6 Vital Skills for High-Functioning Autistics

If you’re high-functioning autistic, there’s a high chance you’re starting life on the back foot. You may have significant social difficulties, poor motor skills, sensory issues and other deficits. It’s not your fault, it’s just how your brain is wired. But the real kicker is that to most people, you appear mostly normal — if a little eccentric — so they’re going to treat you like a normie. You may not even recognise that you’re significantly different from others until later in life.

Society is built by neurotypicals for neurotypicals. This is simple demographics. If you’re not neurutypical, you’re going to have to adapt as best as you can. One of the major difficulties growing up autistic in an NT world is that society assumes you’ve adopted the skills, norms, and behaviours that enable you to function in that society. Most NTs can do this unconsciously, if with some guidance, and this assumption is baked deep into every civilisation.

For those of us who, for some reason or other, have not grokked these concepts growing up, life becomes a daily struggle to make sense of an illogical world.

It’s nice if the NTs accomodate your special needs — I am certainly grateful when they do — but I don’t expect everyone around me to do it. Especially complete strangers who don’t know me or my specific needs. Likewise, I don’t expect NTs to change their behaviours and attitudes to accomodate the needs of autistics either. I despise being touched by people I don’t know, but physical contact is a common NT way of expressing positive emotion, and telling all NTs to stop touching just because I don’t like it is selfishness beyond compare.

The world is not made for the neurodiverse. To survive, to triumph, we must adapt to the world while retaining who we are.

1. Develop Baseline Social Skills

people-2557396_960_720.jpg

Humans are social creatures. You included, no matter how much you may think otherwise.

if you live in modern society, you are part of an interdependent whole. You are reliant on other people for food, water, electricity, clothing and other essential services. The only way you can get around that is to walk away from modern civilisation and live a self-sufficient life in the boonies (in which case, you wouldn’t be reading this).

To persuade people to give you these things, you need to demonstrate your value to them — which, in practical terms, means working for people to earn money to buy stuff, understand what others need and how to meet them, and how to communicate your needs to others.

You don’t need to be the life of the party. You don’t have to transform yourself into a social butterfly overnight. But you do need a baseline minimum of social skills to function in society. You may not feel that such skills are important, but everybody else around you will — and expect the same from you. If you can’t live up to their standards, they have less reason to help you when you need the help.

What is this baseline? It depends on what you do and what you want to achieve.

If you’re a day trader who works mostly on a computer with minimal human contact and with no desire for human relationships, you only need enough social skills to communicate your basic needs. If you’re a writer you need to understand what your customers and audiences want, and effectively communicate with them. If you seek a lover, you must know the language of intimacy.

At the same time, society imposes a set of requirements on you. Proper etiquette and social rituals, such as mealtimes, small talk, cultural taboos and expected behaviours. Basic work skills like being punctual, diligent, meticulous and repsonsible. The written and unwritten laws of communication. Reading body language to tease meaning from vague words. Knowing the most appropriate response to a given situation.

And, more often than not, you only have one chance to get it right.

But don’t fret: social skills are skills that can be learned. Most NTs simply pick them up unconsciously. You, too, can learn them — you just need to be conscious about it. Study the spoken and unspoken norms of the circles in which you travel, put these skills into practice, and don’t be afraid to ask. I’ve found that people are perfectly willing to help someone if you make it clear that you are there to learn from them.

It is exhausting. It will take a lifetime to learn. You may not ever be as smooth or confident or skilled as others. You’ll probably make many mistakes, and make even more missteps you won’t be aware of. But if you want to enjoy the benefits of civilised society, you must act like a member of that society.

2. Manage Your Emotions

meltdown-1312488_960_720.jpg

Every day fresh tempests of emotions threaten to blow people left and right. The media is ever-searching for the latest outrage to grab viewers and grab advertising revenue. Race-baiters, social justice warriors and outrage-mongers fill the airwaves with nonsense day in and out in a bid to capture and retain the limelight. Activists and bloggers shout from every social media platform, trying to sway you by your emotions.

In a world of outrage, microaggressions and trigger warnings, he who is constantly outraged will be blown about and used as a pawn. He who cannot control emotions will be stressed out perpetually, leading to chronic diseases and an early death. He who chases the highs of self-righteousness and anger will burn out and be destroyed by the inevitable crash. And for autistics, this constant emotional load will make it increasingly easier to trigger a meltdown.

You must remain calm and centred. You may consider yourself a rational creature, but humans are rationalising creatures. Many humans are motivated by feelings, and only invent justifications after acting. Emotional appeals are powerful means of social influence because they short-circuit the brain; when activists and politicians and salesmen pressure you to act, you must know when and how to re-engage your brain’s capability for rational thought. The last thing you need is to get caught up in some pointless Internet feud, or to do something you’ll regret.

The trick is to breathe. Breathe gently, deeply and rhythmically. Keep your focus on your breath and maintain a regular rhythm. I prefer a four-count inhale and exhale cycle, but you can pick what suits you best.

As you inhale, gather up any emotions you feel, and expel them on the exhale. If you are angry, you may visualise a dark roiling ball of red light in your lungs; if you are sad it may be a dull gray ball. As you breathe out, visualise them flowing out your lungs and nostrils and dispersing in the air. As you inhale, imagine yourself breathing in a stream of pure white, spreading throughout you and bringing you to a state of calm.

You may feel yourself being pressed by a constant assault of negative emotions. That is fine. Simply let them pass through you instead of stagnating within. By concentrating on your breath, you are purging these negative emotions from your body and refreshing your brain with oxygen.

I’ve found that this trick also works if you’re on the verge of a meltdown, or are in the middle of one. Concentrating on your breath helps to sooth outraged nerves, accelerating the recovery process.

As a rule of thumb, the more negative emotions you feel — sadness, anger, grief, fear — the more impulsively you’ll act, and the more impulsively you act, the likelier the possibility of long-term negative consequences. You can’t take back the past. Better to avoid making a mistake if you can. Whenever you find yourself roiled up, step away and breathe. You can always come back to the situation later.

3. Take the Red Pill

Red Pills.jpg

The Red Pill is the truth. The truth about the world, the truth about men and women, the truth about relationships, the truth about sexual politics. If you are autistic and suffer from social deficits, the Red Pill is a powerful paradigm to put you on a level playing field with everyone else in the social arena.

It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female. Knowledge of the Red Pill is critical to understanding sexual dynamics. It is crucial foundational knowledge if you want a lover while avoiding predators in human skin.

The Red Pill is often misconstrued as the body of knowledge for pickup artists. It’s true PUAs use it. But the Red Pill applies to married life, to people seeking fulfilling long-term relationships, to people trying to understand why men and women act the way they do — and to both men and women.

At its heart, the Red Pill is about the differences between men and women, and how they strive to establish meaningful complementary relationships. Concepts like sexual marketplace value, female hypergamy and male socio-sexual status help you judge where you stand in relation to others, understand why people act the way they do in love, and how to maximise your own value through self-improvement.

The same tactics used by sleazy PUAs to seduce women are the same tactics a husband uses to maintain a happy marriage. The Red Pill must be paired with ethics. Seek self-improvement through nutrition, exercise, constant learning and meaningful hobbies. Build confidence through employing body language, vocal practice and mindset development. Hold yourself to high standards of moral conduct and demand your intimates to do the same. Recognise how men and women interact, and with this knowledge achieve your relationship goals.

You may not want to use the tactics of pickup artists. Touching strangers or being touched by strangers may feel repulsive. Prolonged conversations may be draining. Your relationship goals may be different from mine. And that is fine, but you still need baseline social self-defense skills.

You must, at the very least, be able to identify scumbags, liars, abusers, narcissists and predators. You need to know whether someone is truly interested in you or just toying with you to get something from you. The Red Pill shows you their tactics, allowing you to see them coming a mile away. And it gives you the confidence to see them off and help your loved ones defend themselves against them.

4. Know the Game of Influence

handshake.jpeg

6 Vital Skills for High-Functioning Autistics

3 minutes ago

cheah 64 in life

If you’re high-functioning autistic, there’s a high chance you’re starting life on the back foot. You may have significant social difficulties, poor motor skills, sensory issues and other deficits. It’s not your fault, it’s just how your brain is wired. But the real kicker is that to most people, you appear mostly normal — if a little eccentric — so they’re going to treat you like a normie. You may not even recognise that you’re significantly different from others until later in life.

Society is built by neurotypicals for neurotypicals. This is simple demographics. If you’re not neurutypical, you’re going to have to adapt as best as you can. One of the major difficulties growing up autistic in an NT world is that society assumes you’ve adopted the skills, norms, and behaviours that enable you to function in that society. Most NTs can do this unconsciously, if with some guidance, and this assumption is baked deep into every civilisation.

For those of us who, for some reason or other, have not grokked these concepts growing up, life becomes a daily struggle to make sense of an illogical world.

It’s nice if the NTs accomodate your special needs — I am certainly grateful when they do — but I don’t expect everyone around me to do it. Especially complete strangers who don’t know me or my specific needs. Likewise, I don’t expect NTs to change their behaviours and attitudes to accomodate the needs of autistics either. I despise being touched by people I don’t know, but physical contact is a common NT way of expressing positive emotion, and telling all NTs to stop touching just because I don’t like it is selfishness beyond compare.

The world is not made for the neurodiverse. To survive, to triumph, we must adapt to the world while retaining who we are.

1. Develop Baseline Social Skills

people-2557396_960_720.jpg

Humans are social creatures. You included, no matter how much you may think otherwise.

if you live in modern society, you are part of an interdependent whole. You are reliant on other people for food, water, electricity, clothing and other essential services. The only way you can get around that is to walk away from modern civilisation and live a self-sufficient life in the boonies (in which case, you wouldn’t be reading this).

To persuade people to give you these things, you need to demonstrate your value to them — which, in practical terms, means working for people to earn money to buy stuff, understand what others need and how to meet them, and how to communicate your needs to others.

You don’t need to be the life of the party. You don’t have to transform yourself into a social butterfly overnight. But you do need a baseline minimum of social skills to function in society. You may not feel that such skills are important, but everybody else around you will — and expect the same from you. If you can’t live up to their standards, they have less reason to help you when you need the help.

What is this baseline? It depends on what you do and what you want to achieve.

If you’re a day trader who works mostly on a computer with minimal human contact and with no desire for human relationships, you only need enough social skills to communicate your basic needs. If you’re a writer you need to understand what your customers and audiences want, and effectively communicate with them. If you seek a lover, you must know the language of intimacy.

At the same time, society imposes a set of requirements on you. Proper etiquette and social rituals, such as mealtimes, small talk, cultural taboos and expected behaviours. Basic work skills like being punctual, diligent, meticulous and repsonsible. The written and unwritten laws of communication. Reading body language to tease meaning from vague words. Knowing the most appropriate response to a given situation.

And, more often than not, you only have one chance to get it right.

But don’t fret: social skills are skills that can be learned. Most NTs simply pick them up unconsciously. You, too, can learn them — you just need to be conscious about it. Study the spoken and unspoken norms of the circles in which you travel, put these skills into practice, and don’t be afraid to ask. I’ve found that people are perfectly willing to help someone if you make it clear that you are there to learn from them.

It is exhausting. It will take a lifetime to learn. You may not ever be as smooth or confident or skilled as others. You’ll probably make many mistakes, and make even more missteps you won’t be aware of. But if you want to enjoy the benefits of civilised society, you must act like a member of that society.

2. Manage Your Emotions

meltdown-1312488_960_720.jpg

Every day fresh tempests of emotions threaten to blow people left and right. The media is ever-searching for the latest outrage to grab viewers and grab advertising revenue. Race-baiters, social justice warriors and outrage-mongers fill the airwaves with nonsense day in and out in a bid to capture and retain the limelight. Activists and bloggers shout from every social media platform, trying to sway you by your emotions.

In a world of outrage, microaggressions and trigger warnings, he who is constantly outraged will be blown about and used as a pawn. He who cannot control emotions will be stressed out perpetually, leading to chronic diseases and an early death. He who chases the highs of self-righteousness and anger will burn out and be destroyed by the inevitable crash. And for autistics, this constant emotional load will make it increasingly easier to trigger a meltdown.

You must remain calm and centred. You may consider yourself a rational creature, but humans are rationalising creatures. Many humans are motivated by feelings, and only invent justifications after acting. Emotional appeals are powerful means of social influence because they short-circuit the brain; when activists and politicians and salesmen pressure you to act, you must know when and how to re-engage your brain’s capability for rational thought. The last thing you need is to get caught up in some pointless Internet feud, or to do something you’ll regret.

The trick is to breathe. Breathe gently, deeply and rhythmically. Keep your focus on your breath and maintain a regular rhythm. I prefer a four-count inhale and exhale cycle, but you can pick what suits you best.

As you inhale, gather up any emotions you feel, and expel them on the exhale. If you are angry, you may visualise a dark roiling ball of red light in your lungs; if you are sad it may be a dull gray ball. As you breathe out, visualise them flowing out your lungs and nostrils and dispersing in the air. As you inhale, imagine yourself breathing in a stream of pure white, spreading throughout you and bringing you to a state of calm.

You may feel yourself being pressed by a constant assault of negative emotions. That is fine. Simply let them pass through you instead of stagnating within. By concentrating on your breath, you are purging these negative emotions from your body and refreshing your brain with oxygen.

I’ve found that this trick also works if you’re on the verge of a meltdown, or are in the middle of one. Concentrating on your breath helps to sooth outraged nerves, accelerating the recovery process.

As a rule of thumb, the more negative emotions you feel — sadness, anger, grief, fear — the more impulsively you’ll act, and the more impulsively you act, the likelier the possibility of long-term negative consequences. You can’t take back the past. Better to avoid making a mistake if you can. Whenever you find yourself roiled up, step away and breathe. You can always come back to the situation later.

3. Take the Red Pill

Red Pills.jpg

The Red Pill is the truth. The truth about the world, the truth about men and women, the truth about relationships, the truth about sexual politics. If you are autistic and suffer from social deficits, the Red Pill is a powerful paradigm to put you on a level playing field with everyone else in the social arena.

It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female. Knowledge of the Red Pill is critical to understanding sexual dynamics. It is crucial foundational knowledge if you want a lover while avoiding predators in human skin.

The Red Pill is often misconstrued as the body of knowledge for pickup artists. It’s true PUAs use it. But the Red Pill applies to married life, to people seeking fulfilling long-term relationships, to people trying to understand why men and women act the way they do — and to both men and women.

At its heart, the Red Pill is about the differences between men and women, and how they strive to establish meaningful complementary relationships. Concepts like sexual marketplace value, female hypergamy and male socio-sexual status help you judge where you stand in relation to others, understand why people act the way they do in love, and how to maximise your own value through self-improvement.

The same tactics used by sleazy PUAs to seduce women are the same tactics a husband uses to maintain a happy marriage. The Red Pill must be paired with ethics. Seek self-improvement through nutrition, exercise, constant learning and meaningful hobbies. Build confidence through employing body language, vocal practice and mindset development. Hold yourself to high standards of moral conduct and demand your intimates to do the same. Recognise how men and women interact, and with this knowledge achieve your relationship goals.

You may not want to use the tactics of pickup artists. Touching strangers or being touched by strangers may feel repulsive. Prolonged conversations may be draining. Your relationship goals may be different from mine. And that is fine, but you still need baseline social self-defense skills.

You must, at the very least, be able to identify scumbags, liars, abusers, narcissists and predators. You need to know whether someone is truly interested in you or just toying with you to get something from you. The Red Pill shows you their tactics, allowing you to see them coming a mile away. And it gives you the confidence to see them off and help your loved ones defend themselves against them.

4. Know the Game of Influence

handshake.jpeg

Civilised living is a game of influence. People are trying to influence you, and you are trying to influence others.

‘Influence’ is value-neutral. This could be a pushy salesman demanding a customer buy something he doesn’t need, or a more thoughtful one helping a customer meet his requirements. This is a manager convincing a low-performing worker to get his act together, an employee asking for a raise, or you trying to convince someone to hire you.

85% of autists are unemployed. If you don’t want to be part of this statistic, you have to convince people that you can bring value to their lives. It means convincing an employer to hire you, persuading your boss to give you a wage, selling your product to customers, and so on. Doing this successfully requires knowledge of the art of influence.

You must know how to influence people to achieve your goals. You also need to recognise when someone is trying to influence you into making a bad decision. Think of the salesperson getting you to buy products you don’t need, an attractive girl luring you into a cult, a colleague who wants to shove all his work to you while claiming the glory. People who are mind-blind and lack social skills are especially vulnerable to such predations; to avoid being prey, you must spot incoming predators.

Learn the ways of social influence and power. The 48 Laws of Power, the 9 Laws, Verbal Judo and books on salesmanship and public speaking are essential. You don’t have to be adept at social influence — you just need to be good enough to get by — but you must protect yourself from manipulation.

Above all, whatever skills you learn, you must employ them ethically. To be part of civilisation is to abide by its norms and customs, and that means holding yourself to the highest moral standard. Be as harmless as a dove, but as wise as a serpent.

5. Build Your Talent Stack

stacking-stones-667432_960_720.jpg

Autism is a gift and a curse. The singular defining trait of autism is an all-consuming obsession with something. This could be high-order mathematics, the history of 15th century Europe, cephalopods, dinosaurs, trains, the list goes on. In my case, I don’t have any particular area of interest — because everything is my area of interest, and I will spend vast amounts of time chasing down nuggets of information related to whatever subject currently catches my eye. This area of obsession is your greatest strength, and by cultivating it you will achieve success in your chosen field.

However, this obsession may also be your undoing.

If you define yourself as your obsession, and only by it, nobody will care about you. I am a writer, but so is everyone on Steemit, every copywriter and adman, every journalist and blogger. With only ‘writer’ to go by, I am indistinguishable from the crowd. Nobody has any reason to pay attention to me, and therefore buy my stories.

If your area of interest is not in demand, this is incredibly challenging. You may know the value of pi to the thousandth digit, but it has little demand outside some highly specialised applications. You may be able to name every bone in the human body, but if you’re not in a medical-related field it’s little more than a neat party trick. If nobody wants the one thing you are good at, they aren’t going to care about you.

Thus, you have to be more than just your interest. You need to build your talent stack.

A talent stack is the sum of your skills and talents. Any singular skill may be formidable or mediocre, but when put altogether you achieve a union greater than the sum of its parts. You have your brand, your value proposition to the world, the essence of you.

In my case, the top of my stack is obviously writing (excellent fiction, very good non-fiction). After that comes research and analysis (very good), holistic thinking (very good), creativity (very good, but only when applied to fiction) history (good), martial arts (above average), interest in technology (above average), and social communication (below average).

Armed with this talent stack, I write science fiction and fantasy stories with heavy emphasis on history, culture, technology and martial arts. It makes the most of my talents, enabling me to build my brand.

Think about your talent stack. Go beyond your area of obsession and figure out your other strengths and weaknesses. Put them all together and you have that one compelling thing that you can offer to the world: you.

6. Always Improve Yourself

Forge.jpg

You are not your autism.

It is a major part of you, but it is not the entirety of your being. Don’t be trapped by it.

Growing up, I’ve had to deal with a huge number of issues. At sixteen I was still prone to tripping over myself. I was barely able to function in a social setting until I was twenty, and even today I still have difficulties. My senses, if anything, have grown even more sensitive over the years.

But I am more than that. I am more than my flaws, more than my mistakes, more than any other arbitrary identity marker anybody would paste on me. I am a writer. I am a Singaporean. I am a man. I am more. As a sentient being, I can choose to be someone better every day.

Every day I make that choice. I try to be civil to people, regardless of whether I like them. I try to manage sensory and social deficits through studies and training and practice. I try to bring value to others’ lives. I try. And in trying, I become.

You are what you have done and you become what you do. Build self-destructive habits and mindsets and you destroy yourself; develop positive habits and mindsets and you become greater.

If you want to be someone who can live an effortless and fulfilled life, able to practice your talents and capable of managing your challenges, start now. Learn and practice the skills you need to get there — and do not stop, ever.

To live in modern civilisation, you must adapt yourself to its norms while retaining and growing who you are. A paradox — but one that, if squared, yields success in life. With the above-mentioned skills, an autist has the foundations of success.

Now become the best person you can be.

nogods_256

My dedication to self-improvement allowed me to write NO GODS, ONLY DAIMONS, and it has since been nominated for the Dragon Awards under the Alternate History category. If you’d like to check it out, you can find it on Amazon here. To vote in the Dragon Awards, please click here.