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  1. Here's how to figure out what to focus on when helping young adults launch into the world.
  2. WARNING: MATURE CONTENT. VIEWER DISCRETION IS STRONGLY ADVISED. OH YEAH, & THIS IS LONG. REALLY LONG. What's good, everybody? Welcome to my blog on life with Asperger's. Before I get started, I think I should let you guys in on a little background info. Who Am I? I am a 23-year-old man born & raised in the suburbs of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I was diagnosed with Asperger's at 3 years old, and at the time, could barely talk or run, let alone make friends on the playground. Thanks to extensive occupational, sensory, & speech therapy throughout my early childhood, I was able to be mainstreamed in time to start kindergarten, albeit with support staff. My childhood was initially pretty good: as the "nice kid" who also happened to read & do math 3 grade levels above normal, & throw the biggest birthday parties ever (thanks Mom & Dad!), I made a lot of "friends" very quickly. It also helped that as part of my therapy, I picked up 2 extracurricular activities that I became very good at: piano (I am now officially qualified to be a teacher) and taekwondo (black belt). So that made me a kid with a cool, attractive talent, and a kid you didn't want to mess with at the same time. And despite being in what I now know as "Defense Mode" throughout my childhood, my life was great: my mom had a really high-paying job, so I got all the cool new toys, clothes, & video games for my birthday. I became obsessed with basketball and actually thought I could make it in the NBA (Raptors for life, by the way), and even created a fake persona that was the "greatest basketball player ever" that I pretended to be at recess. I even got NBA jerseys with my persona's last name on them & used to wear them to school whenever I got the chance. I also got obsessed with hip-hop culture (still am), but that's a story for another day. However, there were cracks that slowly started to reveal themselves: I was frequently bullied outside of school; first by my cousin & his friends, & later by the other kids at my taekwondo gym. They used to exclude me from social interactions, tease & taunt me for being "gay," "soft," a "pussy," or just generally feminine (which you'll later find out is the most ABSURD thing ever), & trick me into doing things where I came out a loser & they came out a winner. As my success grew, so too did the demands on me from my parents. My cousin is 9 months older than me, but my birthday's at the end of November & his is in the beginning of March, so we were in the same grade, & there was always this big rivalry going on between the two of us. This cousin went to one of Canada's most prestigious private schools for music starting in 3rd grade, & had grown to be an incredibly talented pianist & singer, as well as excelling in basically everything he tried effortlessly. My parents tried to make me compete with this cousin in every way, even forcing me into singing (I sucked at it & it quickly ended thanks to some good advice from my schoolteachers after talent show auditions). The same cousin, who by the way, bullied me frequently & used to refuse to do anything I was better than him when we were together by telling me it was "lame". Eventually, this got to the point where my parents forced me to study school & practice piano for 2-3 hours a day each, even during summer break. From 5th grade to my freshman year of university, I was basically forbidden to go out alone & hang with friends, or have friends come over to my house. And forget about girls. When I tried to convince my parents to let me give up piano in favour of basketball (which I really wanted to do), they used to yell at me & tell me, "Fine, but you'll study & do homework 6 hours a day in return." That I had to create a fake persona because I felt who I really was wasn't good enough. This is a problem I've had my whole life. Just before the 2008 recession, my mom lost her job & my dad's workplace had frequent strikes, so money was tight. This means that we could no longer pay for the babysitter who basically allowed me to do whatever I wanted once I got home, & instead I had to go to after-school daycare centres known as PLASP where the supervisors & other kids were total CUNTS (yeah, I said it, they deserve that word). Also, I started to develop crushes on girls, but I tried to hide it, resulting in me blushing, which EVERYBODY noticed. This resulted in me getting mercilessly bullied & teased to the point where I was getting in fights with other kids every day. But in an ironic twist, I used to be the one getting punished while they got off scot-free & ended up getting awards for their character. This culminated with me almost getting expelled from school halfway through 7th grade & being bullied so hard in a summer camp the summer after 7th grade that I used to cry every day at the front desk, begging my dad to pick me up (to no avail). And what's worse is that my parents kept me in these programs saying that they were "good" for me, & when I tried to tell them about the abuse, they would just blame me, or at best, tell me, "they're just jealous, ignore them." Which is ironic because that's exactly what they were doing to me. Fortunately, in 8th grade, my parents let me stay home alone for the first time, away from the torment of PLASP. I decided that with high school coming up (where presumably even harsher bullying would follow), I needed to change my ways & I wasn't going to just sit there & take this anymore. One day, on a summer camp field trip, I observed a girl I had a crush on sitting next to one of my bullies & basically fawning over him, & I asked him, "how do you do it?" He told me, "she's my friend." I didn't accept the explanation & got jealous of him, so I decided to look up on Google that night, "how to get girls without doing anything." On the eponymous wikiHow article, I read the first tip, which changed my life forever: "GIRLS ARE NATURALLY ATTRACTED TO THE ALPHA MALE." I then looked up on Google, "how to be an alpha male," and I found a bunch of books, videos, & Internet advice promising me that I could become an alpha male, telling me they were the "lazy man's way to easy sex & romance." Before I knew it, I had entered the world of PUA (pick-up artistry). Determined to never be humiliated & bullied again, I dove in headfirst to the extent that I could (didn't buy anything, & there was no way in hell I was asking my parents for those books) & tried to implement the body language, tonality, & lines they were teaching me, beginning in 8th grade. Thanks to PUA & puberty, I developed a new sense of false confidence (at the time I was deluding myself into believing it was real), & prepared for high school. In high school, using my newfound confidence, I became an Honour Roll student, football player, popular crazy kid who would hit on anything that moved, Kijiji salesman, & eventual Valedictorian. My grades were high enough that I got into one of my country's top finance schools. However, PUA didn't go exactly as I expected: I was seen as a "creep" in my high school for a while, was given death threats, & my family, to this day, thinks I'm a misogynist. I got a LOT of hate. Because my parents were still crazy overprotective & overzealous on my academic & musical achievement (remember the whole "no hanging out" thing?"), I couldn't go to parties/social events where I could really practice talking to girls. So, I ended up having to do it in school by default. Because of my parents' overprotectiveness, I couldn't get social media until 10th grade, which was exploding at the time. I missed the social media explosion, & as such, couldn't get a lot of followers & friends, & am still unpopular on social media to this day. Thanks to being overly focused on achievement & productivity, I ended up burning out at the end of 11th grade. The fact is, I made it through 12th grade, university, & my first job basically on the fumes of my first 17 years of life, & even then, barely so. Because of all of this, in order to cultivate a popular reputation at my high school, I had to make up a ton of false stories about partying & sexual exploits, which were proven to be false towards the end of 12th grade (I was basically forced to admit it after some kids did some digging). And, worst of all, I GOT NO GIRLS & NO REAL FRIENDS. I had opportunities, yes, but either my own obliviousness/arrogance or my parents' overprotectiveness made sure I couldn't take them. A lot of girls would tease me by pretending to show interest, but then pulling back & saying "I have a boyfriend" when I tried to express interest myself. I even have had guys try to fight me. Because of all of this, as well as all my other previous trauma, & not being able to get therapy for it, I also ended up developing ADHD & generalized anxiety disorder. Anyway, in the summer between high school & university, my parents forbade me from doing Kijiji sales after I tried to sell a low-quality product to a guy & he ended up trying to fight me in front of my dad & my dad had to run him off our house. I was incredibly devastated, & so traumatized that I considered suicide, & couldn't make friends or transition to university properly. Sure, I still got good grades, but by that time, burnt out & traumatized as I was, I was also addicted to video games & basically a skinnyfat mess of my former self. I tried giving up video games & all my other bad habits between my freshman & sophomore year of university, & even got a life coach, but to no avail. My life coach ended up Red Pilling me, & I went mad from the revelations & became suicidal again. My suicidal thoughts are something that I feel I'll have for the rest of my life, as affirmative consent and #metoo have made me scared to death of girls accusing me of rape, & it being impossible for me to make money and/or survive because of it. Trust me, I've read the stories. It happens. I probably have tremendous social anxiety. At the end of my sophomore year of university, my grades had sunk so low that I was almost kicked out of university. It also didn't help that affirmative consent was going to become an official policy in my university by the start of my junior year, making even being in the same room as a girl a virtual death sentence for any guy, let alone someone with Asperger's like me. So, for my junior & senior years of university, I just shut myself away from everybody & focused on my grades, & grew to hate basically my entire school because I felt like I was on the outside looking in (I didn't make any friends in university). Thanks to this, my grades did improve, and I was even a borderline Dean's List student during my senior year. But nothing could take away the dark cloud of having what I perceived as my only escape from bullying taken away from me & being ripped into an even darker, deeper, more pervasive hell where everyone was the enemy & I couldn't escape. I also didn't work at all & was on disability throughout university. One good thing that came out of this dark period, though, was that I rediscovered my passions: writing, music, & basketball. I began to write an alternate history book on the Toronto Raptors (known as Dinosaur Reign) in which they become a dynasty by drafting superstars they skipped over in our timeline, & realized that I actually liked playing piano, & wanted to finish my piano teaching certificate. I was able to use these passions to self-medicate & get through the remainder of my time in SJW prison. After graduating from university, I found a job working as an accounts payable clerk in a different suburb of Toronto than the one I'm from, which allowed me to explore a whole new city, make my own money, & really begin to make my own moves in life. I started my job in July 2018, made a plan to save money to quit my job & finish my piano teaching certificate. Despite hating going to work every day because I felt like a slave, I managed to push through & quit my job in October 2019, & get my piano teaching certificate in January 2020. Currently, I am unemployed, & trying to look for work as a financial analyst/office tech sales representative/sales account manager in Corporate Canada. Why Am I Here? I first found this place in September 2017, at the start of my senior year in university, by watching AE's videos on the "Freeze Loop" and "Defense Mode" on YouTube. All of a sudden, I felt like my burnout & what I was going through in my life made sense & that somebody had finally put words to it. I punched my pillow to shreds the first time I watched these videos because I felt like such a fool: how did I not know, or care to treat this? In hindsight, I was too busy trying to achieve because I cared too much of what others (specifically my parents & the blue pill mainstream media) thought of me. I would have registered for a membership & bought some courses, but my financial situation was messed up so I didn't do it. Fast forward to February 2020: I'm done my piano teaching certificate, & you think a guy as highly motivated as me would be pounding the phones & LinkedIn looking for jobs, right? WRONG. I ended up doing some combination of playing Madden NFL 2004 (one of my favourite childhood video games) & The Sims 4, & sulking & masturbating in my bed all day. And staying up until 2-3 AM every night doing it, despite my early bird parents yelling at me to go to sleep at 10 PM because I "needed to get my body back into a normal schedule." 3 weeks ago, I became sick & tired of living life like this, so I had a heart-to-heart talk with myself in the mirror. I began to ask myself, "what do you actually like to do?" My answer: "write Dino Reign. When I was writing that book, I was fully in the zone... I was truly happy in a way I hadn't been since childhood." Then I realized all I needed to do was do a little bit of that every day. So I started doing that as my self-care activity. I also installed Habitica & turned my Reminders on my iPhone into nice, gamified tasks where if I completed enough of them, my created character would "level up," giving me tangible, visible rewards for my progress in life (I'm currently a Level 13 Rogue). But still... I noticed that I wasn't applying for jobs. And my parents were yelling at me like crazy, with my mom saying "you'll be a homeless man for the rest of your life" and my parents yelling at me, "keep applying, keep applying. Send 10 resumes a day on Indeed & Monster & all the government job agencies & all the accounting job agencies." ANYONE who's tried to get a job since 2008 knows this: THAT STUFF DON'T WORK. Enter "Breaking Free." One day, I noticed an email (I'm an email subscriber) advertising the course, promising me independence. Free from my piano obligations, and armed with a tenable financial situation, knowledge of AE's basic philosophies, interest in learning more, & the desperate desire to escape my personal hell, I decided to buy. And now... here I am. Today, I still stay up pretty late (12-1 AM, 3 AM some nights) & get up pretty late (8-10 AM), meaning that calling employers back to follow up on my job applications is a near-impossibility. On top of that, I'm always looking over my shoulder, worrying about whether or not the actions I took for the day were good enough for my parents. I'm trying to care for myself by walking outside every morning, writing/researching info for a piece of my book every day, working out every day, & staying in touch with the few people who I actually consider friends & getting advice from them. I typically apply to 1-2 jobs per day, & spend the rest of my free time learning coding thanks to an IT job offer that will come through for me once I get my IT certs. Right now, I'm learning basic coding & C, but I will move on to Python & SQL later. I've learned to breathe deeply to calm myself down in times of stress, but half the time, I forget this strategy. I am heavily into self-improvement. I drive every day, mostly to get food. I just learned how to tie my tie & cut my own toenails. However, I still can't cook for myself or run a house independently. Honestly, I could care less about getting a job; I'm only doing it because my parents are on my back for me to do so, & I see it as my fastest path to independence right now. If it were totally up to me, I'd try to start my own online business selling either video courses teaching piano, blogging about my experiences, selling eBooks... you know. And I'd be spending the rest of the time working out, partying, talking to girls... etc. Just doing fun stuff. What Are My Goals? Moving out of my parents' house into my own place Living completely independently & developing the life skills to do so Starting my own online business & becoming a millionaire off of it Getting jacked (very muscular with low body fat; think like those lean, toned muscular guys with 6-pack abs you see at the gym) Getting a girlfriend that's beautiful on the outside & inside Making an awesome group of friends committed to self-improvement & achieving their dreams in life Finishing my book & selling it on the Internet Mentoring others with Asperger's to achieve their goals; becoming the Asperger's version of Tony Robbins So yeah, in a nutshell, that's me. I know that was long, but I wanted you to get the complete picture of who I am.
  3. Every year between 2014 and 2019 I told myself that I was going to go the gym. Every year, I was going to get healthy…. I’m going to get healthy, I’m going to get healthy, I’m going to get healthy. But come the first week of January, or any time really, I would be in that gym for 10 minutes max. Sensory overload is the loud noises of weights dropping. The massive amounts of people. Someone engaging me in a conversation that I really don’t care about. It's uncomfortably bypassing a group of extremely buff people on my way to the water fountain. Why do I drink so much water compared to everyone else, have they noticed that? Why am I sweating so much when that girl over there is hardly sweating? I can’t do this anymore,. Imagining the feeling that I get when my sweat rubs into the car seat is torture, and I’m certainly not showering here. In public. Ewww. This isn't even getting started on the sensory stimulation that occurs from the drive home when i'm already tired and burnt out. I’m not going to the gym this year. So much of being autistic is needing to mask, needing to conform to the norms around me. To do anything possible to avoid some random stranger from thinking that something is wrong with you while simultaneously trying to process and understand the different sensations and feelings that you encounter on delay. It’s exhausting, sometimes terrifying. This year, I’m accepting that going to a gym is not for me. Just the way I’ve come to realize that my style of learning is drastically different than that of many. It’s not better, nor is it worse. It’s me. This year, I’m basing my health goals on me, and what I can do, not on what other people have done. Success for me is trying, failing, making adjustments, and finding a way to achieve my goals. You don’t have to do things the “normal way.” No one should ever have to do things the “normal way.” My favorite poem by Laura Hershey is titled “You get proud by practicing.” Let’s start with that, I’ve already got my yoga mat and some YouTube videos lined up. From AE we wish you all the luck in doing the best you can with the emotional capacity you have, all in very non-normal ways. Here’s to 2020.
  4. until
    Parents of people with Asperger’s & Autism: You are doing an amazing job. Seriously. Simply the fact that you are on this page, considering going to an event to help better the life of yourself & your child means you care, and you are doing the best you can with the capacity and resources you have. That being said, one of our favorite ways to avoid making mistakes in the future (and ultimately have a better life as a result) is to hear from others who’ve lived it, made the mistakes for us, and share their wisdom. So in that spirit, we invite you to join us as we share the mistakes our parents made when raising us, what they did right, and what we wish they did differently. Get Tickets & Details Here.
  5. Since I can remember, I have hated looking back at the child I was. I look at my childhood and I cringe, and for the longest time I have had the resounding thought that I was a stupid kid. I was stupid, weird, and ugly, and that's why other people made fun of me. That's what I thought, for years. But it wasn't the truth. Because when I was seventeen, I was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. And while I hate to say it, that explained everything. For instance, I have never understood social norms. It started out fairly normal, the only people who picked on me for not knowing at first were other kids. I didn’t understand why, but I had an understanding that kids picked on each other and besides, they were all still my friends … right? Looking back, a lot of my “friends” from that time just liked having me around to laugh at. But soon I had bigger problems. I was getting older. But I still hadn’t learned the rules. And it was starting to frustrate adults now. Did you know, for example, that it’s considered inappropriate for a fourth grader to write about a family that openly dislikes each other? I certainly didn’t. But my teacher made sure I did. In front of the whole class. A few years later, junior high came around and, well, I still didn’t know everything my classmates knew, but for the sake of brevity (and not sounding like I’m too full of self pity,) I’ll stop here, but needless to say, I was still picked on until 10th grade. But I blamed myself! I spent a long time telling myself, “If I had spoken differently, or just not talked at all, I would have been FINE!” and “Why did I ever wear those stupid clothes, and those stupid glasses, and that stupid hair?!” and of course, the favorite “I was just a weird kid, so of course people would make fun of me.” When I started writing this out, I still thought that it was all me, and that I was weird. I didn’t expect to unpack all of this. But this is the conclusion I have reached. I was never the problem. My symptoms were not the problem. I was displaying signs of a disorder that no one knew I had. So, to the child I was; I’m so sorry. I have hated you and blamed you for so long. You were never any of the things I, or anyone else called you. It was never your fault. It may take me awhile to fully stop being mean to the kid I was. But it is a journey I know I need to make. And if you felt the same way about your younger self, I hope you can do the same.
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