The Asperkid's (Secret) Book of Social Rules
eBook - ePub

The Asperkid's (Secret) Book of Social Rules

The Handbook of Not-So-Obvious Social Guidelines for Tweens and Teens with Asperger Syndrome

Brian Bojanowski, Jennifer Cook O'Toole

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  1. 280 pages
  2. English
  3. ePUB (mobile friendly)
  4. Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

The Asperkid's (Secret) Book of Social Rules

The Handbook of Not-So-Obvious Social Guidelines for Tweens and Teens with Asperger Syndrome

Brian Bojanowski, Jennifer Cook O'Toole

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About This Book

Being a teen or tween isn't easy for anyone but it can be especially tough for Asperkids. Jennifer O'Toole knows; she was one! This book is a top secret guide to all of the hidden social rules in life that often seem strange and confusing to young people with Asperger syndrome.

The Asperkid's (Secret) Book of Social Rules offers witty and wise insights into baffling social codes such as making and keeping friends, blending in versus standing out from the crowd, and common conversation pitfalls. Chock full of illustrations, logical explanations, and comic strip practice sessions, this is the handbook that every adult Aspie wishes they'd had growing up.

Ideal for all 10-17 year olds with Asperger syndrome, this book provides inside information on over thirty social rules in bite-sized chunks that older children will enjoy, understand, and most importantly use daily to navigate the mysterious world around them.

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What You Need to Know about the Need-to-Knows

Making Sense of the Rules

- 1 -

How Not to Make a Light Bulb

Why Everything is Hard Before It is Easy

Need-to-Knows

• Persistence means dedication even when you royally and publicly mess up.
• Skill develops over time, not overnight.
• Everything is hard before it becomes easy.
• Failure hurts. But it’s the best way to learn.
• When you feel trapped in your mistakes is exactly when you have to start getting creative.
• Success is about what you do when—not if—you fail.
• The biggest mistake you can make is being too afraid to make one.

Asperkid Logic

Have you ever watched a toddler who is learning how to walk? It’s a very clumsy thing. No matter how strong or how sturdy he is, no matter how smart or how coordinated she seems, every single little kid falls. A lot. There are a lot of skinned knees and split lips. And suddenly, everything in the house is geared toward preventing a trip to the emergency room. Diapers serve double duty as tush padding. Baby gates suddenly appear everywhere. Table corners are covered with foam bumpers. Catalogs offer baby crash helmets, and even mini elbow or knee pads. There are even “professionally certified babyproofers” (I am being completely serious, people) who, for several thousands of dollars at a time, promise to help safeguard toddlers as they, well, toddle around their homes.
OK. Got it. Learning to walk is a super-huge life moment, an enormous business, and very ungraceful. So?
Well here’s my question to you: do you remember learning to walk? Of course not. Yet you obviously did it at some point. And it was a big deal to your little baby self (this was serious exercise and not a little bit frustrating). You wanted to check out some shiny thing or reach that cracker. You didn’t want to wait for somebody to get your favorite stuffed animal or hand you a sippy cup. You wanted it, and you wanted it NOW. You wanted to be part of the fun. Maybe follow your dog or your brother. There may have been times when you screamed your head off in frustration. Or maybe you sat and thought about it, trying to plan your next daring escape from the crib. Whatever you did, the fact is that for a good long time, no matter how badly you wanted to walk, you just couldn’t.
This whole walking thing was also a big deal to everyone watching close by—those people who cared about you, helped you up if you stumbled, and cheered when you tried again. They may have even made home movies as you pulled yourself up, cruised along the furniture, carefully tried to balance…and then fell flat on your face. Repeatedly. Eventually, though, you got strong enough and had enough experience in what NOT to do to manage to keep your balance for a step, or even two. And within a matter of days if not weeks, your wobbly toddle became a “Frankenstein-ish” waddle and then a ridiculously fast (though not at all coordinated) run that probably terrified your parents all over again.
If someone were to watch that last bit, it might have even seemed that Baby You went from floor-bound crawler to nutty little marathon kid practically overnight. But you didn’t. Don’t forget the face-plants and split lips, the safety gates and bruised tush. No, this wasn’t an overnight success. It was hard-won and worked at—by a small child, yes, but an achievement made no less worthy or admirable because of your age.
That’s why you need look no further than your first triumph to remember this rule: everything is hard before it becomes easy. That’s true for walking, talking, riding a bike, driving a car, doing multiplication, figuring out irregular verbs, quantum mechanics, going on a date, job interviews, and everything else that comes along. Life, in general, takes persistence. Which doesn’t just mean long periods of dedication. Persistence means dedication even when you royally and publicly mess up. It means falling on your face and getting hurt. Feeling completely mortified when someone (or everyone) sees you topple over. Walking into a party with your skirt tucked into your underwear (OK, that might have happened to me), then getting over it, NOT running away, and sticking around to try again.
As one of my favorite TV characters of all times (and a total Aspie), Dr. Gregory House, said, “If you are not willing to look stupid, nothing great is ever going to happen to you.”
Television talent shows make a huge industry out of taking folks and turning them into superstars. Of course, they don’t show the backstory—hours of music lessons or practicing scales or getting laughed off stage. They don’t show that because it’s long and not too exciting to watch. But those bumpy days happened. Because everything is hard before it becomes easy. Skill develops over time, not overnight.
Being patient can be really hard—I know—especially when it comes to what we, Aspies, expect of ourselves. Ever try a new kind of math equation and end up completely furious with yourself, or lose it when you didn’t “get” a new lesson immediately? What about trying to learn to jump rope and being the only one in the class who couldn’t get the hang of it? (My hand’s up, here.) Usually, this is when Asperkids want to quit…or scream…or just freak out at anyone who gets in their way.
Exactly why, though, should we know how to do something expertly right away? How come we think that—unlike everyone else—we don’t need to put in time and effort before we are able to do (or maybe even fabulously achieve) something? The answer, of course, is that we can’t do everything well the first time we try. And we shouldn’t expect ourselves to. EVERYTHING is hard before it is easy…for a reason. If you can stick around through feeling embarrassed or disappointed or frustrated, there is something to be gained in the time it takes to learn. Something you can’t gain any other way. Character and creativity. Resilience. Winston Churchill, that great, stubborn force, famously said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts” (Vilord 2002, p.36).
As a baby, your legs got stronger by having to get back up over and over again. Your arms got more flexible from having to pull back up. Your reflexes got faster at detecting off-kilter balance only from learning what it felt like to fall. So, yes, this rule is partially about being nicer to yourself, and being more forgiving of mistakes. And it is partially about tossing the idea that anyone else thinks you ought to do everything right the first time. They don’t (really) and you shouldn’t (really).
Somewhere, we get this crazy idea in our heads that smart people or cool people or people who are just generally worth having around don’t fail. Wrong. They do. Happy people, content people…they just won’t allow a blunder to be their final statement. The biggest mistake you can make is being too afraid to make one.
“No” or “you’re wrong” or complete and total public humiliation—as awful as they feel at the time (and I am so agreeing that they DO feel awful)—can give you the chance to do and imagine and be things you never imagined. Give yourself a little time to see what can happen. When you feel trapped in your mistakes is exactly when you have to start getting creative. It’s when you really get to see the genius you have inside.
The fact is that everyone—EVERYONE—messes up. Fails, even. That’s not what determines who succeeds in life and who doesn’t. In fact, many people will let early successes give them a false sense of confidence, that everything will come easily to them. Like I did at dance.
I started dance at age two, and right from the beginning, I was really good at it. It felt wonderful and without much effort, I could do whatever my teachers asked, and more. So pretty quickly, I just took for granted that dance would always be a no-brainer for me. Then, somewhere around age thirteen, I had the chance to audition for my first off-Broadway company. Everyone in the room was older than me, they ...

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