I embrace my Asperger’s as a gift. I feel like it isn’t something I should be ashamed of–we are just wired differently, yet have so many unique gifts and talents. I was about 30 when I realized what made me different, at the time my nephew and several family members were diagnosed with Asperger’s and my daughter Anna, with Dyslexia. It was refreshing to begin to understand my quirks, gifts and reason for my struggles. All through school I mystified the teachers, they couldn’t understand how an intelligent girl with a high IQ could fail so terribly in school–and why was I such a target for the bullies?
I was very uncomfortable with conversation, and did not enjoy playing with kids my age. I liked babies, enjoyed talking to some adults, and had a strong connection with animals. I always avoided looking at people, and loved gadgets and spinning things. I was constantly counting everything and was obsessed with patterns, space travel, genealogy and genetics. I was one of those kids who could solve Rubik’s Cubes and logic puzzles in a flash, but was terrified of my classmates. I would rather eat sand than talk to the kids in the lunch room. I wore my hair over my eyes to keep out the fluorescent lights, and to keep people from seeing me. I was always designing things and drawing things and building habitats for small animals. I created a museum in my own backyard. I was a weird kid, and I knew it. I didn’t care what anyone thought of me.
Until I was 14 years old I refused to make eye contact and my symptoms of Autism were much more severe than they are now. Something changed. People with Asperger’s tend to have very intense special interests. My interest was drawing people’s eyes and doing makeup. I became fascinated by the human face. Once I began to get comfortable looking at faces I quickly began to overcome many symptoms related to socializing.
I started with magazine tutorials teaching step by step how to apply make up. Looking at models on a page wasn’t as uncomfortable as looking at people in real life. I even took acting, photography, and modeling classes. I worked specifically on becoming comfortable with eye contact and began doing makeup on myself and others.
Once I was comfortable with looking at faces, I began to get curious about the color of everyone’s eyes. So I would look at people. I also began to draw pictures of people in magazines and would focus on eyes and expressions.
I didn’t know that I was overcoming a lot of social anxiety in the process.
Once I was willing to look at people’s faces, and even study people’s faces, I started to understand the connection between their words, tone of voice, feelings and facial expression. I didn’t have feelings of empathy until I started reading faces.
Getting over the discomfort of looking at a person’s face was incredibly hard. When I would make eye contact as a young child I felt like I could see down into the soul. It was too much.
The goal of this book is to gently help the student to study faces, color the eyes, trace the faces and expressions, and identify the emotions of the person or animal in each picture. As the student engages in these activities they subconsciously begin to work through the feelings of resistance and anxiety that often accompany eye contact. Once the student becomes more familiar with faces they may begin to experience stronger empathy and feel more comfortable while engaging with others.
I can’t promise or claim that this book will help your loved one, but it’s worth a try. I’m releasing it for less than $10 so you can easily become part of this research experiment if you would like to. I know that my Dyslexia Therapy has been incredibly successful, and our Dyscalculia Games have made an amazing difference in the lives of struggling learners. So far I’ve seen positive results using these activities with children who are on the spectrum. So if you are willing, give it a try!
I know that there will be people who are skeptical and will want to tell me why this is not the professional way to help people with Autism. If you are that person, please wait at least one month before judging the program. Thanks!