Friday, May 4, 2012

Happy Face

One of the coolest things I’ve ever gotten for my husband was an ‘emotions’ magnet set for my fridge. For starters, the main magnet sheet has thirty different faces with the emotions name below each face. Then there is a little 'frame' magnet that you put around a single emotion face. The frame said, “Today I feel”. 
When I first put it up my husband was astounded that there were ‘so many’ different emotions. If you’d ask him to name different emotions he’s say, “Happy, sad, angry.” That was his entire range. And his face would usually not accurately reflect even those three.
Over 100 different emotions are listed at
One of the main deficits in the Apies’ world is lack of social skills in deciphering facial expressions, verbal tones, non-verbal cues, and body language.
Things understood during a typical conversation between a NeuroTypical (NT – those not on the autism spectrum) and someone with Aspergers:
What the NT Gets – voice [with words], facial expression, verbal tone, body language and posture, what the person is wearing, any sufficiently loud or disruptive intrusions

What the Aspie Gets - The Voice [as noise], all non-verbals in a single swoop such as books on the bookshelf behind the talker, other people in the room, flashing lights on a hard drive, traffic outside, nice (groovy) patterns on the person's tie,  logo on their glasses, scuff marks on their shoes, screen saver on the PC behind them.

Having a serious heart to heart talk with an Aspie can be challenging. (see my post "Don't Look at Me")
Choosing a time and place for such a talk is important. Quiet and non-distracting surroundings are best. I find sitting side by side with arms just barely touching and both of us facing forward towards a blank wall of some sort is best. Brick walls don’t work as ‘someone’ can begin counting them or looking for breaks in patterns thus losing track of the conversation.
My kids had an absolutely fantastic grade school teacher whom I’m sure had Aspergers. Most parents didn’t like him as he wouldn’t let them help in his class, and he could barely talk in parent/teacher conferences. He was painfully shy, but fantastic with the kids. He had a dry wit while being pretty strict; the kids loved and respected him.
I figured out at conference time if I sat in a chair next to Mr. Y's at the table so we were shoulder to shoulder, looking at the same paperwork, he would began chatting away, looking anywhere but at me. We talked and laughed so much that the principle walking by looked into the room to see who was there! I was always welcome in his class and spent many hours there. He passed away suddenly a bit ago; our district lost a valuable asset. He is sorely missed.
Happy face, sad face, angry face. My hubby will have on a face that may or may not express his feelings at that time. Trying to get him to ‘use his words’, assuming he hasn’t used his quota of them for the day, helps.
Other times, laughing works best.

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