Bridging the communication gap between high functioning autistics and neurotypicals.

Posts tagged ‘Autistic’

Emotion as a Language

I saw my sister recently.  I had not been with her for a long time.  The first thing that struck me was her voice.  I heard myself talking.  The next thing I noticed, she didn’t say many words.  I got a lot of emotional messages though.  If I didn’t misinterpret them, they ranged from “I’m so happy to see you” to “Why did we wait so long” to “I missed you so much” and “I love you”.  I hadn’t experienced that language on that level for quite a long time.

This lead me to the contrast of my communication with Mark.  I use english for everything. I mean absolutely everything.  I can’t use emotion at all.  He has NO receptors for emotion.  NONE.  ZILCH.  ZERO.  NADA. Now I am paying attention to how much emotion I use. It still sneaks up on me though.  The emotional language is so natural to me that I don’t even know I’m using.

Here’s an example. Mark was massaging my foot.  It became too painful so I told him to quit.  The 3rd time I said “STOP!”.  Then I said, “I told you 3 times to stop!”  He said, “You only said ‘stop it’ once.”  Whoa.  He was right.  In my mind I had said it 3 times and was frustrated that he hadn’t stopped.  Apparently I had sent two very strong emotional messages to stop and the third time I resorted to english. All three times felt like legitimate ways to communicate.

We NTs with HFAs in our lives are most likely NOT communicating well.  First we have to understand that emotion is a language and we are using it naturally everyday.  Next we have to understand that HFAs do NOT have receptors to understand this language.  Whether you are disciplining your young HFA or talking to an older HFA employee.  You MUST be able to express every single emotion you have into english.  That goes for praising them too.  Every emotion you have has to have words to go with it.  How often has Mark asked me for praise or approval while I had been giving it emotionally.  Learn your emotions and then learn to put words to them.

I’m still learning.

Cesspool of Emotions

What I see that most gets in the way of communication between an NT and a HFA is the NT’s cesspool of emotions. We have so much crap emotion happening in our bodies.  Stuff that has been in there since we were 3 years old.  Junk emotions.  This creates hot buttons.  So when your HFA embarrasses you, it’s actually YOUR problem.  The action of your HFA has triggered an old emotion that resides in YOUR body.  It was something that YOU did and then experienced someone telling you that you were stupid or maybe you were even rejected.  In order to communicate with our HFAs, we have to clean out the cesspool.

I’m not just yelling at you.  I had my own cesspool to clean out.  OMG.  I had become paranoid and would see things that weren’t there.  I was making up stuff.  Literally.  I can with definitiveness say that I am no longer that person.  Using the following techniques gave me a completely different personality and life is so much more alive and fun.  Oh.  And there’s the clear communication with Mark, my HFA, that wasn’t there before.

In Eastern traditions we are not just a physical body, we are 5 bodies, 4 of which we can’t see with our physical eyes. (Quantum physics is confirming this insight.)  There is the physical, feeling, thought (lower mental), higher mental and bliss body.  (So if we think of ourselves as 5 bodies we can see how we are connected to the Divine.)  Because in our western culture we don’t believe in 5 bodies, we don’t realize that we can control them.  We take in experiences and beliefs as a child and think that that is the way we are supposed to believe and experience for the rest of our lives.  We don’t know that we have the capacity to choose differently.  We don’t know that our beliefs aren’t serving us.  We don’t even know that we can change them!   Beliefs are just thoughts that are thought over and over and they are located in a combination of the feelings and thought bodies.  This is where conditioning lives.  This is where the cesspool lives.  We need to examine every thought and belief we think we are.  Healing begins in the feeling and thought bodies. ( As a side effect, your physical body will heal.)

What comes first, the thought or the emotion?  When you have a cesspool, you think it’s the emotions, but since cleaning mine, I know it’s the thought.  Get a hold of your thoughts and you can have the emotions you want/choose to have.  This requires rebooting your mind and putting software in that YOU want to experience.  No easy task, but it is simple.  It involves affirmations.  I wrote thousands of sentences of thoughts that I would prefer to have.  It felt fake at first, but as I continued, I started believing what I was writing.  Mark uses prayer beads.  He has a row of 100 beads.  He touches each bead and says the affirmation.  For instance, if you constantly have the thought that you are unworthy, choose to say or write, “I am worthy and deserve happiness”.  If you have “I’m stupid” running constantly in your mind, choose to think, “I’m wonderful and perfect”.  Yeah.  I hear your pfffts. I’m telling you, I had the same soundtrack running in my mind.  It can be done.

This won’t work though if you don’t get the cesspool of feelings out of your body.  I used two energy techniques that actually release emotions from the body.   The  Emotional Freedom Techniques, which I still use it to this day, is a technique that actually takes feelings attached to traumas out of the body forever.  It took me out of the movie.  I became an observer of my past rather than an actor. This was and still is a miracle to me.  Check it out here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0I54BRKQ2po&feature=related and learn how to do it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQp0kA5a5OI. Another feeling body healing technique is Psych-K.  It seemed to work on a broader range of emotions than EFT and I felt better faster, but you need a partner for this.  Learn about it here. http://psych-k.com/  There are practitioners of EFT and Psych-K in most states.

I cannot emphasize enough how important getting out of the muck of the cesspool is to better communication with all of humanity.  If you would like help getting out of your cesspool, we are here for you.

What Religion Means To A High-Functioning Autistic Person, Part II

This installment of Religion from an HFA viewpoint concerns my path to a meaningful spiritual life without the aid of an emotional map.

To start with, my parents pastored churches, usually Pentecostal, throughout my life. So, I’ve had ample experience with most phases of conservative Protestantism in the Deep South and the Southern Plains states. Unlike the Southern Baptist tradition, Pentecostalism is a very emotionally expressive version of Christianity. Examples of emotional expression found in Pentecostal churches include: being slain in the Spirit, speaking in tongues, being filled with the Spirit, prophesying, crying, wailing, Spirit-filled dancing, shouting, lifting of the hands, praying aloud, the laying on of hands, faith-healing and other assorted demonstrations of a deeply rooted faith in a personal God. Well, at least I had a floor show to entertain me.

For an autistic person like me, I never could see the source of these behaviors. I was always told it was the Holy Spirit ‘moving’ an individual to do such things. I can honestly say that I never felt ‘moved’ to participate in these demonstrative expressions of God’s presence. In other words, I didn’t feel an internal motivation to be a part of the service’s experience. What motivation I felt was an external pressure to be a part of the group. In other words, it was peer pressure. So, for me, there was no internal reason to be associated with the church.

I’m not familiar with the theories behind Organizational Psychology but I have an idea that the existence of religion is probably best explained by a religion’s ability to generate empathy for its viewpoints. By extension, the members of any religion use empathy to persuade potential members to join their group. Any viewpoint expressed by a religion can only be effective in converting potential members by generating empathy from its audience. Empathy is the hook to gain further support from new members and to maintain the support of existing ones. After someone has joined a religion, empathy is still necessary to educate new members in the rules, regulations, customs and traditions of the religion. Interestingly enough, one of the classic symptoms or traits for Aspergers and other High Functioning Autisms is the inability to empathize with others. Without this empathy, there is little hope in forming the views of new or existing members or maintaining their obedience. To put this into simpler language, if you like what an organization has to say then you’ll buy into it. If you don’t, you won’t. But, even more importantly to my article here, if you don’t have the ability to empathize with a view, then you won’t even hear what’s being said. I didn’t hear what was being said emotionally, just literally.

Because I only heard the words, I missed out on the emotional content contained in the experience. I didn’t even know there was an emotional message be spoken. So, I couldn’t have heard it, I just sat there in a pew and watched what was going on with a mindset of “Yeah, ok….I don’t get it.” I missed the actual message of love because I couldn’t hear it. So, I didn’t see a need to take a further interest in something that had no meaning to me. But, I did make one last attempt.

Through prayer, I tried my best to contact God hoping he could give me some of the experiences I was observing in church. My desire came from wanting to experience something spiritual for myself. However, prayer was really a let-down for me. I never heard ‘the still small voice’ that I hoped was God. I went and got Dr. Charles Stanley’s book “How To Listen To God”. I read that book cover to cover and was just as lost as before. Dr. Stanley’s advice was ’emotional’ in form and content. Being frustrated in my search for religious spirituality and meaning just put me in a sour mood concerning church and God. Over the long run, my frustration with all things religious just made me turn towards a more agnostic stance. This event occurred in late 1987.

As time went by, my agnostic stance lacked more and more utility for me. At this point, about 2008, many of the mechanisms I used for personal improvement such as willpower and self-sufficiency were no longer giving me satisfactory results. My classes in college had become so difficult that I began to suspect that I had a disability of some type because I couldn’t keep up with the workload. I was a terror to work with, making life difficult for my coworkers, bosses and customers. I found that I was becoming more frustrated with my inability to be successful at whatever I did. I was hard on my wife and our pets. I had no motivation for personal projects but I would burn my self out for any job that I worked for. What I discovered was I had no sense of the importance of my own life and self. I was at such a low point, that at least a handful of times, I considered ending my life instead of continuing it. Logically, this alternative was correct. With so much frustration and seeing no way out, the next step was to quit the game and start over. Again, it didn’t work out the way I expected….

Don’t Change That Channel!