Coping: A Survival Guide for People with Asperger Syndrome
- It may be known to you that the art of conversation is carried
out within a set of constraining rules.
- When people take part in a conversation, what they say
normally has to follow on from the last thing that was said. We
stick to the relevant so that the conversation flows smoothly.
- Be careful of stating the obvious. You may also wish to avoid
asking questions when you can work out the answer for yourself.
This way the conversation covers more useful ground.
- Try to avoid repeating yourself or rephrasing yourself when
you have already been understood. This may be rather difficult
because repetition of thought is quite fundamental to autism. The
same thoughts can go round and round 'obsessively' in your head.
If you have to go on talking about it, try to think up new
angles or different ways of puting it; better still, look for a
way of leading into a different subject. I take the approach of
always looking for new things to think about. This seems to have
been quite a successful move.
- There may be subjects that fascinate you and you really want
to talk about them. If your listerners' eyes look unfocused, or
they keep looking over your shoulder, they may be getting bored.
You can say 'Sorry I've been going on, it's a favourite subject of
- Also some people reply to things you say before even giving
you a chance to finish your sentence. However, if they have
anticipated you correctly then there is usually no need for you to
- If you say something that doesn't make sense to the people
around you they might get annoyed but will probably forgive you.
After all, everyone does this sometimes. Just don't do this too
- If there is something you need to say which is not relevant
but is important, for example 'Bob phoned for you today' or
'there's something I'd like to talk to you about which is worrying
me' it is best to find the suitable person when they're not having
a conversation. Try to find the right moment, get your
timing right. If you need to pass on a phone call
and think that you might forget if you are kept waiting too long,
just write it down and leave it by the phone.
- If what you need to tell them is vitally important for example
'Bob has just had a nasty knock on the head and is lying
unconscious', then you MUST interrupt their conversation.
- To join in a conversation you need to listen to it.
Listening can be extremely difficult, especially
if you have to keep your ears open 24 hours a day, but you can get
better with practice. The most important thing to listen to is the
plot of the conversation.
- Be on the lookout for eye contact from other people as it can
often mean they would like to hear your point of view.
- It is easier to listen if you don't make any assumptions or
pre-conceived ideas about what someone is going to say.
- Some topics of conversation are taboo
subjects and if you are in doubt they are sometimes
better left alone.
- When a conversation becomes emotional people often say things
like 'cheer up', 'it'll be all right', 'oh that's wonderful!' or
'well done!'. When you try to say these things they might sound
rather corny and sentimental at first but they serve the same
purpose as remembering to buy someone a birthday card. They serve
to open up the conversation and invite the other person to express
how they feel.
- Although it is often true that autistic people are better at
picking up details this is only when making a conscious effort to
do so and there may be great problems in picking up the
- Also getting absorbed into ones own head-space every other
moment can make it extremely difficult to 'learn things on the
trot' which is the way most non-autistic people are used to doing
- It might be difficult to join in a conversation if you don't
have the general knowledge which is needed. The problem with this
kind of knowledge is that there is no one source from which you
can find it out but here are some tips:
- General knowledge in conversations is usually about sport
(in the UK usually football), pop music, films, politics, the
media, TV, peoples computers, clothes, hobbies and going out.
It is however rare to find someone who is an expert on all of
- Many teenagers and young adults who are into music put more
emphasis on the pop stars than they do on the music they write.
Sometimes they even select their partners on the basis of who
they look like in the world of music or sport. Sometimes with
this type of person you just have to accept that you may not be
compatible and look for friends elsewhere.
- With reference to this last statement, sport (e.g.
football) can also be quite selective. Sport is often a highly
patriotic occupation in that people are friendly to each other
if they support the same team but argue with and confront all
those who support different teams.
- TV, radio, magazines, libraries, video libraries and
newspapers can help you learn about these topics. Also many
leaflets which can be found in magazines give you a list of all
the most popular albums, CDs and films. to force yourself to
learn about things which don't interest you, however, may be a
waste of time since you won't really want to join in with the
conversations about them.
- If you decide to teach yourself the general knowledge you
need in certain conversations it is important that you also try
to learn by listening to the conversations themselves, paying
special attention to famous people when they
are mentioned. This can make the learning process much faster.
- Picking up people's names can be a problem but it is very
important for topics of conversation involving famous people or
for following plots to films, books and especially to detective
- Picking up names of people you know personally may also be
difficult but it is not quite as essential as you might think. If
you remember not to ask someone's name more than two times and
after this if you still can't remember the name, to listen out for
the next time someone calls it, you can usually get away with
having a bad memory for names.
- It helps to remember names if you make a mental note linking
them with faces; for example thinking things like 'Sarah's the one
with the nose ring' or 'Bob 's the one with the moustache'.
Coping: A Survival Guide for People with Asperger
Getting the best from this
Looking on the bright side
Distortions of the truth
Humour and conflict
Sexually related problems and points about
Finding the right friends
Keeping a clean slate
Living away from home
Jobs and interviews
A Personal in depth analysis of the