By Dan Coulter
When is a funny smell not funny?
The answer is, when it's coming from you. Especially when you're not aware that it's driving other people away.
One of the characteristics of Asperger Syndrome is that you tend to perceive things differently than other people. This can be a strength. You may see solutions to problems that other people don't.
But if you don't notice something about yourself that other people see as a problem, you risk being isolated.
How do you avoid this? The first step is to take stock. Dial down your sensitivity to criticism and do some research. Ask family members or others you trust to give you some personal feedback. Framing your questions in the right way can make it easier for them to be frank without stomping all over your feelings.
For example, you might say, “I know I'm smart, but I also know I don't always pick up on social things other people think are important. Can you think of anything you've seen me doing or not doing that might cause people to avoid me? Is there anything I could do differently that would make things better?”
Then steel yourself and listen. You might hear something that's hard to accept or that you don't think is fair. But keep listening. Try to get input from more that one person, and write down their responses.
To get a full picture, you can also ask about the things you're already doing that tend to cause other people to like and accept you.
Then analyze the data.
Maybe you learn that people respect your wide range of knowledge and appreciate the fact that you're eager to help others – but they are put off by the fact that you like to wear a cowboy hat and that you often smell like you haven't bathed.
Perhaps the hat is so important to you that you decide to continue to wear it most of the time. But you make a checklist to ensure that every morning you shower, lathering your whole body with soap and shampooing your hair. Also, you make sure that you put on fresh clothes every day so your clean body doesn't smell like stale laundry.
Your personal strengths and challenges may lie in other areas, but if you're not being treated the way you want, taking stock may give you the information you need to make things better. And you get to decide what changes are worth the effort.
None of us can absolutely control what other people think of us, but we can influence the perceptions that drive their behavior. Taking stock is a good first step. There may be many other steps required. But that's how people reach goals – and sometimes travel farther than they first believed possible.
As the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
And that smells like success.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR -- Dan Coulter is the author of the thirteen videos and two books about Asperger Syndrome and autism. The videos are available both as downloads and DVDs. You can find more articles and information on his website: www.coultervideo.com.
Copyright 2017 Dan Coulter Used by Permission All Rights Reserved