Late Morning

There’s nothing quite like waking up from a deep sleep to a cry of horror.

Apparently, my alarm clock didn’t go off this morning.  After a late night.  On a school day.  The results are predictable, right?

We have a system at my house in the morning (of course we do).  My son’s awarded points for 1) being dressed and 2) having eaten breakfast (no prompts, he has to do it on his own).  This means, in theory, that he’s ready to go to school by the time I wake up.  Since he’s part rooster (no other explanation), he rises with the sun, while I most emphatically do not.

Anyway, he usually manages breakfast, being a hungry pre-teen, but getting dressed eludes him at times, depending on how absorbing his book-of-the-moment is.  He’s not yet felt any urgent must-get-ready-for-school on his own.

Until today.

This morning, as I shot out of bed to his cry of horror, he realized for the first time that everyone did actually have to be ready for school on time.  Ready, and out the door.

He happened to glance at the clock a full hour after school had started, you see.  No Mom had awakened to ask him about 1) being dressed and 2) having eaten breakfast.  No Mom had mentioned putting the book down.  No Mom had made his lunch, kept an eye on the clock, and gotten him to school on time.

It was a tragic moment.  Fraught with horror and the awful realization that he could have woken me on time if he’d thought about it.

Which meant, of course, that it was a wonderful moment for me, the parent.  So while my son is babbling about hurry-hurry-hurry, I’m delighted that he’s had a revelation.  He’ll be a little late, but that’s not the end of the world.  In fact, if he learns from the experience, it’s well worth it.

After dropping him off and watching him tear off for class (much calmer after the car ride), the receptionist and I exchanged amused glances.  She’s seen it all, obviously, every permutation of late-for-school.  Plus, her heart when out to him when he gabbled out that he could have woken me in time… but didn’t!

My son’s made another step toward individual responsibility.

I have no doubt that he’ll be up and ready tomorrow morning.  I have no doubt that he’ll be quivering and ready to go on time, having already 1) gotten dressed and 2) eaten a good breakfast.  He may even throw in extras like piling food on top of the lunchbag (like he did this morning while I got dressed) and gasp! combing his hair.

The question is:  just how long will he let me sleep tomorrow?  Will I be rising with the sun, or long, long before it?

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Newly Diagnosed Smorgasbord

A friend of mine recently – as in this morning – pointed me toward an article about Asperger’s Syndrome, written by a terrified mother.

As she warned, it wasn’t one of those good articles.  It was a scary one full of desperation and misunderstanding.

There’s a lot to learn and a lot to cope with when first hit by that cataclysmic diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome.  It’s confusing, demoralizing, scary, and expensive.  And of course we blame ourselves right off the bat for everything under the sun from not catching it earlier (and starting therapy sooner) to poor parenting.

But the truth is your child is lucky to have you, if you are caring enough to seek help and find solutions.

Here are some (hopefully) helpful links to parents of the newly diagnosed.  If you have any questions or need encouragement, feel free to send me a comment (mark it as private and it won’t be shared), and I’ll do my best.

Remember, Asperger’s Syndrome is not the end of the world.  Far from it.  It has a number of positives, and creates truly unique, interesting people.

A Syndrome For Success (Newspaper article – also in Recommended Reading list)

Posts by me (that might or might not be relevant to your child):

Before Diagnosis

What Are These Therapies

You Are Heroes

Letters To Schools

Asperger’s Syndrome: Not A Monster

Ten Little Things

A Calm Place

How To Help On The Sly

Volunteering At The School

The Joy Of Handwriting

About That Special Topic Of Interest

Can We See Asperger’s At A Young Age

Clubs, Groups, Activities

Removing The Surprise

Hi Hello How Are You Doing

Teachers And The Breakdown

Snapshot Brochures For Teachers – Part 1

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Touring the School

It’s back to school time for us. Again.

Today, we underwent the joyous process of picking up the 7th grade schedule (they always post them right before school starts, so nobody can complain), and then locating classrooms.

My poor son.

He’s just not used to crowds or school anymore.  And middle school is like a crowded shopping mall.  Lots of noise and activity.  Add to that the excitement of new classes and schedule, and all sorts of interesting behaviors (some coping mechanisms, some panic reactions) begin to emerge.

A lot of you out there know what I’m talking about.

For instance, our encounters with the teachers were of two varieties.  Either he paced around the room, bombarding people with information , or arrowed straight for something of interest (in one room it was a fan) without noticing anyone (or their greetings) at all.  It looked like he was ignoring them, but of course that wasn’t it; he never saw or heard them at all.

As I said, he was overwhelmed.

It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t been there.  But I know that if I was under a lot of pressure (say, a deadline), phones were ringing, bad music was blaring, five people were talking to me at once, AND I had to concentrate on a task… well, then I’d probably get close.  Eventually, one has to shut out the extraneous just to be able to function.

And he did manage to get the job done.  He found every one of those classrooms.

Of course, water fountains became “checkpoints.”  I knew, when he stopped at them, that he’d be stopping at them again at exactly the same point during the school day.  Done with Science?  Well, then, head to Checkpoint one and get a drink.

He also developed something new.  Never, ever, has he shown an interest in efficiency.  But now, suddenly, he was a race car driver.  Every circular turn had to be as close as possible to the inside, for efficiency (except for brick walls – friction slows you down).  Never mind that traffic was going the wrong way.  If hanging right was fastest, we needed to do that!  Every second matters!

All I could do was murmur about fish swimming against currents, and even that was chancy.  If he’d been a porcupine, the quills would have been sticking out in every direction.

Halfway through our trip he started to go along with the traffic.  Thank goodness.  And I was proud of him for opening up and not stubbornly clinging to his idea.  Not that our kids are ever stubborn about their own ideas.  Or us, for that matter.  Nope, I’m never stubborn.  😉

Once we’d been through the schedule once, fighting crowds, typos, and figuring out efficiency factors (this staircase, Mommy, not that one.  And it’s stupid to stay right when left is more efficient!), we had to run through it all over again to help establish the habit.

When we were done, he announced that we’d visited exactly seventeen doors.

Comments like these make me love his mind.  He’s barely hanging on, humming and shutting out what he can just to function, and yet he counts the doors.  What an amazing thing the brain is.

I know, it’s a soothing ritual.  Counting, humming, and the like.  But it’s still fascinating.

I did manage to smile encouragingly at teachers when they shot me looks full of questions.  Snapshot brochures were handed out.  A school map – a map! – was lying on a table and I managed to snatch it up before anyone else could.  Haha!  My precious!

It’s only one o’clock, and already I’m bushed. As for my son, I’m giving him a pass for the rest of the day.  Want some gatorade?   Sure!  Time alone?  Yes, take as much as you need!  Wii, Xbox, DS?  Yep, enjoy!

Good luck to the rest of you out there who are facing the oncoming school year.  I hope it’s a good one for each and every one of you!

Related Posts:

Snapshot Brochures for Teachers Part 1

Snapshot Brochures for Teachers Part 2 (Middle School)

Preparing For Back To School

Volunteering At The School

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Home Improvement

So last week, as I was getting ready to sit down at the computer, I had the bright idea of moving some furniture first.  You know, typical no-clue-what-to-say-so-I’ll-do-something-else-first behavior.

As my son and I heaved the old bed up and out of the room (long overdue), we noticed that the carpet was wet.  And the pad underneath soaked through to the concrete.

This was Not Good.

To make a long story short, everything had to come out of that room.  Everything.  And now all that stuff – and wow, we packed that room full of odds and ends – is piled up in the dining room, in the living room, and lining the hallways.

So the whole house is a mess.  Naturally.

But my two boys thrive on clean, white walls and minimalism.  Clutter clogs their brains with too much visual information.  They get moody, preoccupied, and more easily frustrated.  I work hard to keep my house clean and neat, not because I’m tidy, but for them.

So far, they’ve been handling it pretty well.

Sure, my husband’s adopted a new evening ritual.  The empty room must be checked on at certain times.  And yes, my son’s tics (currently sniffing and snorting) have backslid a little.  But they’re soldiering on like champions, even better than I could have imagined.  Nobody even had a meltdown when I broke the news to them, which was astounding.

No, they’re fine.  I’m the one going crazy.

I try to laugh about it.  I try to appreciate how patient and understanding they’re being.  After all, we have no choice.  New carpet takes time to install.  There’s choosing the carpet, measuring, estimates, and finally the actual installation.  Plus the waiting time in between these steps.

But I’ve come to realize that caring for people can take odd forms.  Some people feel a need to express their love with words.  Others give gifts.  Yet others need to hug or touch their loved ones.  Sometimes it’s a combination of the above.

And sometimes, we need to do things for our loved ones.  Like cook favorite dinners, or wash cars, or… clean house.

Man, it’s disappointing to fall into a category.

So Tuesday I shrugged off – to the best of my ability – the feeling that I wasn’t caring for my family properly.  I bought some paint and tried to focus on action instead of remaining a waiting-for-carpet victim.

It helped.  A lot.

My son got to solve problems with tools (always a good thing).  Paint cans, after all, aren’t opened in the usual way.  After artfully leaving a long, flat screwdriver on the floor (so sly), I let him handle the can and think about what he needed to open the stubborn thing.

No tempers were lost.  After abandoning the can opener idea, he solved it beautifully.

This may sound silly to most of you.  However, handling tools properly is a common autistic issue.  Not everyone has it; my husband never had a problem with a tool in his life.  But our son would hold a hammer every way possible – ways that would never occur to the rest of us – to try to hammer a nail into a child’s wooden project.

In a way, this is good.  It shows what creative, out-of-the-box thinking he has.  In a way, it’s rough.  It means that simple things are more difficult to master.

He also got to figure out how to draw nails out of the wall with a hammer.  And yes, I kept my eyes wide open.

Another success.  Another proud smile.

He helped me paint, and it was lovely not to worry about ruining the carpet.  Of course, he used the roller in interesting ways (wow, the paint patterns on the wall), but hey, that’s his way, and he’s still learning.

Today, I almost don’t feel bad about the mess (which really isn’t my fault, even though it feels like it is).  I feel like we’re tackling problems and learning.  My son’s enjoying home improvement (although he’s announced he hates home improvement stores), and our house is actually improving.

Today the house, tomorrow the world. 😉

Note: Hopefully, next week we’ll get the new carpet installed.  Oh, and my computer will be put together once again, and lose its Humpty-Dumpty look.  Internet withdrawal is not a pretty sight.

8/11/11 Here’s a pic of the room – pretty much the same spot as the above pic – after new carpet (installed Tues).

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At The Movies

When my son was younger, the movie theater was just too intense for him.

The screen was huge, the noise piercing, and the action so very intense.  And, of course, the previews capture the most action-packed, exciting parts of the movies, so he’d end up huddled on his chair, hands clapped over his ears, eyes squeezed shut, completely overwhelmed before the movie even started.

There’s nothing quite like the movie experience, is there?

I’d known, of course, that movies were hard on my husband.  He completely refused to attend them on a Friday or Saturday night.  Often, if he really wanted to see a movie in the theater, he’d plan it for his day off, a rainy day, or late on a Tuesday or Wednesday night.

But he loved the theater experience.  It was the people who got to him.

For my son, it was a different story.  His senses – sight, hearing – just couldn’t handle the assault.

Since these same senses, in addition to an extreme sensitivity to touch, were causing him to shut out the world and turn inward all of the time, this was a big deal.  We had to help him learn to cope, or he wasn’t going to have a normal life.

We’d already been told, of course, that he couldn’t handle school.  That he could no longer be considered “mainstream,” and that he’d have to attend a different school the next year.

Here’s where my son turned around.

To this day, I don’t know for sure whether it was all of our help, various therapies, or whether his brain was just plain ready.  For all I know, he needed a combination of the three.  I think it’s impossible to know these things sometimes.

In the fifth grade, he opened up to the world around him to an extent we hadn’t seen before.  He heard his name when teachers called on him.  He noticed his surroundings, not as often or to the extent as other children, but he noticed them.

It was an amazing time.

And he was able to attend a normal school.  Oh, he had issues; of course he did.  About half his teachers loved him and the other half complained and couldn’t wait to get rid of him.  Of course, none of them had seen him the year before, so how could they have known how far he’d come?  Sometimes it’s hard to see beyond current challenges to the wow! of progress.

Sixth grade brought even more growth and change.  He made actual friends for the first time, and noticed things in his environment that even I didn’t see.  His eyes changed from dull and unfocused to sharp and intelligent.

So yesterday, when we went with the grandparents to see the last Harry Potter movie – in the theater – it felt wonderful, like an affirmation of all the progress we’ve worked so hard for.  A complete turnaround from overwhelmed and shut down to alert and eager participant.

We even sat through all the ads and previews.  And he still loved it.

We don’t always take the time to remember the progress.  Sometimes, it’s hard to rise above today’s frustration and issues to see the growth that’s occurred, the tremendous strides that have been made.

But yesterday, sitting in that freezing movie theater next to my son, it was lovely to remember and savor the moment.  To feel the pride and wonder at how far we’ve come.

Oh, yes, and the movie was fun, too.  😉

Related Posts:

TV & Movies: Keys to Conversation
Difficulties With Sound
Tactile Sensitivity: Ack, Get It Off!
A Calm Place
Visually Busy

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Microwaves and Killer Wails

It’s amazing what one learns about one’s spouse when appliances break down.

For example, I learned that my husband didn’t really know how to use the microwave beyond pushing the one-more-minute button.  When the “stop/clear” button stopped working on our microwave, that meant those unused 13 seconds had to be patiently burned off and then the microwave re-set to whatever time I needed to steam those veggies.

Oh, yes, and he learned that I’m not so patient when it comes to the microwave.

Microwhale?We both learned how much popcorn he really eats.  And how many little things need the microwave.  Like vegetables, leftovers, snacks, and so on.

It’s been an informative few weeks.

Thankfully, we both have a sense of humor, except, apparently, when it comes to leftover wasted time on the microwave (really?  You needed to set that at one minute for a 10 second snack?!?  Now I have to burn off 50 seconds!  Aaarargh).

I don’t know why he tolerates my craziness at times.

In the middle of this spouse-growth-time, my husband decided to take a week off work.

Don’t get me wrong; he deserves a break.  It’s hard for him to tolerate all the noise and people and smells that cubicle-land so thoughtfully introduces to the human existence.

And that’s even when you’re not sensitive to such things.

Also, we love to have him around.  But to my son a week with his dad home calls for additional rejoicing.  More tv, more video games!

Oh, and total disruption of routine.  Of course.

We discovered years ago that my son follows a pattern – sometimes I wonder if I follow it, too, which scares me – of completely falling apart about the third day after a break in routine (which tends to fall on a Wednesday).

So microwave-crazed spouse (talking about me, here) plus disruption boy meant for one very interesting week.  Oh, and did I mention lack of normal bedtime?

Today, by the way, is Wednesday again.  And it’s that third day back to normal routine, which isn’t normal anymore.  Although my son was showing signs of cracking yesterday, today is full-blown and has been full of jokes about whales.

Whine and cheese jokes are so yesterday, you see.  So now it’s all about the killer wail/whale (yes, I’m groaning with you).

Oh, and we now have a new microwave.  For some reason, my husband thought it a good idea to go ahead and approve the purchase of a new one.  Can’t imagine why.  😉

Who says real life isn’t interesting?  Excuse me while I go read some relaxing novel full of “hair-raising” adventures.    After the past few weeks, it’ll be sure to put me right to sleep.

Note: As my son is very proud of his “killer wail” joke, I’ve heard it about five times today, and will be sure to experience it for at least the rest of the week.  So it’s only fair to share the agony.

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Both Sides Of The Coin

Recently, a young woman wrote to me concerning her relationship with an AS man.

I know, I know, anyone who has read about relationships with Asperger’s partners hears a lot of venting and bashing and blaming.  It’s human nature to vent a little, and to slant things toward our own point of view.

But with this young lady, this wasn’t the case at all.

She sincerely – like many of us – wanted to understand her partner.  To make his life better, and know whether he could adjust to new situations.  To deal with issues that come up when one lives and deals with Asperger’s Syndrome every single day.

People like this are out there.

For those of you who cynically view the world and believe that people are only out for themselves, take a moment and let a little bit of light in.  Not everyone is built this way.  There are many caring and understanding people out there, people who are willing to go the extra mile to make things work.

Now, it’s understandable how a lifetime of teasing and bullying, of being made fun of and treated poorly by others, can lead to a cynical outlook.  It’s terribly sad, but understandable.

All the same, good people do exist.

And yes, they can deal with a little oddity (who wants normal and boring, anyway?).  They can deal with the occasional meltdown.  They can handle a few ritual behaviors (needing to check things, wash hands, whatever it is), respect the need for privacy, and provide a quieter, scent-free atmosphere (okay, it may hurt to part with that favorite rose-scented – or stinky, depending on viewpoint – shampoo, but it can be done).

We exist.

And while we may struggle from time to time to understand, we recognize that, hey, we’re not all that perfect ourselves.  We have issues, too, every single one of us.  Nobody comes without baggage of some sort.

Daily, I’m thankful that my husband puts up with my problems.  They are many, and not always easy to cope with.

So whenever those uniquely AS issues – whether it’s about fear of change, anxiety, becoming overwhelmed, needing quiet, specific clothing requirements, social difficulties, reluctance to join a family gathering, and so on – come up, please remember that we’re learning.  We’re willing to learn, and we’re wanting to understand.

You have a lot to offer.

In return, please recognize our value and treat us the way you would like to be treated.  Hear us out (I know it’s hard), and try to be flexible when possible.  We really do appreciate the sacrifices you make for us, and know that you put up with noise when you’d prefer quiet, handle people when you’d rather be alone, tolerate conversation when you’d rather escape, and agree to nonsensical and ridiculous things just because you know it matters to us.

Oh, and don’t forget to always dodge that trick question about the way we look. We always look good, regardless of hair or clothing style.  At the very least, we always look like that fantastic person you love.  😉

Good luck out there.

Note: Kudos to those of you who go that extra mile, no matter which side of the relationship you represent.  Even if things don’t work out, you’ve brought a gift to that other person that may affect and change him/her for the rest of his life.

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The Saturday Scientist

Years ago, when we were looking into alternative ways to educate our son, we ran across mention of the Saturday Scientist program.

Aside from the catchy title, the idea is to focus on science on a day everyone usually has off.  Experiments can be run, mentos dropped into coke bottles, magnesium strips burned in campfires, and so on.  In other words, a science activity performed – with the whole family participating – in a relaxed atmosphere.

Needless to say, we loved it.

Besides being a wonderful way to enrich an education, as well as present science in a no pressure, non-academic atmosphere, it’s also proven to be a great bonding experience.

In particular, a great father-son time (for us).

My son hangs on his father’s words.  He longs to be just like him when he grows up.  On the other side, my husband loves to share his knowledge (his very extensive knowledge) of science with, well, anyone.

When I see this dynamic kicking in, I try to quietly slip away.

After all, they deserve some time together.  My son’s busy soaking up science like a little sponge, and my husband gets to share one of his best-beloved topics of conversation.  And they’re interacting with each other at the same time!

Yes, I want to learn, too.  It’s fun stuff.

But, sometimes, it can be difficult for dads to find a way to interact with their children.  Many find it hard to communicate and find common ground with their  teen/pre-teen sons (or daughters), much as they may love them.

When you add something like Asperger’s Syndrome to the mix (in our case, on both sides), it can be even more difficult.

For us, the Saturday Scientist has been the door, the bridge, the way to overcome those little personality differences and satisfy their longing to spend meaningful time together (without driving one or the other of them crazy).

Note: There are lots of science experiments for kids available out there that are both fun and easy for parents to perform (just go to Google and type in “science experiment”).  So if science isn’t your thing, don’t despair, help is available!

Also, nothing says Saturdays (or Sundays) have to be about science.  If your specialized area of knowledge – that you wish to share – happens to be in another field, embrace the challenge and give it a try.  Our kids love to learn, and often learn best in a one-to-one situation (less noise, activity, and distractions!).  So good luck and have fun!

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AS and The Big Bang Theory

Watching the portrayal of Asperger’s Syndrome in TV shows can be insulting, interesting, and sometimes even enlightening.  It’s a mixed bag of emotions, especially when these same portrayals can vary wildly in their accuracy.

That said, my husband and I were introduced to The Big Bang Theory.

For those not familiar with it, the show portrays a group of socially challenged physicists.  It’s a comedy, and yet the show actually retains a physicist on staff, so the science is pretty good.  They also paint their characters with feeling, so they don’t appear entirely flat.

Oh, and it’s funny.  Really funny.  If you like that sort of thing, anyway (which we do).

The reason we’d put off seeing it, of course, was that my husband was worried it might hit a little too close to home.  He has a degree in physics, after all, and had a few hints from co-workers about how they never would have understood parts of the show if it hadn’t been for him.

I think that would alarm anyone.

And so, after the very first episode, I found myself asking him if he was okay.  It was funny, but didn’t pull punches when it came to pointing out quirky behavior.  And one of the characters is VERY Asperger (Sheldon).  Of course, it’s not entirely accurate (his friends would value him more, he’d feel more loyalty toward them, and so on), but, wow, it comes close in many ways.

Seeing yourself baldly like that can be shocking and disturbing.  Even if you can’t help laughing at the joke.

So he’s been a little ruffled lately, but insists that he can handle it.  Enjoys the jokes, can’t help but see the parallels, and yet also points out the inaccuracies.  I’ve had to reassure him that he definitely isn’t Sheldon, that there are many obvious differences.

And I’m seeing some personal growth.  Some new recognition of inflexibility, and a sudden appreciation for those who see past it.

I think that any time one gets a candid glimpse at oneself, it can be both painful and illuminating.

Thank heavens I’m spared seeing myself (or a close approximation) on the screen.  I don’t think I could handle it anywhere near as gracefully.  Ok, I know I couldn’t handle it.  How many of us could?

As I’m always on the lookout for ways to teach our son about others and their feelings, I keep seeing bits of scenes and saying, “Oh, our son needs to see this!”  Particularly when it involves non-typical behavior and how others react to it.  Or sportsmanship issues.  Or insistence on one’s own way with no regard to others.

Sadly, the show is a little adult, so we have to play it in bits.  All the same, I’m storing scenes away for the future, as watching a show can be more enlightening than listening to an explanation.  Explanations just lack punch sometimes.  A picture is worth a thousand words, and so on.

Oh, and for all of you out there who have known all along about The Big Bang Theory, you’ll be amused to know that my son’s favorite game right now is Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock.  😉

Note: My husband got his laugh at me after hearing in the behind the scenes clip about how those who seemed to enjoy the show the most (in the physicist consultant’s point of view) were not his fellow physicists, but their spouses.

Related Posts:

How To Help… On The Sly

The Advantage Of Respect

Appropriate, Appropriate, Appropriate

General vs. Esoteric Knowledge and Conversation

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About That Special Topic Of Interest…

Walking Encyclopedias

Living with our knowledgeable, eager-to-share, amazing AS loved ones can be both wonderful and a bit of a challenge.

It’s wonderful to see them light up and sparkle.  To see them delight in their subject.  And to encourage the love of knowledge and share in the learning experience.

It’s not so great to see them shunned for monologue-ing about ONE topic.  And it’s not so fun, quite frankly, to be the subject of information download.  And we’ve all been stuck there at some point or another, pinned like insects, as someone goes on (and on) about their favorite subject.

I’m guilty of boring people about family, myself.  I can even bore my family about family.  Just ask my mother.  Or husband.  Or anyone.  🙂

But as for helping our loved ones, who can’t tell that their audience is yearning for escape, we can help them.  It can be done.

We, as a family, limit “special subject talking time” to about 15 minutes a day.  It may sound harsh, but think of it as training for life.  Nobody wants to be with someone who only talks about manned space missions.  Or dinosaurs.  Or whatever.

Don’t get me wrong; we fully support the pursuit of knowledge.  Knowledge is valuable.  Even the act of gathering knowledge is admirable.  So dinosaurs, drains, cattle migrations, space missions, the life and times of Batman… bring it on.  The subject doesn’t really matter.

But variety in speech is a necessity.  Or people – being people – will turn their backs, walk away, or even make fun.

We also encourage the asking of questions as an easy way to connect with people.  It’s more effective than approaching someone and deluging them with information, and it involves them in the conversation.  Questions like:  “Do you like dinosaurs, too?” or “What is your favorite animal?”  or “What are your thoughts on that” or even “What would you like to talk about?”  Think of it as a taking of turns.

And if the other person changes the subject, it’s okay.  Not the end of the world.  After all, the conversation’s not over yet, and hey, look at how they’re enjoying talking to you!  This means they’ll want to converse again.

It’s also good practice to remind someone, when he’s/she’s been going on for a bit, that it’s time he engages his audience (yes, we do phrase it this way, even to kids).  And again, a question is usually a good way to handle this.

There are things we can do, too.

Being direct helps.  For someone who has difficulty interpreting hints, tone of voice, and facial expressions, a direct and honest response is a godsend.  And it’s appreciated.

After all, we’re not talking about idiots here.  Just the opposite.  We’re talking about intelligent human beings with feelings and capabilities.

We can also remember to resist the impulse to be dismissive.

Just think of all the times we’ve suddenly realized that we’ve droned on about children, dogs, cats, or whatever our favorite thing is for too long.  The way it feels to watch someone’s eyes glaze over.  It’s embarrassing.  And just imagine if we didn’t notice “that look” and kept on going and going?

Giving others a chance to shine, to talk, to share… that’s what conversation is about.  Give and take.

And for our loved ones, it’s essential that we help them learn this.  After all, they want to connect.  They just don’t know how.

Yet.

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