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Making Use of My Intelligence
Even if I was still as socially inept as I was 25 years ago, I would still want to be in situations in which I could learn about things that I am capable of learning and things that interest me, and in which I would have the opportunity to make use of my intelligence.
I also want to be able to make use of my intelligence even if I can’t multitask or process information quickly. Since I learned good social skills, at least I have done simple work out in the community, rather than in a sheltered handicapped environment. This has given me more opportunity to learn about what goes on out in the community, and to be around more advanced and more stimulating people. However, even out in the community, I don’t want to have to do only very simple things just because I can’t multitask or process information quickly.
Now, having said that even if I was still as socially inept as I was 25 years ago, I would still want to be in situations that give me opportunities to make use of my intelligence, I should also say that in this scenario, I would want to learn good social skills as well, as soon as possible. However, even within the time it took to learn good social skills, I would want to be in situations in which I would have opportunities to learn about other important things, and to make use of the skills, knowledge, and intelligence that I have already, so that, 1) I wouldn’t be bored, and, 2) by the time I learned good social skills, I would have other skills that I need as well.
Learning to Socialize Appropriately
My social behaviour has always tended to improve when I was told what is appropriate to do and say in the situation I was in. For example, I was able to attend a regular high school because, 1) they thought that I was capable of progressing academically enough, and 2) although I wasn’t very socially skilled at the time, at least I behaved as appropriately as I had to in order to be in that situation, once I knew how I had to behave in that situation. I didn’t have to be as socially skilled to be in high school (even a regular one) as you do in the work world. However, the fact that I behaved as appropriately as I had to in high school is actually an indication that, once I was told how I had to behave in a given situation, I would act accordingly.
For many years after high school, I was in situations in which if I wasn’t behaving appropriately enough for that situation already, it was game over for me right then and there. I think that for many years, people gave up on me much too easily! I was always capable of changing once I was told what things are appropriate to do and say in the situation I was in. The situations in which I ran into problems and/or failed to make much progress were those in which nobody told me what was appropriate to do or say in that situation. When in school, I behaved as appropriately as I had to, both because if I was in a situation I wanted to be in, I had an incentive to behave a certain way once I realized that I had to behave a certain way, and because once they told me what was appropriate in that situation, I knew better.
When in a sheltered handicapped environment, which came after graduating from a regular high school, and even after a year at Algonquin College, if and when they noticed me doing something inappropriate, they would tell me to stop doing it because it was inappropriate. However, even then they still didn’t tell me what was appropriate. For that reason, after I stopped doing one thing after being told that it was inappropriate, I was more likely to replace it with something else that was inappropriate than to replace it with what was appropriate. Another thing was that while they got me to pay attention to and interact with the other participants, they also wanted me to focus on things that were very boring and simple, and didn’t give me a chance to learn about things that interested me or things that concerned me. This caused me to get very bored, as you can probably imagine. It would have been fine for people to get me to pay attention to and interact with others around me if at the same time, I had been able to learn about things that interested me and/or things that concerned me, and especially if I had been taught things that I needed to learn in order to be successful in life (e.g. how to make a good résumé, what to do and say in an interview, the importance of having good eye contact when speaking to someone else, what to say to someone else if I wanted to have good rapport with him/her). It would have also been much better if the other people around me had been socially appropriate enough for me to learn from the right examples. If the others around me were no more socially appropriate than I was (not to mention even less so), I would not have the right examples to emulate or learn from, and could therefore be led astray by them, or at best, not start to do any better than I was doing already.
If All Aspergians Were Given Every Chance to Learn as Much as They Can
If all Aspergians (people with Asperger’s Syndrome) were given every chance to learn as much as they can, we might find that some would progress more than others, and there might be a variety of reasons for that. However, in this scenario, we would have a better idea of how much potential each one has, and we would also have a better idea of what each of these individuals would want in life once they learned enough to know what there is for them to want in life. In this scenario, Aspergians would likely be judged more on the basis of the amount of potential they have, and what they want in life (at least once they knew what there is for them to want in life), rather than merely on the basis of how appropriately or inappropriately they behave before they are given every chance to learn as much as they can.
Aspergians Having Friends with A.D.D.
I think it might be a good idea for Aspergians to have friends who have A.D.D. (Attention Deficit Disorder). If they have friends who are A.D.D.ers (a term I made up for people with A.D.D.), they will get the intellectual stimulation they desire from them, since A.D.D.ers, like Aspergians, generally have average or even above average intelligence, plus Aspergians are likely to learn to socialize better from A.D.D.ers, since A.D.D.ers already know how to socialize better than Aspergians (at least unless and until the latter learn to socialize well).
There is one A.D.D.er whom I have been friends with for many years. From the time she crossed my path back in 1983, I always knew that I needed a friend who was as advanced as she is (both intellectually and socially) to become more mature and learn to socialize better myself. Even if a friend who is at my A.D.D.er friend’s level was a member of the same sex, although he wouldn’t be a potential marriage partner for me, at least I would get the intellectual stimulation that I always desired, and I would have learned to socialize better from him, and I would have had a friend with whom I would be able to do things that are fun and exciting.
When I didn’t have good social skills, I had far more opportunities to connect with and interact with those who had schizophrenia than with those who had things like A.D.D., but the more I think about it, the more I know that I would have benefited far more from connecting with and interacting with the latter than with the former.
Jonathan Davies is an adult with Asperger Syndrome living Ottawa, Ontario.
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