Back to the beginning: Being fearful of new things

In my first blog, titled, “Where to Begin,” there is a list that I said I would give insights into later. This is a bit later than I had intended, but here it goes.

Number 1 on that list was: Fearful of new things.

Because we are not good at processing new information quickly, a new thing can be very intimidating to us. We know that we may figure out how to deal with this new situation before we become overwhelmed. And once overwhelmed, all useful brain and motor function ceases, as it does with any individual. 

Another key part of being scared of new things, is that we know that we are not good at motor planning. Motor planning is the ability to get youir body to do what you want it to do. We know that if this new thing starts to do something that makes us uncomfortable, we probably are not going to be able to get our bodies to do what we want fast enough to keep us from being overwhelmed.

An example of this would be my son’s fear of learning how to pour his own cereal. He knew that there was a large risk of cereal spilling, and he knew that if that started to happen, he probably wouldn’t be able to take the necessary actions to stop the mess until it had become big and overwhelming.

Eventually, because he was tired out being outdone by his little sister, he decided that he would try and pour the cereal. Sure enough, as the bowl started to overflow, all he could do was watch the cereal pour all over the table and cry for help. 

He wasn’t able to decide quickly enough what to do about the spilling cereal. And even as he realized that he should stop pouring the cereal, he wasn’t sure how to make his body do that, and couldn’t tell his body to move because he felt so overwhelmed by the mess.

An example in my life as an adult will have to follow, as it is time to get the kids up for school.

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Why a Special Interest

While vacuuming, I was thinking about some presentation notes I read from the Minnesota Conference on Autism. The notes were talking about how people with Asperger’s Syndrome and autism often have a special interest. The notes made the observation that it is not yet known why people with Asperger’s Syndrome have a special interest.

It is strange to me that people would wonder why we Aspies have a special interest. We are not good at focusing on more than one thing at a time. We are not good at generalizing. We are not good at understanding that others don’t think like we do. So to us our special interest is not special at all. It is simply our life. We don’t understand why others don’t have a special interest.

OK, I now know why others don’t have as strong of special interests. And I have been forced to broaden my scope of subjects of interest, and have enjoyed the social opportunities having more to talk about has afforded me.

But when I am looking to unwind – to the special interest I go: )

Not trying to be clueless…

The other day one of my children was confounding me – which is not difficult to do. Though I am considered academically gifted, every day life is surprisingly challenging (it surprises me, even!). I brought the issue up with my husband, who is a quite gifted problem solver, it is what he does all day at his job and he loves it.

His wonderful advice was that I need to make sure that the child respects me. OK, I said, so what should I do to get that to happen, and how do I know when it has happened? My dear sweet husband looked at me with a very annoyed expression and said, “So you expect me to tell you exactly what to do?”

My internal reaction was, “Duh! Why do you think I asked for your help in the first place? If I knew exactly what I was supposed to do, I would be doing it.”

What I said was, “I am not trying to be difficult or lazy. I honestly have no idea how to use such a general piece of help. How do I know when this child is actually respecting me?”

This is a perfect example of how people with Asperger’s Syndrome are not easily able to figure out specific steps from general information, and vice versa. I sure wished I could!!

Nose fidget

While attending the Minnesota Autism conference last weekend I learned that kids are given fidgets to keep their hands busy so that they don’t constantly pick at their noses. The nose picking was described as a just a habit.

I found that strange. Don’t most people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder have allergies? I can tell you right now that my nose is driving me crazy, and I taking a break from typing every minute or so to rub at it and itch it. It is not running, but it is a bit stuffy, all due to the wonderful pollen bursting from the lovely plants that are breaking free from the grip of winter.

So if your child has a “meaningless habit of picking/rubbing/scratching at” his or her nose, you might want to check into allergies. Because of the strong effects of allergy meds, I would not recomend using them, unless your child seems distressed. But do realize that habit may ver likely have a valid reason.

Where to Begin

While working around the house Monday afternoon, I turned on the TV, which happened to be tuned to Tyra Banks. Not being a particularly fashion conscious individual, I had not thought I would enjoy this show when it first aired several years ago, but I have found that she covers some pretty interesting topics some days, so I decided to see what she was talking about.

Her topic was how parents can build self-esteem in their children. Hmm, I wasn’t sure that I was going to agree with the findings she presented, but it couldn’t hurt to check it out. Who knows, I might be surprised.

So I sat and watched the first several minutes while finishing up my lunch. Then I left the TV on as I went about my business, catching bits and pieces throughout the show.

I didn’t come away with any great parenting tips, but what the expert said at the end of the show really struck me.

The expert gave a list of warning signs that you should look for to see if your child has low self-esteem.

1. Fearful of trying new things
2. Socially isolated
3. Easily frustrated
4. Acts as though nothing bothers them
5. Easily swayed by the opinions of others

What I found fascinating about this list is that all but the last point are common traits of people with Asperger’s Syndrome.

As someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, I don’t generally suffer from low self-esteem. I have those other traits for very different reasons. I think that is true for others with Asperger’s, as well.

I’ll talk about each of those traits in my upcoming blogs. Talk to you soon!