I really would like to be in a relationship. I know it is not impossible for an aspie to be in a relationship but I am27 years old and Never have. I am afraid that I will die first. Many people in my family that are younger that me are married with kids and I am jealous. I really don’t want to be jealous of people that I love. I have been very depressed lately because of loneliness and crave affection. ~Anonymous Aspie
Individuals on the autism spectrum aren’t any different than any other human being in desiring social interaction.
We human beings are designed to need connection.
However, individuals with autism and Aspergers have different neurology that makes social relating very challenging.
Aspies can break up with social frustration by following certain solutions. Tweet This!
I’ve selected autism spectrum books to help you make and keep friends.
The Aspergers Brain Presents Social Challenges
Valerie L. Gaus, PhD, in her book, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Adult Aspergers Syndrome, posits social information processing challenges as the core difficulty.
Processing Information About Others
An Aspie struggles with processing information about others. In order to be able to communicate effectively, person A needs to be able understand person B’s points of view. An Aspie must be able to attend to and use social cues. And finally, the Aspie must be able to use language to expressive him/herself and to understand the messages that person B is communicating.
Processing Information About Self
One might say that Aspies are super-tuned to sights, sounds, and touch, even smell. (see the Intense World Theory at Wrong Planet). Because Aspies are so tuned to stimuli, those stimuli can be so intense that they hinder being able to form a clear sense of self, to understand and regulate one’s own emotions, and to navigate sensory-motor perception and overload.
Here Are Solutions to Overcome Social Challenges
Brush Up on the Basics
Basic Skills or Instrumental Skills are the building blocks of relationship. These skills include practices such as making eye contact, greeting with a handshake, smiling, taking turns, and starting a conversation. Hygiene and dress fall under this category as well.
As an Aspie, you may frown upon learning the basics. After all, you are probably of average or above average intelligence. The thing is, we all have our ‘blind spots.’ Remain open to learning new things from a social standpoint. After all, there are so many types of intelligence. Just because you don’t possess the social version of intelligence doesn’t discount all your other strengths.
So, for basics, here are the books you’ll want to purchase for your social learning library. Read them. Study them. Apply what you learn.
Emily Post’s Etiquette.
John Elder Robison purchased this book. It may sound ridiculous, but it’s not. This book contains all the do’s and don’ts of good manners. John found that when he started observing good manners, people suddenly started paying attention to him and accepting him. It works! Trust me.
Increase Your Fund of Knowledge About Social Norms
If you’re a young to middle aged adult, or older, chances are that you have already taught yourselves many of the instrumental skills. However, you may not be aware of some of the unspoken rules of social culture. Once you master your individual presentation skills, it’s important to realize that other people have expectations of themselves and you. Knowing what the social codes are will help you better react.
Dale Carnegie wrote this book almost a century ago, and it’s still one of the most popular books around.
This book outlines almost 400 unstated rules that operate in everyday situations. Review one a day and you’ll complete the book in just over a year.
Build On the Basics By Learning Dynamic Relationship Skills
Relationship skills, per Dr. Gaus, are those skills “that involve observing the social environment, rapidly processing emotional information, and then using it as a reference point for determining actions, all toward nurturing an ongoing relationship with another.”
That’s a mouthful.
According to a study quoted by Dr. Gaus, instrumental skills are not enough. They provide a beginning, an introduction. But you’ve got to be able to build on that foundation.
In order to learn dynamic relationship skills, I recommend that you check out Michelle Garcia Winner’s website, Social Thinking.
Ms. Garcia, a speech and language therapist, has made communication very easy to understand for neurotypical and Aspie individuals alike.
It’s important that you learn how your own brain works.
Inside Out: What Makes a person With Social-Cognitive Deficits Tick, and Thinking About You Thinking About Me will help you better understand your hardwiring and the communication process.
Dr. Jed E. Baker, psychologist, has written this and other helpful books for individuals on the autism spectrum. This book can help you learn to decode facial expressions and better understand social situations.
Brian R. King is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and an international consultant on the Autism Spectrum. Brian is the father of three sons on the Autism Spectrum, and his social work practice focuses exclusively on working with the Autism community. He and his wife are also on the Autism Spectrum. He resides in Chicago, IL.
As a professional and as an individual with Aspergers relating to his three sons who are also on the autism spectrum, Mr. King has received rave reviews for this book.
It’s never easy to learn something new. It may be frustrating to approach situations for which your brain isn’t naturally wired. And this frustration contributes to Aspergers relationship problems.
But all of us can learn new skills.
The books I’ve included in this post will help you develop both the instrumental and dynamic relationship skills you need to make and keep friends.
photo credit: Unlisted Sightings
Please share any other books I may have left out!
[wpp keyword=”aspergers relationships”]