Personal Stories:
An Open Letter to ASD Teens

Autism Resource Centre Newsletter (click to enlarge)

 

Eric is a volunteer at ARC(S). He is 19 and was recently diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. This has helped explain many misgivings that he has experienced in childhood and throughout school life.

Eric possesses a keen mind and is rather prolific in his writings. He has many interests, reads widely and in depth. He is a whiz at the computer and has helped us on numerous occasions with our PC woes. Most of the skills he has acquired are self-taught. A strong proponent of discover learning, Eric is an inventor at heart. Be it reengineering things or coming up (with) a new social construct, Eric is working hard towards changing the world as he sees it.

Most of his interests and concerns are featured on his website at http://iautistic.com. Here is an excerpt about different kinds of friends taken from his 35-page document on various issues. In writing this letter to fellow autistics or ASDs as he calls them, Eric hopes to share his experiences and encourage ASDs to ponder over their future and to make positive choices for the betterment of their lives.

Kinds of friends

I classify my friends into four kinds: bad, neutral, good and best.

Best friends come very rarely, and I only have the good fortune to know two of them in my life. They consist of the only people I enjoy interacting socially with. I suspect that only those with slight autistic tendencies qualify in this category. With them, you can act completely freely and openly. In their presence, your language will automatically evolve into an informal mode, as both of you develop some specialised vocabulary. They might not share the same interests as you, but they will definitely listen and understand what you say instead of second-guessing or flooding you with requests for social interaction that you dislike.

Good friends demonstrate to some degree, consistent, positive relationships. One can usually develop further relationships with them. To help encourage them to help you, select a few of them (no more than 3 individuals) and help them in all the ways you can. This is so that they will reciprocate when you ask them for help later (and you will surely need that one of these days). Usually, when I'm involved in a school project, I have to settle for them or suffer the consequences of having to work with people who dislike me.

Neutral friends come and go. They might do something good for you or something bad to you, depending on the situation and their character. One of these people stood me up in a school group project. He promised to be involved but in the end, never made any real contribution to the project. I ought to have removed him from the project! One should have less hesitation over offending these individuals. Like people on the street, you do not know them very well. However, you will probably have to interact and perhaps work with them in some way. Save your energy for the good and best friends and attempt to present yourself neutrally to the people in this category.

Bad friends often appear in many shapes and guises. Some people will immediately take a dislike towards you when they meet you, while others take advantage of your generosity or kindness. Some of them do not intentionally trouble you; like those “emotional vampires” who call you up and talk for hours without end, about boring, social or irrelevant topics. They seem unable to heed your requests for them to stop. They still deal out the same damage so you must also avoid them.

Once you have determined they belong to this category, take the approach of cutting your losses – reducing the damage they present to you. Attempt to interact minimally with them. Make sure you do not have to rely on them for help - only rely on best friends and good friends for help and support.

Note: I have replaced the term "AC" with "ASD" for clarity.

Resources

PDF FILE of newsletter at the ARC website

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