Coping with Asperger’s syndrome can be a day-to-day challenge for some. Unfortunately, not everyone understands what it’s like to be on the spectrum so I have developed a list of coping mechanisms that have helped me over the years. Based on practical experience, these are the most effective strategies for dealing with challenges such as everyday social interaction:
- Talk to a psychologist. A psychologist will make the diagnosis and suggest customized strategies for a given individual.
- Memorizing facts about people (in terms of their favorite subjects to discuss) will help you start future conversations. If you have difficulty memorizing facts, write down notes about people you encounter on a regular basis. You can refer to the notes prior to a meeting.
- Reading books about body language will help give you clues about whether or not the other person is interested in a given topic. A body language book will also help you understand what to do with your own hands and eyes during a conversation.
- Avoiding inappropriate conversation topics will make the other person more comfortable.
- If you need assistance finding appropriate clothing for a date, ask a friend that you trust to help you go shopping.
- Analyze yourself to determine which job would best utilize your strengths on a daily basis (for example, if you’re strong in subjects such as logic and mathematics, consider a career in computer science or engineering).
- Based on your own weaknesses, identify courses (i.e. improvisation) that will help you develop specific skills (i.e. public speaking).
- If you have an intense interest in a particular topic (i.e. dance, martial arts), taking classes will help you meet other people with similar interests. It will be easier to become friends with another person that has at least one similar interest.
- If you have a hypersensitivity to light, noise or touch, understand the limitations associated with each condition. If you’re hypersensitive to light, I would recommend buying dark blinds to prevent light from entering a window at night to help you sleep. Being hypersensitive to noise would cause to avoid loud environments such as a club or concert when possible. Being hypersensitive to touch would cause you to focus on purchasing clothes that are more comfortable.
- Reading other books about Asperger’s syndrome will help you to learn coping mechanisms from people with similar experiences or perspectives.
Englebert Lau was diagnosed with a mild case of Asperger’s syndrome at the age of 30. The majority of his professional career has been working in Information Technology as a Business Analyst. Englebert created http://www.hitchhikeraspie.com. The purpose of this website is to share a lighthearted perspective on Asperger’s syndrome. Englebert would like to increase exposure about Asperger’s syndrome for a wide range of people, by providing examples of how it affects his everyday life.
This article was featured in Issue 42 – Autism: Fighting the Stigmas