frames of mind.
- Having a reliable visualised understanding of the environment you are in that you can fall back on in times of distress can help a great deal to pacify overwhelming negative thoughts, and help you plan ways out of bad situations.
- If your failures keep haunting you, knowing that you have learned as much as you can from them can help that stop.
- Non-autistic people learn from experience this way anyway, so worrying excessively about possible future failure is probably overkill.
- Faking self esteem can have its merits:
- It means that you will be less of a target for social predators.
- Being less of a target means your self esteem has more time to rebuild naturally.
- A person who is supremely confident has no need to prove oneself and therefore has no need for ego. This is directly at odds with the idea that ego helps a great deal in the competition phase mentioned in the section "the art of self confidence".
- A person who is supremely confident settles conflicts so that every party wins as much as possible and therefore has no need for aggression.
- A person who is supremely confident has little to be scared of and therefore displays their more positive emotions rather than their negative ones.
- There are also some thoughts about emotions in relation to maintaining one's self esteem.
- It is necessary to let some negative emotions "radiate". If you don't permit yourself to do this sometimes, things can reach a boiling point and explode inappropriately.
- Although autistic people seem to be incapable of reading the emotions of others, the emotions they express are VERY readable by others. The confusion others have in reading those emotions are in the fact that the emotions often don't make sense.
- Fear and anger are emotions that are communicated across species, and between autistic and non autistic people. They are "reliable emotions".
A 'Persona' is Socially Savvy
A persona is a social mask. You create it out of your strengths and wear it in public. When you 'get to know' a stranger, what you reveal sends a message. If you want to pursue a friendship, the conversation move toward what you have in common. If you dislike them you do not discuss commonalities with them. This allows two people to avoid humiliation from social rejection. there was no rejection. just a lack of common interests. Do not create a complex or fraudulent persona. You want to be consistent and comfortable in different situations. Your social mask will be awkward initially. Pay attention to the way people react to you. When you become familiar with your persona, you'll relax into the role. The top 'likeable' characteristics are cheer, calm, competence, cooperation and confidence. People do not want smart friends. They want kind and mellow friends.
Words are huge and concrete to me. Words are neither huge nor concrete in actuality. People use words as tools to accomplish a task. They tell outrageous stories for entertainment. The meaning is clear in the eyes of the speaker. The meaning cannot be found in the words. Most people do not think an untrue statement is a lie. They have a point. Fairy Tales are all lies in a story of profound truth. Society is a big picture. you lose friends by focusing on details. Make friends with an entire person. The good and the bad exist in everyone.
Small talk is unimportant. You need a response when someone asks you about yourself. Come up with a three sentence description that makes you sound superb. Be truthful and promote yourself shamelessly. Your interest is not acceptable to discuss in a social situation. Keep behind your persona around strangers. Talk about pastries and the weather while making eye contact. The eyes will let you know if someone can be trusted. Sometimes they are honest, but not often. This does not means they are bad or untrustworthy. They don't care about the words.
People are all different. People who like each other become more and more alike by spending time together. Don't rush or push people. We are very intense. This scares people. Be very gentle and calm and your focus will be welcome instead of intrusive. Good Luck. Practice, practice, practice.
There are plenty of high quality sex/relationship guides around, so this section is deliberately brief.
- Sexual relationships are the subject of much discussion amongst non-autistic people. In fact, much of the non-sensical discussion amongst non-autistic people is about this. This has the implication that you can often discuss sexuality with non-autistic people if you obey the social rules.
- The key to learning from these guides and discussions is knowing that they are nearly always written/spoken from the perspective of someone who has had personal success or who has had success in teaching non-autistic people and who are trying to teach specific things from particular perspectives.
- This leads to many important things being glossed over or not mentioned, and many unimportant things being included or incorrectly emphasised.
- This in itself doesn't mean that they are useless. In fact, if they were, the reputations of the writers would suffer.
- Extracting useful information from them can be difficult though, but not impossible.
- One good way to achieve this is to read all the guides you can find and look for recurring themes.
- Some regularly recurring themes:
- Self Respect and Self Confidence.
- Respecting your partner and potential partners.
- Connecting with your partner. This is rapport. Very important when meeting potential partners.
- Communicating with your partner. This involves negotiation. Very important in ongoing relationships.
- Developing trust with your partner.
- How to fake the important things. This is not always necessary or a good idea unless you have your heart set on one person you only want a short term relationship with.
- Some things rarely mentioned in guides that are particularly relevant to autistic spectrum people:
- The courting process allows EITHER party to slow the pace of the process down or quit at any time, but communicating this can be difficult. Not communicating this properly can be destructive to the relationship.
- There is NO special protocol for initiating and developing relationships that nobody told you about and that everyone uses in secret.
- This doesn't mean that there aren't protocols, but that the protocols involve using the same rules and communication methods used in the non-autistic world to do many of the things mentioned above under "recurring themes". Also, the protocols vary wildly depending on the partners and situations involved.
- These communications are nearly always played out when both partners are in plot mode and playing the social status game as best as they possibly can. Some guides refer to this as "turning the brain off", or "animal instinct", if they refer to it at all.
- Some autie to autie relationships have developed successfully almost entirely outside of plot mode, but these are usually clumsy events. Even so, they are often more rewarding relationships than autie to non-autie relationships.
- Everybody has quirks in their sexual preferences, and it is usually possible for lovers to negotiate the ones that cause no harm. This is more true for stronger relationships.
- Men and women both enjoy sex and love, but men tend to "fall in love" with the ones they "sexualise", and women tend to sexualise the ones they fall in love with.
- Since men want sex from relationships, they often try to be, or appear to be more loving to attract sexier women.
- Since women want love from relationships, they often try to be or appear to be sexier to attract the most loving and supporting men.
- The idea in both cases is for each partner to give the other what they want in order to receive what they want.
- Just as there are men who make a practice of one night stands for the purpose of acquiring sex from many women, there are women who make a practice of one night stands for the purpose of acquiring love from many men.
- These men and women can be destructive to the self esteem of non-autistic people in general and devastating to autistic spectrum people. This doesn't necessarily mean that they should be avoided or that all people who behave like them are like them.
- The trick to understanding these men and women is knowing that they go for "unattainable" people.
- Many of the rules regarding discretion and promiscuity are designed to weed such men and women out. In my personal experience, autistic spectrum people can be caught out by such rules when meeting people.
- Men tend to want to be respected, but women tend to want to be cherished.
- Going for the less attractive potential partner is NOT a good way to improve your chances.
- The relationship between partners typically does NOT change in the bedroom. If it does, rapport either deepens or the relationship changes for the worse.
- In many ways, the social interactions between partners outside of the bedroom can be considered practice for inside. This may be why figuring out "what kind of a person" someone it is such a popular pastime.
- Some good relationship/sex guides and resources:
- The Lovers Guide, Dr Andrew Stanway, video and book series. Besides offering high quality advice on many subjects, it is a rather high quality piece of pornography. Suitable for males, females and couples.
- Dial a Woman/Dial a Man, Rosalind Neville, books. Written by someone who runs a relationship agency and who listens to women talking about all the mistakes their men make.
- Adam Perry, various magazine articles. A man who slept with 3000 women in 15 years and who now teaches sex education in UK schools.
- Sex Tips for Geeks, Eric S Raymond, web page linked to in the "#References" section. Written by someone who has known autistic spectrum males and their problems for a long while. Even this guide has usability problems.
- SIRC guide to flirting. Fairly self explanatory really. A little sparse on reasoning, but strong on basics.
- Speed Seduction, Ross Jeffries. Written by someone who is in the w:seduction community. Probably a good example of a guide to avoid, but it's still possible to learn a lot from these things.
- Wikipedia: w:Category:Human_sexuality; w:Human_sexual_behavior; Dating with Women.
Chatup factoids (beta)
- If you have reached this "level of development" and you still find this section useful, you may be focusing too much on detail and not enough on plot.
- These rules may have cultural and situational biases. In general, they should be applicable in at least the UK and Australia in situations where you meet someone you may never meet again.
- In situations where you are interacting with potential partners, a new consequence of breaking social rules is that OTHER potential partners will see or hear about the damage your behaviour causes to your potential partner and because of that, they may then start avoiding you.
- It is ALWAYS a bad idea to fool with a woman's hand bag, and it is an extremely bad idea to investigate what's inside without permission. Note: I'm not exactly sure in which section this rule should go, but this is probably the best one.
- "Making a move" is when one person starts flirting with another during a conversation.
- A chatup is when the other person flirts back.
- How does one know exactly when a move has been knocked back? This isn't always obvious. If nothing happens, she/he may be deciding whether to accept or how to not offend. Alternately, they may not have noticed the move. This is something autistic spectrum people often do.
- What behaviours become appropriate once a chatup starts?
- Smiling and good eye contact. These are also flirtatious behaviours but can appear creepy if not returned.
- Focusing only on the partners face, the things they say and the things they pay attention to.
- Touching is possibly best left to the woman to initiate and this doesn't mean that the man should start touching too, nor indeed that it is wrong for a man to do so.
- Asking more personal questions that may otherwise appear creepy such as where someone is going or where someone is from.
- Subtlety in flirting is more complex but necessary.
- Being subtle hides the proceedings from public scrutiny. This is showing respect for your partner and it is important in knockbacks too.
- Showing respect for ones partners lessens the chance that other potential partners will be put off.
- Asking for a woman's number becomes permissible after you both have a sense of rapport and are talking comfortably. Towards the end of the conversation is best.
- Saying something like "it would be nice to talk to you again" or "would you like to go out with me some time?" is better than asking in a way that sounds pushy such as taking out the phone and asking "what's your number"?
- Never suggest a time/date when asking this question. It makes it too easy for them to knock you back indecisively by saying they're doing something then.
- Alternately, if you have been asked by someone if you would like to go out with them at a particular time and you can't be there, but you would still like to go out with them, you can say no, but suggest another time instead.
- It is usually bad form to let a woman whose number you've just taken see you taking another woman's number.
- If a person asks "do you want to come back to my place" it usually means for sex though if it does, there are no guarantees that it will happen.
- If you want to do so, smile and give a definite positive answer such as "yes" or "sure". A negative or hesitant answer is always offensive.
- The actual act of asking this question is more of a risky social endeavour than a positive answer so long as the answer isn't over enthusiastic and a negative answer is a more risky social endeavour than a positive one so don't feel embarrassed in answering positively. They will probably be relieved and pleased if you do.
- Men sometimes ask this question of women, but it is a bad idea for an aspie male.
- By making potential partners jump over all these hurdles, people are often trying to avoid retribution from competitors and also short term relationships in which only their partner benefits.
Dating factoids (alpha)
- "Going out" refers to one or two dates with a particular partner.
- "Dating" refers to going out regularly with a partner who is a bit closer.
- Being "exclusive" means not dating other people and having a relationship with one person.
- There are some who say that the act of dating itself means being exclusive and some who say that dating multiple partners is permissible until both partners agree that the relationship is exclusive.
- Figuring out which kind any given relationship is can be difficult since it is an unwritten rule to not raise this subject, but exclusive relationships are taken more seriously.
- If you don't want to become exclusive, this is probably the best time to explain why, or say that you "need more time" (to decide).
- It is probably best to not look for reasons that you and your partner shouldn't be together until this point too.
- A relationship is when the partners are communicating for at least an hour a day or several hours a week.
- A relationship can be "resumed" if both partners agree that the reasons for ending it have changed.
- Gifts are best given during the good times, not the bad, and particularly not after fights.
- The 24 hour rule applies to subsequent dates too.
- XXX Under what circumstances does the 24 hour rule stop applying?
- The phrase 'we need to talk' often means 'we should break up'. Sometimes it can simply mean 'we need to talk'. It can be very ambiguous.
Holding down a job
- This section comes from my experience working at a corporation that had a strong union movent which prevented me being fired for the 6 years I worked there. Instead, my boss's and workmates tried to teach me from the ground up about the things I needed to do to survive there. I tended to spend my spare time fixing many of the rather obscene problems occurring in the workplace, and succeeded in multiplying productivity within the organisation, but I was working with some rather sociopathic people who found ways to make me suicidal and eventually to quit. I didn't work in the decade afterwards due to the experience and lived very frugally, yet the corporation in question still earns money from my not particularly well remunerated work. So please understand that I had a lot of time to work this out and that I can't communicate the following things properly if the more cynical parts are removed. JWM.
Trust and Loyalty
- A worker is someone who does tasks for another worker called a boss because the boss doesn't have the time or the capability to do all of their own tasks.
- Workers are expected to be empathetic and loyal to the work related values and goals of their boss and their employer.
- Workers are expected to diligently complete any tasks they have accepted responsibility for to the best of their ability, and to return with the results.
- Workers are expected to not accept tasks they know they won't be able to complete and to be able to explain why to the best of their ability.
- Failure to be consistent in these things can lead to a lack of trust in assigning tasks to the worker, and a worker with no tasks isn't doing work for the employer and might as well not work there.
- The good news is that nobody is a perfect worker and that it is part of a boss's responsibility to deal with most of these problems.
- The bad news is that social interaction unrelated to work or even outside of work hours can also contribute to trust or lack of trust.
- It is nearly always a boss's responsibility to be higher in the pecking order. If they fail to do this, the workplace tends to fall apart.
- A worker can sometimes be expected to be empathetic and loyal to the non-work related goals of their workmates. This falls into the realm of "social interaction", and those rules apply.
- For example: small chats with collegues about all sorts of things (family, holidays) are common practice. Look at how long and often other chat, and don't exceed this.
- Also chat with collegues that don't you regularly work with, getting to know much people if often good.
- The coffee machine or other places where people wait together are perfect places to chat up. If you don't drink coffee, there's probably hot water to make thee or soup, or hot chocolate. Take your time to look for a cup, a spoon, some milk and in the mean time see if there's a conversation going on that you can join.
- Each company and organisation within a company has its own unique "culture".
- This culture is basically a mixture of written and unwritten policies related to things such as quality, efficiency, communication and even social and cultural things. These are not entirely unlike unwritten social rules.
- Members of the organisation are consciously and unconsciously evaluated by how well they follow these policies.
- People who fit in with the culture become highly valued and are often given a bit of leeway in the way they are permitted to work.
- People who don't fit in often suffer, no matter how good a worker they otherwise are, or how much they have achieved for their employer.
- If you find yourself in the latter situation and unable to break out of it, you might consider seeking another job rather than letting your work record and self esteem suffer. These things are much more important than they may at first seem.
- There are companies such as Google and Microsoft that have cultures that are dominated by autistic spectrum people. These companies are mostly in industries that autistic spectrum people excel at, such as the software industry.
- The culture itself can ruin a company or organisation when it has to adapt to external forces which often makes culture of great concern to boss's themselves.
- Autistic people are often exceedingly good at customising their environment to suit their particular day to day wants and needs, however:
- Rearranging the workplace is often a dangerous thing to do, even if the changes lead to significant ongoing net profits for the employer. Bosses often simply won't see the connection.
- It is usually the boss's job to govern the way an organisation operates. Rearranging the workplace without their approval can be seen as a challenge to the pecking order. See the section about "confidence" for more on this.
- All changes cause a temporary reduction in efficiency and quality while they are being implemented. Bosses hate this, and it is why change is often frowned upon.
- Bosses often hire other companies for exorbitant amounts of money to implement change properly. If a boss realises that a worker has saved them having to do this, then this can lead to a boost in the value placed in that worker, however the worker will rarely see any of the exorbitant amounts of money.
- Having realised this, it is easier and more profitable for a boss to accept credit for the change himself while rewarding the worker in less monetary ways. It is a boss's job to manage change after all, and credit and blame will naturally fall into their laps.
- It is best to negotiate any benefit, bonus or pay rise BEFORE making a regular practice of implementing change, but don't expect to receive it without asking, or without having a track record of making good changes well.
- Changes can often lead to less work, but no change will ever lead to working less, unless it is by being fired. A job in this society will always require doing tasks, whether it is necessary for survival or not.
- Given all of this, it is often easier to simply not attempt to rearrange the workplace, and to just hunker down and do your best to ignore the stupidities happening around you.
- If you use the last rule, be glad that there are people stupid enough to give people money to do silly things.
- Rearranging your own workspace is often OK, so long as it isn't detrimental to your work or the work of others. Don't light camp fires in your cubicle.
- Beware that the greater the changes to your workspace, the less someone else will be able to work in it. This can make eccentric people less replaceable, but bosses will often start trying when they realise this. Rogue workers tend to scare bosses.
- If you find that you are constantly thinking of better ways to do business in your workplace, you may be better off in a research and development profession.
Formal Employment Termination Proceedings
- Some large employers allow employees to respond to formal accusations before deciding whether to fire them.
- If this happens, the people making the allegations will be different from the ones doing the firing.
- Employers that do this usually allow employees to apply for other jobs within the company, and this may be the best thing to do if you succeed in refuting the allegations since the underlying problems that caused the accusations in the first place will still be there, and will have to be resolved if the situation is to stabilise.
- In such cases, always consult with people you know and trust within the company before making any decisions. These things happen to more people than it may at first seem, but people don't often talk about it.
- You may have union representatives too and these are normally people you can talk to about this, but if they are part of your workplace, beware that they may be part of the problem and as such, may have conflicting interests. In such cases it may be possible to talk with other union representatives from the same union.
- One good reason to follow procedure and formally respond to the accusations is that simply quitting without doing so usually results in a bad employment record.
- If you plan to defend your job, respond to the allegations that are easiest to disprove first and the ones that are hardest last. If you can succeed in exposing the malice in the easy ones, then the hard ones will need less, if any convincing.
- Always get someone you trust to proof read your response. It needs to be as consise, clear and convincing as possible.
- In all cases, avoid letting your boss, workmates and employer know that you're looking for another job or that you're going to quit until you do. Otherwise satisfactory jobs can turn bad this way.
Choosing a profession
Research and Development
- It is necessary to understand that the research and development professions that autistic spectrum people often excel at have some far reaching ethical problems associated with them.
- Research and Development are fundamentally different kinds of work from other jobs. They are largely acts of invention.
- Inventions are patentable and employers will often receive patents for the inventions of their workers.
- Furthermore, employers own all "intellectual property" their workers develop during working hours by default, legally.
- Workers who do research and development are usually paid in wages and rarely become financially secure.
- XXX Netscape.
- People who want to patent their own inventions or own their own "intellectual property" usually have to support themselves financially while researching and/or developing those things.
- Once a worker finishes an R&D job, the worker in question is no longer relevant to the invention. This means that unless the worker receives an income from owning patents or intellectual property, another source of income will then be necessary.
- Until an R&D project is finished, there is usually very little to show for the work done. This is a major cause of conflict in R&D workplaces.
- For example, when such projects keep missing their deadlines and budgets, deadly serious "blame games" usually start occurring.
- Just as a bell cannot be unrung, an invention cannot be uninvented, and inventions seem to have the innate quality of being usable for just as much evil as good.
- XXX Einsteins only error.
- XXX Computers shortening the working week.
- XXX Plato's Republic.
- One of the most XXX things you will ever have to do as an expert is to have to stand in front of your peers who you are trying to teach something to and then realise that you need to ask them questions.
Highly Skilled Labour
- Highly skilled yet non R&D jobs are also jobs where autistic spectrum people can excel.
- Such jobs are usually high stress and carry a lot of responsibility. Take note bipolar people.
- They are often harder to get than less skilled labour jobs and as such, represent a deeper commitment which, again, is a problem for bipolar people.
- They may involve knowing a lot of workplace specific knowledge and as such, not permit time off to address personal issues. This can also happen in R&D jobs.
- They often also include interacting with people who have little time for communication problems.
- They often also include working closely in a team which may or may not include other autistic spectrum people.
- Manual labour can be good exercise and has its health benefits.
- Manual labour jobs are usually easier to get, get used to, and quit.
- On the other hand, manual labour usually requires much more diligence than highly skilled labour.
Managing your own business
An internet business may be the autistic persons financial salvation. On the internet you don't need to interact with people face to face to make money. A good internet business for an autistic person would be selling on ebay. You can invent things to sell on ebay putting up websites that earn money via adsense and affiliate marketing. Beware that this kind of business has become more difficult in the last years because a lot of people started one.
Building websites and computer programming are not recommended unless you want to work like a dog for 2.00 an hour. As most other businesses, software development requires face-to-face communications, for example to acquire new customers. Many customers would like to know you personally or even demand that you work at their place so that they can control your work easier. In addition, website development has made its way out of the "garage" into professional business in the last 10 years. Projects are now much more interwoven with the real world - and real people and their businesses - than in earlier years. You will probably spend as much time talking to customers and their business partners as with coding. And you'll have to talk to other web developers - most software that can be developed by a single person has already been developed. Real projects most likely will require teamwork.
Another offline business that would work well for autistic people are things like window washing. It may be difficult to acquire corporate contracts unless you are willing to do it very cheap.
- Beware the jobs and professions that require significant investments of time, energy or money to get into. If you want to leave them, those investments can be wasted or hold you back.
- When all is said and done, the job that you enjoy doing most is probably the best one to have.
Dealing with Bipolar Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder is a mood disorder that can ruin the lives of even non-autistic people.
- Autistic spectrum people are much more likely than non-autists to have it.
- It is a progressive disorder with a genetic basis that is usually first triggered by traumatic experiences. It may then progress from amplified mood swings that become wilder, to spontaneous mood swings which come closer and closer together.
- Stress and commitment usually makes the disorder progress.
- Like autism, it can have its creativity benefits.
- Like autism, there is no cure, and treatment has its health risks and occasionally makes things worse.
- Like autism, it is said that the best way to treat it is to understand it.
- Like autism, progress has been made in recent years that many practitioners have not caught up with yet.
- If you think that you might be bipolar, it is much better to address it sooner than later, because this disorder does not regress.
- This section does not constitute medical advice. Not only are there medical and medicinal treatments but support groups, books and plenty of researched information on the web to help.
Understanding the Western World
NOTE: This section is based on the works of w:John_Taylor_Gatto, which in turn are based on documented history. He writes very well on this subject and is well worth reading. In particular I recommend visiting his website JohnTaylorGatto.com, and googling for transcripts of the following of his speeches since they are not on that site.
John Taylor Gatto google queries
- Six Lesson Schoolteacher.
The Compulsory School System
- This section is a brief summary of the information JTG talks about, since the following sections build upon them.
- The first known public schools were created by the pre-Sumerian peoples to create more time & general efficiency for adults so that they could partake in a larger society without overworking or becoming worn out. This extra time & new interconnected social system allowed for more successful engineering, weapon construction & war waging.
- The compulsory school system has largely evolved from ideas to build a society that were first articulated 2400 years ago in "Plato's Republic".
- Plato's Republic reasons that to make a society work best, peoples family and community links need to be broken so that society becomes their family and their community.
- Furthermore, it reasons that people need to specialise even in certain undesirable professions that are necessary for a society to work.
- These basic concepts were finally implemented in such a way that they actually worked by the Prussian monarchy, and adopted in the US in the 1850's.
- The way that the concepts are currently implemented are as follows:
- Make school compulsory. This has the effect of demonstrating to the child and the parents that the state is a more powerful influence in the child's life than the parent.
- Divide children by age and ability so that no lasting friendships form.
- Occupy the child's time with boring things with little meaning for the first few years so that the child doesn't develop an interest in learning, or loses whatever interest they have. Above all, make the easy look hard.
- Make it difficult for children to question authority. Make them raise hands to ask a question. All decisions are final.
- Make children compete amongst themselves for marks and for the teachers favour.
- Since the children with the highest marks have a demonstrated ability to do as they are told, they are permitted to advance into higher learning.
- The people that higher learning churns out are indoctrinated into professions that have their own checks and balances to make sure that practitioners don't stray too far out of government control.
- The desired and produced effect of this is that the school system churns out children who are workforce, citizenship and consumer ready, not because they know how to work, but because they are predictable, willing to obey orders, loathe to question and don't have the life skills to escape the situation.
The Implications for Autistic People
Developing Social Learning Skills
In the opening sections of Marc Segar's book, he explains that always looking for new things to think about is something he has found to be a successful technique. This seems to be related to the repetition of thought thing he mentions. This triggered memories of ending up in closed logic loops and having to develop techniques for getting out of them. Just thinking about other things never actually solved the problem, so returning to them with new approaches was necessary, and in that respect, I disagree with Marc Segar. This is followed up by other useful tricks for self development I have had to use. JWM.
- In all likelihood, you may be your own best teacher.
- To get the best out of your self education, it is probably necessary to adopt certain attitudes and behaviours that best enable you to research and study better ways to deal with the world.
- The habit of spending time thinking things through is often quite useful, but it's easy to waste that time trapped in logic loops.
- If you realise that you are trapped in such a loop, then questioning and testing the logic can help. You can learn a LOT from doing this.
- If it is not possible to test the logic, then finding something else to think about for a while is probably better than wasting your time.
- The basic method behind developing anything such as an invention, a product, an idea or a recipe for a really great cup of coffee is to repeat through the different phases of a Development Cycle.
- The phases of the development cycle are: design -> build -> test -> post-mortem.
- To make a recipe for a really great cup of coffee start by making or obtaining a basic one (design), then make a cup (build), taste it (test), then find something that isn't really great about it (post mortem). Change the recipe to make it better (design) and repeat until you have a really great cup of coffee. The recipe should now be for a really great cup of coffee.
- These steps may seem rather obvious, but it is very easy to lose track of where you are in this cycle when developing more complex things such as rules to live life by. Skipping steps in the cycle or not doing them properly often ends up in wasting lots of time. Also, shortening the time taken for a step while still performing it properly allows development to occur at a faster pace.
- The "scientific method" is very similar to the development cycle, but where the development cycle applies to practical things, the scientific method applies to theories. The scientific method is better described in other places and is therefore beyond of this book.
- The "reduction algorithm":
- Having figured something out, it is often possible to learn even more by eliminating the irrelevant from what you have learned and dissecting the rest to its simplest possible components.
- Those smaller components are often more applicable to radically different aspects of life, and are also much easier to explain and to prove to other people.
- Knowing a few broadly applicable rules in life is much easier than knowing lots of complex ones.
- Putting up with things you don't have to put up with usually wastes yet more time.
- It's fair to say that "hyperfocusing" on solving social interaction problems is destructive to the process of learning about social interactions. Example follows: XXX
- Taking the perspective that "nobody ever does anything without a reason" helps a great deal when trying to understand people.
- Running away from threats can mean surviving, but possibly running forever.
- Running into threats can mean suffering serious loss.
- Keeping a safe distance from threats can mean gaining the opportunity to study them.
- Take pains to find and fix your mistakes. Apologise for errors with a straightforward, unashamed manner without apologising for yourself. You are not your mistakes.
- Accept criticism with sincere thanks, regardless of how it is offered.
- Gratitude is your best weapon against sarcastic comments and rudeness.
- When you criticize incorporate a compliment into your statement with optional humor. This is better than lying or being evasive. Example, "You have a wonderful sense of musical phrasing. I didn't even notice that you kicked me twice. Can we dance again?"
- Show interest in a calm way.
- Cultivate an easy manner.
- Do not pretend to be all-knowing. If you don't know what they're talking about and want to talk to them, your ignorance is valuable. Admit you don't know what the conversation is about, but you are curious.
- Trying to memorise rules and remember them later is probably not the best thing to do. A way that seems to work better is to try to reason on them and leave it till a later date for them to show their worth.
- If life isn't like falling off a log, you're probably doing something wrong.
- Note: This section is deliberately brief. It represents an attempt simply to list the survival strategies available. It may take form at some future point. As always, feel free to add anything. JWM.
Regression and Seclusion
- Lots of autistic spectrum people use this technique when life gets to them.
- Find safe accommodation. If this is going to be with other people, you need to be prepared to communicate with them and pay attention to their needs.
- Reduce all face to face human contact and living expenses to their bare minimums.
- Optionally, use your problem solving skills to raise your living standards on the cheap.
- To get the best from this method, it is best to take stock of the resources (financial, human and otherwise) available to you and to find ways to preserve them. This is better done sooner than later, but can be quite difficult if depression is an issue.
- Plenty of time to re-evaluate life, develop marketable skills and rebuild self esteem.
- Isn't really an option for school age autistic spectrum people unless homeschooling also is.
- Lack of face to face human contact can end up being quite depressing in the long term, and doesn't help develop social skills at all.
- This method can also be a trap. If you regress to a point where you lose social skills you once had, it can be much harder to rejoin society. There is a growing number of young people in Japan who are in this situation.
- Get socially involved in clubs, groups or communities that promote your passions. It's a good bet that other autistic spectrum people will be there.
- Interests such as science fiction, fantasy, gaming, anime, cartoons, information technology that is cutting edge or experimental and autism itself are good examples of this, as is any interest that is considered "geeky".
- You may find the experience more enjoyable if you read #Suggestions for Autistic Spectrum community building.
- You get to socialise in a more fulfilling way since the ground rules of any particular interest are usually very clear, and all you have to do to get respect is be good at promoting the interest in question.
- You get to see that you aren't really damaged for thinking the way you do.
- You get to see that life has the potential to be much deeper and more interesting than it seemed to be capable of.
- The self esteem you get from more worthwhile interactions can be enough to help you survive the less worthwhile ones.
- Groups of autistic spectrum people tend to attract non-autistic people who usually have ulterior motives. Or rather, motives they usually don't declare up front.
- Non-autistic people may get involved to become more proficient in the interest itself.
- Non-autistic people may get involved to learn more about people who share the interest.
- Non-autistic people may get involved to learn more about somebody else who is autistic spectrum.
- Non-autistic people who will probably be "superficially charming" may get involved for the particularly nasty purpose of "trolling". This is a well developed form of bullying.
- Something worth knowing about Trolls is that learning how to deal with them is a good way to train the senses.
- Eventually you realise that autistic spectrum social problems apply to autist social situations too, despite the fact that autist to autist communication is easier.
- Autism as an interest tends to put things in stark reality. There are good things and extremely bad things about autism as an interest. My current explanation for this is that there seem to be very few ground rules, and too many differing agendas.
Avoiding Social Situations
- A lot of the historical autistic spectrum figures who found success in pursuing their passions seem to have been following this strategy.
- Avoid social interactions that don't promote your goals in life.
- Learn the body language of someone who wants to stop interacting so that few difficult situations arise.
- If people you don't like are persistent in interacting with you, make sure they receive no pay off from doing so, so that they eventually give up.
- Respect from other people will be easier to attain if you are good at what you do.
- This seems to be a good compromise between seclusion and full on social interaction.
- This pretty much requires active pursuit in a passion or interest to work.
- Building a reputation purely on your abilities tends to make people believe that you're socially adept too.
Imitating Non-Autistic Behaviour
It should be noted that, if you are going to imitate non-autistic thought or behaviour, always give yourself time to be you. Be sure you give yourself time and space to just be yourself and not worry about pretending.
- Read about rules of social interaction, and about how to learn what they are yourself. This is what most of Marc Segar's book appears to be about, and what part of this book is about.
- Works very well for the basics. Perhaps it is in part because non-autistic people keep them in the back of their minds too.
- Flat out doesn't work for anything more than the basics. Figuring out what the rules are and when to use them is just one problem. The rules are endless and non-autistic people appear to estimate them within appropriate limits on the fly.
- Pretending to be non-autistic for too long can be detrimental to your health, self-confidence and well-being. Give yourself set times and places where you can be yourself.
Imitating Non-Autistic Thought
- In retrospect, it strikes me that this seems to be what Marc is trying to get at when he refers to "plot".
- Learn everything you can about how non-autistic people think and learn. They learn moment to moment. Read about w:Monotropism monotropism/polytropism and what Marc Segar has to say about "plot" and imitate non-autistic thought processes in all social situations involving non-autistic people.
- Learn about their priorities in life too, but avoid imitating the social status game unless you want life to become needlessly interesting. Use the second commandment instead. I have found the things in the "non-autistic thought processes" and "visualising social interaction" sections satisfactory in these regards.
- Most of the things in the non-autistic world make a lot more sense when knowing where they're coming from.
- Body language appears to make much more sense "naturally" too.
- Done correctly it seems to work fairly well in gaining some equality, but most non-autistic people seem to find people who can otherwise interact well but who are unwilling to play the social status game creepy, amongst other things.
- Can feel un-natural, superficial and boring. It's rather necessary to have some kind of pay off to make this work.
- Mastering the art of thinking according to "plot" means that it is possible to BEGIN learning the way non-autistic people do. At this point, it becomes a game of "catch up".
- Time spent imitating non-autistic people is time that could be spent in other forms of self development that can lead to a more fulfilling life.
Educating Others About Autism
- Learn everything you can about the differences and similarities between autistic and non-autistic people. Although there are many different theories and new ones all the time, nobody seems to know the exact differences yet, so be prepared to develop and share your own perspective on these things.
- Avoid falling into the trap of believing autism is a handicap if at all possible, and if you can achieve that, avoid letting others do so too.
- Avoid falling into the trap of thinking that all autistic people are exactly the same as you. Each autist experiences life differently. There are as many "types" of autism as there are autistic people. It is often called a spectrum disorder for a reason.
- Non-autistic people have difficulty getting outside an acquisitive cost/benefit frame. Even when they know you have autism, they will not necessarily be able to get outside this frame. They will often believe (sometimes rightly, sometimes wrongly) that their problems are as great as yours. Many of them strongly dislike supporting others without getting something at least as great in return.
- Non-autistic people have difficulties making transitions from causal explanations to normative conclusions. They will often continue to view a perfectly good reason as just an excuse.
- Can mean deepening the friendship with the person you disclose to and perhaps gaining a little relief.
- This pretty much implies disclosing being autistic spectrum. Marc Segar writes about the implications in his guide in the "coming clean" section and others have too.
Getting a Diagnosis
- Get an appropriate diagnosis or re-diagnosis.
- Claim any available government assistance.
- The assistance available may be worthwhile.
- It's good to know you are not delusional.
- The assistance available may not be worthwhile and many nations do not offer any assistance at all.
- Once you have a diagnosis, people may lose interest in your development, given current perceptions about autism, and your self esteem tends to suffer. These are _not_ good things for the wellbeing of young people.
Knowing Your Rights
- Knowing your rights can help you in all official business, such as in dealing with government authorities, legal authorities, educationan providers, health insurances, employers. Issues can include admission/application and non-discrimination, getting support and understanding, and getting help when needed. For example, what if you are witness in a legal court and struggle understanding language literally, and may not remember faces of other witnesses? This is an area where you can constructievly help everyone, including yourself in an for the situation appropriate matter.
Equal Rights Activism
- The core of an equal rights perspective is the claim that a systematically disadvantaged group is suffering from structural oppression.
- It involves advancing claims that certain things should be provided, or recognised as rights, which are not universally recognised as such today.
- A person with this orientation will usually find the bulk of information available unhelpful. They will choose to focus on accounts written by autistic people which express indignation at mistreatment.
- Groups of this kind are usually organised through web forums and e-lists.
- Seeing a structural cause of the problem raises self-esteem.
- Research has shown that social movements make participants feel empowered.[]
- Participants believe they are addressing the real causes of various problems, whereas other strategies adapt to an unjust context.
- Can lead to judging non-autistic people too quickly.
- Tends to produce a defensive reaction in non-autistic people, and in autistic people who are well-integrated into the current system.
- Negative reactions to advocacy can be a source of stress.
- Can be frustrating due to the lack of rapid, demonstrable successes.
- Social movements can be internally acrimonious.
- Anger against non-autistic people might be better directed at powerful actors who treat all human beings badly, and are unconcerned about human life except for its marketable qualities.
- Critics view such activism as distracting from concrete life-goals and as a waste of time.
Suggestions for Autistic Spectrum community building
- Auties may seek the company of other auties for many reasons. Common reasons are wanting to socialise, to develop social skills, to address personal quality of life issues or simply to communicate with each other vocationally.
- Know what it is that you're trying to accomplish by entering the community, stick to your goals and let others go about accomplishing theirs.
- Know your w:MBTI type. Many of the major autistic spectrum sub-groups some people insist on seeing can be attributed to this, and many of the battle lines in conflicts are drawn along their borders.
- Above all, try your absolute best to remain constructive, even when people around you are not. And although you should never reward bad behaviour, it's best to never over-react.
- Unwritten social rules can be broken into two groups. Ones regulating destructive behaviour, and ones regulating eccentric behaviour. XXX Insert Relationship Building Skills Comment Here XXX The eccentric behaviour rules can usually be dropped in autie social circles, but when the destructive behaviour rules are dropped, things can turn very bad.
- If you are the leader of a community, think very carefully about the rules you choose. Autistic spectrum people in general usually measure everything in terms of equality/equity and are often unforgiving.
- KNOW that the words "mature" and "develop" do not apply to autistic spectrum people the way they apply to non-autistic people. A non-autistic person "develops" and an autistic spectrum person "learns social skills". In the same way, a non-autistic person would have to "learn" in whatever field of interest an autistic spectrum person "develops".
- Separating the "person" from their "behaviour" is a good tool in trying to work out who someone is.
- If you are lucky enough to be in a successful relationship, be careful what you say and do regarding it in autie social circles.
- This cannot be stressed enough. Public displays of affection and innuendo between lovers is a major cause of ill feeling and conflict in autistic spectrum circles.
- Many of us are not in worthwhile relationships and despair at ever being able to find one and unless you are willing to open up and share large amounts of personal information, you are likely to invoke bad feelings by flaunting what you have.
- Don't try to get away with it by being discreet or by saying it gives hope to certain people. Most auties KNOW how much hope there is and are smart enough to decipher your discretion. What irks people is that they simply don't know what it is that makes a worthwhile relationship work and that other people are rarely willing to share. Furthermore, being direct about this issue exposes one to ridicule, even in autistic spectrum circles.
- If you try to use your success to raise your social status amongst auties, expect pain. Many auties simply cross people who do that off their "people worth talking to" list. Nastier and more confusing reactions are common. Particularly when that doesn't work.
- If you feel like disclosing to other people intimate details for educational purposes but fear the consequences, consider doing so anonymously. Your contribution will surely be valued even if you resort to doing this.
- Don't insist that people change in any particular way that seems to have been successful for other people. Different people measure success in different ways, and doing so when someone is unwilling or unable to see the benefit contributes to a lack of TRUST that is extremely valuable in teacher/student relationships.
- It's important to understand that there are good reasons why an autie may ignore advice from others, even though they may complain openly about their current situation. Many of us have experienced varying levels of success according to the NT definition but have not found any value in doing so.
- Successfully adapting to an NT world leads to serious quality of life issues for many auties. Putting large amounts of valuable energy into surviving the social status game when there is little to nothing in the way of pay off except promise is depressing. Particularly if one realises that ones effort in life has been largely wasted or misused by others.
- If you feel the need to help another autie, it's often best to just find out what it is they want/need and offer help to achieve that if you feel you can.
- Avoid forming fixed notions of what autism is at all costs. This is another leading cause of disputes within autistic spectrum communities.
- To understand what autism IS, one must realise that it has largely been defined as simply being different to people who aren't autistic.
- Yes, there are certain common characteristics that many autistic spectrum people seem to share and that many non-autistic people don't. This doesn't mean that all auties are the same or that some auties are more worthy of speaking for other auties.
- Auties who have experienced NT life often bring their survival behaviours and "baggage" back into the autie world. It is true that this is not helpful, but throwing them out because of this isn't helpful either.
- Give up the idea of organising the "autistic community". There may be communities of autistic spectrum people, but there is no autistic community. This should come as no surprise if you understand that "the average autie" is very wary of being controlled.
Most countries contain schools which follow the Taylor-model of education originally created for factory floors- regularized recesses, lunches, bathroom breaks, periods with bells herding students from one room to the next, and etc. This makes the autist's ability to survive in heavily regimented environments crucial for survival. Additionally, as stated above, these schools do not run with the optimization of quantity/quality learned as paramount but instead prioritize a mix of learning and the implementation of that society's unwritten rules. Hence, much work in school is designed to be more a test of the students' capacity for completing mandatory tasks in a timely manner than to actually contribute to the student's intellectual development. Therefore, one must avoid being discouraged at the increasing amounts of seemingly inane work, acknowledging that the school system's twin missions of imparting knowledge and norms can sometimes contradict in absurd ways.
Social interactions at school also promote norms. The age, and increasingly, ability of a student are used to segregate the student into groups within which the student is given large amounts of time explicitly (recess breaks) and implicitly (in class or in group discussions) to form social bonds.
- This section is where I often dump thoughts I believe could aid in the development of this guide. They are not well thought out.
- This problem is much, much deeper than it at first looks.
- You will not get a substantial break from people by explaining the problem.
- You will not get substantial information from people unless you get truthful answers from well thought out questions.
- With the rise of the internet and technology, aspie traits are proving useful to people and because of that, accommodations are often made for odd behaviour which may lead many autistic spectrum people to believe that things are getting better, which they are not, or that they don't have a social skills problem at all.
- The creative nature of autism does not actually improve peoples lives in the way that some autistic spectrum people believe. People still have to work the same amount of time as they did hundreds of years ago in circumstances that are just as stressful and demeaning, whether it's doing a job manually or with machines that multiply productivity and people usually still have to pay to receive most of the things that autistic people contribute to society.
- The impression people seem to have of autistic people in successful careers is one of wealth and success who are just as much players in the pecking order as anybody else.
- The impression people seem to have of autistic people who aren't, is that of someone who is mentally ill and that of being a dead weight to society.
Autists vs non-autists
- Autistic people can "connect" if they have common interests. Outside of that, the communication problems can be just as difficult as between autists and non-autists.
- It is possible for autists and non-autists to "connect" as long as both parties can compensate for each others communication weaknesses.
- The work required by both parties to get to this point can be enough of a mind bender to make it difficult for a person to be able to communicate with their own kind if they make habits of the communication techniques that make this possible.
- Non-autistic people tend to learn by example and memorise by rote repetition.
- Autistic people learn by being able to find accurate visualised representations of the lesson, and gain faith in those visualisations by seeing them work in action.
- Non-autistic people tend to get all aspects of social interaction 50-99% right all the time.
- Autistic people can get aspects 100% right or 200% wrong, yet rarely, if ever will an autistic person be able to achieve 50% of all of them.
- Non-autistic people seem to make a game of judging each other by how close they get to 100% (see section on confidence). This may be at least part of the reason that it is difficult to get explanations out of non-autistic people. It can be seen as an attempt to cheat the game.
Random, as yet unstructured thoughts
- It is necessary to let some negative emotions "radiate". If you don't permit yourself to do this sometimes, things can reach a boiling point and explode inappropriately.
- Nice Guy Syndrome: XXX
- Although autistic people seem to be incapable of reading the emotions of others, the emotions they express are VERY readable by others. The confusion others have in reading those emotions are in the fact that the emotions often don't make sense. This is true in reverse too.
- Fear and aggression are emotions that are communicated across species, and between autistic and non autistic people. They are "reliable emotions".
- The relationships between sociopaths and autists, and sociopaths and non-autistics are likely to be worth exploring.
- Suicide was once a crime in many parts of the world.
- Assisting suicide is still a crime in many parts of the world.
- Driving a person to suicide has never been a crime legally in some countries.
- Why do people respect peoples graves more than their lives?
- Why do scientists ask "are we alone" when human communication has such barriers?
- In science fiction stories, why does it virtually always become very clear very quickly whether the aliens are friendly or not?
Chapters which might not yet fit in the book
I found out that I was an aspie at the age of 30 and although the initial experience was enjoyable because it explains a lot that has happened in life, it has not made much difference to my quality of life since people would still treat me as less important despite the effort I made to contribute positively to other peoples lives.
My first reaction was "OK, now you know you have to explain things to me verbally and literally. Get it? Good." This simply doesn't work in the real world. I then tried a succession of new strategies that were designed to force some sort of communication with the people around me. This only succeeded in upping the ante invested in the problem. The main strategy I had going was to find my less than useful habits and one by one expunge them from my system in favour of something new. In retrospect, this was "regression" and I think it was a good way to deal with the issues in the long run.
I finally decided to solve the problem once and for all by facing my communication issues head on. I planned to do this by bypassing the people around me who all seemed to be rather crazy and by going to pubs at the end of the week to try to develop my social skills with "fresh blood", but found that with each new hard learnt skill the problem just kept getting deeper and deeper. Furthermore, I found that with each mistake, more and more people would avoid me, and people would have a much lower tolerance for bad social skills.
At this point, I rethought the strategy and decided to seek information from the web. Realising that there was plenty of information about autism from a non-autistic perspective, I went looking for information that autistic spectrum people could use, finding nothing but a handful of advertisements for books, and to Marc Segars Survival Guide.
His book contains such detailed and useful information that it astounds me that a person could learn what he did in 23 years, let alone my 35, and I despair to learn that he has died. Yet I found that his approach triggered memories of my childhood and how I had developed certain thought processes that had helped me to learn and survive family, school and work life, albeit badly.
After much research and study, even with the limited resources available, I began to realise that the non-autistic thought processes are far more complex than people make them out to be and there is in fact a great yawning gap in human knowledge about it. Yet there is a great deal of consistency in it too.
So, armed with some basic factoids, much of which had been gleaned from reading between the lines of non-autistic peoples comments about autistic spectrum people, I set about figuring out exactly what it is that non-autistic people are doing. My new strategy included watching the social interaction in drama and in reality TV. This was a much more fruitful strategy. By Big Brother Australia 2006, I was successfully predicting the outcome of every interaction. The sections on "self confidence" are the culmination of this.
People say that it wasn't an accident that killed Marc Segar at all and that he committed suicide. I have no trouble believing that this may be true. His entire passion in life must have been in hammering his way through this concrete mountain that separates non-autistic people from autistic spectrum people. When he "got there" he must have been exasperated at the disinterest and negative reactions he received from those he was writing for.
In many ways this book is as much for my benefit as anybody elses. The lessons I've learned in life are too hard to learn and too easy to forget.
- Marc Segar: A survival guide for people with Asperger's Syndrome
- Chinese medicine - how it works
- ESR's sex tips for geeks
- OKCupid - socially explicit and geek-friendly dating website (it's free, be careful of literal interpretation though), encourages written communication
- Guide to Social Activity
- Aspies Book
- Dutch translation of original survival guide
- German translation of original survival guide
- Portuguese translation of original survival guide
- BBC Relationships Website
- 29 Marbles blog: "Thoughts on autism and its impact on individuals and society"
Other survival guides
- Survival Strategies for People on the Autism Spectrum by Marc Fleisher
- Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships by Dr Temple Grandin and Sean Barron
- Scott Adams "The Dilbert Principle", Chapter 14: "Engineers, Scientists, Programmers, and Other Odd People"
- Dale Carnegie "How to Win Friends and Influence People"