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10 Things People with Asperger’s Syndrome Want You to Know

10 Things People with Asperger’s Syndrome Want You to Know

An estimated 68 million people are known to have Asperger’s syndrome, which was more recently folded under the umbrella heading of Autism Spectrum Disorder in the U.S. However, numerous researchers believe that this number is actually probably much higher because many adults with this condition have never been diagnosed. If you know, or suspect, that someone in your life has Asperger’s, it is important to be aware that their lives are filled with many challenges and strengths, regardless of how functional they appear to be.

1. Every Person with Asperger’s is Impacted by Their Symptoms Differently

There is a saying in the autistic community: “If you’ve met one person with Asperger’s, you’ve met one person with Asperger’s.” This is a reflection of the fact that a wide variety of symptoms and traits can be attributed to Asperger’s and autism in general, and everyone reacts to them differently.

For example, some individuals with Asperger’s have such a high pain tolerance that it can be dangerous, while others feel pain much more intensely than people who are neurotypical. In other words, it is important to be cognizant of the fact that each person with Asperger’s will be challenged in different ways by having a neurodiverse brain.

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2. Movie and TV Representations Are Often Over the Top

Some people with autism are similar to depictions found in movies such as “Rain Man” and “Jane Wants a Boyfriend,” but it would be erroneous to believe that these representations are accurate for everyone. Asperger’s symptoms are often hidden by people and may only be easily observed by those who know them very well. In fact, girls and women with Asperger’s are especially adept at blending in, and this can cause them to go undiagnosed for several decades. When you combine this with a flawed methodology that looks primarily at boys and more extreme cases, it becomes easy to understand why movies show over the top examples, but this is not truly indicative of the lives that most individuals with Asperger’s actually have.

3. A Sensory Diet Doesn’t Involve Food

One of the biggest challenges about Asperger’s is regulating sensory input in order to avoid becoming overloaded. A sensory diet is meant to help the individual down and upcycle as needed. For example, being out in public causes someone with Asperger’s to experience a lot of incoming information, ranging from noises to lights.

Some people choose to wear noise-cancelling headphones in public to block out some of this sensory input. It is also common to reduce time spent socializing, exercise daily and engage senses in positive ways such as burning certain types of incense or blowing off steam via martial arts. As an added bonus, some of these activities can help improve motor skills and coordination, which are often less developed. In many cases, a sensory diet can make the difference between a good and a bad day.

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4. Meltdowns Are Embarrassing but Often Unavoidable

Everyone loses their temper or cries sometimes, but this is not what is meant by a meltdown. Adults with Asperger’s typically have a more difficult time with emotional regulation, and they also need to pay close attention to sensory overload. When they become overloaded or fail to have their emotional and sensory needs met for an extended period of time, a meltdown can occur. This is an often embarrassing reaction to struggling to fit in to the neurotypical world.

It is important to note that a meltdown, which is often characterized by an extended period of crying and the inability to properly articulate feelings, is not something that is being done to try to manipulate someone or to control the situation. Instead, it happens because the individual loses their ability to control their emotions as a result of their sensory processing issues.

5. Seeking Medical Care can be Difficult

Receiving medical care is often difficult for people with Asperger’s for a wide number of reasons. In some cases, it is hard to find a medical professional who has experience with adult autism. Social issues and feeling extremely uncomfortable with others touching them can also hinder those with Asperger’s and prevent them from seeking out regular medical assistance. Fortunately, online medical communities such as Lybrate enable these individuals to speak to a doctor without leaving their house.

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6. Lack of Eye Contact Doesn’t Mean Lack of Attention

Making and keeping eye contact is not easy for many people with Asperger’s. Women often adapt better to this social requirement, but either way, the amount of eye contact that someone makes with you is not a good indication of whether or not they are paying attention. Individuals with Asperger’s are often noted for their attention to detail and ability to see things that others don’t, so make sure that you don’t hold their lack of eye contact against them or assume that they are not taking in what you are saying. On the other hand, don’t assume that someone who can make eye contact cannot have Asperger’s.

7. The Autistic Community is Divided about the Autism Speaks Organization

The autistic community has been involved in many controversies surrounding the organization Autism Speaks. Otherwise known by their catchphrase “light it up blue,” Autism Speaks has a history of using language and symbols that many with Asperger’s find to be demeaning. The group also does not have any people with autism on its board, and their focus on finding a cure for autism is understandably offensive to neurodiverse individuals who are high functioning and do not feel the need to be cured. On the other hand, there are many parents of autistic children who are committed to helping Autism Speaks with the goal of finding a cure. Due to this, the community is extremely divided on this topic.

8. Routines and Planning Really Do Make Life More Enjoyable

Movies and TV shows sometimes poke fun at the idea of those with Asperger’s needing routines. However, the reality is that having a firm plan for the day, along with incorporating specific routines, is one of the best ways to make life feel less chaotic and more sensory friendly. When these routines and plans are interrupted, it can cause a lot of emotional distress. This is something to always keep in mind when you will be spending time with someone who has Asperger’s.

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9. No One “Looks” Autistic

One common complaint within the autistic community is that people say things such as “you don’t look autistic.” Perhaps this is meant to be a compliment, but it really shows a lack of understanding of what it means to be on the spectrum. One person with Asperger’s might regularly exhibit certain behaviors that make them stand out, but another person may be able to restrain most of these traits in public. This does not mean that either of them looks less or more autistic because the reality is that they both have the same neurological condition. The odds are high that you know people with autism, even if they haven’t told you or been diagnosed yet, so avoid using harmful phrases based on stereotypes.

10. Individuals with Asperger’s Often Excel in Certain Fields

Someone with Asperger’s may have a hard time socializing or spending a lot of time in a crowded store, but this does not mean that they are unable to excel professionally. In fact, some companies specifically seek out employees with Asperger’s due to their attention to detail. Asperger’s is often associated with several other positive traits, including loyalty, dependability, a strong sense of right and wrong, honesty, persistence, passion, a specific talent and a unique way of looking at the world.

Despite these similar traits, women and men may fit best into different careers. For example, men with Asperger’s are often drawn to jobs in the tech field, but many women end up doing something creative such as writing, art or photography. Singer Susan Boyle provides a prime example of the talented side of Asperger’s.

Routines are vital to those with Asperger’s, but they also need to schedule downtime in order to recharge. When these people are given the support and freedom they need to embrace their strengths and minimize the challenges that can be associated with Asperger’s, they are able to lead very fulfilling lives and have a positive impact on their friends, family and coworkers.

Featured photo credit: Garry Knight via flickr.com

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Holly Chavez

Writer, Entrepreneur, Small Business Owner

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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