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JaneFairlight
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20 Dec 2014, 5:13 pm

I would like a definition of who I am to be able to give to people. Whenever I attend a new church where I might be attending for awhile, people try to shake hands or hug. If I refuse then they will pat me. Most churches now have a greeting time when I have to leave and hide until it is over. I don't want to offend people. If I am going to be a part of a group for awhile I would like to be able to write a simple definition of what I am. I have all the intense sensitivities to lights, touch, noise, smell, crowds etc. I can't be touched. What do I share? I don't mind telling a group about myself in order to ease the opinions and expectations of others. Most folks would not be able to comprehend a long explanation nor do they want it. Since I can not even figure out the social issues I don't know what to say. I am 65 years old and have known about Aspergers for only a few years. I am still trying to understand who I am and how to live with it. I live with constant anxiety and depression, but I would like to be a part of some societies without giving offense. I feel if I could write or say a simple explanation it would be helpful



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27 Dec 2014, 10:53 pm

Because Aspergers is such a large spectrum and because there is so much misinformation I would leave the word Aspergers or Autism out of any conversations with people you are just meeting. I would limit it to particular issues such as I am light and touch sensitive.


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one-A-N
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27 Dec 2014, 11:27 pm

JaneFairlight wrote:
I would like a definition of who I am to be able to give to people.

It would be difficult to condense all you are down into a manageable piece of text. People will have to take time to get to know you.

However, an Australian "expert", Tony Attwood, suggested leaving out the term "Asperger's" or "autism" and making up a few sentences that fit the formula: "I am the sort of person who...." You might begin by saying "I am the sort of person who needed many years before I could understand myself. And what I have learnt is: I am the sort of person who is easily overwhelmed by sensory experiences that don't affect most people." Or maybe "I am the sort of person who is wired to feel sensations very intensely - where some people are blind or deaf, I am totally the opposite - very very sensitive to bright light, loud and sudden sounds, " etc. You don't have to explain everything up front, just enough to show that your brain is wired a bit differently to most other people. Most other people either won't know what Asperger's is, or will have some major misconceptions about it anyway.



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28 Dec 2014, 4:44 pm

Hmmm. If I say something like that, people will start coaching me, comforting me and giving me advice. If I say Aspergers, the will try to convince me otherwise.


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25 Jan 2015, 10:26 am

I'm the opposite - to me, nothing is more reassuring than a good hug. Giving a good hug is like holding a baby, adjusted for size. I recently realized that I'm very sensitive to body language, using it as a substitute for eye contact.
"Aspergers? - It's a mild form of Autism. You've heard of people having a screw loose upstairs? Well, there's a set of maybe two dozen screws, and if they are mostly loose, someone has a severe case and can't talk, etc. If only a few are loose, or several just a bit, that's Asperger's, but it is very different, depending on which ones."
One of my peculiarities is that after several repetitions, I can't abide the opening jingles of various entertainments, and have to mute them if I want the rest of the show.



muppetsruletheearth
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28 Jan 2015, 9:15 pm

Maybe social blindness?



Jensen
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29 Jan 2015, 4:32 am

I limit myself to: Social dyslexia, somewhat concrete thinking, a lower anxiety threshold and slightly different sensory experiences, - if I have to go into detail.
I try to explain it as a DIFFERENCE instead of dysfunction.


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07 Mar 2015, 3:24 am

I like to imagine the time when humans first took interests in flowers. They grouped them by color. One day, somebody pointed out that one red flower was undeniably different from another red flower. One could be diseased, they thought, and the blue ones have got it too. Let us fix the flowers. It took a very long time and many sacrificial flowers until humans figured out that it was the classification method that was wrong, not the different flower.

The human mind is a much greater challenge to understand than a flower. It will take some time to destroy the current and feeble human classification system.

I think of being an Aspie as just another race. It is just not shown in skin color.

If everyone with ASD had purple skin, the debate would be over.



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07 Mar 2015, 4:19 pm

Leave Asperger's and Autism out of the discussion. Most normal people don't understand it, and have the wrong ideas about it, so that wouldn't help. You don't really owe anyone a highly detailed definition, and they don't really want one. If necessary, just tell people that you like being with others, but have an extreme dislike of being touched. If you find yourself in a church or other setting where physical greetings are being expressed, fold your arms, or clasp your hands behind your back, and smile and bow or nod a little to the person you are greeting, and say something nice and appropriate to them. In church I would suggest saying something like, "God be with you" or, "God bless you." In a non church setting a non religious pleasantry would be more appropriate.

In thinking about it I think clasping the hands behind the back looks better than folding the arms. The arms folded posture might appear somewhat aggressive, or unfriendly. Go with the hands clasped behind your back. :D


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07 Mar 2015, 4:31 pm

We are certainly a varied lot, so I have to agree that the label may not help. I'd say that I love humanity, but can barely stand people, unless they are willing to hug.



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13 Mar 2015, 10:23 am

In a church setting, just letting people know your limitations should be fine. A simple, I'm sorry, I'm very sensitive and it hurts me to be touched, should suffice for most interactions. The sorry, for some reason, makes people more understanding, saying you are sensitive gives them a reason, so they don't have to ask why, and saying you are hurt is a simple, easy to understand feeling that they will be able to relate to. Most of the time, they will then apologize as well and you can say that it's alright and move on to other topics.
Some times people will want to 'fix' things and will give varied solutions, that are often less than helpful. Depending on how comfortable you are discussing this, you can simply say, I'm sorry, I'm already getting competent advice from a specialist trained to deal with my condition, it's not really something I'm comfortable talking about right now, I appreciate that you want to help me and I'm grateful for our friendship. Please try to understand.
As before, most of the time they will then apologize and you can just say that's ok and move on to other topics. I'm also a big fan of smiling and nodding.

It has been some time though, so I hope you were able to find something that worked for you and your situation.
Good luck and stay safe.



elysian1969
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13 Mar 2015, 11:29 am

There are only four people in my immediate circle who know (and understand) that I have Asperger's/ HFA other than my family Dr. at the time, my family Dr. now, and the psychologist who diagnosed me.

My Pastor and two friends at church, and my mother all know. It helps that my Pastor and the friends I mention have backgrounds in psychology and mental health. It was the most difficult to explain to Mom (who is bi-polar and has other mental health issues of her own) what HFA and hyperlexia are, and that those were the things that made me have that constellation of weird and seemingly unrelated issues when I was growing up. At first she couldn't believe that I have an ASD because as she said, "But you're not retarded." Once I got past explaining that autism and mental retardation don't always go together, and that autism is a spectrum disorder where some people can function better than others, she finally got to a point where she understood.

I have not even tried to explain HFA or hyperlexia to my husband or my son or my Dad. It would just be too complicated. There is no way I'd try to explain it to my supervisor or co-workers either. They just think I'm weird, and that's OK.

As far as unauthorized touching goes... I absolutely loathe strange people touching me. Physical touch under most circumstances gives me the creeps. Medical exams are sheer torture for me even though I understand what they need to do and why. I'm certainly not a hugger. It takes a whole lot of steeling up for me to hug people with whom I have some degree of intimacy, including family and close friends.

I've learned that in most social situations, and even at church (I will say from my own experience, most Lutherans are generally not the slap happy huggy-kissy types) a handshake is plenty. If that's too much to handle (and sometimes for me, that is) just claim you're suffering from an upper respiratory funk and most people will gladly keep their mitts to themselves.

I really don't want most of the people I have to deal with to know that I'm HFA. I'm the different one, so I'm the one that has to adjust when I'm navigating in their world. :heart: :skull:


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SocOfAutism
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17 Mar 2015, 9:52 am

"BUT YOU'RE NOT RETARDED"??? I'm sorry, I have to address this first. I would wait for your mom to make ANY proclamation about herself (I like birds; I have a cold; I'm happy today; whatever) and then follow it up with, "But you're not retarded?"

My mother is bi-polar so I understand, but still. I just had to vent about that.

OP: I would not give an official explanation, because, sorry to say this, I wouldn't expect people to understand.

If you really can't take ANY touch, I second the arms folded thing. If you think you can stand it though, I'd reach out FIRST and do a FIRM handshake. A firm handshake often feels less "creepy" for you and it's accepted for women to shake hands now. It's better than people trying to hug you anyway.

For the rest, I'd say, I have "very sensitive hearing and eyesight." Have you tried light earplugs, or those kinds of sunglasses that block out your side vision? I get migraines that make my eyes sensitive and it helps me to block out my peripheral vision.