anonymous asked:

Tuafw you say something trying to continue a conversation that you think is a perfectly good response to what's been said but I guess it's not coz it kills the conversation immediately everyone goes dead silent and stares at you and you're just there desperately trying to figure what was wrong about what you said and not entirely sure if you should apologize or not.

"it's easy" can make scary tasks scarier

When people are struggling or afraid to try something, well-meaning people often try to help them by telling them that the thing is easy. This often backfires.

For instance:

  • Kid: I don’t know how to write a paper! This paper has to be 5 pages long, and we have to do research! It’s so hard!
  • Parent: Don’t worry. 5 pages isn’t that much. This isn’t such a hard assignment. 

In this interaction, the parent is trying to help, but the message the kid is likely hearing is “This shouldn’t be hard. You’re failing at an easy thing.”

If something is hard or scary, it’s better to acknowledge that, and focus on reassuring them that it is possible. (And, if necessary and appropriate, help them to find ways of seeing it as possible.)

For instance:

  • Kid: I don’t know how to write a paper! This paper has to be 5 pages long, and we have to do research! It’s so hard!
  • Parent: It’s hard, and that’s ok. You can do hard things.
  • Parent: What are you writing about?
  • Kid: Self-driving cars. But I can’t find anything. 

And so on.

This isn’t unique to interactions between parents and children. It can also happen between friends, and in other types of relationships.

tl;dr If something’s hard for someone, telling them that it’s easy probably won’t help. Reassuring them that they can do hard things often does help, especially if you can support them in figuring out how to do the thing.



Some Basic Friendship Skills

Dos

1. Talk about things that interest others, and not just things that interest you.

2. Share the conversation. Don’t talk over others, interrupt others, or seek to be the centre of attention.

3. Be interested in what other people have to say. Ask open questions, and try to find out more.

4. Notice when people do well, and make the effort to praise them for it. Try to be an affirming, and encouraging, friend.

5. Be respectful, considerate and polite. Be sensitive to the feelings of others.

6. Think before you speak. (Sometimes it’s better to say nothing than to speak your mind and upset or offend).

7. Learn how to ask for what you want and need in a non-threatening, and non-defensive way. Don’t react; and don’t pick needless arguments.

8. Try to understand the perspective of others – and don’t just assume that you are right and they are wrong.

9. Look out for others – and be a trusted friend

10. Back off, don’t dominate, and give your friends some space.

Don’ts

1. Don’t brag about what you’ve done or what you’ve got.

2. Don’t put others down.

3. Don’t judge and stereotype people.

4. Don’t take over the conversation. Let others tell their jokes, and have their say.

5. Don’t try to control other people, or to make them do what you want them to do.

6. Don’t talk, or gossip, about others.

7. Don’t make jokes at others’ expense.

8. Don’t demand perfection – allow your friends to be human, and to sometimes make mistakes.

9. Don’t be sensitive and quick to take offense.

10. Don’t be mean or stab others in the back.

So I’m not going to phrase this perfectly, but to me the problem with social skills stuff is not that no one would ever want to change something about them that other people find odd or off-putting or that no one would ever want information about what things about them other people find off-putting or odd.

It’s that it’s presented as if people have to change. Or as if that’s the only good choice, and as if that’s necessarily a good choice. There is no acknowledgement that any particular weird thing about you might not be worth changing, or even that you might have good reasons not to want to change even if you have good reasons to want to change too. There is no acknowledgement that there are other ways to deal with “sometimes people don’t like you because you are weird” other than “be less weird”. There is no acknowledgement that sometimes people can like you for being weird, that you can make friends through shared weirdness. There is no acknowledgement that you can like and be proud of the weird parts of you. There is war on the idea that you can like and be proud of yourself even when others aren’t. There is no acknowledgement that being less weird might not always make you friends and always be something to be proud of, that it might hurt or it might feel like giving in. There is no acknowledgement that owning your weirdness is a social skill. Many different social skills, in fact. There is no acknowledgement that sometimes being less weird makes you less functional, not more and makes it harder to interact with others, not easier. There is no room in the ideology. And since there’s no room for someone to decide they just want to be weird, and for that choice to be okay and good, or to decide that they cannot work on being less weird right now, there is no room for someone to say “stop telling me everything that is wrong with me all the time (or asking leading questions to try to get me to tell you what is wrong with me), stop telling me all the bad things that other people think about me and all the bad things that are going to happen to me, I already know that I’m weird, shut up.”

Like, this is, “you had a fun interaction with your friend, now let’s discuss everything you did wrong and all the bad things your friend is probably thinking about you. Why do you have social anxiety?” therapy.

And also it confuses “that thing you’re doing is bothering me/bothering so-and-so” with “that thing you are doing is Bad Social Skills and I think I’m doing you a favor by trying to make you more normal in a sneaky way”.

And it teaches kids that people are a monolith and it doesn’t teach kids to work around and with and celebrate their own and other people’s weirdness.

And it is frankly ludicrous that people don’t seem to see why “The way you talk is wrong, the things you talk about are wrong, the way you move is wrong the way you sit is wrong your face is wrong your voice is wrong your hands are wrong your clothes are wrong the way you express that you like people is wrong the fact that you like some people better than other people is wrong your preferences are wrong the strengths of your preferences are wrong” could be like an unkind thing to say and not like a kind and helpful thing, or why someone might respond to that in a hostile way other than “they are hostile because of their problems and we need to fix it”.

“Oh we don’t tell kids that everything about them is wrong, we just tell kids that everything about them is Unexpected, and when you do Unexpected Behavior people don’t like you and everyone is unhappy and you are unhappy and feel bad about yourself, and when you do Expected Behavior you are happy and other people are happy and they like you and want to be around you and treat you well and you feel good about yourself.” lollerskates

How to Avoid Miscommunication

Have you ever talked with a friend about a problem, only to realize that they just don’t seem to grasp why the issue is so important to you? Have you ever presented an idea to a group, and it’s met with utter confusion? What’s going on here? Why does miscommunication occurs so frequently, and how we can minimize frustration while expressing ourselves better?

The fact is, even when face to face with another person, in the very same room, and speaking the same language; human communication is incredibly complex.  But the good news is that a basic understanding of what happens when we communicate can help us prevent miscommunication.

It’s possible to think of communication between people as a game of catch. As we communicate our message, we receive feedback from the other party. Through the transaction, we create meaning together.

But, as humans, we can’t help but send and receive messages through our own subjective lenses. When communicating, one person expresses her interpretation of a message, and the person she’s communicating with hears his own interpretation of that message. Our perceptual filters continually shift meanings and interpretations.  In that case, maybe communication is more like a game of catch with a lump of clay. As each person touches the lump of clay, they shape it to fit their own unique perceptions based on any number of variables; like knowledge or past experience, age, race, gender, ethnicity, religion, or family background. So, as the lump of clay goes back and forth from one person to another; reworked, reshaped and always changing, it’s no wonder our messages sometimes turn into a mush of miscommunication.

Luckily, there are some simple practices that can help us all navigate our daily interactions for better communication.

1: Recognize that passive hearing and active listening are not the same. Engage actively with the verbal and nonverbal feedback of others, and adjust your message to facilitate greater understanding.

2: Listen with your eyes and ears, as well as with your gut. Remember that communication is more than just words.

3: Take time to understand as you try to be understood. In the rush to express ourselves, it’s easy to forget that communication is a two-way street. Be open to what the other person might say.

4: Be aware of your personal perceptual filters. Elements of your experience, including your culture, community, and family influence how you see the world. Say “This is how I see the problem- but how do you see it?” Don’t assume that your perception is the objective truth; that’ll help you work toward sharing a dialog with others to reach a common understanding, together.

From the TED-Ed Lesson How miscommunication happens (and how to avoid it) - Katherine Hampsten

Animation by @rewfoe

Autism and Isolation

I often read about autistic people feeling isolated “because of their bad social skills.” 

The reason I feel isolated often is not that I don’t know how to talk to people. It’s that when I try to talk to people I get told “no”. I get told “that’s not how you do this kind of conversation. That’s now how you say this. And that’s not something you should say at all.” 

I very rarely have a problem talking to other autistic people, and luckily some allistic people are sensitive and open minded enough to not mind when I break the usual protocols. 

But it’s really difficult to not feel isolated and “unable” when other people keep telling you “no, you’re breaking the conversation.” 

anonymous asked:

Pretty sure I'm autistic after years of wondering, though I can usually easily blend/hide it because of my past. Anyhow, I'm actually an extrovert and get along well with most people (minus the times I end up almost totally disconnecting), but I feel thrown off - because most neuroatypical people I've encountered seem to almost overwhelmingly be introverts, partly due to the usual social issues... My counselor even said "you seem fine on the social front," which hurt when dismissed so quickly.

ASL is a language

American Sign Language and other signed languages are languages. It’s important to respect them as languages.

ASL is not English. It is a completely different language. Similarly, signed languages aren’t all the same. British Sign Language is completely different from ASL.

Signs are not universal, any more than spoken words are universal. The meaning of a sign isn’t always obvious just by watching; many signs are completely arbitrary.

Sign is not pantomime, and it’s not ad hoc gesture. It’s also not like symbolic gestures that are sometimes made up to accompany kids songs either. It’s a language, with all the complexities of language. The difference is important, and it needs to be respected. 

In order to know what signs mean, you have to learn them. (Just like in order to know what spoken words mean, you have to learn them.)

ASL is not just gestures, any more than spoken languages are just sounds. ASL has grammar, vocabulary, and culture. It’s important to respect this and not erase it.  

Qualities of an Attractive Personality

Someone with an attractive personality:

1. Is warm and friendly towards to others.

2. Is open and real

3. Knows their own strengths and weaknesses - and neither boasts nor puts themselves down.

4. Looks for the good in every situation, and is generally positive and optimistic.

5. Doesn’t gossip or pass on others’ secrets

6. Doesn’t gloat when things go wrong for others.

7. Is secure and has a healthy self–esteem; is not self-centred and narcissistic.

8. Is not highly critical or argumentative.

9. Is not possessive and jealous in relationships.

10. Makes time for the people they care about.

Confession

I lack basic interaction skills, I don’t know how to turn acquaintances into real friendships. If I meet someone I want to hopefully become friends with, I don’t know when to ask for their number, when to text/call them, ask to hang out. I feel like if I do, it just feels forced or maybe they don’t feel the same way. At 20 I can count the amount of friends I have and the time times I’ve hung out with them this year. It’s so tragic.

Planet Dancetime: Social Skills and Functioning Labels

If you’re allistic, it might be difficult to imagine what life is like for an autistic person. That can make it difficult to write from an autistic perspective. In order to help facilitate understanding, I, Mod Aira, have come up with an extended metaphor that I hope will be helpful. This is the first in a planned series, and it will cover some of the basics of social interaction as well as the harm that functioning labels do.

Please note that this series is written from my perspective and according to my personal opinions and experience. It will not necessarily reflect the reality of all autistic people, but it is one authentic perspective.

Imagine that tomorrow, you wake up on another world. It’s called Planet Dancetime. The people there look just like humans, except their social rules are insane. They do a complicated dance while they talk to each other, and all communication is carried out in this dance-talk. At first, you can’t make any sense of it, but slowly you start to puzzle some of it out. When you speak to a woman, you have to stand on your right foot the whole time. When you speak to a man, you have to stand on your left. If someone is non-binary, you have to stand on your toes. You also have to touch the shoulder of the person you’re talking to every ten seconds exactly. If you don’t follow this rule of *precisely* every ten seconds, you’re being very rude. When you’re telling a happy story, you have to wiggle your shoulders, starting with the right side and working your way left. Sad stories are the opposite. For *angry* stories, the wiggle is in the eyebrows. You also have to indicate your emotional state and age at the time the story happened by a complicated motion in your fingers set to a specific beat, and your *current* emotional state by the particular angle at which you hold your elbows and wrists.

There are still countless other rules here, more than you can figure out. The Dancetime people are constantly making strange gestures and movements. The crazy thing is, it seems to be effortless for them. How can they possibly keep track of all these rules? You decide to ask someone.

The response is not positive. You get the most disdainful look you’ve ever seen, and the explanation, “It’s obvious. Just use common sense.”

Well that isn’t helpful. How could they possibly conceive of this system as being obvious? And if it’s so simple, then why can’t they explain it?

At long last, you come to an epiphany. Of course this system isn’t simple. In fact, it’s so complicated that the only way for them to manage it is for their brains to handle it subconsciously. A massive amount of their brainpower is devoted to decoding, remembering, and carrying out all these convoluted rules. And their bodies are naturally conditioned for it, too. They can stand on one leg for hours without any effort – it’s just the way they evolved. But you can’t. Your brain is busy doing other important things that these people hilariously can’t do (more on this another time), and it’s not about to take over all those extra responsibilities now. You have no easy options, and you’re stuck here now, so you have to make a choice.

Option one is to say – hell with it. Maybe you just don’t have it in you to do this – you just can’t get your head around it, and it’s impossible for you. Maybe you have a physical issue that prevents you from dance-talking, or you just don’t have the type of memory required to learn dance moves, or the multitasking ability necessary to count and talk at the same time. Or maybe you just decide: I’m not going to bother with their stupid rules. I’m going to stand on two feet when I talk, and I’m not going to count to ten silently in my head while I’m talking so I can time the shoulder-touches properly – I mean, who could even do that? I’m just going to be me, and they’re just going to have to deal with it.

This does not go well for you. When you fail to follow their dance-talk rules, these people freak out. Some of them are angry – how dare you insult me with your non-dance body language? Even worse, it turns out that some movements that you make entirely naturally which have nothing to do with conversation, or some aspects of your normal, natural body language, are actually grave insults in dance-talk. You can’t figure out which things you’re doing which are so wrong, and no one will explain it to you. Many people think you’re extremely rude. But some of them are scared or worried and are determined to figure out what’s wrong with you. You are quickly surrounded by “experts” who want to help you. After all, you couldn’t possibly survive without the ability to dance-talk. You obviously suffer from some kind of hideous disorder. You try endlessly to explain that you can talk just fine without the dancing, that there’s nothing wrong with you, but they won’t have it. If you talk without the dance moves, they ignore everything you say like it’s some kind of incomprehensible babble. If you can’t dance-talk, then you obviously have a disability, and you need to be cared for. You’re obviously not intelligent enough to communicate, so you’re automatically not intelligent enough to care for yourself. You wind up in an institution with the others who have been diagnosed with “low-functioning human disorder”, also known as “severe humanism”. The nurses look at you with pity in their eyes and don’t bother talking directly to you. You hear them talking (as though you’re not there) about the tragedy of your extreme human-ness, how terrible it must be to live that way, and what a burden you are to those around you. You try to scream: it wouldn’t be terrible if you’d just leave me alone! But your screams, lacking their accompanying dance moves, fall on deaf ears.

So let’s consider the other alternative. You can try to puzzle out the dance-language and see if you can fit in well enough to get by. Not everyone has this option – I mean, the dance-language is obscenely complicated, after all. But maybe you’re one of the lucky ones. Maybe you have a good memory for movements and are good at figuring out or guessing when to use each one. So you give it a shot. And after a lot of trial and error, you start to find some success. Your dance moves are still a bit off, and you get funny looks pretty frequently. Eventually, you get “diagnosed” with “high functioning human disorder” and told you should be fine as long as you put in enough effort. You ask that maybe someone teach you some of the dance moves, and you are rudely dismissed as being lazy or pretending to be disabled so that you can get more attention.

This is the same reaction you get every time you make a mistake. And of course, you will always make mistakes. There will always be days when your legs are simply too tired, and you have no choice but to stand on two feet for a while. Sometimes, when you’re trying to talk about something, you just can’t spare the brain power to count to ten over and over again, and you miss a few shoulder-touches. Sometimes you’ll get the wrist and elbow angle just slightly wrong and give entirely the wrong tone to a conversation. And sometimes you encounter a social situation you’ve never learned the moves for, and there’s no possible way for you to do it right.

Every single mistake is met with indignation. How dare you insult us that way? You apologize and try to explain that even though you’re pretty good at it, this dance-talk still doesn’t come easy for you. It doesn’t help. Your explanations are written off as lazy excuses. Everyone knows you are perfectly capable of using dance-talk. You do it all the time. The fact that you’re not doing it now obviously means that you are doing it on purpose. You are intentionally insulting those around you, and they don’t appreciate it.

The looks, the stares, the muttered insults, they eat away at you. You are doing your best, damn it. You are doing infinitely better than should ever have been expected of you. You put so much energy into the most basic conversations, you don’t even have enough left over to care for yourself. You haven’t been eating well, with no energy to cook. You suffer from constant anxiety – fear of the next mistake – when (not if) will it happen? How will they react? But no one appreciates that. No one helps. No one explains the mistakes you’ve made – and usually, you have no idea what you’ve done wrong. You’re expected to just figure it out on your own, and are punished for each misstep, because damn it, you might be technically human, but they’re not about to let you use your humanness as an excuse for rude or lazy behavior.

You feel the constant underlying threat all the time: if you can’t dance-talk like the rest of us, if you stop trying or make too many mistakes, then we’ll change our minds about you. We’ll change your diagnosis to low-functioning human disorder, and stick you in the institution with the others. We’ll never speak to you again. We’ll never look at you as a person again. You’ll just be a lump of flesh that we have to feed and bathe. So you’d better try harder.

The best case scenario you can hope for is that people will find out you’re human and say, “Oh, wow! You barely look human at all! You should be so proud of yourself.” Human is an insult. Not human is a compliment. That’s the world you find yourself in now. And sometimes you start to wonder – are they right? Is being human really a disability? Is there something wrong with me? Now you can add a fight against depression to the list of things you have to deal with. There are days when you wonder if the effort will ever be worth it. You feel hopeless and lost.

All because dance-talk doesn’t come naturally to you.

Now, disclaimer, here: this is a simplified analogy of how functioning labels can feel, and the ridiculous basis on which they are assigned. The reality is a little more complicated and there are more factors, some of which we’ll explore later. And as always, we repeat: everyone’s experience is different, and not all experiences are reflected here. This story is designed to help those who are not autistic start to understand what life is like for those who are. This really is how it feels for a lot of people, myself included. These are the choices I feel I have. I can relax and give up and just be “me” without apology, and then I am liable to lose everything – my job, my friends, my life. Or I can try to fit in and act like the others, at an enormous energy cost, and often not have the strength left over to take care of myself. They call me “high functioning”, but they’re ready to take that shiny little badge away at any moment – and they would have taken it away long ago if they saw how I am at home at the end of a stressful day.

A far, far better situation would be to do away with the functioning levels entirely. Judge each person based on their individual attributes, and try to understand that under other circumstances, they might be very different. Sometimes I can talk, and sometimes I can’t. Acting “normal” takes a lot of energy, and sometimes I don’t have enough left to do it. But I’m still able to live independently, and still have many strengths and abilities – many that “allistic” people typically do not have.

So please, when you’re thinking about writing an autistic character (and good for you! hooraaaayyyy!!!!), don’t think of them in terms of high- or low-functioning, in terms of “severe” or “mild” autism. Instead, think of a list of traits, what they’re good and bad at, what comes easy and what doesn’t. Your character is as individual as you are.

Happy writing!

-Mod Aira

TUAFW, because of your autism, you’ve always talked too much, and too loud, and interrupted so much, with /no control/ over it,

but because you weren’t diagnosed yet, you didn’t know why you couldn’t stop, so whenever other people (esp. teaches&& instructors) would say things like “give other people a chance” and “let everyone have a chance to talk”,

you felt like you were Toxic, and just by /Being/ there, you were ruining everything and making it an unsafe space and you hated it

If an abuser is making you take a ballot selfie, you can still vote the way you want to

If abusive people in your life are expecting you to take a ballot selfie, this doesn’t need to prevent you from voting the way you want to vote. You can fill out a ballot the way they want you to, take a selfie, spoil the ballot instead of casting it, and then vote a new ballot the way that *you* want to vote.

(Note: Taking ballot selfies is actually illegal in several states. In any case, I think taking ballot selfies is a really, really bad idea. But since I know people are doing it, I am writing this to help people protect their right to cast a secret ballot)

Here’s a step by step list of how to do this:

  • Step one: Get your ballot.
  • Step two: Fill out the ballot the way your abusers want you to. *Do not cast it*. Do not put it in the ballot box. (If you are using a voting machine, *do not tap vote* and *do not pull the final voting lever*. )
  • Step three: Take a selfie with the ballot filled out the way your abuser wants you to vote.
  • Step four: Spoil the ballot and ask for a new one (Or if you’re using a voting machine, go back and correct your vote). Draw a line down the middle, and bring the spoiled ballot back to the table where you got the ballot. 
  • Tell the polling person that you made a mistake, and ask for a new ballot. They should take back your spoiled ballot and exchange it for a new one.
  • (If they won’t give you a new ballot, tell their supervisor or call 866-OUR-VOTE for help. You have the right to start over with a new ballot if you make a mistake. *So long as you have not put it in the ballot box yet*. Once you’ve put it in the ballot box, you can’t take it back.) 
  • (If you’re using voting machines and aren’t sure how to start over, ask the polling officials for help. They are required to help you. (But make sure that you don’t press the Vote button or pull a final lever before you fix your ballot! Once you press Vote or pull the voting lever, your vote is final and you can’t undo it.)
  • Step five: Fill out your new ballot the way you want to fill it out. 
  • Step six: Cast your real ballot that you have just filled out. (Put it in the ballot box, pull the lever, or push the Vote button).

Tl;dr If abusers are trying to coerce your vote by making you take a ballot selfie, you can take the selfie and still vote the way you want to. Scroll up for step by step instructions.

7

At university I learnt how proper preparation and rehearsal can make doing presentations a lot easier, they don’t need to be a big deal! I just wish my teenage self knew this…I can’t tell you how many projects I did last minute because I was nervous and didn’t want to think about presenting. 

Over sharing

That undiagnosed autistic feeling when you’re like info dumping to a distant acquaintance like a coworker or something. And it’s sometimes (most times) it’s something about your life or yourself.
And you’re like mid-statement but you start to realize you’re doing it again
And you see their interest waning
Or they look like they’d rather be anywhere else
Or they give you that patient smile-and-nod combo that doesn’t reach their eyes
Cuz their eyes are telling a completely different story about how they think you’re not right in the head and how much longer do they have to listen to you prattle on???
But you can’t stop talking until the statement/complete thought is finished
And then there’s that awkward silence and you just want the earth to swallow you whole.

Tuafw your family try to get you to engage with them after a rough day at work and social time afterwards and every time you try to leave the room they ask you to do something or look at something or talk with them and every cell in your body is itching to run screaming and hide but you can’t leave without being polite first or you’ll get in trouble or hurt their feelings.

You can only fight evil as the person you really are

When you’re fighting evil, it’s important to be aware of your limitations. You can only fight evil as the person you really are. Trying to ignore your limitations will not make you a better activist — it just crushes you.

Fighting evil is a lot of hard work. It’s not just about being a good person, or caring, or having the right values. Mostly, it’s work. And no one has infinite capacity to do that kind of work.

In fact, no one has infinite capacity to do *any* kind of work. As human beings, we’re limited. We have bodies, and needs, and we can’t do everything. Trying to work flat out all the time doesn’t end well, no matter how important the work is.  

One of the things we need is love. Part of that is being aware that not everything is evil. Some things are good. Some things are amazing. Some things are important in other ways. And, no matter what, people matter, and our world is worth fighting for.

Fighting evil is incredibility emotionally draining. In order to fight evil, it’s generally necessary to come into close contact with it. And to face the fact that not everyone is on your side, and not everyone means well. Many people act with active malice or callous indifference. It can be very hard to keep going when you lose an important battle and feel the weight of the consequences. It can be very hard to avoid slipping into despair. Love is one of the most powerful defenses against despair.

It is not only ok but *necessary* to find things that you can value and enjoy. Valuing your own life and the things you enjoy is an important act of resistance. Keep in mind that one of the lives you’re fighting for is your own. You are worth fighting for.

You may have to do hard, draining things that no one should ever have to do. You may have to make sacrifices. You may need to learn how to do things you never thought you’d need to do. But you don’t have to do more than you’re capable of doing — and trying to ignore all of your feelings and limitations will not help.

Understanding your limitations actually makes you more effective (at activism and at anything else you might want to do.) Working with your brain and body works better than trying to become a superhero through sheer force of will. You can only fight evil as the person you actually are.