Friday, 30 December 2011

The Right Way to Address Another Persons Negative Behavioral Traits

A very minor incident that happened today reminded me and helped me to clarify in my mind something I've been thinking about lately, to do with dealing with bad behavior, or negative behavioral traits, that may occur in people with Aspergers, but also applies to neuro-typicals.

I know a man who is in many ways very helpful, but has a number of undesirable traits that he seems to be somewhat aware of himself. Those traits are firstly, that he can quckly change his tone from being friendly to being somewhat aggresive, after something he sees that irritates him, and secondly, he is easily able to see the negatives in people, and can find a bone to pick with anyone he knows.

On several occasions, he has had to point out to me a few technical mistakes I make occasionally, sometimes when he has seen a pattern. These are not fatal errors or especially numerous ones, but the type that everyone will make from time to time. He has often accused me, when pointing out these errors, of sighing and groaning at him or over-reacting or even taking offence at them, and has said he finds it 'rude.' He's accused me of trying to pass the blame onto another person. This is led to us almost falling out once or twice.

Now when someone tells me I've done something wrong or made a mistake. that's bad news. It doesn't really matter who the messenger is, although how the messager delivers may impact my impression of the seriousness of the error. But it's bad news because I want to get things right, I want to be regarded as competant, I want to progress in life an in my career, and anything that says I'm not up to standard is bad news. How do we normally react to bad news? With a sigh or a groan. That's our natural reaction!

So you've just had a tickling off over a basic mistake, perhaps some errors in a spreadsheet or walking too fast, you naturally sigh and groan, the the same person moans at you for a sigh or a groan and tells you you're being rude, then guess what - you have compounded the problem. You are now faced with two pieces of bad news - you've made an error and your behavior is sub-standard and rude. What's you naturally reaction? An even bigger sigh, and on, and on. It can go round in circles.

Now this type of situation happens all the time. It happens in schools when a telling off over a sub-standard homework assignment is followed by a a telling off over a bad reaction to the teacher's displeasure. At least that's how I see it.

Now my question is, do we learn better when we are in a good mood or a bad mood? Sometimes it appears the only times we're taught how to 'behave' is by being told off when we get it wrong. As autistic speaker Ros Blackburn has said, there is a difference between being told how to behave, and being told off about how you behave. I would like to suggest that after facing a rebuke on two different accounts, it is a bit much to expect one to walk back to their desk with a happy smile on their face!

It is important that we distinguish between what is 'rude' and what is a natural reaction to bad news. I strongly object to the charge of 'rudeness' simply because I'm displaying my natural reaction, and the fact I happen to have a nervous and reactionary disposition and a tendency to panic. One must be careful in their use of words. If we say 'it may appear rude' is better than 'that's rude' it helps to shows we recognise that they are not being malicious.

The main point I wish to make is this. If someone, after facing a ticking off over one thing, is reacting badly, and has a behavioral trait that needs to be addressed for whatever reason, the time to address it is not when that person is being told off for another misnomer. No, the time to address such traits is when a more calm, controlled and positive situation arises, such as their annual review, which will most likely begin with a few 'well dones.' If more urgent, organise a one-to-one meeting several hours or days later when that person is in a good mood, and at that kind of meeting start off with something positive, and just gently mention the negative trait or issue that needs addressing, and explain calmly how that person needs to be aware how their behavior is impacting others. That way, it will also help ensure that what you are saying is accurate depiction of the person's behavior and not a 'reaction' to it. A few positives will assure them that their misnomers do not make them incompetent or a failier, and that in itself will mean that they will be less likely to react badly when the next one is brought to their attention.

In short, don't bombard you child, pupil or work colleague with more than one rebuke at once. Address behavior when that person is in a good mood in a planned and organised setting, and do it all carefully and sensitively.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Social Shields and Avoiding Awkward Conversations

For as long as I can remember, I have adopted various 'social shields' as a way to get out of an awkward conversation. By awkward conversations I am talking about when someone asks me a question about an issue that I wish to keep private, not because of any kind of bad behavior I've done, but when it relates to a matter of personal preferences that for some hard to explain reason is a sensitive issue for me - often because there is some kind of pre-concieved image tied into my preference whichever way that I am embarrased to associate myself with. My main social shields used to be my watch, and being concerned about time keeping, and needing the toilet. These days, it tends to be my mobile, and its use is not in such obvious situations as it used to be, as I am better prepared and able to handle more questions.

One thing I am sensitive to is knowing what personal things certain people know about me and what I keep private from them. Now sometimes I may have very mixed feelings about whether I want to tell someone I know, such as a work colleague, certain things about my life, preferences and beliefs. On the one hand if I do tell them, it will open myself up to some more interesting conversations and enable me to discuss things that I definitely do want to talk about, but won't make much sense unless I explain the sensitive issue first. On the other hand, revealing the sensitive issue has the potential to give rise to more awkward questions and conversations with that person, and there may be future occassions when I may be concerned as to what that person is thinking about me when a certain situation arises (i.e. if you tell someone you fancy a certain girl and then three months later you're all out together, that's just one general example of the sort of thing I mean). On the basis that you cannot undo information you have given to someone, I generally play safe, and if telling that person something about me is just going to make life harder, I just choose avoid to avoid that topic.

What makes life very difficult, is when someone, whilst not necessarily asking you direct, tries to engage you in a conversation about something that just so happens to be a sensitive issue for you. Sometimes the conversation will start on a 'safe' subject, and then in a way that cannot possibly be anticipated, the other person veers the conversation off into what happens to be your senstive area. Sometimes they may feel very strongly about an issue, and I strongly disagree with them, and they try to engage me into a topic, and when this happens, the only form of defense I can use is to pretend to be having to concentrate on whatever I'm doing a bit more, or look at the clock. If I express my views on the matter, I feel it could lead to a whole host of awkward questions, and potentially awkward situations in future - so it is safer just to keep the whole subject private.

When it comes to how open I am on a certain issue, I am often wanting to be all or nothing with people. Either that person knows the full story, or much of it when it comes to my views or preferences on this subject, with all the whys and that, or I just keep quiet about it. Because that person only knowing half the story is likely to make me feel most uncomfortable and leave me wondering what that person is thinking. Besides 'coming out' as such (I'm not gay) on a subejct and explaining everything at once provides a necessary shield against potential awkward questions that may arise in due course. Its like answering them all in advance so you don't have to face them unexpectedly later.

What If They Find Out Through A Third Party

Unfortantly, a recent incident occured by which I appear to have discovered, that a certain person does know after all something about me that I intended to keep private. I have a number of ideas about how that person may have found out. This is surprising in a way, in view of the way they had been talking to me about this subject. I have to say I have absolutely no respect for someone who knows your secrets, and then tries to engage you with a conversation topic you haven't opened up about to try to get you t reveal more, when revealing with could make life more difficult in future. Now the issue I wish to address is: How do you deal with this type of issue with a person with aspergers?

In short I would say, when a person has found something out about another, and has become apparent to both parties, that really that person would rather not have had them know, but its out there now anyway, the best way is to try and reveal in gently, away from others, that you happen to know this, and give the person time to ask questions about what they know and explain their position, and 'come out and reveal all.' Basically revealling everything necessary to avoid awkward conversations in future. Give the person time and space to adjust to the fact you knew about this issue, and if necessary allow them time out to wander and think it through.

I am of course beig very vague in this post, this is necessary to protect my own and other people's identities among those I know. How exactly one will deal with this will vary upon the individual situation. But I hope readers will understand the general principles here, in terms of why some issues will want to be kept private, and have to sensitively tackle a sensitive issue with someone, especially one with aspergers, when unwanted things have become revealled. 

Saturday, 24 December 2011

The Problems of Understanding Jokes

At work, one person recieved a present at the Secret Santa that had a joke attached to it. I cannot elaborate online, for the sake of people's identities. Nevertheless, this incident has helped me to explain better the two-fold difficulty of understanding jokes.

This incident helps me to explain that there is often not a one but a two-fold difficulty for someone with Aspergers to understand a joke. The first difficulty is to do with the fact the Aspergers people tend not be broad and balanced thinkers and do not have a wide general knowledge. They tend to instead go much deeper into their own favourite subject, looking into the tiny details, which can make life lonely as there is no-one who will engage with their distinct interests. It also means that whilst they may appear highly intelligent when discussing a favourite subject, they will also lack a lot of more foundational knowledge, some of which is rarely taught and expected to 'picked-up' such as many innuendos, and as a result some situation may make an Asperger's person appear 'stupid.' Often jokes are based around some assumed piece of common knowledge. If you don't have that piece of knowledge you have no chance of getting it.

The second difficulty is to do with the fact that jokes involve connecting two or more unconnected dots in the back of your mind all within an instant. Now recently I have watched a bit comedy and paid some attention to the structure of jokes I have heard. By chance I even thought of one, albeit a crude and possibly offensive one, but I found it funny, and I'll explain those dots that need connecting. Here's the joke in the format of a conversation between a mother and son.

Son. "Oh I can't stand being overweight many more, I've really got to something to lose weight."

Mother. "Well if join the Army you'll be losing large chunks off your weight when your on the front-line in Afrghanistan"

Perhaps this is both a bad constucted joke and a potentially hurtful one for wounded ex-servicemen and their families, so I apologise if I caused any offence. The joke is that if you get deployed to Afghanistan you may lose weight, by having your legs and arms blown by hitting hit by an IED. You'll lose weight but in all the wrong places!

The thing is to get such a joke you have to both be aware of what is happening in Afghanistan and then quickly remember this and connect the loss of limbs to weight loss. You have to mentally jump over a bridge in order to make sense.

Another issue with jokes is that the answer is not always logical. Here's an example of a joke that I was told has been popular recently.

Q. What is the Capital of France?

A. £2.50.

The joke is based upon the word Capital, and the answer is in relation to the current economic crisis in the eurozone. But why pick £2.50? Why not £1.50, or £3.50 - they're all small amounts of money? This is what I mean by the answer not being logical. Any small figure would do, and there's no logical reason to pick any particular number - unless one can improve upon it of course.

With all these complications in jokes I find it incredible that at least 95% of people regularly get them, and someone like myself, who is quite intelligent (at least I give off that impression) and academic, dosen't. Its like walking into a party - one of the most complicated things for the human brain to deal with, and yet somehow everyone is expected to be able to do it confidently or else look like a 'loser.'

Saturday, 26 November 2011

I Just Cannot Trigger Attraction. Is There Any Way I Can Bypass This Phase?

I sometimes think that the more I read or hear about the things that attract women, the more I realise that my whole persona is one that is simply not geared towards it. I have heard it said that the three key qualitites that attract women are, firstly benig supposedly 'pre-selected' by other women, secondly, being a leader of men, and thirdly, a protector or loved ones. I am by nature none of those things. I do have many good qualities - I am well organised, hard-working, mature, loyal, reliable and independent, I managed to get a a mortgage at age 21, but none of those characteristics triggers a woman's attraction switches. The things that cause a woman's attraction are my weak areas. I have been feeling that I really need something tantermuont to an arranged marriage, because it would enable me to find a relationship with a girl who would appreciate the qualities I do have whilst bypassing the attraction phase.

That said, I am working hard to develop those areas that trigger a girl's attraction. I try to use stories about things I've done which may demonstrate an element of those attraction qualities, and can hopefully sub-communite that I have those things. I often find that when I am at home I brainstorm the various natural conversational techniques I have learnt that can help to improve my communication with women, but when I am actually in a social situation talking to a girl I find myself forgetting much of it

A good case in point would be this past Thursday. It was my uncle's birthday and he was hosting drinks at a local pub. I decided I would come along. I didn't know who would be there, though I suspected there would be people I knew present. Now whenever I find myself arriving at an organised social or walking into a party, I cannot help but appear a little apprehensive, for the simple reason that I don't know exactly what the logistics will be like on arrival. Who's going to be there? Will they be standing, mingling around or sitting in a circle round the table? Who will be the first person I know who will spot me arriving? These were all uncertainties I had on Thursday. Now I wasn't worried about any of these things, I was actually very relaxed about it all. Nevertheless, when I walked into the pub, these were the things I was looking for when looking to see my uncle and his friends. So I entered in, turned round the corner and sure enough I saw my uncle and some friends sitting around a table. I then had to spend a minute or so digesting the situation - OK, so this person's here, that person's here, is that so-and-so? are these people part of the group? All these little things. Whilst I am digesting the situation, trying to say Hello to people, an attractive girl who was in the group who I'd met a few times before said Hello to be, and said "are you OK?" or something of that nature and I said "yes, I'm justy taking a minute to digest this, see who's here" or words to that effect. The point is, in having to digest the situation, it seems that I cannot help but display slightly uncomfortable body language, which can be misinterpreted. I wish I could go up confidently to everyone and say 'Hi' making good eye contact, but I just can't do that in this type of situation.

Now as I chatted to the girl I mentioned and to other people, I did get some things right. I managed to incorporate a few conversational techniques I have learnt which help the interaction, but I often feel frustrated that I can never say anything that will trigger attraction, or make the girls laugh. Girls may think I'm a nice person and consider it a decent conversation but I just cannot create any sparks or make it feel special in any way. And I find myself forgetting so many things that I've learnt and can remember when I am at home on my own.

I wasn't trying to target any patricular person at this social, and I am trying to move away from targeting certain girls and focusing on displaying attractive qualities to everyone. My aim is to be able to come across to everyone as confident and socially attractive and for girls to be able to look upon me as potential boyfriend material rather than I guy who lacks a bit of confidence and may need a bit of a boost.

How does one find a relationship if they cannot display such characteristics, or appear nervous? I think of certain older married men who display a shy, retiring, personality, and think "How Ever Did They Find Their Wives!?"  It seems strange to me how the majority of men are able to find relationships and can trigger attraction with at least one woman and have an interaction that is more than just a 'nice conversation.' It leads me to the question sometimes - is there such a way I can find a relationship with a girl that would bypass the attraction phase?

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Speed Dating

Last night I went out speed dating. There were fourteen girls there and I spent about three minutes chatting to each one. Prior to speed dating I had an hour's coaching with Alan who runs the attraction academy I've been involved with. I had previously brainstormed a few ideas for how to approach the dates, one who the use of assumption stacking rather than just questions, and a list of a few things I should say about myself and subjects that may be useful to discuss.

I arrived at the venue with another guy from the academy, we were directed to the room where speed dating was going to take place. It felt slightly awkward seeing the girls around who you knew you would be speed dating with in a few mniutes, so I tried to make a good impression by chatting to my friend from the academy and a few other guys around. One guy who was new to the town I spoke to was very helpful, in that my conversation with him enabled me to practice takling to the girls.

So speed dating commenced and it started off fairly smoothly. Having not done this before I did not know what to expect from the girls, or how they might want me to approach the conversation. I found early on that the girls were going into 'interviewer' mode with me, they all asked me basic things like 'what do you do?' etc, and I tried to give an attractive answer. On the one hand this made things a bit easier as it wasn't me doing all the work, but at the same time it makes it harder for me to stimulate a more fun and attraction-building conversation, when a q&a frame is being set. It was a contrast in some way to the ways girls respond when you approach them cold in pubs and bars.

I tried assumption stacking and second guessing things about them, as this is something I was trained to do in attraction coaching, but also asked questions. I don't think I quite managed to build a deeper connection with anyone or create any solid attraction. It is frustrating because when you're actually interacting with girls you forget much of what you've been taught.

One embarrasing thing though. I realised later that I had accidently used the girls toilets, with their not being clear signposts at the club and thinking that they were unisex. Over the break I went into a cubicle and could hear the girls talking abuot the guys they interacted with, and I fear that someone may I have said something negative about something I said to them. Oh dear!

There was also a moment when there was a bit of a mix up with the order of girls I should be dating - apparently that's quite normal.

One thing that was trickly was trying to hold a conversation which creates attraction whilst handling the practical matter of writing each girl's name and number down on our cards and making sure I get it right.

Well I am really hoping I will have some new contacts after this. I definitely want to do it again soon, and next time I will be much better prepared, because I will know the place, know the set-up, know the way that girls approach each interaction (interviewing), knowing in practice the length of time I have with each girl, and thus I will be in a better position to prepare myself better for the occassion.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Interacting in the Classroom

Having spent year and plus one half-term so far taking an evening class in accounting at college, I have began to pinpoint some observations about classroom interactions, that felt really noticable this week.

We're currently preparing for the first exam for this course, and on Monday's tutorial the tutor gave every student a practice paper to work on in class, that we could do using our books and notes to help and being allowed to discuss the questions with fellow students.

What I noticed particularly on Monday, although I've been noticing this generally since I began studying is how much my fellow students socialise by conferring and discussing the work during the tutorial, and how much they like to compare answers or exchange knowledge from each other when doing excersizes in class. I noticed this particularly on Monday as the tutorial was orientated towards doing a practice exam paper.

Usually, some of the students will ask me "is this right?," or "have you got this?"... during class, and I apperciate that because it shows they must have some regard for me. I always try and help when they ask, and sometimes I feel I do hit the mark by sharing knowledge correctly and interacting well. However, quite often someone might ask about question 2.2b, and I have to say "sorry I haven't read it through yet."  It often takes three reads to really understand the question and focus on it properly. But yes, I try hard to fit in with their way of learning.

Now I consider it perfectly natural to want to discuss the work and share ideas about it, with perhaps a bit of conferrnig outside the tutorial. However what seems bizarre and illogical to me is the extent to which fellow student do this. Considering that all the accountancy exams have to be taken alone, and considering that there are clear notes, explanations, and answers available in the textbooks, which the tutor is able to clarify where necessary, why do students spend so much time conferring with each other on questions, rather than just quietly get on with the work and refer their textbooks for help? Why go to an still-learning student for help who is at the same level as you and has a 50% chance of getting the answer right, when there's a textbook in front of you that is 100% correct?

It just doesn't make sense!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

They Think I Should Be the Class Rep But Cannot I Fit in Conversationally?

Well I completed a certificate in basic accounting last year, and in September I went back to college to do another year's study which will hoepfully lead me to get a diploma.
Many of the students on my course this year are the same ones  was with last year, although there are several new students. I have always made a point of trying to be socialable at college, and the main time for socialising is the mid-tutorial break in th refrectory. However, whilst I am sure no-one dislikes me, and people are reasonably friendly, I cannot help feel that I often a fish out of water when handing around with fellow students, and its been hard to pinpoint exactly why. However I feel the penny dropped at my last tutorial yestarday. What I've noticed at college often applies to other social situations.

I am by nature a very formalised individual. If I'm ever walking from one place to another with a group of people, particularly young people, I simply don't fit in with their very casual form of conversation. Sometimes whilst others engage in a casual, jokey chit-chat whilst ambling along the street, I may find myself having a slightly more serious or straight-forward conversation with one of the quieter people. This may be why I've often found I got on better with more middle-aged people than my own generation.

It is this casual, jokey type of chit-chat and banter that I find I cannot fit in with at college. I may be sitting in a circle with fellow students or walking to or from refrectory. Yestarday for instance, I was walking with a group of lads to refrectory, and one of them was joking about someone who thought it would snow next week, as a few long-range forecasts had predicted, and that he'd put a bet on that it wouldn't snow, and they were al saying in the casual kind of way "its not gonna snow." (In my area you get an average of one day per winter with a light covernig of snow - its vitrually unheard of in October!) I attempted to but in and contribute to the discussion by referring to a long-range weather forecaster Piers Corbyn, who critiqued the newspaper reports predicting snow. However, as I preceeded to make my contribution, I seemed to be locked out and overshadowed by the discussion, despite the fact I had relevent factual information to share.

It seems like that one incident is symptomic of my difficulties socially at college and elsewhere. For me, it feels like I am having to pander a lower and less intelligent form of discussion in order to win friendship.

I find this a very frustrating issue, because I consider it be far more virtuous to be genuine, factual and honest in conversation, than to have to dumb down your language and any relevent knowledge and intelligence.

Being Appointed as Class Rep

At the end of the tutorial the tutor announced that we needed to appoint one person to be the class representative on the college's student forum, which would involve occasional, optional meetings and possibly the odd free lunch. The tutor left the room for about two minutes to allow us all to confer.

Immediately after he left I spoke out to the class and said "hands up anyone who's relevatively free during the daytime." As everyone works in the daytime, no one raised their hand. Then another student proposed to nominate me, and then said "hands up who wants to appoint ...." Then every student raised their hands. They obviously see something good in me, so I left college with a good feeling.

It just goes to show that some of us who may be weak in mingling socially can excel with offered a platform to speak and announce publically. I'm glad I was able to demonstrate that confidence and an element of leadership last night.

Monday, 3 October 2011

A Brief Update and a Highly Complex Story of that Saturday

Just because this blog has been very quiet for three months now does not mean that I've finished socialising.Quite the contrary. Since getting involved in the social attraction 'academy' I've been out on many Friday ro Saturday nights with other guys from the adademy, including a few workshops with the coach, and in the process of these and a various other socials I've approached about 100 girls/groups of girls within the past few months. I've learnt a bit about how to approach well, natural conversation techniques, storytelling and body language. So much has happened that I just haven't had the time to explain and clarify it all. However some events have occured recently that I really cannot keep to myself.

Last Saturday Night

I was out last Saturday night with a guy frmo the academy. We practiced some of the conversational techniques we'd learnt first, then approach several groups of girls, and then the following happened. Below is a revised extract of an email report I sent to the coach. Read on its a fascinating story:

We went to the cocktail place, and I started to feel irritated because I witnessed what appeared to be an approach by a couple of guys to two girls at a table. They were good looking and seemed to be doing it better than us so I was feeling a bit annoyed, but I decided after we had a drink and doing a couple of other approaches, to approach one of the guys in the group and simply ask him about how he approaches or ask the girl about it. This altered the course of the night. The men had high energy levels and using a lot of jokes and banter. After I approached the group the guy said he thought he'd seen me on TV (i've never been on TV) and thought I may have a hidden camera with me . He also offered to help me make approaches promising me a number every week (I didn't take it up). During the interaction one of the guys took a photo with me in there with the girl and also lifted me up by the legs! The girl was much more genuine and very friendly and level-headed, she asked me about my job etc. I told her where I worked and my studies etc, and that I started a business doing talks on diability issues. She did flirt with me somewhat but was flrting with others too. Later I mentioned I had Aspergers, and she replied my saynig that I seemed perfectly normal and would never have guessed. Basically it was a wierd mix of this group trying to teach me about interacting with girls and then thinking I was filming for BBC3 etc. All this time it was quite easy for me because everyone else was investing in the interaction with me so I didn't have to say or do much. Now as I got in there, the guy I was with left to go to another place, so I had one eye on trying not to lose him. So after about 10-15 minutes with those guys I said goodbye, went out and called the other guy, however as he couldn't get into pub he was going into, I suggested he come back to the cocktail place. So I walked back there and he met me there and I introduced him to the group. He had to leave soon after but as things were going well I stayed on, and the girl asked me (seriously) if I'd come along to a nightclub with them, I just had to say yes.

As we were walking to the cluib it felt like the girl was very genuine and perhaps trying to look after me a bit, the guys were acting silly, she was kind of saying "don't take notice of him" and it felt like the main guy might have been taking me on for a ride (i'm used to that) but the girl was totally genuine. When I got to the club, the other guys went in but the security man wouldn't let me in without ID. However the girl came to my rescue and opened the door and insisted they let me in. I stayed there about half an hour, although I felt a bit lost there as everyone seemed to know loads of people among the crowds - doing approaches in clubs is a completely different ballgame! Nevertheless when the girl seemed to walways make sure I was alright.

Way Home

As I left to go to the bus stop for the night bus, I was approached by two teenage girls if I could lend them my phone as they had no credit. She said I could hold her bag whilst she phones so she won't run off. Initially I lent it to them but as there was no signal they gave it back. I witnessed them being approached by a coloured guy a few mniutes later, and I asked the coloured guy something related, just out of interest.

Now the girls came back to me as I sat down at the bus stop where they appeared to be waiting, and started making a mockery of me, negative assumption stacking about my lack of relationships, which frighteningly for two completely immature girls (they seriously did not look old enough to be out) was largely correct. It just seems sometimes I always invariable portray an image of low social status. I basically acted like I was better than them, and in other words told them they needed to grow up and explanied a bit about Asperger's Syndrome and that they ought to appreciate the fact some peolpe simply struggle socially just like some struggle physically and mentally, which they didn't seem to understand. There were making a mockery of me but they were giving me attention, and then one of them asked again if she could borrow my phone. I said no at first, because I've been mugged in the past and from experience I couldn't trust them. She insisted I could hold her blackberry, so after pestering me a bit I gave in and let them call their Mum on my phone. However, she didn't give me her blackberry and after calling they walked away with my phone. When I challenged them they both denied they had it, abnd then walked off, and basically I couldn't get hold of it.

Its pay as you go so its no emergency as such, but nevertheless I called the police immediately when I got home, and called to get it immobilsed.

Needless to say, I proceeded to tell this story to friends and a couple of girls I approached at the bus stop the following day.

Monday, 4 July 2011

The Last Three Saturday Nights

In the past three Saturday nights since I went to the workshop on social attraction discussed in the previous post, I have continued to go out with a number of other guys from the 'academy' and attempt to approach girls. On the first Saturday, Alan was hosting another taster workshop, which I was invited to come as a guest for free, and six of us who were there, including the guy I was on the previous workshop with went out. What was also interesting was that two of the other two guys there I knew from organised socials!

During the past three Saturdays, I discovered that going out and approaching women was much harder without Alan being there. That said, on the first night I did manage to approach around eight or nine girls or groups of girls, which was more than anyone else there. There were four of us out, and two of them only made only approach to a couple of girls, although that lasted about 45 minutes.

On the second Saturday, only myself and one other guy went out. I was in a very positive mood to start the evening, and had prior to the evening done a brainstorm of techniques and conversation ideas. One of them was for both of us to make separate approaches early on in the evening and then we all meet up after 5 minutes. Unfortunately, that plan didn't quite work out. That night, there seemed to be a shortage of suitable sets to approach in the first bar. We then decided to go out to find a better place, but a number of places seemed to be unusually quiet that night. We even walked into one bar, but looking at both the ads on the wall and the way the bar attendees were dressed, I thought this might be a gay bar, so I decided that we'd better not stay here, before we ordered drinks. Much of that evening was spent wondering around looking for suitable places, getting more tired and downcast along the way.

Last weekend was much better, there were three of us, which was considerable easier than having just two. It was the myself, the guy I was out with the previous week and another man from the academy, one of the organised socials guys. I probably made about 10 approaches. I consciously made the effort to approach a couple of girls first thing we arrived before buying drinks. We later bumped into a couple of girls we had met two weeks ago. And later on in the night I approached three girls who remembered me from school. I didn't recognise them but they recognised me.

I have approached a number of girls during the daytime in other situations recently too.

I'm Getting Personal Coaching

I have decided to opt for a month of online coaching, with Alan, who runs the academy. I intend to email him everyday to tell him what I have been up to socially and we'll discuss ways to improve and build upon interactions. I don't know how much it will help but I decided it's time to give it a go. Today I took my final exam for a course I am doing, so this is the perfect window of opportunity to work on my social abilities and learn to get good with women.

I intend to post at least my side of our email correspondence on this blog. I hope I am wrong but I'm starting to feel this blog is getting a bit more boring lately. I certainly haven't reported on everything I have done socially or been prompt in it, but hopefully that will start to change.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Report of a Social Attraction Workshop

My last post referred to some help I was looking into regarding social and relationship issues Well this past Saturday I went along to one of the so-called 'boot-camps' that the guy I referred to runs. I say so-called because it is completely opposite to what most people would consider a boot-camp (young thugs being kicked and marched about by a drill sargeants etc) and indeed, when I mentioned to Alan, the guy who runs these, that the word bootcamp did not sound very appealing and suggesting workshop would be more appropriate, he took my suggestion on board.

Anyway, the workshop took place from six till nearly midnight in the city centre. It was just me and one other guy, who I had met in the previous workshop, and Alan. The first couple of hours were spent talking things through and preparing in a nice cafe. The plan for the evening was to go out to several bars between eight and midnight and approach and chat to girls. Exactly where and how we would go about this was very much open-ended, depending on what we wanted (so hardly a bootcamp!)

During the first hour I was feeling a little uneasy for two reasons. Firstly Alan made a few suggestions about how we might approach girls in the bar or attract their attention, ideas that didn't sound entirely comfortable to me. At around the same time as this I hurt myaw on a piece of cake. I had almost recovered from an aching jaw following a filling, and by biting a rather heavy piece of chocolate cake I did the equilivent of twisting my back but in my jaw. The teeth were fine, however I had to briefly excuse myself to go to the toilet to see if I could see what had happened, and go outside and phone Dad to see if he had any ideas about it, as I cannot remember this happening to me before. At this stage of the evening I was feeling somewhat apprehensive, concerned about my jaw and not in the mood for socialising. What perhaps made it harder was that I tend to panic in these kinds of moments, yet this was a lesson in social attraction, so I was trying to give a good impression during this moment of adversity - it wouldn't have been such an issue in an accountancy lesson!

However after calling Dad, I went back in and started to get back on track. I'm proud to say that Alan really liked my opinion opener I could use to approach girls. Before we hit the bars, Alan went through a process called anchoring with me. Anchoring is a concept in neuro-linguistic programming, by which one can get into the right frame of mind for a particular situation within a few minutes. Alan, being trainined in NLP found an anchor that would work for me. We found an empty space downstairs to do this and it took about five mintues. I fwlt a little weary of this and cautious if this would involve being subjected to some kind of mind-control, but the process seemed fine for me and seemed to work even though I did not feel anything during the anchoring process. During the anchoring process I used to nearby leather seatee to reinact a social situation I wanted to be in that night, I wasn't told to do this but I just did it to help myself prepare.

Around 8:15pm we went into a nearby bar. Once we'd arrived Alan suggested I go and walk up towards the stairs and approach a girl along the way, with Alan going to the upstairs part of the bar. I managed to aproach a couple of girls who had just walked down the stairs before I was about to walk up, and gave them my opinion opener. It was a successful approach, we chatted for about five minutes and they even asked me my name. We walked towards the bar area together and I introdued them to the other guy I was with, who has a little more experience with me, having been on a previous similar workshop. We continued to talk with them later on into the night.

In the meantime, I walked upstairs and tried several more approaches. Alan told me during the night that I was doing a good job - I was certainly able to approach girls boldly with confidence, but I made my mistakes and not everything went perfectly. Alan met a couple of friends he knew at the bar too, one being a girl, and they helped us along too. It soon became difficult keeping the energy levels up, as I do get tired easily in social situations - Asperger's means the brain has to work harder.

At around 10:30pm we headed off to another place, that was busier and louder, and far more difficult for approaching girls. There were numerous hen parties, and large groups of women sitting around the sofas. Myself and the other guy approached a few women, and found a few windows of opportunities. It was hard, but as Alan said "this is where you learn." I also began to get my energy levels back here. At around 11:20pm, the other guy I was with sat down on the sofa and decided to call it a day, whilst I persevered for a bit longer. At around 11:30 we both left to go to the station - he got the train eastwards to his place, I got the train westwoods to my place.

It was a really fun night. Great to be able to approach girls with other people doing it, with support, and it was great being able to experiment somewhat with different types of approaches, putting the social skills I've learnt into practice. All being well I'll be doing it again this coming weekend.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Helping People Succeed Socially and Find Relationships: Breaking Down the Processes

If your goal is to learn to drive, to learn to play guitar, to improve your football skills, or to get a promotion, you can achieve this largely by effort and determination. Sure, some people will find these things easier than others, and some will achieve these things by being in the right place at the right time, but just about anyone who finds such things difficult yet has the determination will eventually achieve their goals.

This seems to be the key difference between the goal of finding a girlfriend, and ultimately, marriage and starting a family, and every other ambition. Whilst most people want to find a partner, the problem is that finding the right relationship is not done through drive and determination, and it seems like its just a matter of luck that romance will just happen to blossom at some point before you get too old.

I Am Sick of People Not Having Answers

Now when I talk to most people about wanting to find a girlfriend, I often get answers like "just keep doing what you're doing, it will happen natually one day when you're not looking." Well I'm sorry, but almost everything I have achieved in my life has been done through effort and determination - few good things have "just happened." The problem is such answers often come from people who have had it easy in this area - they just happened to find the right person when they were young or just bumped into the right people naturally and never had to think about it. It just won't do.

Over the past year I have met a few people that I regard as very strong socially, who can find dates with ease. One thing I have been trying to do is to identify and pinpoint what it is they do which makes them strong socially, and stand out (in my view) from others. I am now beginning to think this is the key towards helpeing people with Asperger's Syndrome succeed socially - take the most socially competent people, examine what it is they do in social situations, the ways they approach and talk to people, break down and anaylise what they're doing, and then teach the person with Asperger's Syndrome how to copy them. I think this could help not just people with Asperger's, but many other less socially competant people too.

Now I am not suggesting that anyone has to change their personalities, and indeed there would be some things that could not be performed by everyone. However there is a big difference between trying to change your personality to one like someone else's, and learning what it is another person does that makes them good socially, taking what you can of that person's social skills, and putting new found social skills into practice.

My Experience at a Workshop

Recently I discovered online, a man who runs workshops locally to help clients improve their social attraction, with a key area being to help men approach girls and giving them the social skills that will make them attractive to women. I went to a short taster workshop two weeks ago, and in this workshop, there were around eight men, including myself, and we went through several conversational excersizes, and discussed body language. I have to say I felt very comfortable in this setting, and did not feel like I was out of my league or a fish out of water, but felt compatable with the other guys there.

I have since had a private consultation with this man and intend to go along to another workshop, and maybe more in due course.

Now what I appreciate about the guy who runs this academy, is that through his experience, he has worked out what it is that attracts women, and has broken it down into steps that can be taught to men who are not naturals in this area. He said to me "I can get you a girlfriend," not literally of course, but he can teach me the steps that would make it inevitable that girls would be interested in me.

I seriously think this is the kind of way I will learn to succeed socially. By learning anaylitically what it is that popular people do in social settings, anaylising their conversation techniques, particularly with women, and going out and putting those things into practice. This I feel could be the answer for any man who cannot makes friends or for whom romance does not blossom naturally. That way no one should have to rely on luck to find a relationship, but can now learn how to find a girlfriend by learning the steps and processes that attract women, and yes, though effort and determination.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Another Funny Video

I am not suggesting these are my views and my apologiese go to anyone in the military who may be offended. Just watch this from a child's perspective and you'll be alright.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Social Skills I am Trying to Put into Practice

I think the reason why I haven't posted anything here for a month is because I've been too busy socialising and haven't had the time to analyse every occasion and report on it! Over the past month or so I have been to several good organised socials and other social events where I have had the opportunities to interact with some attrative women.

Now having read a number of articles online and an e-book about how to build attraction with women and demonstrate those so-called 'alpha-male' characteristics that attract women, I have been wanting to put those principles into practice. Now I don't go and do exactly what a book says, but I like to take the key principles it advocates and apply them in such a way that suits both the type of social occassion and my personality. What I often find is that whilst I may know some of the theory, I cannot put it into practice on the spot.

One thing I am trying to do is to comment on things such as the woman's clothes, or style or bag, or any other observations. Friendly, kind comment obviously, and nothing suggestive of course. Another thing I am trying to do is to make statements about myself and what I have been doing that will help them to view me as one with high social status (I've mentioned the car journey in my last post a few times) and arouse some curisity, by telling them only part of a story and leaving them wanting to know more. One thing I have learnt is that, just as in job interviews where one can put a spin on their previous work experience making it out to be a higher level than it really is i.e. by refering to something significant they did in the previous job, making it appear as if they did that regularly when in reality they only did it once, one can put a spin on their social life highlighting those few occassions that would make me appear to be off high social status, when in reality such occassions aer few and far between.

However, I still find myself dealing with awkward silences. One thing I often notice when in a conversation with two or more people who I don't know particularly well, is that the other two people end up doing most of the conversation and subtly I become the one on the sidelines. I'm the one trying to keep up.

Before social events, I often 'revise' first on my notes from things I have read about socialising and attracting women. Bear in mind that at events life organised socials, I'm not there to 'pull' and no-one else is supposed to be, but nonetheless I do want to display those traits that are attractive to women and show myself to be a confident, datable, male. However after 'revising' I often find my stumbling block is operating within the context of the conversations I find myself in or developing. That the reason why I often find public speaking easier than mingling - when speaking in front of a group I have full control over the context. Problems arise when the context is based around something you don' know much about - and that could be a countless number of things. I'm thinking the best way to deal with that is to observe how people who are strong socially deal with such a situation, and follow their example.

Needless to say, I am still practicing, and trying to gain experience in some way every weekend, if not during the week as well

Saturday, 23 April 2011

A Night Out With The Girlies

Last Saturady night I found myself in a situation that some people might envoy, and others might find decidedly awkward. I ended up being on a night out in town with a group of girls and being the only man in our group. One of the girls who is on my course at college decided to organise a night out, a few men were going to come but they didn't turn up in the end. Unfortunately all the girls were attached in some way

The girl organising sent everyone an email suggesting that we either come to her house or meet up in town. I thought about what to do and decided it was easier to go to her place first. I was the first to arrive, and a bunch of girls arrived soon after. Now I have read and watched many video clips about talking to women, and know quite a few of the principles. However when I find myself in a situation with an opportunity to put such things into practice, my mind tends to go blank and the best I can do is the usual mundane types of conversations.

For instance, I know one thing that is always key is being able to make girls laugh. However, my mind doesn't naturally think of funny things to say, as this normally involves instantanously having to connect a number of unrelated dots on the spot. If I try, it normally is not understood as a joke and it doesn't work.

Now I said this situation of being the only man with a bunch of girls can either be a fantastic situation or be awkward and difficult. Which way it is depends on how you manage to interact with the girls. For a man who knows how to take a lead in a conversation, mak the girls laugh, appear as strong and confident and demonstrate masculine traits, it can be fantastic. For someone who is not this way, the situation can be awkward, because benig the odd one out can make it difficult to engage in conversations, especially when they divert on to girly subjects, and you don't necessary feel that welcome.

Now on this occassion, as with any social situation, I do my best to try to appear attractive. I put on nice clothing, made sure my hair was tidy and used a bit of aftershave. I try to remain calm, not twitching too much, trying to look confident and not needy in any way, and to make good conversation, trying to show an interest in others and be positive.

However oftentimes, especially with an all-female group, the conversation veers in a direction that is not favourable, such an on girly subjects. I would be interested to know how the very confident, so-called 'alpha males' handly this, or maybe it never happens when they're around. This took place for a while in the house, and my best approach was to keep calm, show what intersted I could. When I felt there was a window of opportunity I would engage the girls on a subject, by asking for a femail view on something. On this occassion I asked three girls that were sitting on the opposite sofa, what I should make of a girl who's words and actions contradict each other. I don't know whether this is a good way to engage with the opposit sex, but I feel that anything that generates interest has some value.

The most interesting thing about the night was the car journey to the club. One of the ladies volunteered to drive us. There were five girls and me all crammed into a Vauxhall Astra. The larger girl sat in the front seat and the rest of us were crammed in the back, with some of the girls laynig down on the three os us' laps, trying to keep her head down so that she is not seen by any policemen. It was a fun journey, but the main thing I appreciated about it was that events like this give you good talking points for future socials.

We arrived at the club, and again I tried to look confident. If I wasn't sure what to say or do, my best policy is to look calm and confident and keep quiet, that way at least you are probably not scoring any positive or negative points in the social stakes.

All in all, it was a slightly unusual night but I did enjoy it. Being out with a bunch of girls was a useful experience and hopefully I;ve learnt something from it.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

The Need for Chemistry in a Relationship

On Sunday evening I was talking with Hannah who I've known for about four years, and who I tried hard to go out with a couple fo years ago. To give you some background information: When I first knew Hannah I initially wasn't sure about her, but there was a time in late 2008 where I thought she was giving signals to suggest she was interested in me (flicking her hair once, telling me personal stories without me asking a thing) bearing in mind she is a very shy girl. She agreed to meet up with me for a coffee in January 2009, we aranged a second date a month later but it never happened due to a mix up in the place we agreed to meet up. After that I found she didn't seem quite so keen on me for a while. After much thought and discussion with friends and family, I wrote her a note in April 2009 sealed in a stamped address envelope to gently ask her if she would be interested in a relationship. She replied with a 'no' reply. Due to circumstances I didn't see much of her in the six months that followed. But I remember in October that year there were one or two occassions when her body language seemed to be warming up again, and this has been the case at times since, although not consistantly.

Sunday Evening's Conversation

Moving forward, when I was chatting to Hannah she was in a much brighter and livelier mood than usual. Normally it can be hard work keeping the conversation going with her (thats with anyone not just me) but on this occassion she was really showing an interest in me and the things I was doing, asking me some questions. This isn't an absolute first, as she has had odd bursts when she comes out of her shell. Now I have recently grown a beard which seems to be suiting me. The first thing Hannah said when I saw her was that she really liked me beard. Her body language was very warm, she was leaning towards me with her arm leaning in my direction.

What really caught my attention was that she told me she had gained in confidence recently and she said she wanted to find a nice gentleman 'but I know that's not easy' (refering to things she's heard me talk about subsequent to me trying to date her) and 'well you're a nice gentleman but....' and she seemed to get carried away before saying 'oh I don't know why I'm going into all this' and then I kind of halted that part of the conversation too. Hannah then told me she gets obsessive about things and has had many disasters in her life, but that she had made a resolutino to be more positive and change her ways. I tried to flirt with her a bit afer that. The conversation went on for a bit....


What was significant about this conversation is that lasted for about 10 minutes or so, is that I felt there was real chemistry between us, and because of her warm body language it felt like the chemistry was mutual. The reason for this I think, is that Hannah and I come from similar backgrounds. Our family homes could not have been more stable, no divorces etc, but we've both struggled socially and haven't developed at the same rate as others. As a result I think we can relate to each other quite well. With the vast majority of girls that I meet and get to know a bit, I am able to get along alright, but it would never go beyond a surface level, and hardly ever, if ever has there been any real chemistry between myself and a girl. I don't think I have ever felt any chemistry between myself and a girl until Sunday night.

Whilst I am still thinking about how to approach this particular situation, this occassion made me think of a few things. One of my problems is perhaps that my unusual social background (stable family but delayed social development) and general approach to life means I cannot relate to many girls beyond a surface level, which seems necessary for any relationship to develop, and hence, there is no real chemistry between us. It would be very hard for a conversation to move into more intimate and emotionally charged territory. I can think of several couples who have got together because of some common shared experience. In one case both partners had been affected by a car accident in different ways. In other both partners come from adopted parents and don't know their biological Mum's (or something along those lines). In such cases the common backgrounds or experiences is what helped produce the chemistry and allowed a relationship to develop. Now I'll leave this post with just one question to ponder and perhaps answer in the comments section:

How does someone with a very unusual background that few can relate to, do to find someone whereby there will be some chemistry in the relationship?

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Review of My Organised Social

This past weekend has been a strange one in a way. It was made up with many fairly dull hours, but there were two separate occurances on Saturday and Sunday that were quite exciting.

What was perhaps most interesting about the night was the train journeys there and back. On the way there, I was sittnig behind a group of ladies on a hen night. It was interesting to overhear they're conversation. I managed to make a little bit of conversation with them, and at one stage one of them was taking photos of the girls. After taking several photos she jokingly pointed the camera in my direction. With two very attractive girls on the seats in front of me, I thought I'd take the initiative by saynig "you can if you like" and then standing up with my arms round these two girls. I gave them my name so they can tag me on FaceBook. Needless to say, when that photo is uploaded, they'll be some interesting comments from my friends!

I arrived at vthe venue for the organised social quite early, and was the first person to arrive at our reserved area of the pub, apart from the host, who was a new lady, about 26 and quite attractive. Being the first person to arrive made the first 10 or so minutes of the social before anyone else came, feel a bit like a date. As a whole this social was just unremarkable. Nothing very exciting, but nothing too embarrising either. I felt fairly tired, but we were sat on cosy leather sofas for the first bit so that wasn't too much of a problem.

One of the attractions about organised socials is that sometimes they arrange for the group to have free entry into a club afterwards. This happened on Saturday. I was feeling rather tired but it was only 10:00 so I thought I'd see what the club was like, and stayed there for probably just over an hour before leaving. The music was loud, and I didn't buy a drink because the bar was so croweded when we arrived that I couldn't see what was on offer and it was too awkward. Being such as loud place made me wonder how anyone can seriously get to know a girl in that environment. On the other hand, with the place being so crowded you were bumping into people anyway, and getting from one place to another would often involve brushing past many attractive women (there was quite a lot more girls than men there) without it being an issue. So from that perspective I can see how relationships could start there (if you keep your mobile's on).

The journey home was quite interesting too. Near me no the train were a bunch of people in their late teens/early 20's. Now often when I see a group of people like this hanging around and get to hear the conversations, as it was on this occassion, I can see exactly why I just couldn't fit in with my peers. It's hard to pinpoint what it is about their interactions, but the things I noticed were a rather casual approach to relationships, them not really knowing what their plans were for the night (arguing about it on the train), and what I may consider a rather sloppy, less than formidable use of language. Not slang, but rather the use of these modern words and expressions that appear to have been invented by teenagers. The only language I've ever known is standard English, to me it's far easier and more straight forward than any other version of the English language and it makes you sound more intelligent and credable. Hopefully in due course I will be able to give more detailed or better observations on such kinds of people, that will demonstrate to my readers more accurately why I simply didn't fit in. But for now these are my observations.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

An Asperger's Man Goes Paintballing

Yesterday I did went paintballing. A friend decided to organise a piantballing day and booked a number of tickets. I wasn't sure whether to go at first. I was nervous about doing an activity which has the potential to cause a degree of hurt and potential injury, especially as I did not know exactly how paintballing worked, apart from the fact that you're shooting at each other with guns loaded with paint dressed in a safety outfit. However I was definitely keen on the social element of the day. Most importantly I knew that it would give me something to talk about in the future, something that might help me to relate to other young people better and help me not to become old before my time. I have learnt over the years that to succeed socially it is best to say 'yes' to as many new experiences and opportunities as possible (within reason), as it broadens your perspective on life and enables you to join in more conversations and share your experience.

I was picked up by a friend at 7:30am, very early for me to be up on a Saturday morning. Usually I overprepare myself for things. However on this occasion, for some reason I thought this was just a morning activity. When I heard in the car that this was an eight hour day I was a little nervous as I hadn't brought any lunch with me, and that's something I like to be in control of.

The Feeling of Weakness

Another thing that made me nervous before the event and made me anxious early on in the day is finding myself in the weak position of not really knowing what I am supposed to be doing. When this happens, I am liable to feel like I am retreating back into the 'special needs' zone which I have been battling to move away from, needing help from others in understanding what's happening, highlighting my weaknesses and feeling vulnerable towards someone saying something that I may find humiliating. Although I survived the day unscathed, both physically and emotionally, I did find myself feeling a little lost after getting out of the car and arriving, knowing where to fill out our registration forms, where to post them, where to get out safety clothes and equipment, what I needed, having to ask people lots of questions etc. However I got through it well enough managnig to pull of a level of competence, and fortunately the venue sold pizzas so my lunch was sorted too.

The Paintballing Itself

Another thing I was nervous about was if I was going to make any serious mistake and unwittingly break any of the rules and get told off, which would be an enormous humiliation which would have shock me for the rest of the day. I was a little anxious after reading the consent form which made a reference to the rules and dangers involved (don't hold us liable, you paintball at your own risk etc). At about 10:00am once everybody was ready and had been put into teams, we were all called for a brief introduction explaining what was going to happen and presented with the rules. Listening to the instructors shout loudly with strong warnings about breaking rules gave me memories of uncomfortable moments of doing large games events in my school days, the kinds of things I tended to opt out of.

The most nervous part of the day was when we first left the 'safe zone' and walked into the 'danger zone' with our helmits in place, collecting out guns. The sound of guns being fired, as we were being directed to the area of our first game, got me in a bit of a panic, and I felt on the verge of saying that I cannot cope, and walking back to sit out of the games. However I did my best to listen to the instructions and managed to somehow play along, surviving the first game.

It must be noted that I wasn't aware exactly how the day would be organised until around about this point, when I realised it would be made up of several games with two teams playing against each other, lasting around fifteen mintues.

One problem I had was understanding the games and the rules and object of the game. It was explained in about two minutes without any demonstration, and I simply was not able to picture the whole thing being done this quickly. One problem was that when you were shot you were supposed to walk towards the 'dead zone,' but this 'dead zone' wasn't marked clearly, the staff pointed to where it was but when you're out on a large battlefield, how can anyone be expected to remember where the dead zone is? Another thing I noticed was how some of the other guys on my team, who I did not know, immidiately after the game was explained, started discussing tactics on how to win the games and where to shoot. How do they digest the rules of the game and visualise it so quickly as to be able to do this?

In the end my game plan was simply to survive the whole experience unsacthed, both physically and emotionally, never mind winning anything. During the games I spent most of my time hidden in the castles or behind trees, tagging along with the friends I had on my team, just trying to look like I had some idea what I was doing, and where possible follow others going to the dead zone when I had (or thought I had) been shot. I couldn't always tell if I had been shot or not, as I couldn't see everything properly with my mask on, but I would give myself the benefit of the doubt if I thought I had, just to make life easier for me. Hearing the combination of bullets being fired and instructors shouting instructions from a distance during the games made me feel a little uneasy.

An irony I found was that we were told not to shoot anyone in the face. However in most of the games opposing teams were facing each other so you couldn't aim for their backs, and you were too far away to avoid their face or be able to target anything really (maybe that's due to my lack of any shooting experience - we don't have the 2nd ammendment in the UK).

However it was not a bad day my any means. It was a positive day socially, as doing these kinds of activities helps you to interact with others more easily, despite the fact you couldn't idenify people so easily with masks on. But the most important thing I got from it was the knowledge and experience gained from paintballing that will hopefully lead to more conversation opportunities and a greater awareness of such things. If I go again I would be much less nervous and far better prepared for the day. But would I go paintballing again? Maybe if someone give me a big enough incentive to do so....

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Review of an Organised Social: This One Was A Real Let-Down

I am not feeling too good right now. I was really looking forward to going to an organised social tonight, especially after having read such a helpful e-book on talking to girls. I was hoping to have a chance to put some of what I had read into practice, and had my notes I devised with me on the back of an envelope in my coat pocket. I was feeling optimistic on the train, not terribly energetic, but looking forward to the night.

It was quite a long walk to the bar from the station. It was raining and I had my umbrella with me, and I was a little tired when I reached the venue. There were fourteen people due to attend this social, including some I was really looking forward to seeing. However I walked into the pub, which was a small, cramped venue, and I found our table that had been reserved for us was situated in the back corner. I had to excuse myself in walking to meet our group, and at this point I was not so optiminstic. The social was due to start at 8:00pm, and by the time I had arrived it was at least 8:20pm. Out of the forteen people due to attend, there were only four people there, and they weren't people I was particularly keen to socialise with. Being in their 40s and 50s, they also looked like the oldest in the pub as well. As I mentioned in a previous post, there are times when I want to avoid a social situation simply because its too much effort.

So I found myself stuck in a cramped corner with four middle-aged people I didn't really want to socialise with (please note I have some great middle-aged and older friends so I am not ageist its more that these were not people I really was drawn to or felt like hanging out with). I waited for a while, wondering whether to buy a drink (that would involve excusing myself through an obstable course of people to get to the bar) or whether I should just leave this social and find something better to do. The music was also loud and I couldn't hear people too well, which added to the effort involved.

I put my mobile on, pretended to make a few texts etc, and really wanted to find some excuse for leaving this social, I was wondering if other people would turn out, but couldn't see any signs of it and I even wondered if they would find us stuck in the back corner. After about 10 minutes, I said to the other guys, excuse me, almost pretending I had a problem that I needed to deal with. I went to the bar and was hoping to chat up a few girls there, but when you are tired, and when the place is loud and busy, you just cannot think straight or think about what to say and find your right moment to approach. The bar was crammed full of people, so I decided to leave the venue. I thought about going elsewhere for a while and coming back to see who else might be there, but because of the location of the pub that wasn't too easy, so instead I walked back in the direction of the station.

It was raining harder now and I was losing my bearings. A man who looked homeless approached me. His right eye was stitched up and he said he'd just had some accident that he said had made him blind in one eye. His appearance was a little distressing, but he said he needed a small bit of money to buy some food. On this occassion I felt I ought to help, so I gave him a £2 coin. I then proceeded to walk back to the station, trying to find my bearings, taking advantage of this my asking a few girls for directions periodically, getting a bit of practice in approaching girls. There was another organised social taking place at the other end of the town and I thought about trying to go along to that, but as I was feeling tired and with my socks getting damp in the rain, I decided to head back off to the station for an early exit back home. I very much felt like a man with Asperger's Syndrome at this point, walking back on my own to the station whilst seeing so many people around having a great night, feeling somewhat like I am not fitting in.

All in all a very frustrating and disappointing evening. For some reason I am keen to find opportunities to try to chat up women, and possibly find a girl the hard way. I feel after years of delayed social development, I am finally becoming able to do things I couldn't do when I was in nmy early twenties. But sometimes it gets frustrating finding the right means and places to do this.

Well at least after a bad day I can blog about it...

Friday, 11 March 2011

My Letter to Stealth Security

Following the incident I encountered with the security officer as described on my previous post, here is a copy of my letter to the Stealth Security organisation to complain about my treatment. As you will see I have put (name) where I named in the letter the name of the stealth security officer:

Dear Sir,

I am writing to issue a complaint about the way in which I was dealt with by one of your security staff. May I first explain what happened to me, and then I will tell you why I am complaining, and how I believe this incident should have been better handled.

On Saturday 26th February, at approximately 12:45pm I left the Superdrug store in Worthing, South Street, after having browsed through the store and having not purchased any items. I had however, previously entered the store about an hour earlier in the day to purchase just one bar of soap, for 56p.

Immediately after walking out of the Superdrug store at 12:45pm, I was approached by a man, who later informed me his name was (name) from SLR Stealth Loss Reduction Services, who immediately asked to have a look in my bag. I was carrying with me a Topman plastic bag, which had one broken handle. The bag contained a few items, the soap I had purchased previously, plus my wallet, a Lloyds bank paying in book and a used envelope.

When the man (name) asked to see my bag, I asked for his ID, for which he opened up a wallet to show a card. Because of the way he was dressed (in casual clothing) and his manner, I suspected him to be a potential thief who was out to steal my money, so I refused to show him my bag and I ran as fast as I could. In response, (name) chased after me, alongside a security officer, apparently from Marks and Spencer opposite.

Naturally I was in a state of shock over all this. I have never before been stopped by the police, and everyone who knows me knows I am a responsible, law-abiding member of the public. (name) and the assisting security man seemed convinced at this point that I had stolen something. He claimed that he was doing this because of CCTV footage in the shop, which appeared to show me dropping items such as batteries, into my bag and then walking out without paying.

As someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, I am inclined to panic over things easily, and hence I was in a terrible panic over what was happening. I was threatened with arrest and being sent to the police station. Fortunately a work colleague and her family passed by and when I called upon her, she tried to help me to explain my position. I showed them the soap I had purchased, and also showed them the receipt I had for it, which had been purchased earlier on in the day. It eventually became clear, with the help of my work colleague, that I had not stolen anything. (Name) then apologised to me but then told me I should be more careful in future, as the CCTV appeared to show me trying to slip items into my bag. He gave me his name and told me he was from SLR Stealth Security Reduction.

My Complaint

Whilst I understand that a company such as Superdrug needs to prevent theft from their stores and challenge any suspected theft, I wish to take issue with the way this was handled and make a few points.

Firstly, (name) from SLR was dressed casually, and he did not look or sound remotely professional. When I asked for his ID, he just got out his wallet to show me a card but it contained nothing to make it look authentic. In short I could not safely allow him to look into my bag despite the fact I had not stolen anything, because I suspected he might be a thief, and I had to therefore run away in panic. The fact I ran and panicked made me look like I had stolen some goods, and as a result he and the security officer appeared to accuse me of stealing without any evidence (guilty until proven innocent?), not realising my panic was due to the sheer shock of the incident and fear of the unknown and had nothing to do with me having stolen something. It was a catch 22 situation for me, either I offer up my bag to a suspicious looking man, or I ran away and look like a criminal guilty of theft.

How It Could Have Been Better Handled

If instead I was approached by a person who was very clearly identifiable as a security officer, dressed in uniform, who would greet me with a polite “Good afternoon Sir”, and explain to me properly who he was and what he was doing, and who went onto state along the lines of “we are not accusing you of anything but we have seen you on CCTV and we just wish to check that you haven’t stolen anything…” regarding me as innocent until proven guilty, I would have had no problem showing him the contents of my bag, including the soap and the receipt. He would then have been able to say “thank you very much Sir have a good day” and all the difficulties would have been avoided. Although as I mentioned, a man dressed in uniform did come into the scene, by this time I was in complete panic over the incident and unable to think rationally.
I cannot see how any individual could feel comfortable in showing the contents of one’s bag to the SLR officer on duty that day. Consider that, if you or I wished to get hold of people’s money or possessions, it would not be at all difficult for us to go out and pose as a stealth security officer with a fake ID, stand outside any shop, ask people leaving the shop to open up their bags in the name of security, and then immediately snatch their bags and steel their wallets.

I would also like to raise awareness of Asperger’s Syndrome. Asperger’s Syndrome is a social communication disorder, and whilst individuals with the condition vary, one of the symptoms of it can be an increased tendency to panic over unknown or unexpected things, and increased reactions to things. Naturally because of this, it made the officer’s suspect that I was guilty of theft, even though my panic was due to the whole incident occurring and the unknown involved.

May I request that you consider the issues that I have discussed in this letter, as on this occasion your stealth security procedures forced me into a threatening situation which I know could have been avoided if they were done differently. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

(my name and signature)

Thursday, 10 March 2011

When Asperger's Customer Meets Plain Clothed Security Officer

At around midday on Saturday 26th February, I was caught up in some real drama in a frightening encounter when I waas accused (wrongly) of stealing and almost got myself arrested in the busy town. When I told my friends about what happened on Tueday, they thought it was a classic story, yet I neglected to mention a bit abuot my thought process on the day that will make it even more 'lengendery' as some will describe it. So pay attention and read on:

On Saturday morning, I had the subject of girls on my mind. Despite not feeling terribly well, I was feeling like I wanted to chat up some girls but couldn't find an opportunity soon enough on the horizon. So I decided that I would attempt to put some of what I have learnt in recent times to practice and see if I could chat up any attractive girls in the town centre. At around 12:00pm, I walked into Superdrug ad bought a bar of soap, as mine had run out. In the store I saw a girl who appeared to be promoting something, I thought of something I could say to her, but as usual, I was nervous and unsure about my 'window of opportunity.' So I left without approaching her taking just my soap and receipt.

About half to three quarters of an hour of wondering around town (didn't have much to do that day), I walked back into Superdrug thinking of chatting up the girl, this time a little better prepared. I was nervous though and I didn't want to appear to have entered the store just to approach her, so I spent a bit of time wondering around, browsing items, whilst trying to keep an eye on the girl periodically. I spent a bit of time around the batteries, as these are more of a male item in a feminine kind of shop.

Now the bag I was carrying was a Topman plastic bag, and one of the handles was broken. All I had in it was my wallet, a bank paying-in book, the soap I had bought, plus a pen and paper. After about ten minutes I decided not to approach the girl, and walked out of Superdrug without purchasing anything, and therefore not going to the checkout.

Immediately after leaving the store, I was approaching by a man, approximately 40 years old, rather scrffy and weathered looking, who stopped me and quickly said "I'm from security can you open up your bag?" I was immediately a bit concerned, as I thought this might be a criminial out to steel my money (especially as I have been mugged in the past) so I asked the man to show me his ID. He got out his wallet and showed me a card saying this was his ID (he didn't get the card out he just showed me what out me anyone's business card) and then told me to open up my bag again. I was not convinced by his ID, and suspecting I was being approached by a thief who wanted to snatch my wallet (containing my credit card and other essentials), I ran away as fast as I could for my own safety.

However, the security officer, alongside another security officer from another store who was in uniform chased after me and restrained me by a bench. I was in panic mode at this time - what was going on? I don't think I had even worked out at this point what they had thought I had done. In a panic I yelled and screamed at the security guys as I genuinely thought they were picking on me for some unjust reason. When I asked them, they told me they were doing this because they had seen me on CCTV in the store, and the CCTV cameras showed that I been slipping things like batteries into my bag. I told them and insisted that I hadn't stolen anything. I was threatened with being sent to the police station and being arrested, and this put me in even more of a panic, and I was desparate to phone up my parents and get them to come and get me out of this situation. As one might expect, everybody around was watching the proceeding.

After a few minutes I was about to agree to go back to the store with the security men to show them I had nothing in my bag (they were adament that I had nicked something, when I had not) however at this time I was abuot to be rescued from the situation. A work colleague of mine and her family here walking past (including her husband, children and Mum), and I called upon her to see to the situation. My colleague explained who I was, and that I had Asperger's Sydrome (which makes me inclined in panic more), and when the security officers were about to take me to the store, she said that they would come with me if they were to do that. At this point the securtity guys dropped the case. I did show them the soap I had in my bag, plus the receipt to prove I had payed for it and told them I bought it earlier. The security officer from Superdrug gave me his name and organisation, and I made clear to him that I was going to write a complaint. After a brief chat with my work colleague, and another man standing behind me, who was watching the proceeding (and knew I was innocent because he saw me in the store) I walked home. At least it gave me a story I could share no Facebok.

My work colleague, told me the following week, that I was looking very pale at the time, her family were worried about me. She said she had never seen someone so pleased to see her before and was glad she was in the right place at the right time.

How does this incident related to Asperger's Syndrome? Well the main issue is that by immediatlely runnning away, the security officers immediately assumed I was guilty of stealing. If they had known anything about Asperger's Syndrome, they might have considered that noe with the condition may be inclined to panic more and not been so quick to jump to that (wrong) conclusion. I have written a letter of complaint which explains my thoughts and views on the incident further, and which I will post on this blog very soon.

Monday, 28 February 2011

Developing a Formula for Approaching and Interacting with Girls

Unlike with many disabilities, a person with Asperger's Syndrome is capable of doing anything that someone without it can do, but some things will need to be learnt using a more systematic and structured approach. An example of this is dealing with different traffic situations when learning to drive. Someone with Asperger's Syndrome can definitely learn how to successfully handle all the different traffic situations, but because this is something for which there many variables and no natural formula involved, they may find they need to learn about the traffic situations in a more systematic way, perhaps by anaylising and catagorising the different situations, and drawing up a flow chart to say "if this happens - do this..." and so on. Basically trying to work a formula, as much as can be developed, for something that other people can deal with through natural intuition.

I think the same thing can apply in handling social situations, and in particular learning how to approach and talk to girls. I have been unwell over this past weekend, and spent much time researching what some dating experts are saying on how men should approach women successfully. I watched quite a few of the videos by Alex Coulson and read through an e-book entitled Magical Tactics by Mark Raymond (I found a much cheaper way to download it!) and I am trying to piece together the various tips which are supposed to guarentee you success with women, and trying to work out how best I can apply them.

Tips on Approaching Girls

The following is a very brief summery on the information I have read or heard about how to successfully approach girls and get them interested in you, which can work for anyone regardless of looks or status:

Firstly, be confident and show it in your body language, and demonstrate that you are higher value than the girl, someone who is interested, yes, but not so much that she is the most important thing in your life, and that you will never violate your own principles to suit her. In this way she will see you as someone she has to work to impress, and this will make her inclined to chase after you. Other tips included responding to anything that she says to you as a "test" but taking her words and throwing it back at her, to continually demonstrate higher value, and to make your own intentions unclear so that you will remain in her mind as she tries to work you out. I have also read that a woman's attraction to a man is always based on emotion and never logic, which is why many women will continually run back to husbands or boyfriends who treat them badly.

Reflections on Such Tips from One with Asperger's Syndrome

I can see in retrospect, with my own experience of people I know, that much of what I have read is true, even though women may not admit to it. On the one hand I am very pleased that I have read what I read and there are definitely some principles that I will seek to apply. However there are also many difficulties and answered questions.

I can see easily why my attempts with women have failed so far. I am naturally a very straight-forward, well organised and systematic person. I tell the truth, I am honest, I do not exaggerate or try to make a story out of something but I describe things exactly as I see them, and seek to be accurate all the time. I have always been the nervous, twitchy type and my natural body language has typically displayed a lack of confidence and an over-reacttion to things, even when I don't feel like I am reacting at all! I am certainly not the "cooky but funny" type that many dating guru's state is what you need to be to have success with women. Jokes or a clever wit do not come naturally to me, my mind simply doesn't work that way. How do you demonstrate high value when you have never successfully found a relationship, and yet remain honest? I believe if women worked via logic, I would have more chance in finding a relationship, at least that way I could explain my nervous body language and they might understand it and not hold it against me.

I have been asking myself why? Why does it have to be that woman don't seem to like the straight-talking, honest, hardworknig, well organised types and will more easily date the jokey, less than straight-forward types, who in some cases may not always behave so respectfully and may have some more obvious flaws? Why does my personality have to be of the type that women don't seem to like when it comes to dating?

How does someone with my personality type demonstrate such high value characteristics? What if you simply cannot quickly think of the right thing to say in response to a girl's statement? And what if you cannot help but get tired by trying to look calm etc and therefore demonstrate body language that is off-putting to girls?

Resolving the Situation

I am still working on how I should apply the various tips on approaching girls that I have discovered. I am jotting things down on the backs of envelopes and trying to develop a more systematic approach to talking to girls, in the same way as one might do with handling traffic situatins when driving. Whilst there is an enormous number of variables involved, it is possible to brainstorm the different types of situations, ways to approach, responses to statements, and devise some type of formula to help. I am currently of the conclusion that, one cannot and must not try to change their personality and be someone else in such situations, but rather that one is best to take some of the tips given and find a way to use them that fits in with their own personality and style.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Another Laugh

Please see my latest funny video

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Report from an Organised Social last Saturday

Further to my previous post, Saturday's organised social, which I invited my friend to, came and went quickly. As mentioned, this was no ordinary organised social, it was special as it was one of the group's occassional 'big' ones they put on, and this time I had my friend with me.

Naturally I am excited a few days before the event but become nervous on the day and more so as each hour passes. My friend kindly picked me up and gave me a lift to the event, and I was totally ready for it with everythnig I needed for the night with me including my preparatory notes in my pocket for how I would approach people. One reason I get nervous is that I don't know how the set-up in the room is going to be i.e. how many people standing, how many sitting, will there be chairs and tables, a settee, who's going to be there when I arrive, what will the opening scene look like etc, all these things impact upon the social dynamics of the event.

We arrived at around 8:30pm when the event was getting underway. The event was simply a large mingling session in a large pub, just people talking to anynoe they wished to, no structure. Everyone was given a name badge on arrival. When I saw and then walked into the main hall, I was nervous, I recognised a few faces but not the majority, and I almost felt like a little boy again, thinking back to days when I saw adults socialising when I was growing up and not feeling 'good' enough to join in (due to my age and Asperger's). I needed to compose myself and digest the place before going ahead and socialising, and there after getting our drinks there was a settee we sat on for a few minutes to digest the atmosphere. I spent most of my time then going up and approaching people, some I knew, many whom I didn't know.

How Did the Socialising Go?

I think I can say I pulled it off this time, and my friend, who was socialising separately for most of the time but privately observing me, agreed. I successfully managed to approach several people, however in such a busy environment it was very hard to hold down any quality conversations of any substance with new people, it was more of a case of "Hello, it's busy in here today how are you finding it...?" and just introducing ourselves. It occurred to me that, whilst these organised socials are a fantastic idea, as they enable you to go and approach people and make friends without climbing through loads of hoops (joining a class etc) beforehand, and there's very little cliquiness, (which I can say from experience is one of my pet hates, it has proven to be an real obstacle towards developing friendships with people of my generation), it is nonetheless very diffcult, though not impossible, to approach people you know nothing about. Knowing just one or two small things (i.e. with one person that night whom I hadn't met but seen in a few photos on facebook) can make the process a whole lot easier.

I also find that after preparing my notes, the sheer numbers of people in attendence make it very hard to recall you notes on approaching people, and you can never do what you may be intending to do, as there is so much to take in. You just have to do you best. Another interesting observation is that in a very crowded set-up, it can make it much less easy for you to determine which girls you fancy. The sheer numbers of people mean that your mind cannoty think straight about who you find most attractive.

It was great having my friend there as it enable me to find out someone else's observations of the night, which was very interesting. My friend was a little unsure of the event at first but was pleasantly suprised and really enjoyed the evening.

All in all it was a great event. It wasn't a long night, we both decided to leave at about 10:30pm. The only downside is that it was hard to sleep the following night!.