Nonviolent Communication (NVC) for Autism and Asperger's

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Joined: 5 Jun 2011
Gender: Male
Posts: 18

06 Jun 2011, 9:06 pm

I am a Nonviolent Communication (NVC) trainer, and I want to introduce myself and my work. I think NVC can be hugely useful for people on the autism spectrum. I have always known that I was significantly gifted, and for a year I have been working with therapists and my local Asperger's community to understand how I also have Asperger's. I think peace-building skills, conflict resolution, restorative justice, and NVC have been my "Aspie passion" for a long time.

I think Asperger's partially explains why I made such a concerted effort to learn the empathy skills of NVC. I have been studying NVC since 2003 and sharing NVC since 2006. I offer workshop series in Oakland, CA, described below. I realize that I want to have two parallel discussions. I want to reach out to people who might benefit from a new encounter with NVC, and I want to hear from people who have already worked with NVC books and trainers. For the new people, I want to recommend resources. For those who already had an encounter with NVC, I want to know what was or was not useful.

I saw some postings about NVC from a few years ago. I want to hear from people how they have tailored NVC to be useful for themselves. Most people have a process of sounding a bit robotic before they find their own voice as they try to integrate the language of feelings and needs.

I am continuing to develop a theory of how to make NVC more accessible to people with autism.
One key difference I use in teaching NVC to adults with Asperger's, and a change in my personal practice, is that I no longer focus on the distinction between feelings and thoughts. I get it at such a logical level, that I now take any clue I can get about what "feelings" mean to people. This can include metaphor, story, exaggeration like "abandoned" and "betrayed".

My first NVC weekend workshop in 2003, I asked "Isn't any past participle not a feeling because you are claiming somebody else made you feel that way?" The trainer didn't get my point, saying "hurt" and "frustrated" were real body emotions and different than the thoughts/narrative of what are called faux feelings like "abandoned".

I also often just skipped feelings and went straight to needs. Now that I realize it can be hard for me to connect with feelings, I often get to needs and then back-track to feelings.

The following is from the BayNVC website:

Foundations of NVC for Asperger Adults - 6 Week Series in Oakland, California
Monday, June 20, 2011 - Monday, August 1, 2011 (every Week, Mon)

Skip date: July 4th

How can the social skills practices of Nonviolent Communication serve a person on the Asperger spectrum? A combination of mini-lessons, live modeling, and active practice will help participants engage the foundations of NVC. Likely mini-lessons include key distinctions, definitions, and assumptions.

Likely practice topics include seeking full self-connection, using logical abilities to hear what is important to somebody, and developing authentic self-expression that is more likely to be well-received. Throughout the class, we will practice giving and receiving empathy and strategies to check-in for self-connection.

We will use the steps of NVC to approach three questions:

1) What are we talking about? (observations)
2) Why do I/you care? (feelings and needs)
3) What do I/you/we want to do about it? (requests and strategies).

Bob participated in BayNVC's Leadership Program in 2007 and assisted in 2008. His main career focus is supporting highly and profoundly gifted kids and their families. He has been working on integrating authenticity with gentleness and finding a personal style of NVC that works with intense preferences for effectiveness and rigor. Experiencing a resonance with many aspects of the Asperger spectrum, he was more community-diagnosed than self-diagnosed. Learning interests include understanding what comes from giftedness and what is related to Asperger's. Although he has offered many trainings, this is his second study series with a focus on adults on the Asperger spectrum.