10 Years in the Making! Everyday Aspergers

This Blog Everyday Asperger’s by Samantha Craft is retired. Her new blog can be found at Everyday Aspie and her company website at myspectrumsuite.com  Thank you for the community and support you have offered through the years.

 

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In 2004, I was called to write. I dedicated myself to write every day for a year. I only missed one day and completed a 250-page memoir. I often wrote 4 to 10 hours a day. I spent the next years editing because my dyslexia and dysgraphia make it very challenging for me to detect errors. I knew nothing of writing. It was pretty substandard material at the start. I didn’t even know when to capitalize the word ‘mom’ or how to use a semi-colon. It took me three years of writing and editing to find ‘my voice.’

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I taught myself to write by studying other books, relentlessly. I took notes and would write pages and pages of words I found (in other books) on notepads. In 2012, I started Everyday Asperger’s (blog) and  wrote almost every day for a year. I then continued posting blog posts several times a month, for another two years. Each Everyday Asperger’s blog post took a long time to edit. Then, after it was online, I would reread the words for an hour (at least) trying to find all the small mistakes that I couldn’t find the first time. (I didn’t mind; it was a type of stimming for me.) At the time of writing the blog, I also reedited some of the original (year 2004) childhood stories.

Recently, after 3.5 years of writing over 1,300 pages online, I began the process for my book: Everyday Aspergers (EA). I tore through 1,200 single-spaced pages of this blog, some of which were my childhood stories, picking and choosing, and then piecing the posts together like a puzzle. This took a solid two months of working almost daily. From there, I refined and refined, trimming most posts to 1/3 original size; some of those posts, if not most, were originally two to three pages long. Next I found little parts that got cut but were still gold nuggets and found places to sprinkle them in.

After that I polished and polished and polished, and began to edit. Soon the final editing took place from December to today. Most weeks I spent the equivalent of a full-time job editing. I also employed the help of a professional editing team. To date, the manuscript for Everyday Aspergers has gone through four editing rounds, in which I read the words (at first 717 pages, then 615 pages, then 417 pages) from start to end. Each page was reedited each time! I’d spend marathon days, up to 12 hours straight editing. Some of the childhood stories have been edited and polished at minimum 15 hours per page! Counting the years before, I’d say the book itself has well over 5,000 hours of editing alone. That doesn’t count any of my writing time. It’s a HUGE accomplishment. It’s not just something I threw together. It has a huge heart and huge effort behind my endeavor.

I cannot wait for the book to be in my hands. More so, I cannot wait for those who wish to have the book to hold the story in their hands! I’ve been waiting since 2004, when I had a dream.

Much love,
Samantha Craft

I updated the Checklist for Females with Aspergers here

Me on Twitter: aspergersgirls

More about the book on  new website

 

 

 

 

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533: Interviewing Autistic Individuals

 

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1. When being interviewed for a potential job, adults on the autistic spectrum may appear as one of two extremes: 1) overly confident with an almost false persona or 2) extremely nervous and apologetic.
2. Rarely, during an interview, is an autistic jobseeker feeling at ease and content, and able to present a comfortable version of self. This is not an attempt to fool or falsify self, but instead an effort to try to blend in and be part of the ‘norm.’
3. Without a clear guidelines of how to act in a specific role, in this case as interviewee, the an autistic can present as anxious, tense, aloof, frightened or extremely nervous.
4. Partaking in an interview can cause extreme stress for days before the interview. The interview process will more likely than not be over-thought and imagined repeatedly, with multiple outcomes and scenarios. The candidate on the spectrum will typically relive the actual interview itself, repeatedly after the event.
5. What might appear as a simple ‘not a fit’ or ‘no thank you,’ to the hiring agent, can be devastatingly crushing to a person with autism. It’s common to obsess over the reasons for failure and to catastrophize the outcome, incorporating all-or-nothing thinking, and self-torture, in the form of repetitive, obsessive thoughts regarding the ‘whys’ and ‘what ifs.’
6. During the hiring process the autistic job candidate might be set at ease with (kind) frankness, direct instructions, consistent reassurance, and clear expectations and goals. While such measures might seem as special treatment or deemed as ‘making exceptions,’ when given the fact that autism is primarily centered on social and communication challenges, taking such measures to decrease social anxiety ought to be considered an essential priority in recruitment.
7. Knowing exact timelines and being exposed to consistent correspondence can alleviate all candidates’ stress levels, but this is particularly true for people on the spectrum. The sense of unpredictability and not-knowing can overcome and consume a person with autism; and this consumption will directly affect their relations with others and behavior, until resolved. In addition, sudden time changes, tardiness, and rescheduling, on the company’s part, can lead to candidates experiencing increased stress levels, panic, and nervousness.
8. Before an interview, some candidates on the spectrum will create scenarios in their mind of failure and miscommunication, and have fear of not being able to express their true intentions and true self. They often have a fear of not appearing genuine and honest enough.
9. Oftentimes, the autistic job candidate will want to be seen, heard and understood; as is such, it is commonplace for an jobseeker to provide information that the interviewer many not deem appropriate, necessary, or beneficial. Most autistics will in fact share thoughts and insights to their own detriment, unable to stop the need to be transparent and forthcoming. While the hiring agent might find this transparency refreshing or curious, the candidate will often feel baffled and embarrassed by their own actions, thinking, once again, they have revealed too much and not followed the ‘correct’ rules.
10. The autistic job candidate will likely wish to have a chance to process with the interviewer as soon as possible to know exactly and specifically ways to improve presentation. For this reason, in some cases, if opportunity allows, the candidate will benefit from careful explanation regarding the reasons why they weren’t hired or considered for further recruitment.
11. As individuals on the spectrum have coexisting conditions such as OCD, mood disorders, post-traumatic stress, and aforementioned patterns of thinking that create a type of self-badgering, it is vital for the recruitment team members to be sensitive to the possible detrimental consequences of the interview process. They simply are not going to respond like typical candidates. What might take a typical person a week to overcome, might take the autistic person years. Often events, particularly those that create a sense of failure, become ingrained in the psyche of a person on the spectrum for a lifetime. While it is impossible for companies to take measures to consistently provide potential candidates reassuring feedback after an interview, it is plausible that interviewers be trained in measures to take to prevent further trauma.
12. Some autistics will have little to no trouble expressing self in various communication venues. But the large majority will have specific triggers to communication that can bring on various outcomes, including panic attacks, insomnia, inconsolable anxiety, and nonstop, rapid thinking.
13. While the autistic individual is interviewing, they will often be acutely self-aware and preoccupied by their own nervousness and internal coaching, and be simultaneously experiencing two conversations at once—one that is shared aloud between the interviewer and interviewee, and one that is an ongoing internal dialogue. Often the internal voice will overshadow the external conversation and, as a result, gaps of time in the interview will be lost. What might appear as being not being present or distracted, is typically the individual attempting to balance the internal voice with the external conversation. It is suitable and advisable for the interviewer to provide ample time for restating questions, reassuring statements, and redirecting the candidate with ideas and positive input.
14. Candidates on the spectrum will sometimes panic with open-ended questions, as most are very quick thinkers, able to connect information at rapid speed and reach multiple conclusions in a matter of seconds. While deliberating over a question, the candidate is also contemplating about what the interviewer expects, wants, and is hinting at. The more specific and direct a question, the better.
15. Some candidates will give quick, short, abrupt answers and be mistaken for non-personable and not forthcoming; while others will overstate, be long-winded and go ‘on and on.’ This tendency for oversharing, or being short in response, will also be present in written documents, such as resumes. It is difficult for a person on the spectrum to judge when written word and spoken word is deemed ‘enough.’ Efforts to clarify, probe, and retrieve more ‘substantial’ information might cause further panic.
16. In most cases, people on the spectrum communicate better in written form with time to process, rethink, and edit thoughts and ideas, than spoken form. When possible, some type of written assessment ought to be utilized during recruitment screening, such as an essay or instant messaging service.
17. Autistics are used to being judged, ridiculed, and told how to fix their behavior. People on the spectrum are often subjected to unsolicited advice, tips,and direction their whole lives. It is best not to offer assistance or help, or a point of view, unless asked.

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This post was revised in the summer of 2017. 

Sam’s new book Autism in a Briefcase: A leading edge tool for putting diversity into action is coming soon!

Written by founder of myspectrumsuite.com  Samantha Craft (aka Marcelle Ciampi), M.Ed. is the mother of three boys, one adult son who is on the autism spectrum. She is the lead job recruiter for ULTRA Testing, an autism educator, the author of the blog and book Everyday Aspergers, Selection Committee Chair at the ANCA World Autism Festival and is active in autism groups locally and globally. Samantha serves as a guest speaker, workshop presenter, curriculum developer, neurodiversity recruitment specialist, and more. She is working on her second book Autism in a Briefcase, written to provide insight to employers and agencies about the neurodiverse talent pool. A former schoolteacher and advocate for children with special needs, she appreciates the skills and talents of autistics. Diagnosed with Aspergers in 2012, she enjoys the arts, writing, movies, travel, and connecting with others. (More people know Sam by Sam because it’s her community pen name.)

506: The Risk is Worth it. Thoughts on Friendship.

I don’t believe I have any answers that anyone else cannot find for himself. Or to non-negate the previous statement: I do believe I have no answers that another cannot find for himself. I have a hard time reasoning in my mind the authenticity of any self-proclaimed or manmade accentuated leader who hints, dictates, or infers that he has the answers. I am quick to steer away, and feel quite many a qualms, when I hear of anyone who thinks they have found the answer, the truth, and the way. I know too much to be a blind sheep, and too little to proclaim I know enough. This is not to say I diminish or shake a finger at modern religion or any new up and coming spiritual fashion, only that I seriously question and outright deny the fact that any human can foreseeably house the answers for another; and certainly without the answer, he has no right, if rights be the matter, to dictate to another how to live or present oneself.

I find the purest souls to be the most delightful in their attempts to literally do nothing but be, and to let be. Those that don’t pursue fame, recognition, reward, and esteem are the ones I gravitate towards, the ones who are actually repelled at multiple levels by anything to do with being in the spotlight. Those are the ones I tend to uphold as seers and seekers of truth.

Secondly, I know enough of myself to know that I am highly influenced by my environmental and physical condition, including my own stamina and mental-conditioning. What I present as reality, and perhaps a semi-temporary-truth one day, will likely be obsolete at another juncture in time.

I don’t like to sway people. I don’t even like to ‘not like.’ Still I don’t like to form judgments, or to reach conclusions about others. Of course some things, some actions, and some people (because of said actions), stand out as recognizably out of the arena of blandness. I mean to say, they make a mark that is recognizable to both my heart and mind. Mostly, it is the things that seem mean, spiteful, unjust, and not lenient which stand out, particularly something that might be deemed ‘evil’ or ‘perverse.’ But even then the lines (and labels) merge into this gray area, and I find myself neither here nor there, trying to counter both sides of an argument that has converged inside my mind.

With all of this said, I offer a few things about my thoughts on friendship. And if that wasn’t an Aspie preamble, I don’t know what is!

Aspie and Friends:

1. I prefer online friends. Online friendships eliminate much of the burden of communication. I have time to think, to edit my thoughts, to respond in a slow and delicate manner, to take time, to get back, and to not be seen physically. Most of my challenges with communications come in the mode of sensory overload and in my evaluation of what I am seeing. Yes, I still evaluate with online friendships, but about 75% of the stress of communication, particularly nonverbal processing, is eliminated. That’s not to say online communication doesn’t offer it’s barriers and weaknesses, but overall, particularly when I take the time to check for clarity, online communication scores high above face-to-face encounters. I mean I could lose myself in a freckle or hair color and miss half of an entire conversation. And forget about the background noise and nonstop monitoring of my tone of voice, inflection, and talking speed.

2. I make online friends. It’s scary but I do it.

3. I support some friends, when I am capable, and they support me when able.

When I am at my lowest, I will sometimes reach out to three or four people at one time, most of whom are Aspie or whom have Asperger’s traits, and if not Aspie then people whom I deem for the most part trustworthy, nonjudgmental, and possessing the capacity to love unconditionally.

4. I reach out to several people at a time because someone might be busy and I also don’t want to overburden one friend with my intensity.

5. I am not blessed to have many friends. I don’t mean that in a bad way. Of course I am grateful for people in my life but no one blessed me with them. I made the friendships, day after day, year after year, risk after risk. Yes, it is hard. Yes, I mess up, and yes sometimes I get super hurt. But I am not fortunate, or even lucky to have friends, because I have worked HARD to make and maintain these friendships. And I have worked hard on myself to learn how to be the best friend (person) I can be.

6. I accept my faults, frailties, and entire humanness. I am far from perfect but I avoid beating myself up. Yes, I allow myself to have a pity-party sometimes, especially when many changes are occurring in my life. However, I have friends that understand these aspects of me.

7. I only interact with certain friends during my most vulnerable times. I choose a select few friends to confide in about particularl things, especially subject matter in which I want no advice or solution finding quests.

8. If I am not careful, and I talk to a friend who offers advice or her view of the situation, the conversation can do me more harm than good. I have learned to be selective. It is a survival mechanism. Some friends can handle my intensity, others my insecurities, others my wild-imagination, and a rare few the complete me. I have learned I can’t be the complete me around everyone; I will get hurt. I have learned I can be complete by dividing myself amongst many friends. I don’t think this survival skill is specific for those on the spectrum, but I do believe Aspies are vulnerable in their ability to be strongly wounded by others, and that they often find themselves in positions of offending or shocking, without that intention.

9. Friends are not easy for me, for there is a part of me who, despite an inconceivable amount of self-reflection, insight, and work, will always think I am not a good enough friend. This isn’t a self-esteem issue. I do like me. It has to do with the extreme ways in which I can psychoanalyze myself and dissect conversations. I am always, and will always be, an observer of others, twice removed from discourse and continually dissecting and evaluating and reliving over and over past conversations.

10. I have one friend in which I can just spill my guts and fears and anxiety and she will JUST listen. She doesn’t do tit for tat. In that I mean she doesn’t ask me for advice, expect me to listen or to return the favor. She just lets me process. I think every Aspie (and every human being) needs someone who will just listen.

11. I recognize I will always feel like I don’t give back enough in friendship. It is just the way it is. When people give to me, in time or other ways, I feel an immediate want and obligation to equal the score. It’s not that I mean to keep score, only that I naturally don’t want to take advantage of anyone.

12. I love to have friends from all backgrounds. I am not picky. Or maybe I am, if you think the capacity to love without conditions, to be honest, to be giving, to be kind, and to be genuine is picky. But with that said, and a little trustworthiness thrown in, I am capable of being friends with many, many people. There isn’t a checklist.

13. I think I need friends. I think everyone does. I think the risk is worth it.

I don’t neccesarily think the introduction matches the list. But, oh well. My friends will understand. 🙂

13 is my favorite number.

Looking for aspie friends? Join everyday aspergers Facebook like page to the left.

494: 10 Ways I Can Spot an Aspie Girl

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10 Ways I Can Spot an Aspie Girl

1. Deep, soulful eyes which perhaps dip down slightly and/or are very distinguished and large. There is someone in there with a story. There is truth.

2. An uncomfortable smile that cannot find a home which fluctuates between a chiseled, serious frown and the most amazing genuine smile, wherein the whole self and soul lights up—a childlike expression, too pure to be mistaken for anything else than authenticity.

3. Continual statements of second-guessing, checking for understanding, clarifying self, and offering out extra information in an attempt to be understood. Indications of never reaching a full conclusion, as there are limitless possibilities. Questioning self, harvesting advice, and then tossing everything out and starting anew. Having the kindling of multiple thoughts about multiple directions, all at the same time.

4. Fleeting, unnatural eye contact, that is either over-intense and attempting to linger or constantly moved about to find an object of focus. Unusual gestures whilst conversing, and seemingly never fully engaged in the speaker, unless strongly intrigued; and even then the imagination takes over and causes a drifting appearance. Unless overtaken with a special topic of interest; then all mannerisms and ways of being become forgotten, and all that exists is the spoken word.

5. Eyebrows that raise up when a smile is formed, or a distinct maneuvering of the facial features, as if to represent who they are, even when smiling, as to not distort a truth.

6. Unnatural appearing stances and movements; never quite comfortable moving in body unless preoccupied and/or in the midst of strong emotions or a special topic of interest.

7. A sweetness that isn’t outgrown entangled with an enchanting childlike nature and naiveté. Swirling within a constant flux of varying emotions, and heavily influenced by the happenings of everything and everyone.

8. An undeniable unique way of self-expression in all forms: in thought, in writing, in art. All is an extension of the greater self. Spread out with an openness lacking self-need and wanting; and instead represented by an honest soul in search of connection.

9. A flowing nature with undercurrents of stability and predictability. At first glance the person may seem unstable, but with careful observation she follows the ebbs and flows of life, much like the tides to the moon, and the flowers to seasons. She rises and falls. She opens and closes. She is a manifestation of the greater good of cosmic unity, of togetherness, of the interwoven web of us.

10. Her deep reflective state, no matter the topic or situation. The way in which intensity is brought into the room, even as a lightness of being remains. There is a quandary of sorts, an advanced duality, in which she is powerful, yet she is meek, she is substantial yet she is invisible, she is love yet she is fear. She carries the badge of courage in her heart, the white dove of humility in her hands, and everywhere she goes she is either touched or touches down, leaving a trail of fairy dust, or a slough of mud, either way, the path altered.

 

THIS BLOG EVERYDAY ASPERGER’S BY SAMANTHA CRAFT IS RETIRED. HER NEW BLOG CAN BE FOUND AT EVERYDAY ASPIE AND HER COMPANY WEBSITE AT MYSPECTRUMSUITE.COM  THANK YOU FOR THE COMMUNITY AND SUPPORT YOU HAVE OFFERED THROUGH THE YEARS.

Sam’s book will be available in June of 2016 on Amazon and at Booklogix.com

489: I don’t understand…

1. I don’t understand manipulation; I mean I understand the definition of it; I can render it dormant in myself, stop it before it even surfaces. So I recognize its coming. But I do not understand manipulation in completion. It seems that much of the world functions as a whole by manipulating the environment and events in hopes of gaining a perceived outcome. I don’t like that attribute or any semblance of that attribute in myself. In so being, I constantly am evaluating and reevaluating my motivation in attempt to weed out any sprouts or seedlings of manipulation. Thusly, I am in a nonstop state of deep analysis of self in effort to be that which I wish to represent as truth and goodness, even as I exist in a world full of trickery.

2. I don’t understand pointing the finger at someone outside the self. Yes, I understand cause and effect. I understand it so well, indeed, that I see the flurry of possibilities and renderings in every circumstance I perceive. I see in black and white in a sense, but not in a segregated way. I see nothing as entirely right nor anything as entirely wrong. I see both sides; and I see what is outside those two opposing sides, in the middle, above and below. There isn’t any way of proving anything, as all is scaffolded off of a non-original thought positioned in my brain by some eventual found pattern or discovery. Pointing a finger is declaring I know. When I know I know little to nothing of this world. Pointing the finger is proclaiming I am correct, when no such person exits that is in complete correctness. I become exhausted in thought, as I wish to exist as many: to blame fully, to counter, to get irate, to live in a place in which I am both innocent and justified in action. But I cannot go there. I try. I try to don the same robes as the majority, and I am immediately succumbed by feelings of suffocation, regret, and a sense of ‘wrong.’ If I was to point a finger at all, it would be inwardly at self, in having found myself attached to a societal rule of blame as a result of turning away from self-responsibility and adhering to a false individualized and limited self-perception.

3. I don’t understand friendship. Being with others confuses me. I am often giddy and overcome with joy when I first engage with an old friend or new friend. I laugh a lot. I take on my friends mannerisms and way of being. I become less of a me I know little of, and more of this other I seem to suddenly understand a lot about. I am a sponge of sorts, soaking up what is in my immediate environment. Empathic, perhaps. Psychic? I don’t know. It almost seems biological at times, as if I can feasibly metamorphasize not into butterfly from caterpillar, but from one shape I had adopted to the next before me. I often smother another with my attention, wanting, and what appears to be love. But I know not what I am actually doing. It feels like a reunion of sorts, a coming together after eons apart. Only, when we again separate, I am left bewildered by my actions, and again wondering who am I. Worse, I doubt my genuineness, my authenticity, my essential being. To watch myself as observer morph and remorph is both baffling and disturbing. I long to simply be as stagnant one not taking on the persona or emotions of another. But as hard as I wish, I remain some tangent unborn onto self, and reborn in true form as another.

4. I don’t understand love. I have tried and tried and tried. I feel great bonds. I feel great affection. I feel admiration. I feel a like-vibration of sorts that brings on kindred feelings of sameness, recognition and home. I understand over-thinking about someone. I understand longing and wanting someone. I understand the bodily sensations of erotica. Yet, I do not understand the concept of love. I would declare with accuracy I love my children because yes, I would die for them. But is dying for someone love? If so, whom else would I die for? And I would further claim with accuracy I love my good friend, but why would be the next question. Is love based on standards of behavior, on me feeling good and safe, on me feeling lifted and self-validated in my existence? Most seems evident of selfish ego-needs. And so I become wrapped in confusion again of love. If it’s just a knowing and a feeling, then I have this type of ‘love’ a lot. If it’s a desiring to connect, then I have this too. I believe I could romantically love anyone, given the proper setting and environment, the proper influences through the years. I can be taught to love based on what I have been exposed to. I can be taught to choose another as my lover based on what I have collected as truisms. What if I love everyone, and that is the way it is? What if that is my confusion? In trying to separate and delegate and segregate love, I am left lost to myself. For I love but know not what for.

5. I don’t understand people. People confuse me. They can be so warm and generous at first. So available. So real. So genuine. And then they go into hiding. I overwhelm them, I think. It’s my nature to pounce out, to attach, to bleed out my soul, to engage, and to get so very excited upon connecting. I give and I give fully. This me, this all of me. And then I retreat to a place of deep regret. For again I was taken in by the beginning dance, this place of first greeting and meeting that I took for real and everlasting. You see, I stay the same, very much so, in this manner. I stay the same in my ability to love even though I know not of what love is, and in my ability to be me, even as I know not who I am. It is such a dichotomy of twisted thoughts that I seek harbor and refuge from my very brain. But the truth is I do understand me, in all my predictable unpredictability, I am the same. I am loving. I am real. I am me. And when others go someplace else beyond themselves, I am overwhelmed with confusion and self-blame. What did I do this time? Why can’t I stop myself from being SO me? Why can’t I accept that what is now won’t ever last that eventually the place where we meet as two complete souls joined in gleefulness will wear down. That I will be back to myself, wondering what went wrong.

6. I am naive. I know some people prefer the term innocent or unworldly. Of just plain kind and good. But the truth is I am naive. It doesn’t matter how many times I experience and re-experience a similar event; it still turns out the same. I still am baffled and surprised by the end result. You mean I let that happen again? You mean I was betrayed, tricked or cornered? How? Indeed my eyes are wide open. My brain is on high alert. But somehow my heart is in the lead. We follow my heart. This beautiful child-like love and we just can’t help ourselves. We fall with her, into her way of being, and we think this time we are okay. This time it’s alright. This time trust. Trust. Trust. Trust. I don’t know how to stop trusting. For I cannot see what I am not.