How To Support Your Aspie Friend (tips for partners, parents and friends of aspies) | Patrons Choice


– Hi everyone, welcome to this month’s Patron’s Choice video, How
to Support Your Aspie Friend. The topic this month was
chosen by Nancy, who writes, “How to help someone with Asperger’s “feel accepted, valued, and loved “for who they are without
trying to fit in.” And I really love this topic, because it goes straight to
the heart of a major issue that a lot of people on the spectrum face, which is exactly this
question of how do I fit in? Or, more specifically, how do I gain this love and acceptance, and be myself at the same time? Is that even possible? So this video is essentially to help NTs, family, friends, partners,
all that kind of stuff, to give the right message
that is actually helpful. So essentially, the problem
that a lot of us face, and I know this is the case for me, is that, when I was little, I was always taught how to fit in. Constantly told how I should be. Constantly taught how to
conform and to fit in. And this is what you need to do at school, and this is what you’re allowed to say, and this is what you’re
not allowed to say, and all of those kind of things. And for most people that’s
not really such a big deal because if this is the sort of acceptable range within society, if you kind of fit into
that most of the time, its not really a big deal to sort of squish yourself into it
the rest of the time. Whereas, if you are naturally
all the way out here, or all the way out here, then constantly, every
second of every day, trying to do something that
does not come naturally, and when I say things
that don’t come naturally, I mean things like
looking people in the eye. Things like sitting still. Things like wearing clothes, and by clothes, I mean I always had trouble with shirts
and ties and things. It was really really
difficult for me, wool. Anyway, things like that,
that are common for people, but if it’s difficult for you to do that, then teaching conformity, the
message that comes through is that you’re not okay how you are. And to fit in, you need
to be somebody else. Alright, this message, you’re broken, and I’m gonna help fix you by
teaching you how to fit in. And unfortunately, when we do that, often we praise compliance. So, good job, you looked me in the eye. Good job, you sat still
for the whole lesson. Or you had a whole day at school without getting into any trouble. And unfortunately, and this
was definitely the case for me, I got so good at this
compliance and conformity, I created this, it’s almost
like I created an ulterior, a new character of this
is who I’m supposed to be. Because the real me is not
lovable, and not acceptable. The real me is not okay,
the real me is broken. But fortunately, other
people have taught me how to be somebody else
who can be accepted. And once that happens, then
no matter how much praise, no matter how much love and acceptance is shown to this person, it’s going to be attributed to the mask. So the more successful I am, people say I’m amazing, and I think, if they only knew who I really was they would not accept me. They only accept me because
I’m performing really well, and I’m conforming really well. And if at any moment of
the day that mask cracks, then they would see who I really am, and they would find me
out for who I really am. And they would not accept me. So the other problem is
what if I’m not very good at these skills of fitting in? It’s likely that the people around me are going to see me really struggle, and they’re going to offer me help. And they’re going to say, I can see that you have trouble at a job interview, and I’m gonna help you
do that you need to do to get that job. And what you need to do is fit in, and you need to learn
how to make eye contact, and shake someones hand, and say the right things,
and have smalltalk, and all of those socially
appropriate things so that you can succeed. And you can probably see by now how this just reinforces
exactly the same thing. You are broken, and the only
way you’re gonna succeed is if we fix you so that you fit in, and we give you this mask so that you can get this love
and acceptance and value, and all the things that you, that every human being wants, I guess. (laughing) So, that is
a very powerful message that can be drilled into us
from a very very early age, and can be extremely damaging. So, for an adult who has probably
experienced all of these, how do you actually support them? Well, the solution is the opposite of this message that you’re broken. The solution is the message that you’re actually completely
fine, exactly how you are. And the way to communicate that message is by emphasizing the unconditional nature of any praise, love,
value, support, acceptance. It has to be unconditional, because praise and acceptance,
when I’ve got this mask, I automatically attribute it to what I’ve done, or what I’ve said, or this other person that
I’ve created, this character. So if someone says, good job, I think great, all I need
to do is do a good job, and then I’ll be loved,
accepted, and valued. So this message of no matter what is kind of like a mantra that needs to be repeated and repeated
and repeated and repeated. And then eventually, hopefully,
it will actually sink in, and then a person can have a new belief, instead of thinking I’m
broken, I’m not okay, the new belief is,
those who really know me love and accept me for who I am. Even if I wasn’t a success, even if I wasn’t good at fitting in, even if I couldn’t do all these things that people are trying to help me to do, that I might struggle with, I would still be loved
and valued and accepted. And once that message
has eventually sunk in, that is the keystone, essentially, from where everything else is built from. Because if I have the self belief that the people who really
know me love and accept me, then it’s very easy to
go out into the world and face difficulty, and face
rejection and face failure, and all of these difficult
things that might come my way, and I know that it’s not my fault, it’s not because I’m broken, the reason these other people
out there have rejected me is because they have misunderstood me. They don’t really know me. Because the people that really know me love and accept and value me. And you can see how that’s
exactly the opposite message of believing that I’m broken and believing that no matter how much praise I get from other people, it’s not really valid, because
if they really knew me, they would find out that I’m broken. So you can see that’s
completely opposite, there. So what does this actually
look like in real life? What it looks like is acceptance of what would normally be
inappropriate behavior. So I’ll give you some examples of how I might do that with
my friends, for example. My friends on the spectrum. It means that when they do something weird, and outside
the box that would normally elicit a negative social response, right, because that’s how we
condition each other socially. When someone makes a mistake, we withdraw this love and acceptance, so they go, oops, I shouldn’t do that anymore. That’s just the human nature of how we learn to be
social with each other. So when a friend of mine does something completely inappropriate, says something, does something, my response to them is not to withdraw my love and acceptance, and say, well that was inappropriate, you shouldn’t have done that. My first response has to be
one of love and acceptance. Saying, wow, you do realize how much you get away with
when you’re around me, because I like you so much. You are so crazy, and I love you for it. You are so different than
everybody else I know in a completely inappropriate
way a lot of the time, and I love you for it. If you did these things
around some other people, they might have a different reaction. But because I really know
you, because I understand you, I know that that’s just who you are, and that’s great. I want to know exactly who you are. I want you to have the freedom to not have to be someone
else when you’re around me. If I tell someone off socially for doing certain things they’re going to feel
like they’re not allowed to do those things around me. So what I wanna do is
repeat this message of, unconditionally, I don’t care what you do, I don’t care what you say. I am going, nothing you can
do can make me love you less, is a phrase that I like. And if someone believes that message, that nothing they can do
will make you love them less, then that’s a very relaxing message. It allows them to take off this mask, and actually have the vulnerability to show you who they really are, who they’re worried will be rejected because everyone else has
rejected this person in the past. And then finally, getting
acceptance for that true self can spark this belief
that it’s actually okay, people who really know
me do love and accept me. Maybe I’m not broken. And that is a very very powerful thing to someone on the spectrum. The realization that you are not broken. And then a last little
bit that I’ll add is once you have this belief,
you can then come full circle and actually help to teach
these skills of how to fit in. Because if I believe that the people who know me most love and accept me, then I can go, great, I can
learn how to put on this mask, how to dress up, and be
socially appropriate, and all of these things, for those other people
that don’t really know me. And I can get along well in the world, and I can have a great mask,
and I can be a success, and I know I’m not a fraud. Because I know that
everyone else does this too. Every time people do
their hair in the mirror and get dressed up, and that, that’s a socially projected
persona that they are creating because that’s what works in society. So I can teach someone
how to do those things knowing that the success or
failure of learning those skills like looking someone in
the eye, or sitting still, is not what makes you loved,
and valued, and accepted. It’s just a skill that helps
you get along in the world with people who don’t really know you and might not unconditionally love, and value, and accept you. Okay. (laughing) I hope that made sense. I’m clearly very passionate
about this topic. If you have any other questions, let me know in the comments. And if you would like to have your say in next month’s Patron’s Choice video, you can become a cup of coffee supporter for less than a dollar a week. So without supporters like you,
this would not be possible. So please consider that. Otherwise, yeah, I think that’s it, and I will see you next time. Bye. If you liked this video,
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