Asperger’s Coping Mechanisms (3 part blog)
There are things in life that are rarely taught or talked about and for neurotypical people it seems they were just born with this knowledge. For those on the Autistic Spectrum (ASD) becoming self-aware, acquiring coping mechanisms and giving yourself thinking time to cope with situations that may arise means you can be less confused and feel more confident.
Remember that your perception of the world is a little different, it just means that your brain works differently. Not everyone works in black and white (all or nothing) most work in greys so it can be harder for them to empathise and understand if you appear to be obsessed or single-minded about something.
There are some books out there with guidance, but I’ve put together my own brief list as not everyone wants to read a book.
Here are some more tips to cope in society when you have Asperger’s
Feedback – Asking for feedback is one of the very best ways to become more self-aware and it will help you to tweak any behaviours that don’t quite give you the results you want. Many people are untrained in the art of giving feedback or evaluation so you may need to help them by coaching them. Tell them what you want to comment on. What did they observe? What was factually correct, what examples can they give, what recommendations do they have for corrective action or improvement? It’s a good idea to coach them to avoid using words like should, must, wrong, bad, awful, difficult, perception, and generalisations. They can’t speak for others and shouldn’t try to, it’s what a lot of people do to take the limelight off them so listen out for “we”…., it should be “I”….. They should just tell you their own personal observations and recommendations from their perspective.
Calendar – Everyone (neurotypicals or Aspergic alike) will have their own preference for scheduling and controlling their time and routine. It’s a common misconception that those on the Autistic Spectrum need a rigid routine and have a meltdown if it’s not stuck to rigidly. However, you might find comfort in a general framework to your life. Spontaneity and being flexible is a useful attribute to practise if it doesn’t come naturally. It can be very challenging working someone who never plans, always does things on the fly and it can make more work for you if you work closely with them, so working with them closely and their manager will hopefully help you to overcome this annoying problem. It won’t go away on its own.
You might need to have plenty of notice of an event, even if it’s as small as a family member coming round for a cup of tea. It might be that anything sooner than two weeks is too spontaneous for you. Try to find out what your most comfortable timescale is so that you can let others know how they can plan in events and meetings with you and whether you need a reminder every few days to help you feel comfortable with it. It takes away your stress and will assure others that you are co-operative and self-aware.
Travelling abroad – Doing homework is the best way to make your trip smooth and event-free. Some airports have 360 degree virtual tours, some airports (like Shannon, Ireland) have special baseball caps for Autistic people to wear (if they want) which will help the staff to be extra kind, careful and understanding of any anxieties that might be displayed.
Planning well in advance and ensuring you have printed out all your documentation the day before, have copies of important documents like Passports kept safe and told someone you trust back home your itinerary and contact numbers at hotels etc. This will give you peace of mind and make the travelling experience much less stressful. I always make a comprehensive list at least a week in advance so that I have time to collect everything together.
Be mindful to ask lots of questions when travelling to new cultures as misunderstandings can arise if assumptions are made about how to behave in society. What might be right in one country might not be in another.
Getting your message across – Self-awareness and self-improvement are the keys to unlocking coping techniques that work. Personal development is a very useful way to tap into your strengths and weaknesses (we all have them) and work on the things we’d like to improve upon. Get Your Message Across can help you do this, building your arsenal of skills for life. CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is often forced on people with Aspergers’ because there’s not a lot else out there to help. The key is to find something that works for you and that you can trust, and that you believe in. It’s like saying affirmations – you have to believe them otherwise they are pointless.
Sensory Sensitivity – see my other blog on this subject, as it so vast a subject, for my sensitivity and coping mechanisms.
Remember to read Asperger’s & Tips for Coping with Life #1 and #2 too
For upcoming classroom and online courses on improving your confidence or your communication skills, you can check out Sam’s website below. Sam also conducts coaching for friends and families of those with Asperger’s working on coping mechanisms and challenging behaviours, and life coaching to help with goal setting and accountability.
Sam Warner 07973 490150 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sam’s website: www.get-your-message-across.com