Lately I’ve talked a lot about “managing” your Asperger’s, and how to get on with other people.
All of that stuff is, of course, very important. You probably spend a lot of time on it in school and with therapists and other helpers.
But one thing that people often forget is that it’s equally important to have time just to stop all the lessons, give your brain a little holiday, and just be YOU!
Sometimes I think people focus mostly on the things about Asperger’s that are negative or unhelpful (like meltdowns and difficulties with friends) and they forget the things that are really good about Asperger’s.
For example, you might find some of these are true about you:
- the ability to concentrate on one thing for a long time
- being good at math, music, spelling, drawing, learning a new language etc.
- being a good mimic (which means being able to copy a voice or repeat a commercial accurately)
- having an excellent memory
- being very direct and honest when you speak
- being good at video games or board games
- knowing a lot about animals, insects, machines, computers etc
- being very independent and able to amuse yourself
(These are just some of the “positives” of Asperger’s. There are loads more, and you can probably think of other good “Aspergian” things about yourself.)
Anyway, even though learning good social skills etc. is very important, it’s also extremely important to spend time doing things that are enjoyable for your “Asperger brain.”
Sometimes you’ll want to do these things by yourself, and just have time away from other people (especially if you have spent a lot of time with other people lately!). I call this “down-time” or “recharging my batteries”, and I need a lot of it!
Here are some of the things I do for “down-time”:
- turn off my phone
- maybe get a snack that I like
- watch TV or a DVD (I love Battlestar Galactica and The Big Bang Theory and documentaries about nature, animals etc)
- read a book (right now I’m reading The Giver, by Lois Lowry. It’s kind of like The Hunger Games)
- go for a walk or a bike ride or a run by the river that’s near my house
- do a puzzle
- organize my computer files or my paper files
And when I was a kid, I used to do these things in my quiet time:
- going to my room and playing with my toys (I had dolls) or organizing my things
- sitting quietly in my little fort in the back yard
- work on a hobby (building things, collecting things, writing stories, drawing)
I make sure I have some “down-time” every day and it helps keep my brain from “overheating.”
However, another nice way to enjoy being an Aspergian is find other Aspergians to be friends with, or some “Aspergian-friendly” kids who share your interests. I have both kinds of friends: several of them don’t have Asperger’s, but are a bit “quirky” and they appreciate my smart brain and my weird sense of humour. 🙂
I also have a good friend named Jane who has Asperger’s and I like spending time with her because I never have to explain “Asperger stuff” to her — she just “gets it” automatically, of course. We walk around downtown, or go on nature hikes together, and talk about bugs, animals, skulls, fossils, and all sorts of things that other people might find kind of weird. But who cares? We’re Aspergians! 🙂
If you have a super-smart brain, you might ask your parents about joining an organization called Mensa. There are lots of Aspergians and super-smart people in that group and that might be a way for you to find your “herd.” (If you’ve seen a movie called The Ice Age, they talk about the idea of having a “herd,” meaning a group of people who like you and support you and do stuff with you. I love that.)
Some Aspergian kids get on better with adults (I certainly did). Adults can often teach you loads of new things, and are often more accepting of Aspergian kids than other “regular” (non-Aspergian) kids might be.
But … you must NEVER make friends with an adult without consulting your mum or dad first. If your mum or dad is helping you read this article, this would be a good time to stop and have a talk about that, if you haven’t discussed it already. It’s important to have a “herd,” but it’s WAY more important to make sure your herd has good, safe people in it.
Well, that’s it for now. As usual, I have to do some more work before the end of the day. And after that I’m going to the gym for a fitness class (exercise also keeps my brain from overheating!).
And then… guess what? It’s DOWN-TIME — just me, my cat, and The Big Bang Theory. 🙂 I can’t wait!
Talk to you soon!