Aspergers and writing

Writing is one of the major woes for people with Aspergers

It is difficult to describe the depth of despair most Aspies suffer when trying to put pen to paper.  And it starts very, very early on.  There appear (to me) to be at least three different ‘subsystems’ in the brain that are conspiring to make writing next to impossible for young Aspies.

The first one to be encountered is the ‘mechanics of writing’.  Many Aspies have less ‘sidedness‘ differentiation, so their ‘writing hand’ is less ‘dominant’ – and thus has less fine motor control – than most peoples.  This is often encountered early on in childhood – as a result, the kids may not enjoy drawing, or they may draw with both hands.  Regardless of drawing, however, Aspie kids usually display severe difficulties when learning the mechanics of writing.  This is more pronounced in cursive writing, where forming letters needs to be combined with smoothly moving the hand along the page, so many Aspies end up printing instead.  

I suspect this is a motor issue, and could be overcome by ‘overdoing’ the practice.  This has, to a degree, been my case:  where I went to school, we started out learning cursive, and we were marked on our handwriting.  I totally sucked at it, for the longest time.  Then, I saw what handwritings the teachers marked as the best, and shamelessly immitated them.  And yes, I spent endless hours practicing, because I was going to be *%$#*^# if those air-headed girls with ‘pretty’ handwriting got better marks than I did.  The result?  I am told I have extremely beautiful, though almost completely illegible, handwrititng!

Another problem which Aspies encounter when writing is – and this is based on my observations, not an expert assertion – a problem with short term memory.  At least six different kids with Aspergers have described it as ‘the ideas going by so fast, by the time I’m done the first letter, I don’t know what word I am writing’.  Now, this is very interesting, but worthy of a post of its own (soon, I hope).

The third major problem I have observed is a little more complicated.  I do not know how frequent it is, but again, I have observed it in very many Aspie kids.  It has to do with language, its use and the very words that make it up.  Also, many Aspies perceive there to be a big difference between what is spoken and written.   Perhaps a little explanation is needed…

Asperger Syndrome is often described as ‘verbally expressive form of Autism‘.  Now,  it is important to make a distiction here:  just because Aspergers falls under the same spectrum of disorders as Autism does, or that the spectrum itself may have the word ‘Autism’ in it, does not mean that it is nearly as crippling as Autism can be.  Comparing Aspergers to Autism (as the Ontario Government recently did, in order to deny Autistic children proper treatment) is about as accurate as comparing a sinus infection to pneumonia – both are respiratory system infections, but they are not the same in severety or affect.  It would be an inappropriate comparison.

While Aspies are usually able to speak extensively on a topic, most have a difficult time writing on a topic.  This is very curious and puzzling to many parents and educators:  it can appear as defiance! So, what is it that makes it OK to say things, but not to write them down?  Perhaps an unusual form of perfectionism could be at play here.

It is my observation that Aspeis, especially children, consider anything that is written down to be much, much more serious, important and permanent than what is spoken.  Even when practicing forming letters, some of these kids will be extremely anxious about not being able to get the shape just perfect.  Not Aspies are this extreme, but I certainly was, and so was one of my sons.  He was so terrified to commit an imperfect letter onto paper, we ended up getting him to practice writing onto clear plastic sheets (of the type you can put through the printer, to use for overhead presentations) with easy-wipe-off markers.  And even thought he could wipe off any letter he did not like, before anyone else could see it (and at first, he wiped off all of them), it was still hard for him.

It is my suspicion that in a similar way, it is difficult for Aspies to write ideas down because they are not sure if their idea is good enough to be commited to paper.  And even if they get over that, and judge the idea worthy – and this is the key here – it is next to impossible to express their idea accurately, using everyday language.

I have often wondered – and would appreciate feedback from those who have observed this – if something similar could be at play with Autism…  Many (not tall) autistic children are said to begin learning language relatively normally, but then at some point, they revert and begin to use language less and less.  Could it be possible that as they learned language, words attained ‘colouring’ – secondary, or implied meanings – unrelated to their ‘object or action definition’…. and that these words became perceived as no longer accuratley describing its original meaning, and therefore discarded?  I don’t know, but I would be curious what others think about this.

It is often asserted that Aspies use language somewhat rigidly, or sound very pedantic.  Could it be that a similar perfectionism in expressing an idea, a similar subconscious frustration with the inaccuracy of language, is at play when Aspies try to put ideas onto paper?

I love debating, and do it online.  And, people have noted, that whenever I get into a serious debate, I spend most of my time defining the specific and narrow meanings of every word I intend to use (plus a few others, that I exressly will not use).  Many people find it redundant, annoying and boring.  Some think it is a ploy to manipulate the debate.  But I do not intend it as any of these:  before I can express what I mean, I need to ensure that there is no ambiguity in the language I use to express my point.  General language simply cannot do the job!

There is no simple answer to overcoming this.  

Each Aspie may require a completely different approach, what works for one may not work for another.  It will take years.  And it will always take much more time and effort for an Aspie to write something than it would take most people.  (It usually takes me 2-6 hours to write any single post – and some, I have spent 14+ hours composing.)

Yet, Aspies can learn to write.  And when they do, the documents they produce are usually very well researched and accurately expressed!

About these ads

82 Responses to “Aspergers and writing”

  1. Catana Says:

    Interesting analysis–as a generalization. If nothing else, it gives me more insight on why it’s so hard for parents and teachers to know what’s really going on and figure out how to deal with it. I’ve never had problems with handwriting, or using language, and for the most part, I express myself better in writing. Short term memory is less of a problem than it used to be because I’ve learned to write things down as soon as I think of them–notebooks all over the place. I also find that using a good mind mapping program helps me keep track of the complexities. I don’t use graphics, but the ability to show relationships and move ideas around easily is a tremendous help.

    I don’t have quite your problem with defining terms in a discussion. I only dig my feet in when a word or term is critical to understanding, but even that limited insistence on accuracy tends to arouse antagonism. Solutions to communicating with NTs? There probably aren’t any.

  2. Catherine Says:

    I am a licensed social worker and program administrator at a small high school. We serve students who have Aspergers. Some of my findings are remarkably similar…..
    Can some email me a contact number?

  3. Elizabeth Says:

    My son, who is 10 years old and has a hard time writing, seems to to have the organization inside his head to express the ideas. He has language delays unlike some of his other Aspie friends. So his writing lacks topic sentence and complete thoughts. Is there a place out there to help him with this?

    • xanthippa Says:

      Elisabeth,

      this is a BIG problem for so many Aspies!!!

      I think I have tried to address it in a few of my other posts on writing (Aspie-focused). This one particularly talks about how I taught my Aspie kids the proper sentence structure: Aspergers and writing – sentences (dang, I can’t seem to get the link thing to work…. if you go to the top left corner of my site, there is a page called ‘Aspergers: a guide to my posts’: click on it and scroll down to ‘Writing’, the ‘writing – sentences’ is there!)

      Aspies need rules to learn. Grammar is the ‘rule-book’ of languages: but our schools have chosen to teach ‘whole language’ – an approach which does not teach Grammar! Therefore, many people – Aspies in particular – have an incredibly difficult time with this.

      Depending on how mature your son is, you may consider the ‘Latin’ approach (in Latin, the words ‘flex’, depending on the role they play in the sentence….the first 3 lessons from a Latin textbook were enough to teach my son English Grammar…we looked the words up – but by the ‘flex’ he learned the ‘role’ they play…then we could transpose the rules to English) or the ‘coloured words’ approach (where you print words on different coloured paper – by type…so nouns are 1 colour, verbs another, and so on….and he is to build a sentence – which MUST include a red, blue etc. words.).

      If you find that none of the posts I have written on this is helpful, let me know. Perhaps you can tell me more details and I could try to help…

  4. Deb Herr Says:

    I have an Aspie student, and when asked to produce 2 sentences about a topic in class, will just sit and think the entire period producing nothing…(I do believe that he is thinking about the topic).The topic has been given to student prior to class. Is this an unreasonable task? This is an 7th grade gifted autistic student. I understand the perfectionism issue and that they may be unsure that it is good enough to put on paper, but in an educational setting I would like some suggestions to assist the regular Language Arts teacher. This is a graded assignment to be done in class. Thanks in advance for any ideas you may have.
    Deb Herr
    Special Education Teacher

    • xanthippa Says:

      Deb, I totally ‘get it’!

      And, I ‘get’ both your side, and the students’…

      My older son was, a ‘few’ years back, an Aspie in a gifted grade 7 class….and he had the identical problem.

      The difficulty for the Aspie comes from the fact that the assignment was ‘produce 2 sentences about a topic’: that is such a vague thing to say, it makes it virtually impossible for the Aspie to understand what you are asking for. Let me explain…

      By grade 7, the student will know about ‘expectations’: that they exist, that they are specific, and that simply satisfying the ‘letter’ of the instructions will NOT meet the ‘expectations’.

      For example, if the topic were ‘Harry Potter’, and he was to write the following 2 sentences: “Harry Potter is a book. It has 800 pages.”, he WILL have written 2 sentences on the topic, but not satisfied the ‘expectations’.

      In other words, saying ‘write 2 sentences on the topic of ‘Harry Potter’ ‘ is an assignment that is almost impossible to complete, because (at that age), most Aspies will have no clue as to what the assignment is actually asking them to do.

      They understand, by this point, that you are NOT asking for ANY 2 sentences on the topic: but unless you indicate WHAT those sentences are to describe ABOUT the topic, the 7th grade level Aspie will have NO CLUE as to what they are supposed to say in those 2 sentences.

      The way to fix this is to be more specific: write 2 sentences which describe the plot of ‘Harry Potter’. Or something like that….

      I must rush off – but will write more later~

    • Kristy Lund Says:

      My son is just being diagnosed at age 13. I remember in 1st grade it would take him an hour just to copy 3 or 4 words on a piece of paper! Looking back the signs were there. I just pushed it off that he was 12 weeks premature at birth so that was his problem!

      Xanthippa says:

      Good luck to him and you both. Let me know how he does!

    • angelgriffin Says:

      I homeschooled my Aspie son from the third through the tenth grades. He had been diagnosed with a reading comprehension disability when I started. Now his IQ in reading comprehension is in the gifted range. Your kid sounds like my kid when I started–there was input but no output. He seemed to be thinking, but could not explain or write down his thoughts. Eventually, instead of insisting that he formulate ideas, I came up with a selection of my own interpretations and gave him multiple choice. This gave us a place from which to get a conversation going–a conversation that was propelled mostly from my end. Progress was extremely slow for about three years. All the sudden, he blossomed and began coming up with original ideas and writing stellar essays. Learning this skill must be like learning a second language, I reasoned. For the longest time, you are able to understand but not speak. You first begin speaking when you start thinking in the new language. Coaching him into producing his own ideas by throwing my ideas at him might sound like cheating, but its more like teaching a foreign language by talking to a foreigner before he can talk back. I understand that you have time constraints that I didn’t have, but I hope there is some way for you to use this approach even in a brick-and-morter school. Try using multiple choice and don’t be afraid to fill in the blanks. He’s getting it, even if you think he isn’t.
      Angel Griffin
      Author

      • xanthippa Says:

        Thank you, Angel, for your insightful comment!

        I certainly hope it will be helpful to many parents of Aspies and give them hope to ‘hang in there’!

        When my son’s difficulty appeared, I made time – actually, bot my kids started showing serious problems at about the same time, even thought they are 5 years apart in age. This is because they are each affected by Aspergers very differently.

        So, I made time – I sold my business and concentrated 100% of my efforts on the two of them!!!

        My younger one is now in high school and my older on is in one of the top world Universities, studying Mathematics – and he’s made the Dean’s list!

        Of course, the accomplishment is 100% his, and yes, I do feel a lot of maternal pride, but the primary reason I write this is to show others that even though the road is difficult, and even though it may seem hopeless at times, it is worth it to persevere!!!

      • Emily Herbert Says:

        Angelgriffin, I am very interested in emailing you, as after I read your profile I think I could greatly use your insight, experience and advice. I am in my 2nd year of home schooling my daughter. Can you email me? herbemil@isu.edu Thank you so much!

    • Mari Says:

      I am also a Special Education teacher and I am struggling to help a 16 yr old student to write essays. He is brilliant at History but cannot put logical thoughts on the page. He does not like to type either. He is required to write several essays to pass classes and is very resistant to any help so far. Any suggestions?

      anthippa says:
      That is a difficult situation indeed.

      If this student is able to express himself verbally, then one solution could be to have him say the answer – extended, if possible – and record it. Then either have it transcribed for him or have him write it down from the recrding, word for word. (Using some software which takes spoken words and translates them into a worprocessor, like ‘Dragon’, is also an option if it can effectively ‘understand’ the student’s words – I could never train one of these programs to understand my accent, despite many hours of ‘training’).

      Once there are some words on the page – the words that formed the spoken answer – the process to ‘translate’ them into the highly formal and structured ‘essay’ format can begin.

      Because the rules for writing essays are so rigid, taking an answer that is already there (having been spoken and transcribed in one way or another) becomes a different process. Not an easy one, to be sure, but a doable one.

      Please, refer to my posts on how to write an essay: it is not aimed specifically at Aspies, but it is a tool that many Aspies (and teachers of Aspies) have told me they found useful it ‘building up’ an essay.

      How to write an essay Part 1

      How to write an essay Part 2

      How to write an essay Part 3

  5. Nina Says:

    Xanthippa, I have just found your blog. It is very interesting and seems like it could be helpful to me. You see, I am a substitute teacher at a school, and have unfortunately been given the responsibility of teaching a boy with Aspergers English (as a foreign language) despite having no credentials in education, let alone special pedagogics. This is not an ideal situation, but he needs someone to guide him. But then again, I recognize that his previous method of learning English was not working, and I have tried to implement new ways. For instance, I focus mainly on grammar, and the very basic stuff at that.

    I was wondering if you had any thoughts on teaching English as a second language. He speaks fairly well, but his writing is terrible. Words like ‘was’ and ‘you’ pose problems.

  6. Nina Says:

    Thanks for your swift reply :)

    As it is, the original language is Norwegian, which is deemed to be among the easiest languages for a native English speaker to learn. The boy I am tutoring, is like most Norwegians in the respect that his spoken English is fairly decent. His problem is that he spells words like they sound.

    The boy is 13 and I thought that I should start from the fundaments and teach him basic grammar. So I started with the a/an distinction. After taking (quite a long) time to explain this rule, and after he had completed a page in a workbook, he flipped the page to start an exercise where he was supposed to use the rule in sentences. And he had already forgotten! In conception, teaching him grammar seemed smart, but in practice it is very difficult and time-costly.

    I tried a few different approaches with him, like having him close his eyes and write the words I teach him. He responds well to that, but I can’t have him write out the whole dictionary. He likes to learn words that are difficult and useful to his interests (history), but he can’t even spell the basics like ‘was’ and ‘you’ (like I mentioned above). Since he tends to write words like they sound, I think I will teach him some of the rules for pronounciation (as far as they exist in English). And perhaps assign him some history-reading in English.

    Xanthippa says:

    That sounds like a good plan.

    What I would recommend is to get him reading about the history OF the English language!

    It is actually really quite fascinating, so it should hold interest for a history buff.

    If you can tie whatever it is you are trying to teach an Aspie to something they are obsessively-compulsively interested in, you will find they retain the knowledge better.

    What may also be helpful in this specific case is to not only go into the history of English as a whole, but also the history of each word: where it came from, how it was formed, what influences changed it and how, and so on. It is fascinating and, when I was teaching my own kids to spell (yes, I was not satisfied with the way they taught it at school – it did not work for us), I used this method and found it highly effective.

    Aspies learn by ‘figuring out’. So, when one has the opportunity to ‘figure out’ a word, that Aspie will KNOW the word for ever!

    There is something else you might try: this is what ‘works for me’ when it comes to English. I learned each and every English word twice….one as it is spoken, and once as it is written. As in, in my mind, they are completely separate. Different categories. Do not mix. No the ‘same word’.

    When I write and type, I recall the word as I would phonetically pronounce it in the way I first learned to pronounce the alphabet. And, I ‘recite’ it in THAT phonetic way (quietly, in my mind) as I write the word down. Letter by letter. (As an exercise for my brain, I sometimes write with both hands simultaneously, different word with each hand, so that I force myself to think two words at the same time…..sometimes I’ll make the words in different languages…but that is not the point here.)

    What would probably be really fun for your student would be to get a really really good dictionary which does not only define the words but also describes their history – he can read that. Yes, I do read dictionaries for fun…I like finding an old dictionary and comparing how the definitions of words have changed over time (my oldest dictionary is from the 1890s…). Hours of fun! And I am not the only Aspie I know who enjoys this…

    To do this ‘on the cheap’ – get him to google for the history and meaning of various words (or specific grammatical rules)….if your school system permits this level of internet access.

    However, what you are doing with grammar is very important and very good.

    Norwegian is a Germanic language, as English is, where the position of a word in the sentence determines its function (by no means a universal system). So, you have a ‘head start’. Explaining the rules of grammar is fascinating and English, with its fun – really fun – weird past tenses ought to be a delight for any Aspie….but especially a history buff one!

    Have fun with him converting some ‘historical event’ he likes into weird tenses – as if the observer doing the describing had a malfunctioning time-machine and had to keep adjusting what ‘will have been happening’….

    And, please, let me know what will have worked!

  7. Raymond Says:

    I’m creating an annotated bibliography for a graduate course on the subject of teaching writing to students with aspergers and found your blog most helpful. Thank you.

    Xanthippa says:

    Thanks!

    If I can be of any more help at all, please, me know.

  8. Raymond Says:

    Your comments about perfectionism and the difficulty Aspies have in putting words to paper make me wonder if this is why it’s so difficult for Aspies to revise what they’ve written: that once they get something down on paper they have committed their ideas to writing and there is no other way to put it. As a writing teacher, I often run into a wall when I ask my Aspie students to revise and I wonder if you think this explanation is accurate.

    Xanthippa says:

    I think that you are on the right track. I would like to nuance it slightly, if I may.

    There are several things going on.

    It is not that the Aspie may not be able to think of different words to put things into: it may be true at some times, byt certainly not at others. For example, many Aspies are very verbal – and they can say things out loud in many, many different ways. As a matter of fact, you may have a hard time shutting them up – they’ll describe the same things in so many ways.

    The problem comes whith ‘investing’ into writing the words down. They have been ‘selected’ and ‘sweated over’ – why do you want to change them?

    This constant ‘revision’ most writing teachers insist is part of ‘proper writing’ reduces me to white-hot fury! It it’s worth writing down, it’s worth doing it RIGHT THE FIRST TIME!

    Once an Aspie HAS written something down and you are asking them to ‘revise’ it – you are asking them to take something that is ‘right’ and change it….obviously, if you take something that is ‘right’ and change it, you make it ‘wrong’! Then, when they hand in the version you forced them to change from ‘right’ to ‘wrong’, you give them a bad mark…

    No wonder we don’t want to ‘revise’!

    OK – that was the ‘emotional’ response.

    Now, for more ‘reasoning’….

    There is a problem – an actual physical problem in the neural connections – in the brain which makes it difficult for MOST (not all – we are all individuals), especially male, Aspies to write. Physically write.

    Forcing us to ‘write’ and endlessly re-write the same sentences over and over is mental torture to us. It rubs our noses in our failure. So, we avoid it like the plague. If it’s a computer file, we’ll be less freaked out by it. But asking us to hand-copy out the same bits over because other bits had changed is unreasonable.

    I actually can tell – byt the style of writning – if something I ‘produced’ was first spoken and then trans-scribed/typed into the computer, or if I wrote it on a piece of paper in longhand and then typed it into the computer, or if I directly typed it into the computer. Honestly, my sentence structure and syntax are significantly different in each one of these styles of ‘writing’. Perhaps you could experiment with your students on this theme….

    But!

    This is the way I helped my kids ‘get over’ the whole ‘revision aversion’ (I could not very well undermine the teacher, right?).

    I explain that the teacher is trying to teach them how to build a piece of writing ‘from the ground up’. It is a particular methodology to teach, and marks are awarded at each stage: sort of like when you learn to swim, they first teach you to put your face in the water and only later want to see you perform the full butterfly stroke…

    So – first ‘version’ is NOT supposed to be ‘a written story’ or ‘a written essay’.

    Instead, organize your thoughts and put 1-2 words for each paragraph: enough to ‘record’ the ‘main idea’ or ‘main thrust’ of what this will say. This will be handed in as ‘brainstorming’ – teacher needs to get it to keep a record of it, so they can prove what they gave you the marks for if someone audits their work.

    On the next ‘version’, you go to each one of the paragraphs and put in 1-2 words for each sentence you will write in the finished piece. Check that each paragraph still has the same ‘focus’ as the ‘brainstorming’. This will be first draft – again, marks, teacher keeps for records…

    In between each step, take the teacher’s feedback and incorporate it in – again, this needs to show up. It’s the teacher’s job to give you feedback, so it’s important for the records they keep to reflect it. If you don’t, they’ll think they are not teaching you right, be sad, not like your work….pick your sentiment.

    On the next ‘version’, you write BARE sentences for the 1-2 word things. Make sure all ideas are there, but not really all the descriptions, and not nicely or fancily. You’re hitting the highlights. That is the next draft.

    Finally, you take your draft and connect up things, dress up the sentences, and so on.

    It’s a method of constructing something. Teachers must document they taught it to you.

    This way, you’ll show how you built the written piece. It’s not so much ‘revision’ or ‘revising’ it – that is a very poor label for this. But, that is the label we are stuck with.

    Does this help explain the thought process?

  9. Aspergers and writing: ‘build’, not just ‘revise’ « Xanthippa on Aspergers Says:

    [...]  And, it affects males and females a little differently, too.  Perhaps that is why my post  ‘Aspergers and writing’ continues to get so many [...]

  10. Raymond Says:

    That’s awesome, thank you again. I see there’s a huge difference between “revising” and “building.” I’ll give it a try next year!

    Xanthippa says: Anytime!

    I have an excellent ‘form’ worked out for essay writing, with the ‘rigid formula’ built in. I’ve been meaning to post it up: but I can’t find a way to do it on the blog: no other way, that is, than taking a photo of it and putting it on as a graphic….which is useless if people want to download it, perhaps customize it and use it.

    As soon as I get a website to accompany the blog (I warn you – I am slow), I’ll put it there!

    • Anonymous Says:

      Hello thanks so much for your blog! My step daughter is so frustrating with her lies and tantrums about homework. Especially in the area of writing. I have web knowledge and could assist you getting your form up either through hosting the page or one of the many form options. Let me know if this is of interest and we can discuss.

      • xanthippa Says:

        Thank you for your generous offer, but I am OK hosting the site on my own for now.

  11. Riayn Says:

    I’m an adult with Aspergers and what you have written rings very, very true.

    As a child I had enormous problems with handwriting and had to undertake remedial handwriting classes. I never learnt how to form cursive handwriting that is legible. I even have problems signing my name that matches what I have signed on the back of my credit card as I can’t always form the letters properly. However, my printed handwriting, when I concentrate and take my time, is extremely neat.

    When it comes to writing, I find there is a disconnect between my brain and the page. I know exactly what I want to say but I just can’t write it down. I blog to improve my writing abilities, but many of my posts sound fantastic in my head but come out completely different & inferior on the page.

    I wish I could remove the mental block.

    Xanthippa says:

    I SO KNOW what you mean. I have found the same thing with my posts…

    Though, I have found that if I write it – but not really finish, then I can’t get back into writing from where I stopped. Especially if I have had the chance to bounce the ideas off of someone else – to actually verbally ‘speak’ what it is I am trying to get across in the post.

    Then, I find it easier to just start from the beginning again: complete different angle, and so on. The act of trying to write it, then saying it out loud (sometimes getting feedback – my poor family!), and then tackling it from a different angle seems to help me get more of my point across.

    I also find it much easier to answer comments: then, it’s more like talking to a person, and it seems easier for me to type the words ‘naturally’ than if I am trying to compose a post. Perhaps that is connected to the fact we, Aspies, tend to be more verbally skilled than and less skilled at writing.

    Have you tried recording yourself as you ‘speak’ your post – then transcribing it? I’ve been toying with the idea of, perhaps, doing a few of my blog posts by speaking them, instead of writing them down, just to see. Perhaps.

    • CD. Says:

      I’m an aspiring writer who has Asperger Syndrome. This post defines me to a “T”. I can spend three hours sitting down in front of a computer trying to compose a story with no results. Perfectionism is one deterrent. Another is over thinking. I don’t know what runs through other As minds, but I know my own. I over think things to death. The solution I incorporate is write endlessly, uncontrollably for a set time limit. For example: I could write “The smoke descended the stairs. Shawn was the only person who saw it. He wanted to warn people….” Well you get the idea. To write this simple sentence I’d write like this: Smoke, grey, moves, stairs, horror, Shawn sees it, won’t talk, why, wants to…anything for an
      hour like I said. Then I return a day later and piece the words together like a puzzle, trying to produce coherent meaning. My ideas are so insightful. I won’t allow AS to prevent me from expressing them in any dam form I see fit. My goal is to write
      ‘endlessly and uncontrollably’ until I complete an entire story, then return to fix it up. After that the process of general editing, which a normal person without As would’ve already completed, comes into play. Though this may be a daunting task, it has worked for me. Plus, taking care of your physical health is very important for an AS individual to hone and display his natural god given gifts. Just waking up everyday with AS and dealing with the world, not just writing, drains the persons health. Anyway, I hope this long post helped. I’d like a personal email telling me how I helped. If you find the time that is. I don’t check blogs very often. Guess I should get started creating my own blog,huh? Well that is another topic in and of itself. I’m rambling now so hope I was of some help.

      Thanks.

      CD

      Xanthippa says:

      Thank you!

      This is awesome!

      One caveat I have always held true for Aspies – though I might not have dwelled on it in each post – is that each and every Aspie is, first and foremost, an individual and each one of us is affected differently.

      Having said that,the typical ‘Aspie problems’ are experienced by ‘majority’ of people, to smaller degree, but most Aspies to a greater degree. Ecxept!

      Except for the bits where individual Aspies either excell naturally or have worked so hard to overcome their ‘poblem’ that they ‘overdo’ it: the progress seems to be nil, nil,nil, nil – all of a sudden you’re better at it than most other people…

      You seem to be good at creative writing: that comment you got, about writing for a wider audience – I would consider that to be the highest form of praise!!! Not intended as praise, but it is exactly the type of comment that I would expect a budding young author of the Asimov calibre to receive from classmates!

      So, keep writing!

      Yes, I would love to see some of your stories!

      • Toni Tails Says:

        Thank you for sharing your method for writing CD!!! I came across this blog because, as a homeschooling mom, I wanted to find a way to encourage my ten-year-old Awesome Aspie to write- this idea is spectacular and seems like it would be right up his alley!!! I am going to try it!

        -toni

        “The smoke descended the stairs. Shawn was the only person who saw it. He wanted to warn people….” Well you get the idea. To write this simple sentence I’d write like this: Smoke, grey, moves, stairs, horror, Shawn sees it, won’t talk, why, wants to…anything for an
        hour like I said. Then I return a day later and piece the words together like a puzzle, trying to produce coherent meaning.

        Xanthippa says: brilliant!!!

        Please, keep me updated on how things work out.

        Also, if you would like me to contact you, post a comment saying so: I will not publish it, but will contact you if I can be of help with more private things…

      • CD Says:

        Toni Tails, thanks a million. It makes me feel good to know I can help others through my writing. Though I am a young amateur in the field of fantasy fiction and the weird tale, I’m finding that the above method helps me well. I’d encourage you to stand by your 10 yr old because 10 is a vital time at building self esteem. He/she has it within, they are just unaware. Encouragement, discipline and practice are the tools needed. Just because someone has AS, they shouldn’t be discouraged. Remind your 10 year old how imaginative he/she is and of the authors known to of had it as well: Sherwood Anderson, Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, Hans Christian Anderson etc. With hard work your child will be fine. :)

        Stay blessed,
        CD

        Xanthippa says:

        Thank you!

        I have full confidence my little one will do well in life!!!

        He is so imaginative – but also very artistic, in the visual and mathematical sense, that I think he will find his own way to combine his ideas and skills in a way that will improve not just his own life, but enrich the lives of others!

        Frankly, of my two sons, my younger one is the more charismatic one (though the older one has some serious leadership potential, too). I would not be surprised to find him to be a major influence on world events in whatever field he ends up selecting for himself!

  12. Kerry Kelley Says:

    I just found your blog. Wow, wish I had seen this a long time ago. It should be required reading for all special ed teachers. My son was not diagnosed until the end of 10th grade (after failing English when previously a straight A student), and we have endured an often contentious relationship with the school’s special ed coordinator and the school psychologist during that time and since. At the end of his 11th grade year we had the IEP meeting, during which the first one asked him, “can’t you just write something to get it done?”, and the latter called him a snob. And this is a year down the road!!! It’s clear that too many of the people that are supposed to be caring for our children in the public school environment are woefully undereducated, and some also lack the empathy that the unfamiliar accuse the Aspies of not having. We finally found a teacher in the school who undertstands Aspies (and who admitted privately that she cringed at those statements during the meeting), and she is wonderful. My question is why didn’t they allow us access to her last year, when my son had to be assisted by a special education “clerk,” who had no conception of his difficulties or abilites, who badgered him with “do you want to fail?” comments, and who evidently never bothered to pick up a book and learn about it during that time. I guarantee you, from my now huge Aspie book library, I know more about the condition than either of the people in that school that were allowed to make decisions about my son’s education, or the person that was directly working with him. If they had read your post, which would take about 5 minutes, they would have understood. I think you have explained exactly the problem from the Aspie side–I think this is what my son has been trying to explain to them for 2 years. So, anyone else with problems with the school: number one, don’t take it as long as I did, and don’t assume the people in charge will advocate for your child; number two, print some information from this blog and give it to every teacher, the special ed department, and the principal. You want to know a funny thing? My son was one of about 15 kids in the county that was nominated for a National Merit Award due to his test scores on the PSAT (no writing portion, of course). To apply for the award, the student must write an essay!!!! He decided to write it about not being able to write essays due to the Asperger’s, and about his difficulties at school due to this. Somehow I doubt he’ll win, but good for him. Thanks for explaining something so difficult so well, and I appreciate the time it takes you, trust me!!!!

  13. A most awesome comment on ‘Aspergers and Writing’ « Xanthippa on Aspergers Says:

    [...] I got a most gratifying comment on a post I had written a while back about Aspergers and Writing.  I know, it is a serious self indulgence to wallow in praise, but, if refreshing the post with a [...]

  14. Joseph Says:

    Would anyone know if there is any research out there that shows that adults with Aspergers Syndrome do better on oral examinations than on written examinations especially, if they know the topic well?

    Xanthippa says:

    I do not know of any formal research, but, I would consider such research rather redundant…

    We know that Aspergers causes a disconnect between a person’s ability to write down their thoughts and ideas, even when they are able to articulate them well verbally, and we know that this gulf is more pronounced in male Aspies than female ones.

    This is part of the diagnostic criteria for Aspergers!

    It stands to reason that if Aspies are able to express themselves verbally, but not in writing, they would achieve significantly higher scores on verbal tests/examinations than written ones.

    In Europe, traditionally, 50% of any student’s mark is based on written tests/exams and the other 50% on verbal (oral) tests/exams. I suspect that here, in North America where almost 100% of all tests/exams are written, Aspies are much less likely to succeed in school and will display a higher rate of depression which is triggered by the difference between their true achievement and their ability to demonstrate their achievements through a written medium….

    Sorry, I am rambling.

    The short version is: I doubt any studies would have been made as this disparity is one of the diagnostic criteria which defines Aspergers.

  15. Antoinette Says:

    Xanthippa,

    I just wanted to thank you, your blog has been a real help to me.

    My son is 9 years old and was diagnosed with Asperger’s in January this year. He coped well with his first three years of school, but has suffered badly since going up to the next stage. His teachers and I have been trying desperately to understand how such a bright boy can sit there hour after hour in his maths and literacy lessons and not write a single thing – very often not even the date or title. Your blog has given me a valuable insight into his internal struggles, as well as some strategies to try to support him.

    He is highly resistant to writing anything by hand, for the reasons you state – he is l/r dominant, cannot do cursive writing and due to hypotonia and poor core strength finds sitting to write physical painful. Fortunately he is now allowed to use an electronic typing machine called an alphasmart for longer pieces of writing and that has helped to some small extent. There is however much more to his lack of work production. He explains it as ‘not being able to get my imagination to work’ and not being able to understand what order things go in, particularly for literacy questions that have several steps or aspects.

    So much of what you write has me jumping up and down saying ‘yes that’s exactly it, that’s what X is like’. The ‘revision’ thing is a BIG problem for him and I really like the idea of turning it around and presenting it as a building process rather than a reworking of the original.

    I actually happened across your blog when researching mind-mapping techniques, as I was considering trying this method of helping him get something down on paper in the first instance. It has the advantage of being able to be both computer and/or paper based, so if necessary we can bypass the handwriting issue completely. I noticed when his class were doing some project work last year and producing posters about endangered species, that his posters resembled mind maps, in that they contained very little text and lots of ‘bubbles’ with interconnecting lines and this is what gave me the idea to try mind-mapping with him. I am particularly hoping it will help him first to commit thought to paper and second to start to recognise and pull out the necessary structure to form his thoughts into a more formal piece of work.

    Do you have any experience of of using mind-maps, or can you see any potential pitfalls. I would really appreciate your perspective on this, as I am desperate to help him, but his self-esteem is already at an all time low and I am loathe to introduce him to something else that he would struggle with, for reasons I have failed to grasp.

    Many thanks

  16. Jeff Says:

    The awesome thing is that technology is making a lot of the weaknesses of Asperger’s go away; we have GPS systems to keep us from getting lost, we have computer printouts to save us the embarassment of ridiculously bad handwriting and we have Smartphones we can set to remind us of all the little things we forget during the day.

  17. annie Says:

    Can someone please share with me their experience with trying their gifted aspergers boys in regular private schools such as UCC etc. Are these schools receptive with full disclosures? Also where can you find teachers who are interested and know how to tutor these kids. My son has been doing mental math since 2, can write prolifically/obsessively and with perfect diction about some alien story but does poorly in structured language classes – so I am most interested in building/channeling his language skills. The public school system seems to have taken his IEP as an excuse not to consider his strengths but rather his weaknesses.
    Thanks
    Ann

  18. Jennifer Says:

    I simply love this blog post! I can NOT thank you enough! I home school my Aspie, and writing and spelling is so hard for him! He struggles with getting ideas on paper.Thank you for explaining this, I know it is going to help him so much!

  19. Dave Angel Says:

    This is very helpful. So many kids with Aspergerts in schools struggle with being forced to do lots of hand writing. In today’s society I think that word processing should be made more readily available as a feasible option in schools.

  20. Terry Says:

    I was taught in Catholic schools (and I have the knuckles to prove it!). I have extremely beautiful and legible handwriting as a result. But it comes at the expense of speed; I am excruciatingly slow. I had to develop my own shorthand to be able to take lecture notes in school. The notes were of the main ideas, and seldom verbatim. I frequently begin writing one word and continue with another. And I agonize over every word and am often offended or amazed when my readers do not get my nuances and misunderstand me. (They never simply fail to understand, they must misunderstand.) This, it seems to me, is why it is so hard to write things; when it is done, it is after much thought and effort. It is rare when I want to change anything I have written.

  21. Terry Says:

    But I will often wish I had added something. :) The problem with coming up with a topic was extremely difficult for me; evedry time I came up with one and began writing, a better one would come to mind or I would find something unsatisfactory about it. But whenever given a specific topic, I would do well.

    Xanthippa says: I share your angst!!!

    What I find particularly curious is that it is much easier for me to urge my sons to a topic – even with me defining parameters I would never be comfortable with defining for myself – because it iseasier for me to relate to the goal I just get THEM to tha one I must get myself to….

    Weird, but true!

  22. Catherine Says:

    So pleased I found this site. I think a coworker has Aspergers; of course, our team is not privy to a dx.
    The issue: our work on the same projects requires typed comments; my coworker will write 2 paragraphs with intensive detail including what might happen when 4 words will convey the real comment.
    I have to search those paragraphs to decipher what the real comment is; but I have to respond to the entire comment per protocol.
    My coworker’s refusal to change their comment style comes across as rude and arrogant.
    Assuming this person has Aspergers (there are many more indicators), is it best for me to just work with this style because the person cannot change?
    I am very sincere in reaching a resolution.
    Thank you

    Xanthippa says:
    Chances are – you are correct and your coworker simply cannot change the way his/her style of writing: their perception would be that writing anything less would be an oversimplification to the point of error… I wish I could be of more help…

  23. Lauren Joseph Says:

    What are your thoughts on a transcribing program such as Dragon? Do you think this would be a helpful tool for my 2 sons, one with high functioning autism and one with Aspergers? They are now 16 and 13 years old, respectively, and getting ever closer to the time when I would like them to become independent. It has been years of struggling with writing for both of them, although they are both very verbally able. They can talk intelligently for 20 minutes on a given topic, but cannot write 2 sentences without extreme support and encouragement. i’m sure you are familiar. Thank you for your insight. This blog is very useful and I am sending it to my sons’ emotional support teachers.

    Also, I am looking for some written rules for behavior that I could use for them, I was hoping not to have to do myself from scratch, though if I do, I am certainly willing to share them with others. Any ideas?

    Xanthippa says:

    I do not have any experience with transcribing programs, because they simply do not work for me. One, I’ve done close to 50 hours of reading into it so it coul d’learn’ my speech – and still, it could not transctibe two consecutive words I said without seriously messing at least one of them up.

    As both my sons have a slight speech impediment (though different from each other) and refuse to fix it, this was not really a viable option for them.

    What I did do with my older son, though, was to use a speech recorder. He would say the answer – then play it back a word at a time so he could type it up. Then we would edit his work so that we would make corrections between casual, spoken language and more formal language.

    With my younger son, we started typing much earlier. He is a fast typist and has a better memory for what the answer is than my older son. So, what we did was to go over the answer – he’d say it out loud and then he’d be OK to type what he said.

    So, I really do not have any experience with the programs. However, I cannot see why it would not be a useful tool! Just make sure it will work for your kids – that it will actually recognize their speech – before you shell out the money, because these things can be expensive.

    As for written rules – I do not have any ‘start’ on this: I suspect different Aspies will need to be reminded of different rules, as they likely grew up with different ‘defaults’ and are also affected differently…

    But, if you do work them out – and wish to share – send them to me and I’ll be very happy to publish them!

  24. Audrey Says:

    Well I do agree it does seem though they do tend to talk less. But it not that words have lost there meaning. It’s because they feal other people just don’t care what they have to say. I would know. I had aspbergers bad when I was 8 and I never told a soul what I was thinking they all had to guess. Though now I connect with people just fine. I have a friend that constantly still struggles with her aspbergers. And she draws and writes fine. Though I would say her print isn’t the best. It’s not a different language its just people ask the rong questions.

  25. Brandon Says:

    As an 18 year old Aspie, I can say ‘then and now’ that a lot of what you speak of rings true, though a lot of it for me is inverted for the same reasons. When I was younger my teachers always use to give me writing assignments, and although I’d satisfy the context, I’d always go out of bounds, and teacher’s weren’t sure when to simply declare me creative, or thinking ‘outside the box.’ I recall one time our class had an assignment to ‘write a short fairy tail’ (and illustrate it), and I make a weird parable involving aliens meeting humans in a weird sort of ‘Goldilocks/Hansel and Gretel’ type fiction, and where everyone else did there’s on forest and elves mine just seemed out of place. I even added ‘magic’ to the story and when my teach asked why there were aliens, I told her she never said I couldn’t.

    I’m actually quite the opposite, now that I think about it. I can write/type entire fictions, but when it comes to telling them verbally or expressing them otherwise It’s to hard to keep track. The ‘permanentness’ of writing/text actually appeals to me

    Yeah,but a lot of the time ‘thinking-INSIDE-the-box’ is the problem for us Aspies. I was always and still am terrible at hand-writing, but once I took typing classes my HS offered, I became a pro at churning out work. I don’t really think I ever suffered from the ‘perfectionism’ immediately that you spoke of, because I would write/type it out all in burst and just revise parts that didn’t make sense later, but this was a problem if I didn’t have my work ready up-front. My head could rush through a million ideas, but I had to sort out some restrictions on what I was trying to do and say ‘ok, THIS is what is is, and that’s final!’ before my mind took over and started giving too many suggestions. And even after it’s done I have to stick to that because aside from allowed grammar and conventions, I would go CRAZY with revisions if I let it. (Everything from minor details to the entire plot)

    I took an informal fiction writing class this senior year and thought myself pretty successful, but think ‘thinking-inside-the-box’ is still a problem for me because it’s hard to please yourself if your conforming to what other people expect. My teacher told us we can write stories which we’d do work-shops on, any genre,any topic, anything we want. I was ecstatic, and wrote about stories with post-apocalyptic religious symbolism and fairy-tails of animals dealing with gender issues in a rough politic-socioeconomic climate, and other drastic things. I didn’t just want to make my readers think, I wanted them to be engaged and enjoy the fun little worlds I made up.

    Every other story submitted in my class revolved around :
    -Highschool love Drama
    -Angsty high-school kid/something about the students with terrrible individual problems and how awful their parents/school are (relatable but mundane)
    -Stories involving the authors wanting to meet their favorite celebrities. What was up with that?

    And then I got most of those stories and was like ‘Oh, was THIS the kind of thing we were supposed to be writing about?’ And then everyone else got my stories and was like ‘What the heck is this supposed to be?’ T~^.

    One of my literal word-for-word ‘critiques’ was:

    “Dear Writer, the characters and concepts hit a very specific target audience that is very small. I don’t think anyone else in the class is part of that group. It’s true that one should write for themselves first and consider the audience second, but I think a little more care could be put into making this story appeal more widely.”

    Yeah, I guess my writing did seem like over-kill. It’s even harder when you write with changing perspectives an non-linear narratives.

    Sadly, I’m not that good at art though. I’m excellent with language, but oh so terrible at art. I’ve always wanted to be able to draw comics and anime (as another form of storytelling), but I’ve just never been anywhere near competent. Even in a subject where you’d think ones creativity and abstraction excel, my lack of technical skill makes me utterly incompetent. Even taking formal art classes, it makes me disheartened that I’m laughably behind everyone in my class. It’s not a matter of even doing ‘open-ended assignments’ or figuring what the teacher’s asking, because it’s clear and plain, just ‘draw this’ or ‘observe that’, but this sort of thing I just don’t seem fit to be doing. It’s heartwrenching I tell ya.

    Anyway, that’s just my story, great article and I think I probably took a few things from it. If you want samples of any of my works, just drop and address or something. Meh.
    ~Brandon

  26. Writing and Aspergers « The Clockwork Pastor Says:

    [...] wondered if there was a connection between the writing and aspergers and it looks like there is.  You need to read the whole post, but the writer brings up a few issues that I’ve dealt [...]

  27. Paula Says:

    I have a teenage Aspie and he’s been having lots of difficulty in school because he can’t seem to write. With more and more essay type answers required in High School level, he faces great challenges.

    I believe that his writing problems are just as you have described ie. he is wary to write anything down unless he feels it’s 100% correct. He also seems to have more difficulty writing over the years which is unlike a neurotypical child.

    Really like to thank you for the post because it seems to confirm my suspicions on why he can’t write. Do you find it easier to talk about a subject as others say? My Aspie seems equally reluctant to speak about topics when he is unsure.

    Xanthippa says:

    Yes, many Aspies will also be reluctant to speak on subjects they are not ‘perfect’ on….though, with most Aspies, our industrial dose of OCD will make us knowledgable on the topics that interest us!

    But, those topics only….and no amount of social pressure can make us talk at length about boring stuff we don’t care (and this ‘know’) about!

  28. Ackerman Says:

    As an adult with Aspergers, I have trouble with your statement that this something shared by all “aspies”. I did have difficulty with reading and writing early in my childhood, but the main issue was not with my motor skills so much as it was finding relationships between the verbal language and symbolic forms.

    My fine motor skills were actually better than most children. Around the age of three and four, I was playing regular Legos. I thought nothing of it at the time, but my parents were astounded I could follow the instructions included with the sets and build castles, cars, ships, tanks precisely to the specifications.

    When it comes to writing, I was actually better at cursive than print when I was seven years old. I still prefer cursive when I writing by hand even to this day. The fluidity is soothing.

    You cannot generalize the effects of Aspergers for all people. The impairment does seem to affect us all in a similar manner when it comes to social skills, but that is the only thing we have in common. Many have precise motor skills, some have dog-like hearing discernment, while others have the visual precision of an owl. We are all a hodgepodge of bottle-necked skills.

  29. 4pancakes Says:

    At the very least most of this turns out to be similar for me. When I wrote (and when I still write) it becomes a struggle to write fluidly exactly as I speak even when its successful. However to me having trouble “investing” in a word makes a lot more sense as a problem for writing when looking at my problems.

    The ability to say a meaning or concept in a number of different ways and having to decide that may end up being a detriment to actual writing. Unlike speaking, writing is a bit more of a point of no return. You can always explain something a different way when speaking or get something to indicate that the person doesn’t understand but once you turn in a paper there’s no turning back (and I think this is why I really don’t seem to like turning essay in no matter how good).

    When you factor in that the way someone with Asperger’s may not see cues and connotations as intuitively and thus may get the wrong point across to people in a variety of different ways, it makes perfect sense why I would be reluctant to write rather than explain in words.

    So far I find it easier to write in a sort of script form of what I’m doing and the information here has helped futher that idea a lot.

    Either way reading or revising that isn’t grammar is horrible to me!

    Even beforehand I tend to write with less mistakes and find it easier to write a basis and refine details I think of as I go along even when revising rather than doing it all in one burst and looking over the whole thing again. I simply don’t have the attention for that (and often without serious migranes…)

    For both writing and drawing, if I can get all the details within the first few tries it’s often a winner than vice versa.

    Before I finally stop rambling let me just say thank you for the blog Xanthippa!

    Xanthippa says:
    You are welcome!
    It is gratifying to read that this helped you.

  30. Mari Says:

    So how do you suggest I help a student to write an essay given a prompt so he stays on topic and makes sense. He needs to pass the writing assessments to graduate. I wish there was another way he could do this.

    Xanthippa says:

    I wish there were an easy answer.

    I do not know your student so I cannot possibly know what would work for him specifically. Different Aspies find different approaches are effective for them.

    The easiest immediate solution I can suggest – at a distance – is to get your student an exemption from writing and let him take the test orally. As in, let him SAY the answer, instead of forcing him to write it down.

    In many countries, exams are both written and oral, each comprising 50% of the final mark. North America is quite unique in holding written only tests/exams, which unfairly disadvantages Aspies and others like us who do have a hard time writing.

    In the long term, your student can learn to write essays – but it is a long and difficult process which cannot be replaced by a simple ‘prompt’.

  31. Mari Says:

    By the way this blog is really beginning to help me understand the difficulties my students face with writing.

  32. Mari Says:

    Thanks for your reply. I totally agree with you that my student should be exempt from written essays but the state says he has to take them. I did find out that he passed the second retake of his 9th grade writing exam so that’s good. Trouble is they get harder from here on. This year he has to write persuasive essays, next year analytical, final year research paper. Oddly, he does better on stories than non-fiction. I will keep reading your blog and hopefully get better at communicating with him and understanding him.

    Xanthippa says:

    So sorry to hear that…

    Is there an opportunity to let him have a scribe/scriptor?

    If not, let me know and I’ll contact you privately to see if I can give you student-specific advice.

  33. angelofletters Says:

    I started writing this question about Aspergers on your new blog, but accidentally closed it, so I don’t think it posted. I’ll try to write the same thing again, which, as you know, is nearly impossible. My father is a professor so I have seen lots of papers written by his students. One of the most common problems I have seen is repetition of the same idea using exactly the same words. I once tutored an Aspergers girl who had an interesting version of this problem. She constructed her essays like a pyramid from the top down. Her first paragraph expressed her main idea, her second paragraph stated the same idea with some new material added, her third paragraph contained nearly identical sentences from the first and second paragraphs with some new material added and so on . . .until her essay was impossibly “bottom heavy.” I devised a method which allowed her to see and eliminate the repetition, and organize her essay as a logical progression. The result was one of the best essays I have ever read.
    What do you make of the fact that I have seen the “repetition” problem in scores of papers written by neurotypicals, and also seen it in one Aspergers case? Is this a difficulty that Aspergers have more often than neurotypicals? Did the girl I tutored have a common problem with an Aspergers twist? In your experience, how common is this problem when it comes to Aspergers and writing? Maybe, due to perfectionism, Aspies are plagued by a tendency to repeat themselves less frequently than neurotypicals. What’s your opinion? In general, what do you think is behind the “repetition” problem? I’m getting repetitious so I’ll stop with the questions.

    Xanthippa says:

    Honestly, I don’t know.

    Perhaps the problem was an inappropriate set of rules as to what an essay is and how it should be constructed.

    As in, the problem likely lies in an inability of the teacher(s) to properly define what constitutes an essay.

    • angelofletters Says:

      I’m certain that you are right that the parameters for essays are not clearly defined, and, if they were, the problem would end there. But some students, in the same class with the same instructor have trouble avoiding repetitious sentences and others don’t. I was thinking that when an Aspie can talk like the wind, but can’t write because writing feels more permanent and important, he’s got the whole issue backwards. All we have to do is study the inadvisable words spoken by our politicians to understand that the reasons for perfectionism are invalid. You can always go back and change a written statement, but you can’t unsay something stupid that you’ve already said. I imagine that perfectionists don’t feel the malleability of writing in their bones and therefore are disinclined to repeat something that is “already perfect.” I’m guessing that, in general, perfectionists are less likely to make any type of mistake (like repeating themselves) than
      non-perfectionists.

      • Juggernaut Says:

        while it’s true that i can revise writing and not words, words and writing are two different matters.

        words are a very casual way of speaking. even people in their profession speak casually now.

        but writing is and has always been more formal, so there is a heavier emphasis on writing being proper.

        now, i churn out emails very quickly without revision or expansive thought, if i see it as a casual conversation. i just let it flow off the top of my head as im doing now. but if i’m writing for a greater purpose (or what i consider to be one), especially an assignment, i am much more of a perfectionist.

  34. angelofletters Says:

    “After a verbal exchange, we often think of what we might have said–the comeback that would have been so clever, but turned into a wasted afterthought. Worse than that are the inadvisable things we wish we could unsay, the statements we think we can never live down. The beauty of writing is that we actually can go back, deliver that comeback, erase that blunder, and flaunt our charm and wit . . . ”
    I’m quoting myself here. I have been writing a series of posts on how to overcome “writer’s block.” I’m not finished with this particular post, but the point I’m getting at, is that, to loosen my pen, it’s best to remind myself, that writing forgives–I can always go back. Worrying about getting it right the first time around gets me stuck every time. When I’m writing anything formal, I feel like everything I’m writing is crap. My best written pieces have all felt like garbage, even after I have gone back and polished my words. People who like my writing don’t believe that I feel that I can’t and never will get anything right, but that’s exactly how I feel, until I have gotten some distance and gotten some feedback–from friends, family, the people in my writers’ group . . . Xanthippa also mentioned emails as an example of writing that flows easily. I agree. I would go a step further and say that anyone who has trouble writing something serious would do well to pretend that they’re writing an email, then go back and get just a little more serious, go back again getting a little more serious, until the piece feels like it’s done–even after that, most people go back for a final rewrite. When I’m really stuck, the only way to get unstuck is to take the attitude that what I’m doing isn’t all that serious because I have the luxury of changing it. And I don’t have that luxury with what I say. If I didn’t remind myself of these two facts I’d never be able to face my computer.

    • CD Says:

      I completely agree. Though the ironic part is I’ve never viewed writing in this way before. Again and again I struggle finding my voice as a fiction writer, even though deep down I know all writers never feel they’ve won this battle. Thus far I’ve already come to grips with my limitations (See Sherwood Anderson, H.P. Lovecraft, Henry James, and Hans Christian Anderson as examples), but people with Aspergers (like myself), sometimes suffer hints of self- depreciation. It’s an intense inner struggle. And during this we fall back into our old habits: being unable to string our thoughts together, creating a seamless flow of sentences like a fine chain, finding that clever, insightful word which lights up the world, garnering attention. Everything is a mental struggle. Finding a way to burst through this obstacle, leaving its shattered fragments strewn about to be wafted away by wind, water, or any other of earth’s elements, is important-vital even. I’m also finding it easier to express myself, my voice, here on this site or in any place where I don’t feel judged. Maybe locating that safe place, that place familiar to us in childhood, is another important thing. Aspies have the potential. Each and every one are seeds. You can feed and water them, but if they aren’t left in a sunny environment growth isn’t possible. Mind over matter. I remind myself this motto over and over again, everyday-concentrating on myself rather than the progress made by my “normal” counterparts. It’s a continuous battle. But we must remain strong.

      A fun example to illustrate this is from one of my favorite childhood shows, Muppet Babies. Yes, I’m an 80′s child and I love it!! In the episode “Scooter’s Uncommon Cold” Scooter has just received his microscope. While showing this to his friends and introducing them to various “pariticles”, they bring up the imagination particle. Scooter, strangely, can’t create one. As he struggles Skeeter says, “Yes you can, just don’t try so hard!!” That is what AS individuals must do…not try so hard. I’m finding this outlook is slowly beginning to work for me.

      CD

      Xanthippa says:

      What you say about a ‘safe place’ is very, very true.

      I had entertained aspirations of writing fiction, once…but after being ridiculed and put down for it by the only people I felt safe showing my writing to (my parents), I have firmly shut the door on that ambition – for ever. The last thing I need is more rejection!

      • CD Says:

        I know what you mean by rejection!! But if the spark of creativity in the field of fiction still dwindles I think you should go for it. You certainly have my support no matter what. :) If you have any pieces I’d be more than happy to look them over. It takes a while to develop thick skin. I’m still working on it. Good luck in whatever you decide.

        Xanthippa says: Thanks!

      • CD Says:

        Dwindles, change to (lingers).

  35. angelofletters Says:

    My trial is trying not to try. CD–Your prose is so lovely. Where can I go to read more of it? I’ve been trying to find more on this blog, but I don’t know how to navigate it. Xanthippa, can you help? Are you published anywhere else, so I can follow you?

    • CD Says:

      angelofletters, thanks you for your kind words. I have a few published things on sites which are no longer up and running, and in magazines which have flopped. I’m working on a few things at the moment. When I finish at least one I’d be happy to show them to you. Before I get a private author site, I’ll be posting on authorsden.com. Here is my email address: chazoshark@yahoo.com. I’d be glad to send you a poem I published back in June. And don’t worry, that site has sadly flopped too so there is no copyright on my poem any longer. Thanks again for your kind words. I’ll certainly keep you updated on all my progress. You’ve certainly brightened my day. Take care- CD

  36. Karen Says:

    I am so happy I found this blog. I am an 8th grade English-Language Arts teacher. I have two students with Aspergers, and both of them struggle greatly with writing. In our state, all 8th graders are required to write a timed expository analysis essay in response to an informative text and prompt. As you can imagine, this has presented a challenge to my students.

    I spent every day from August through January trying to motivate and re-teach these two students how to write because neither of them had ever successfully written an entire essay before. It was painful and frustrating for all three of us. We tried every accommodation available (letting students record their thoughts on a tape recorder and then type it up afterward, time and a half, small group settings, extra prompting/explanation of prompt). When they finally took the test, neither student wrote more than one paragraph.

    I cried and wondered how I had failed them and would they make it through high school as non-writers. I have searched everywhere for information on the link between Aspergers and writing, but I didn’t find anything until today.

    Thank you for the information. Now that the writing test is over, the students think I am going to stop pushing them, but I am not. I want them to feel successful when they write. I want them to succeed in high school and go on to college. I know we still have a long road ahead of us, but I feel that the information in this blog is going to be a HUGE help.

    Xanthippa says:
    Hang in there – there is a light at the end of the tunnel!

    Perhaps they may never become writers, but, with the right kind of methodology, they will be able to get through high-school level essays!

  37. www.la.sainte.femme.free.fr Says:

    I feel this is one of the most important information for
    me. And i am happy reading your article. But should statement
    on few general things, The site taste is wonderful,
    the articles is in point of fact nice : D. Excellent task, cheers.

  38. Lucretia Says:

    Hi. I know exactly what you mean by the need to operationally define the subject of which you are about to speak. Exactly to ensure everyone is on the same page and cannot find loopholes in your semantics to use against you (especially when debating passionately)

    My son was diagnosed with Aspergers at 7. He is left handed and his writing is pretty dreadful. His organisational skills on paper are concerning. He’s due to go to college this September where the A level subjects he’s taking require a well organised, logically ordered essay. I have tried to advise and encourage him, but he gets furious – accusing me of needlessly criticising him and ‘nagging’. I’m not sure what to do. Good essay writing skills are just as important as content.

    However I have read your comments and will reread.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Angel Griffin Says:

      Xanthippa and I collaborated on a 49 page free report entitled “How to Teach Aspergers to Write Creatively.” She distributed the report to all the members of her audience when she spoke in March at a conference at Yale. It can be downloaded for free from my website, angelgriffin.com.

      • CD Says:

        Thank you Angel. I’m checking out your website as we speak. This little booklet should be interesting. All of us AS people must stick together and support one another. The world of creativity, especially mainstream, is a compassionless beast. Knowing another is by your side, regardless of how developed you are, is comforting and helpful.

    • Angel Griffin Says:

      Lucretia,

      Your son sounds so similar to mine that it’s almost eerie. I home schooled my son from the second grade through his sophomore year in high school. If I hadn’t, he wouldn’t be on scholarship in the 17th best undergraduate school in the U.S., the recipient of multiple academic awards, and, of all the kids in four-year college, the only mathematician who was chosen for graphs theory research on stipend during the summer (even though he is only a freshman). I had no idea that this could ever happen to my son. I can almost guarantee you that what you are doing will have payoffs that you can’t imagine now.

      My son was a compulsive reader since he was five and a compulsive “read to me, mom,” since he was two, so he accumulated a wide knowledge base at a very young age. As you can imagine, with AS, this didn’t do him a whit of good at public school. “Extreme dissatisfaction” is a mild way of putting it. I thought he might be on the verge of suicide at age eight.

      If your son is in occupational therapy, you should insist that they concentrate on teaching him how to type. Period. You are already on to this, or you wouldn’t be typing for him. When he learns how to type, he won’t be dragged through the mud by motor difficulties in order to demonstrate his academic competencies.

      At the cyber school my son was in, I got him tested, and wrote an I.E.P. for him that they basically “rubber stamped.” He didn’t have to get bogged down by busy work or held back by delayed motor skills in order to demonstrate academic competency. The I.E.P was designed so that my son’s knowledge base was tested and graded, not his motor, organizational, or self-navigational skills (which were abysmal). For example, he was allowed to skip an entire week’s worth of math problems as long as he passed the “unit assessment” each week. If he missed a couple of problems, then he only needed to do the exercises that related to the problems he had missed. We used oral tests with tape recorders and other methods, including typing (instead of handwriting) that “cut to the chaise.” This gave him a taste of success, so that he had the heart to buckle down and work hard toward conquering the challenges that stood in the way of turning his knowledge into “product.”

      With his “efficiency fetters” removed, he could work on advanced math topics or poetry, so that he could employ his advanced math reasoning and advanced vocabulary. There are free online courses offered by The University of the People, and, even by MIT, Harvard and other top universities, and EXCELLENT, USER-FRIENDLY, FASCENATING, and affordable courses offered by the Teaching Company (www.Teach12.com) for any area in which your son already has a high level of understanding. If your son has artistic talent, you can find a way of letting him use computer drawing or mapping programs and until his motor skills catch up to his cognitive abilities. He will get in his school hours and academic credit for his accomplishments as long as his hours and accomplishments are documented in some way. This is probably the biggest advantage of cyber schools—they provide an easy, online forum for documenting hours and progress.

      To extract real “product,” my son needed organization, self-navigation, reading comprehension, and composition skills. Without the unconventional measures we took to address these weaknesses, he wouldn’t be where he is today. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. He put up a good fight because he could see, from his successes, that he would be able to accomplish his goals if he conquered his demons.

      The reason that I’m responding with a post, not a hundred or so pages that get into the details of the approaches we used that actually worked, is that I already wrote a book that gets into profiling the problems and detailing their solutions. My book is entitled “The Exceptional Pupil” (by yours truly, Angel Griffin).

      Xanthippa and I collaborated on a free downloadable book on teaching Aspergers how to write, which you can download from my website, http://www.angelgriffin.com, but the stories, science, and methodologies in my book come much, much closer to addressing the constellation of assets and deficits you are describing.

      Oddly enough, once my son acquired the skills he needed to generate “product” on his own, he was tested again and his I.Q. had gone up 10 points, and his motor and organizational skills were just as strong as his knowledge base. The real work took about four years. After that, he was still in cyber school, but I wasn’t coaching him much anymore.

      You are in an excellent position to turn your son into a high achiever. I’ve been where you are now and I can really sympathize. I want your son to have everything that he deserves–it costs next to nothing and is much easier than you think!

      I have a question for you. What questions do you have that I could write about for posts on my website? If you have a topic of interest, please leave a post on my website letting me know what it is.

    • angelgriffin1 Says:

      Stephanie,
      Like handwriting, spelling is no longer a necessary skill, worth spending tears, and wasting the time he needs learn what matters. If left completely to a word processor and his own devices, his skills will improve well enough to use spell-check, or a spelling dictionary, if he is forced to write hand-written notes in a building where there are no computers (how often does that happen?) Who is insisting that he concentrate on spelling?

    • angelgriffin1 Says:

      Hi, Xantihippa,

      I’ve been doing some research that reports that twenty- and thirty- something adults with autism, whose IQs are normal, have fewer social opportunities, enjoy less independence, and receive fewer services than adults of similar ages with Down syndrome. Down syndrome adults have much better social intelligence than you would expect, considering that they are mentally retarded.

      So, now I’ll get to the point. I’ve been interacting, through informal support groups in my area, with a fair number of “autistic spectrum” people who are intelligent, but not organized enough to “get a life”–structure their activities, make friends, self-navigate . . .

      You are obviously familiar with very intelligent Aspies who are extremely slow at learning how to structure their time. And you’ve had to teach your kids to structure their lives so they could accomplish their goals. As you are quick to point out, Aspies need structure.

      So, now I’ll get to the question. Why do young Aspie adults, who’s conditions were masked by normal intelligence while the were growing up, and weren’t blessed with a parent like you, become more and more isolated and less engaged in structured activities as they grow older?

      This seems paradoxical. Left to their own devices after the age of eighteen, you’d think that the people (Aspies) who need structure the most would seek it out, and yet they don’t.

      Less intelligent autistics generally get more help and enjoy better lives as adults than the untutored ones with smarts!

      Do you think this is because self-navigation skills are so difficult that, if they weren’t taught earlier, they have given up altogether? It seems like there is some huge crack between idiot savant and high-functioning Aspie, that a lot of “spectrum” people are falling through. According to what I’ve been reading, native intelligence is not enough to ensure better outcomes, so, apart from the obvious (the right kind of parenting), what else is missing?

      Xanthippa says:

      I’ll have to think about this for a while.

      I suspect they key lies in the sheer number of choices that opens up as we enter adulthood and we become simply overwhelmed by these choices and shut down…

      Still, I will ponder this for a few months and get back to you.

      • juggernaut Says:

        much of your post, angel, applies to me.

        i think it’s often because it’s hard for people to look past the surface. none of us are truly mind readers. if we see someone who looks and acts intelligently, it’s not in our nature to conclude that they suffer from the most basic rudimentary problems.

        as an aspie, as i’ve improved socially and emotionally, i simply look too normal to receive the kind of help or sympathy that someone who is less articulate and readily appears to be less functional.

        i carry myself on the outside as a person who is normal, can fit in and seems like he has his life all together, but thats often far from the case, but few people would ever believe it.

        and that’s a good thing! i can go in public without being judged! finally!
        yet, i lose sympathy and understanding. fair tradeoff i suppose

  39. CD Says:

    On the 23rd I’m seeing an AS counselor in order to break my perfectionist habit of constructing the perfect sentence. Anyone suffering from this same problem should read Gustav Flaubert. Perfectionism enslaved his every waking day when using ‘the pen’.

    Xanthippa says:
    I was cured of this problem while learning foreign languages and following the rule: if you cannot say exactly what you want, say what you CAN.

    This may lead to long convoluted sentences, but does get the meaning across – and goes a long way to break the ‘perfection’ shackles.

  40. video x 3d gratuit Says:

    Unquestionably consider that which you said. Your favorite justification appeared
    to be at the net the easiest factor to consider of.
    I say to you, I definitely get annoyed while people think about concerns that they plainly do not recognize about.
    You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined
    out the whole thing without having side-effects , other people can take
    a signal. Will probably be again to get more. Thanks

  41. Véronique Says:

    Thank you very much for that blog. I homeschool my 8 years old who was recently diagnosed with AD. He reads all the time and love to talk and share his reading but he never wants to write. As a toddler, he never wanted to draw; he would always tell me “no, you draw”. I am not very good at drawing but my drawings were still better than those of a two years old and I could see that he would notice it and that he could not see the point in drawing if he could not do as good as me. By the age of three I had him evaluated for motor skills (among other things) and the report mentioned “above average for his age but shows extreme dissatisfaction”. Only one year later, we had him evaluated again and the report mentioned “very below average, in need of occupational therapy”. We started homeschooling in December because school was complicated. As a “compulsive” reader, he was very advanced in math, sciences, and general culture (from many grades) but it was very difficult to get him organized and to produce any actual work. The more he had to write, the more it seemed painful for him. He is creative so I thought that I would let him write on his favorite topics and that it would do the job because he likes so much to tell stories. I also planned on letting him write on the computer instead of using a pen. It did not work at all. When I started homeschooling him, I realized that he preferred grammar exercises on paper to free writing. My plan for September was completely different: 1) continue grammar exercises on paper but 2) writing short stories with him: we will make a writing plan together following a very precise structure and then, since I am quicker with a key board, I will ask him to tell the story while I am typing it because it seems clear to me now that he his frustrated because his brain is so much faster than his hands…hopefully my hands will be quick enough. If they are not, I will keep in mind what you mentioned in a comment: I will record him and type it after. Another mother suggested giving multiple choices and I feel that I might have to use that trick also. My goal is to have a finalized product at the end that will make him proud. If I can have that, I feel that it would be so much easier! Thanks again for that blog!

    • angelgriffin1 Says:

      Veronique,

      Your son sounds so similar to mine that it’s almost eerie. I homeschooled my son from the second grade through his sophomore year in high school. If I hadn’t, he wouldn’t be on scholarship in the 17th best undergraduate school in the U.S., the recipient of multiple academic awards, and, of all the kids in four-year college, the only mathematician who was chosen for graphs theory research on stipend during the summer (even though he is only a freshman). I had no idea that this could ever happen to my son. I can almost guarantee you that what you are doing will have payoffs that you can’t imagine now.

      My son was a compulsive reader since he was five and a compulsive “read to me, mom,” since he was two, so he accumulated a wide knowledge base at a very young age. As you can imagine, with AS, this didn’t do him a whit of good at public school. “Extreme dissatisfaction” is a mild way of putting it. I thought he might be on the verge of suicide at age eight.

      If your son is in occupational therapy, you should insist that they concentrate on teaching him how to type. Period. You are already on to this, or you wouldn’t be typing for him. When he learns how to type, he won’t be dragged through the mud by motor difficulties in order to demonstrate his academic competencies.

      At the cyber school my son was in, I got him tested, and wrote an I.E.P. for him that they basically “rubber stamped.” He didn’t have to get bogged down by busy work or held back by delayed motor skills in order to demonstrate academic competency. The I.E.P was designed so that my son’s knowledge base was tested and graded, not his motor, organizational, or self-navigational skills (which were abysmal). For example, he was allowed to skip an entire week’s worth of math problems as long as he passed the “unit assessment” each week. If he missed a couple of problems, then he only needed to do the exercises that related to the problems he had missed. We used oral tests with tape recorders and other methods, including typing (instead of handwriting) that “cut to the chaise.” This gave him a taste of success, so that he had the heart to buckle down and work hard toward conquering the challenges that stood in the way of turning his knowledge into “product.”

      With his “efficiency fetters” removed, he could work on advanced math topics or poetry, so that he could employ his advanced math reasoning and advanced vocabulary. There are free online courses offered by The University of the People, and, even by MIT, Harvard and other top universities, and EXCELLENT, USER-FRIENDLY, FASCENATING, and affordable courses offered by the Teaching Company (www.Teach12.com) for any area in which your son already has a high level of understanding. If your son has artistic talent, you can find a way of letting him use computer drawing or mapping programs and until his motor skills catch up to his cognitive abilities. He will get in his school hours and academic credit for his accomplishments as long as his hours and accomplishments are documented in some way. This is probably the biggest advantage of cyber schools—they provide an easy, online forum for documenting hours and progress.

      To extract real “product,” my son needed organization, self-navigation, reading comprehension, and composition skills. Without the unconventional measures we took to address these weaknesses, he wouldn’t be where he is today. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. He put up a good fight because he could see, from his successes, that he would be able to accomplish his goals if he conquered his demons.

      The reason that I’m responding with a post, not a hundred or so pages that get into the details of the approaches we used that actually worked, is that I already wrote a book that gets into profiling the problems and detailing their solutions. My book is entitled “The Exceptional Pupil” (by yours truly, Angel Griffin).

      Xanthippa and I collaborated on a free downloadable book on teaching Aspergers how to write, which you can download from my website, http://www.angelgriffin.com, but the stories, science, and methodologies in my book come much, much closer to addressing the constellation of assets and deficits you are describing.

      Oddly enough, once my son acquired the skills he needed to generate “product” on his own, he was tested again and his I.Q. had gone up 10 points, and his motor and organizational skills were just as strong as his knowledge base. The real work took about four years. After that, he was still in cyber school, but I wasn’t coaching him much anymore.

      You are in an excellent position to turn your son into a high achiever. I’ve been where you are now and I can really sympathize. I want your son to have everything that he deserves–it costs next to nothing and is much easier than you think!

      I have a question for you. What questions do you have that I could write about for posts on my website? If you have a topic of interest, please leave a post on my website letting me know what it is.

  42. Angel Griffin Says:

    Veronique,

    Your son sounds so similar to mine that it’s almost eerie. I homeschooled my son from the second grade through his sophomore year in high school. If I hadn’t, he wouldn’t be on scholarship in the 17th best undergraduate school in the U.S., the recipient of multiple academic awards, and, of all the kids in four-year college, the only mathematician who was chosen for graphs theory research on stipend during the summer (even though he is only a freshman). I had no idea that this could ever happen to my son. I can almost guarantee you that what you are doing will have payoffs that you can’t imagine now.

    My son was a compulsive reader since he was five and a compulsive “read to me, mom,” since he was two, so he accumulated a wide knowledge base at a very young age. As you can imagine, with AS, this didn’t do him a whit of good at public school. “Extreme dissatisfaction” is a mild way of putting it. I thought he might be on the verge of suicide at age eight.

    If your son is in occupational therapy, you should insist that they concentrate on teaching him how to type. Period. You are already on to this, or you wouldn’t be typing for him. When he learns how to type, he won’t be dragged through the mud by motor difficulties in order to demonstrate his academic competencies.

    At the cyber school my son was in, I got him tested, and wrote an I.E.P. for him that they basically “rubber stamped.” He didn’t have to get bogged down by busy work or held back by delayed motor skills in order to demonstrate academic competency. The I.E.P was designed so that my son’s knowledge base was tested and graded, not his motor, organizational, or self-navigational skills (which were abysmal). For example, he was allowed to skip an entire week’s worth of math problems as long as he passed the “unit assessment” each week. If he missed a couple of problems, then he only needed to do the exercises that related to the problems he had missed. We used oral tests with tape recorders and other methods, including typing (instead of handwriting) that “cut to the chaise.” This gave him a taste of success, so that he had the heart to buckle down and work hard toward conquering the challenges that stood in the way of turning his knowledge into “product.”

    With his “efficiency fetters” removed, he could work on advanced math topics or poetry, so that he could employ his advanced math reasoning and advanced vocabulary. There are free online courses offered by The University of the People, and, even by MIT, Harvard and other top universities, and EXCELLENT, USER-FRIENDLY, FASCENATING, and affordable courses offered by the Teaching Company (www.Teach12.com) for any area in which your son already has a high level of understanding. If your son has artistic talent, you can find a way of letting him use computer drawing or mapping programs and until his motor skills catch up to his cognitive abilities. He will get in his school hours and academic credit for his accomplishments as long as his hours and accomplishments are documented in some way. This is probably the biggest advantage of cyber schools—they provide an easy, online forum for documenting hours and progress.

    To extract real “product,” my son needed organization, self-navigation, reading comprehension, and composition skills. Without the unconventional measures we took to address these weaknesses, he wouldn’t be where he is today. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. He put up a good fight because he could see, from his successes, that he would be able to accomplish his goals if he conquered his demons.

    The reason that I’m responding with a post, not a hundred or so pages that get into the details of the approaches we used that actually worked, is that I already wrote a book that gets into profiling the problems and detailing their solutions. My book is entitled “The Exceptional Pupil” (by yours truly, Angel Griffin).

    Xanthippa and I collaborated on a free downloadable book on teaching Aspergers how to write, which you can download from my website, http://www.angelgriffin.com, but the stories, science, and methodologies in my book come much, much closer to addressing the constellation of assets and deficits you are describing.

    Oddly enough, once my son acquired the skills he needed to generate “product” on his own, he was tested again and his I.Q. had gone up 10 points, and his motor and organizational skills were just as strong as his knowledge base. The real work took about four years. After that, he was still in cyber school, but I wasn’t coaching him much anymore.

    You are in an excellent position to turn your son into a high achiever. I’ve been where you are now and I can really sympathize. I want your son to have everything that he deserves–it costs next to nothing and is much easier than you think!

    I have a question for you. What questions do you have that I could write about for posts on my website? If you have a topic of interest, please leave a post on my website letting me know what it is.

  43. Stephanie Says:

    I am new to this issue and dealing with a 9 yr old male who is everything described previously in this blog. All the tears over anything related to a pencil and paper made no sense to me until now. So my question is this: with the suggestions to let him type answers, how do I deal with the lack of spelling knowledge? Short term processing issues/memory issues and perfectionism have left us with basically no spelling skills. Please help me.

    • xanthippa Says:

      Ah, spelling.

      A tough one.

      I know a lot of Aspies who are terrible spellers – but I know other Aspies who excell at it.

      The key is NOT in memorization – we suck at it!

      The strategy I adopted with my own boys was of teaching them the origins of words.

      English is so unique because it has bee inmajor influenced by so many languages…being the most Western island off of Europe, and the migrations there being East to West, every time there was a major migration in Europe another linguistic group got pushed to the British isles and the language there got another makeover…OK, this is an oversimplification, but it is more accurate than not.

      So, the irregular spelling of many words is rooted in their origin. Tracing that origin and discovering why it actually makes sense for the word to be spelled the way it is not only captured my sons interest, it turned them into one good speller and one excellent speller.

      Similarly, for grammar, we did a few lessons of Latin – only about 3-4 – because since the words flex depending on what role in the sentence they play, it is an excellent tool for eplaining the grammar which underlies the English language (where the position of the word in the sentence defines its role, with no flexing, so it is much less easy to grasp).

      Try it and let me know if it worked!

  44. Kelly Says:

    My mother sent me the link to this article saying that it was me to a T. Having now read it for myself, I can only agree with her.

    I’m eighteen years old and I’ve always had trouble writing. I now write constantly, ever since New Years last year. But there’s a catch: I can wake up in the morning and write pages upon pages of FANTASY–a certain genre within that, mind you–but if you ask me to write you something like a paper I’ll start having an internal breakdown, regardless of the time of day or day of the week. The topic can’t be pressed upon me, it has to come of my own free inspiration, uninhibited and unaltered by another person’s words. From there I can shape it freely to however I wish.
    I have several stories I’ve written–long stories–and more that I have started but paused on after the second or third chapter (sometimes the fifth or sixth). I have so many stories that are several pages long and have chapters in them but are as yet unfinished. I could name about twenty, at LEAST. But part of this is more than a loss of inspiration; sometimes I’ll know exactly what I want but I can’t word it just right so I’ll write little complex step-by-step notes on the bottom until I can express it perfectly, and other times I’ll have finally written it and made progress when suddenly my work is lost–not all, just the most recent progress–and I’ll become so discouraged that I’l not touch it again. The idea, as clear and drawn out as it had been, will be gone from me completely. I’ll not touch it again for a long time, or sometimes never again.

    In any case, I’m an affluent writer, now. Many years ago I could only give one-sentence responses (I now call these one-liners and I hate them greatly) to my sister’s messages which would take me nearly an hour–now I pour out paragraphs to people in just minutes. Also, I find that my writing style can be greatly influenced by something I read or a movie I’ve just seen. I pick up styles like some people pick up accents. It never ceases to amaze me.
    Also, I find it easier to write what I wish to communicate in detail than to say it aloud now. Writing has a smoother flow and I’m less likely to repeat myself on a topic or word or sentence. My best work is done creatively, while my most educative work is done with difficulty. It’s a curse and a blessing, but one I would never give up.

    So there’s my two cents. I hope you find my story interesting or at least a piece of it thought-provoking!

    ( http://amenarae.deviantart.com/ If you look at my site, you can see a lot of my writing. There are even a few older pieces from when writing was still a forced wish rather than an enjoyable ride. Just a way of showing how far I have developed in that time.)

    • xanthippa Says:

      Most awesome!

      Thank you!

      I can really relate to a lot of what you write…

      When I write a storyline (and, believe me, I have MANY in the 3-7 chapter range, as well as short stories, but I would never dare to show them to anyone for fear of rejection), it’s like an alternate world I travel to and I have to be in that world and simply write what I observe there. I don’t make it up – a multiverse of courses of action open up like overlapping waves and I just follow one set of crests or another.

      But, therein lies the rub – I have a very difficult time ‘jumping’ between universes.

      So, if I have to return to the reality-based universe, it’s tough…but returning to the storyline universe is even tougher because even if I find the right ‘window’, I may not find the current I was following the last time and enter a changed universe… At least, that is what it seems like to me.

      And, this is also why my blog ‘jumps around’ so much to so many different topics: I simply find it difficult to write ‘to order’, so to speak. It has to be something that is ‘overflowing’ in me…not a ‘given topic’ thing. So, I get wha you mean.

      Thank you for your insightful comments and for your link!

  45. Kelly Miller Says:

    Yes! I finally found some information on this topic! My 17 year old son is somewhere on the spectrum (never formally dx’d as aspergers though). He’s super bright and mostly interested in math and science. Strangely, though, he actually loves literature. His comprehension/spelling/grammar are excellent. Got an almost perfect verbal score on the peats. He participates in class with insightful comments. The problem has always been getting him to produce written work. It can be agonizingly slow, even now with hours spent getting nothing on the page. When he DOES produce, his teachers rave about the quality. Unfortunately he has been really resistant to any help with this. So, he’s getting by (with english and history grades not as good as they could be) with the help of some understanding teachers who give him extra time.

    My question has to do with the “personal essay”. For some reason he is unable or unwilling to write about his own thoughts, experiences, feelings. He owes his english teacher an essay relating something in his own life to things they’ve read in the class. I think he’s pretty much given up on turning it in. This has been a challenge whenever its come up (like trying to write an essay to apply to a school or summer program. At this point I’m starting to wonder whether or not he’ll be to write college application essays. Any thoughts on how this could be related to aspergers? He is obviously not willing or able to “look inside” or reveal anything personal in writing.

    Have you had experience with this particular problem (the personal essay). Any thoughts/suggestions? He/we don’t identify him as having aspergers, I guess because his problems are mild and we’ve been reluctant to put that label on him.

    Really sorry for the rambling message. I have gotten a lot just reading through this post and the comments. I’ll share with my husband and probably teachers as well.

    Kelly

    • xanthippa Says:

      Thank you, Kelly!

      Your son is not alone!!!

      I, myself, have found it extremely difficult – in the past – to do the ‘self essay’ thing.

      I cannot explain why – but, for many years, I found it impossible to enter that ‘bit’ of myself and ‘expose’ it (or, as I perceived it, my weakness/failure) to the world. Why would it be relevant to talk about me (or so I thought) when I am a bit of a freak (and I’m not really ready to face it or admit it or expose it to others because it will make me too much of a target) when there are so many important/worthy other subjects?

      It was not until I had kids and saw them struggling with Aspergers that I was able to overcome my fears and talk about it….

      Of course, once I started, it became impossible to shut me up!!!

      But, it was not because I was speaking up for myself or describing myself…..it was only because sharing my ‘journey’ made it easier for my kids that I started and because it helped others that I continued.

      Could you, perhaps, re-phrase the assignment to be not about ‘him’ and ‘his perceptions’ or even about the ‘Asperger’s’ label, but about, perhaps, him writing about how someone whose mind works in quirky, non-typical ways can learn about how other people think through his study of literature and how it has helped him relate to other people’s experience?

      Perhaps re-framing it in a way so as to make it not just about him (us Aspies are very shy about that) but about any advice he cold give younger students on strategies they could develop to learn from the lessons of literature – something that someone more affected by Aspergers (or, perhaps, a more non-typical thinker) how to understand literary works and, through them, improve their understanding of how other people interact and interpret social situations….perhaps that would help.

      And, if he produces something that is a useful tool for others, PLEASE, do urge him to send it to me and I will be happy to publish it (with proper accreditation, of course, as per his instructions).

      It may not work (and if that is the case, let me know and I’ll try to work with you on alternative strategies more privately), but, if it does, I would love for his work to become a tool to help others!!!

      Good luck!

    • Charles O'Connor Says:

      Kelly,
      Excellent message. I didn’t find it long, rambling, nor tedious. What peered through every word was a caring person who wants to help her son come to terms with his Asperger syndrome. That is great.

      I, too, suffer from AS. I’m a struggling writer and believe me, it’s a daunting and frightening call. An entire world rests inside you yet the key to unlock your ‘door’ is nowhere to be found. Your son is combating this feeling too. What I’m about to say is completely off topic but, one day he’ll have to face AS. He’ll have to stare into it’s eyes and shout “I won’t allow you to stop me. There are many gifts inside me waiting to be exposed and put into practice.” This point right now is distant, but whatever he chooses for his life will require love for himself.

      I have a few books he could read: On The Spectrum (Emily Dickinson graces the cover), The Complete Weird Fiction And Poetry of R.H. Barlow, Anything by Henry David Thoreau- especially Walden and Civil Disobedience, and a few biographies like “Gustav Flaubert”. Mr. Flaubert was obsessed with finding the right word, a ‘martyr for style’. Also H.P. Lovecraft’s article “On Writing”, which can be found online. Lastly, “Letters To A Young Poet” by Rainer Maria Rilke. This is a treasure trove for finding yourself.

      Hope I helped, even though I was off topic.

  46. Kelly Miller Says:

    Thank you so, so much for your replies and suggestions. I plan to share this info with a trusted friend/educational consultant who is going to try to help my son work on his writing (good for him – he’s open to the help). Wish us luck!

  47. Shawn Says:

    This is precisely what I go through every day. I am 37 now and have only just started to understand that I am an Aspie after learning about it from Television. I was confused at first because I am in no means a genius but I have an incredible imagination. Since I was in grade 3 I have been writing fantasy stories (even before I knew what a fantasy story was) but while my ideas are always terrific, my writing skills have been poor. At 27 I took a correspondence creative writing course designed to help me publish my book and the first thing my Prof. told me was I had great ideas but the writing skills of a grade 9 student. Now that hurt and made me furious, but after a couple of lessons I came to understand what he meant and worked to improve.

    I’ve also come to understand that one main part of my problem is that I learned both French and English at the exact same time, as my mom is french Canadian and my dad speaks only English. I went to a pure French school until midway through grade 3 and switched to French immersion where I was subsequently told by my French teacher that I was speaking French incorrectly and the other students made fun of my French accent. So I basically stopped speaking French.

    In Grade 4 I was kept in an after school 1 hour program to help me with my English and my writing. It was this teacher that helped me develop my creative writing talent.

    But now that I am 37 I’ve noticed that my short term memory is quite bad and when I try and work on my book, I can have the idea in my mind but when I try and write it down, it comes out wrong. I am never satisfied with what I have written and when I ask for opinions from friends and family, all that they can do is spell check and grammar check (lots of mistakes). They can never tell me if that idea makes sense or what’s missing, so this is even more frustrating. People keep asking me if this is writer’s block and just can’t understand when I tell them I know what to write I just can’t get the wording write. I’m also always worried that if I ever send this to a publisher or agent they won’t like what I have written since I’m never satisfied with it.

    • Shawn Says:

      Forgot to mention, my hand writing has always been messy and I am unable to do cursive writing at all. Even my name is illegible. But for the last 3 years my writing hand will often cramp up or “claw up” after writing a single paragraph to the point where I hold back a scream. I find this more so when at a desk or siting up in bed writing, but if I sit on my couch and work on my fold-out diner tray table I can write for 30 mins before it cramps.

      • xanthippa Says:

        Wow – thanks for sharing!

        Have you tried, rather than writing your ideas down first, just speaking them out loud, as a story?

        People with Aspergers often tend to be better at expressing their ideas while speaking rather than writing. If you tell the story two or three times, it might work as not only ‘expressing’ the ideas, but also the subsequent telling might work as the ‘editing’ process. And, having found the words to express the ideas in speech, it might make it easier to then write them down. Or, record the spoken words and then transcribe them.

        One of my Aspie sons has found it much easier to type his writing rather than write it down – both the cramping and the expression itself was better.

        This has worked for some Aspies I know, perhaps it will work for you!

        Please, let me know how it goes for you.

        As for showing your work to a publisher – I do not blame you at all, fear of rejection is a bitch! Have you considered just publishing some of your ideas in a blog, so you can get feedback from ‘people out there’, to help you perfect your story before self-publishing? It might be a workable route for you. If you do, let me know: I’d love to read some of your work!

  48. jak szybko schudnac z ud Says:

    I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great.

    I do not know who you are but definitely you’re going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already ;) Cheers!

  49. piadas Says:

    I enjoy what you guys are usually up too. Such clever work and exposure!
    Keep up the very good works guys I’ve incorporated you guys to blogroll.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 124 other followers

%d bloggers like this: