Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Art and Asperger's

McNall Mason is the mom of a great 7 year old kid with AS. They are working on an amazing art collaboration, and their work will be featured in the DubSea Coffee Shop in West Seattle. The opening is on September 18.

Their ultimate goal is to open an art studio and gallery space for aspie kids in the Olympia area. A portion of their sales will go this end.

Take a look at their work. Whimsical, fun - a sample of the great aspie mind at work!

Adults with Asperger's and Their Rules

Adults with AS often utilize an elaborate system of these beliefs, or rules, to organize their experiences, especially when they find themselves unable to understand what is going on around them in the social realm. Of course this is not a new concept – all of us utilize unwritten rules to help guide decisions and behaviors. Adults with AS might find themselves leaning heavily on rules – which are often inflexible – in an effort to understand social dynamics. Setting rules can be quite adaptive – being held in slavery to them is another story.

Problems arise when the individual constructs rules based on arbitrary or incorrect information. For instance, one man with AS grew up with a father who was a chronic worker, viewed leisure time as useless and unbearable, and passively criticized people who did not work as hard as he did. As an adult, his son with AS struggled living according to a “rule”: that he could only be a man when working. He experienced immense stress outside of the workplace, and hated vacations.

Becoming aware of his “rule” was very helpful to this man. Learning to become aware of, articulate and evaluate these rules can be central to understanding a huge source of self-judgment and self-criticism. This man began to systematically challenge this rule: did he really believe work defines manhood? Did he know of any “real” men who did not work? How could he lower his anxiety when engaging in leisure activities?

This scenario may not ring a bell for you, but you may find that you do adhere to other rigid rules – and you may find you become upset when your rules are broken. Rules can make the world feel safer – they can add structure to a seemingly chaotic and unpredictable reality. When rules stop working for you – and you start working for them – you’ll know it. You’ll find yourself becoming angry and frustrated. Others might complain of your bad attitude or rudeness. Your anxiety may climb.

Becoming aware of your automatic thoughts, or rules, is often the first step in replacing maladaptive rules with healthier rules that reflect your true values. We all have internal rules that help us navigate the social world, and being conscious of them can help you feel more relaxed and be kinder to yourself and others.