The System Is Down Podcast Review

 

On May 1, 2017, a strange, funny, and uncomfortable man, by the name of Dan Smotz, released the first official episode of his new podcast The System Is Down, a lovely show that discusses politics, conspiracy theories, and religion. Its tagline is ‘Question everything, and stay uncomfortable’.  Today, it has a total of 21 episodes, with the 21st having come out today.  Right off the bat, this sounds like a passion project of yet another crazy conspiracy theorist with the intention of scaring the crap out of people with stories of evil government plots, potential prologues to a third world war, and chemicals in your Oreos to make you compliant. I’m happy to say that this is not the case.

I happen to know Dan personally (or at least I think I do), but that fact will in no way make me biased in the way I write this review.  What I will say however, is that Dan has something good going on here, whether I know him personally or not. His unapologetic and sometimes humorous approach to sensitive and uncomfortable material makes him one of a special few, and his desire to listen to the opinions of other people and take them all into account rather than lashing out is undeniably refreshing and sometimes even amusing to listen to.  He recently succeeded in doing what’s considered almost impossible these days: putting a Democrat, Libertarian, and Republican together in one place and having them discuss their sides and where they stand politically, making for a surprisingly civil conversation that at times was even inspiring.

The use of the word ‘inspiring’ leads me to my next point, which is this: Dan does not do his discussions to feed you fear or get you paranoid (God knows we have enough of that already).  He does the discussions to make you think.  He wants you to listen and then debate different uncomfortable topics so that they’re not blissfully ignored, and he kicks that trend off in a handful of episodes by taking a step back and allowing his guests to chat, some of whom have never talked to each other before and are now being given the opportunity to.  He doesn’t claim that he’s right about anything he says concerning different topics, and though he has no problem admitting that he disagrees with certain things, he doesn’t tell his guests that they’re wrong but instead encourages them to keep going.  By the time I’m done listening to each episode, I’m usually anxious to hear what he does next.  It can really feel like a breath of fresh air at times.

As I’ve said before, just because I know Dan personally doesn’t mean I’m going to be biased, and that will be proven through a few negatives I have to throw out there concerning this podcast.  Thankfully, there are very few and, in my opinion, aren’t deal breakers to drive you away from listening. This is Dan’s first go at a long-term podcast, so a few hiccups aren’t surprising to run into along the way.  It’s pretty clear throughout the first couple episodes that he was trying to find his footing and figure out how exactly he wanted it to pan out, so the topics don’t feel as thoroughly pre-planned or organized as they get later.  Granted, when it all comes down to it, this is a podcast with people having discussions like any ordinary discussion would be, so it’s inevitable that conversations will go off in random directions, but in the end I couldn’t help but ask what the point was half of the time.  Thankfully, Dan does find his footing before he even reaches the tenth episode.  He not only manages to organize the discussions better, but also brings in people with more defined platforms (the producers of the upcoming film ‘Generational Sins’ for example), making the discussions a cleaner back-and-forth than a group of people talking over each other.

This is more of a fact than a negative trait about the series, but the last thing I should note is that this podcast is not for everybody.  If listening to conspiracy theories makes you feel anxious and edgy and perhaps even depressed, then this probably isn’t for you.  This show is not a ‘conspiracy’ podcast as Dan states in his latest episode, but conspiracy theories are brought up from time to time and they’re often not pretty to listen to, and Dan doesn’t try to sugarcoat them to make them pretty.  To my knowledge, he doesn’t want to depress anyone either, but discussing topics that many would consider to be uncomfortable means being raw and honest about reality, and being raw and honest are two things Dan encourages for in this podcast.

All in all, this is a solid podcast that talks (mostly) about uncomfortable things but has good intent behind it.  While it’s not the most perfect podcast out there, it displays a lot of promise for even better things to come, and I applaud Dan for his efforts.  Dan, I forgive you for your Rogue One: A Star Wars Story review.

You can visit the podcast’s website to read about it, listen to it, and even look through some of Dan’s merchandise at http://www.tsidpod.com/.  Or you can check out the podcast’s forum on Facebook at ‘The System Is Down Forum’.  Remember, question everything and stay uncomfortable.

 

 

What If You Don’t Feel A Sense Of Direction?

 

One of the things that stuck out to me the most in my diagnosis report was that I was described to be someone with a lack of sense of purpose and direction in my life, and being uncertain about major life issues.  At the time, this was understandably a discouraging part of it.  I mean, the report was basically implying that I was going through an existential crisis, like I was wandering aimlessly through life without a sense of meaning or any idea of what I wanted to do with my life.

In a certain regard, the report was correct.  At the time the report was made, I was going through a very trying time in my life where depression, anxiety, and loneliness were common traits day after day.  While I’m certainly a lot better now, and have improved in more ways than one since then, I still sometimes struggle with trying to figure out what exactly is my purpose in life and what I’m here on this earth for.  Now, the traditional Christian perspective would say that you’re here because God put you here and your actions are meant to glorify Him and point in His direction.  While this is all well and good and there’s certainly nothing inherently wrong with that, the Bible also says that God has a plan for your life.

That last part seems comforting enough.  Okay, so God has a plan for my life, meaning I’m guaranteed to get something meaningful done while I’m here.  Cool.  So what’s there for me to worry about exactly?  For me personally, I struggle with timing when it comes to just about everything.  When nothing is getting done within the timeframe that I want things to happen, it worries me and makes me slightly paranoid.  I grow more hyperaware of how I’m spending my time but I don’t know what to do at the moment in order to fix that.  I know that I want to get published, but almost every book I start I never finish, and when I try ‘harder’ to write a book, I tend to lose interest fast.  Because of my narrow interest in variety, I’m stuck on trying to do only two or three things.  I’m more of an ideas person than someone who actually gets things done.

I love talking to people and getting to know as many as I can, and I usually look at things from a very psychological standpoint, so not only do I tend to analyze people and their actions but I also tend to analyze characters from movies, books, and video games.  Sometimes I’ll analyze a movie, stop for a while, then go back to it a year later and either just go over everything I’ve gone over before or tackle it from a completely different angle.  This is one reason why I feel like I would spend a good use of my time writing essays or doing video essays (with the latter, that would technically mean writing an essay first).

So I know that I have talents even if they don’t spread as wide or have as much variety as I might like.  The question is, how am I going to utilize my talents to make something meaningful out of them?  Additionally, how am I going to muster the motivation to do this?

Yeah, this isn’t one of my how-to posts with solutions and all that, but a personal ponder of mine that I was having today.  Maybe these were exactly the kinds of words you needed to read.  Maybe you’re having the exact same trouble as I am and you find it comforting to know you’re not alone, in which case I’m glad I can give you that feeling.  For everyone else, I’m sure you can relate in one way or another.  I believe we all reach a point in our lives where we don’t know where we’re going or what we want to do, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of for that.  The trick to combating uncertainty is to do something, be it big or small.  It can be a paper describing exactly how you feel, it can be an essay, it can be a job search. Something is bound to get you back on your feet and get you started with something, and I’m going to try doing the same.

Four Things That Autism Is Simply Not

I’ve been thinking a lot lately on two different things: one being certain aspects of the autism spectrum and the second being my own personal beliefs, but by melding the two things together, I realize some ways in which they’re connected.  That being said, I’m going to make a list of some of the things autism is not.  Usually people make a list about what autism is not, including things like a disease, a person incapable of being married and having kids, one who can’t live independently, etc.  With this list, I’ll actually be tackling a couple different nots.

Autism is not the thing that defines what you’re capable of believing and what you’re not.  It is not meant to determine your faith and whether or not you believe in God.  Let me take that fact and narrow it down a bit to something basic but very important.

Autism does not make decisions for you.  At the end of the day, you’re still a human being capable of making decisions like everyone else.  The only difference is that you might not understand at first what the right decision is.  You might not know at first what decision is best for you.  This is not unlearnable however, which leads me to my third point.

Having autism does not mean you’re incapable of learning how to improve in different areas of your life.  Just like how you might not understand how to make good decisions at first, when it comes to improving yourself in different parts of life, it may take more discipline and a different way of approaching it.

Having autism does not mean you’re doomed to make the same bad decision every time a choice comes to you.  It doesn’t mean you’re fated to make the same bad choice over and over again.  This is where learning to improve and understanding the right choice to make comes in.  This is one area where I’ve struggled the most in my ‘autistic’ life.  I’ve made bad decisions repeatedly to the point where whenever it happens again I think to myself ‘well of course I did that’.  This is not a good place to put yourself, because by doing this, you’re basically accepting the fact that making bad decisions is just a part of who you are and there’s no hope in getting better.  Then once you put yourself in that mindset, with the fact that the autistic mind tends to be obsessive with certain thoughts, you might end up obsessing over that, which will make yourself feel worse.

If it sounds like I’m talking down to you or scolding you, I assure you that this is not the case.  Autism is not many things but it is many things too.  Just because you’re on the spectrum and can’t make a decision the same way like others doesn’t mean there isn’t one or more ways out there where you can.  Most people on the spectrum can learn how to do the important things in life.  The only difference is that sometimes they have to learn differently than others.  The alternatives may not always be as easy, but I believe it’s worth it, even if I might not see it that way at first in the moment.

 

 

Atypical Season One Review

A new Netflix series came out on Friday called Atypical.  This short, eight-episode show tells the story of an eighteen-year old man named Sam Gardner who has autism and is looking for a girlfriend.  This premise alone should make for a simple and sweet mini-series with a good story and act as a potential eye-opener for people who aren’t very familiar with the autism spectrum.

It should.

Atypical proves that just because a show tries to make things interesting by having its main protagonist be autistic (excuse me, ‘a person with autism’ as the show tosses around at one point) doesn’t mean that it’s an automatic winner.  This is especially true if the show insists on stuffing in extra subplots that a) don’t belong, and b) completely takes the focus off of what this show is supposed to be ultimately about.  Now, this isn’t to say that the show has no positives at all, so in order to keep this review from getting too deep into pessimism, allow me to start with the good things.

The Good Things

Most of the cast turns in a pretty stellar job as their respective characters, adding some exceptional layers to the story that helps you root for them.  While this is not the case for all, the best standouts were Keir Gilchrist as Sam and Michael Rapaport as his dad.  Keir portrays a person on the spectrum in a believable and convincing way.  His lack of emotional range and facial expressions works well here, and as someone on the spectrum myself, it didn’t feel like the character was just doing exactly what the actor was doing.  Acting.  It felt neatly grounded and even heartbreaking at times.  I felt sorry for him when he made a mistake and people put him down.  I laughed at some of the times he took things literally or misunderstood certain phrases (the harmless stuff, not some of the mistakes he made that had deeper consequences).  It was relatable, which made a sizable chunk of the show worth watching.  Michael does an excellent job as Sam’s father, making it clear that his character really just wanted to connect with Sam even when it seemed impossible to and that he wanted to be there for his family after a time when he wasn’t.  Personally, I ended up rooting for him the most and felt very sorry for him when he got screwed over (more on that later).

Like I said above, the portrayal of Sam’s character was done in a convincing way that I agreed with.  His weaknesses remained consistent throughout the show, which could’ve actually not happened if the writers really didn’t pay close attention.  Sam’s sister Casey gets her own story arc that weaves itself well into the events of the show, and shows us what it can be like for a neurotypical person to have an autistic sibling.

The Bad Things

Unfortunately in this really brisk first season, a large portion of it is wasted on a pointless subplot where Sam’s mother is cheating on his father for reasons that don’t make sense.  Even if you could piece together the reasons better than I can, none of them could justify the mother’s actions, especially when you follow the father’s character arc and recognize how faithful he has become to his family.  None of the marriage drama and the cheating ties into Sam’s story at all, and is nothing more but filler to add more drama in a soap opera-y fashion.  The only reason why I managed to put up with it was because I wanted to see the mother get found out.  This show doesn’t disappoint with that once the moment finally comes, but it still doesn’t justify the whole arc to begin with.

Lastly, this show got the TV-MA rating.  Why?  I don’t ask this because there’s nothing MA about it (which there is, albeit lighter than the usual fare), but because I wonder why they felt the need to reach this level in the first place.  One of the most mysterious aspects about the Netflix exclusives these days is their insistence on being on an R-rated level.  Cut out the affair subplot and more than half of the jokes about women in this show, and you have a more innocent show that’s at least TV-14 about an autistic young man looking for a girlfriend.  The “character” of Sam’s friend Zahid is nothing more than a lady’s man wanting to get lucky with any and all girls he can win over, and constantly gives Sam advice about sex.  The show does nothing to counteract these things and point out that there’s more to it than that, but instead seems to endorse it at almost every turn.  Whenever a good, legitimate point is made in the show, a bad one swoops in and replaces it in almost an instant, so I consistently found myself going through a rhythm of finding myself relaxed with the show one minute and then getting bummed out the next.

So all in all, the show has its moments, but there were too many things bogging it down for me.  This is a shame, because I think this show has one of the most accurate depictions of a person on the milder side of autism I’ve ever seen.  Unfortunately, the good gets pounded down oftentimes by a cheating wife and an abundance of sex jokes that come off as immature and degrading.

This show gets a 5.5 out of 10 from me.

Side-Note: I’m probably going to have an article out that focuses more on the specifics of Sam’s autism in this show and how much it either comes close to the real thing or how far from it.

Living With Autism: Taming Expectations In Your Relationships

autism in love

Everyone, and I mean everyone, goes into most dating relationships with a specific set of expectations in mind.  Most people face disappointment in these relationships, as certain expectations of theirs are contradicted or even completely shut out.  Leading up to the start of a relationship, most people typically form this picture in their heads as to what that relationship will look like and what direction it will take.  I myself have done that, and as someone having personally experienced this, I believe I have the freedom to tell you this.  If you’re about to get into a relationship or are already in one, cancel your expectations.  Cancel them hard.  Or at least repress them.  Our expectations for relationships are typically fantasy to begin with, fantasies that don’t qualify with reality in the least.

As someone who is on the autism spectrum and someone who is currently coming up on eleven months dating the same person, I have a few things to say about expectations in relationships that I believe everyone, autistic or not, should know about and learn to repress.  Before I start though, I should point out that there’s nothing wrong with having hope.  There’s nothing wrong with having hope for something as long as they’re not too high.  Having hopes and having expectations are two different things.

1. More than half of the things that you want to have happen won’t happen exactly when you want them to.

Whether it’s physical affection, topics of conversation, and the places you want to go and the things you want to do together, there is the right time for everything, and sometimes the timing you have isn’t the timing of the other person.  When two people start a dating/romantic relationship together, each of them typically has a different idea about the timing of everything, although sometimes they don’t have an idea at all and they’re just going with the flow.  The latter are the kind of people I’m admittedly a little jealous about.  They just take things as they come, and they don’t have to make a decision about something until the moment to make one comes.  My girlfriend belongs to that crowd, which on one hand is fantastic because it’s refreshing to be with someone that doesn’t analyze every little detail, but because tend to do that, I’m usually always wondering what is going through my girlfriend’s mind.  This is where patience comes in great handy, and I’m happy to say that that patience is typically rewarded.  Patience doesn’t put a timestamp on things.  It’s the willingness to wait until both of you are ready to share something that you haven’t shared before.

tarkin gif

2. When it comes to life, theology, philosophy, and all those kinds of things, the two of you are not going to be perfectly on the same page.

Your partner is going to talk about things he or she believes that you won’t agree with, and you’re going to say things about your own beliefs that he or she doesn’t agree with.  Regardless of how alike the two of you may think, you’re never going to be consistently 100% in sync.  There may be times or experiences where you do, but if you’re hoping to be with someone that is exactly on the same wavelengths as you, purge that hope now, otherwise you’ll end up being disappointed.  Even two autistic people don’t think alike on everything.

I know I probably sound pessimistic, but bear with me here.  Two people who don’t believe everything the other person does is not only necessary, but it can also be a blessing.  If the two of you agreed on everything on every level, then what exactly can you learn from each other?  How can you help the other spiritually grow if the other person already knows and believes everything you do?  Now, am I saying that you should influence the other person to your side so that he or she does think like you?  No.  Don’t do that.  Don’t try to rob the person of what he or she believes, because it’s also a large part of who they are as people.  It’s a large part of their identity.  Instead, love the person for who he or she is and let the person believe what it will, as long as it doesn’t happen to be self-damaging.  As a Christ-follower, I’ve always believed that what’s essential to believe is that God is real, that the Bible is true, and that God’s son Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead three days later.  There is so much else related to the Bible and Christianity that people interpret or believe differently, and that’s just the way it is in our spiritual walk.

3. Loving people isn’t always easy, even your dating partner.

You can’t tell me that you’ve never gotten frustrated, irritated, or annoyed with your partner.  I feel like you’d be lying.  The truth is, loving people in general isn’t always easy, even the one you’re dating and have a romantic attachment with.  What would a relationship be without its disagreements or without its fights?  How will either of you be able to learn?  How will your character grow?  How consistent will your spiritual growth be?  Life is full of trials, obstacles, and tribulations, and romantic relationships have no shortage of these.  That’s why it’s important to talk to each other and try the best you can to understand to each other.  Be sacrificial.  If you’re religious, pray.  Better yet, pray with your partner so that both of you can seek God’s help and guidance in your relationship together.  Love isn’t always easy for us human beings, but it’s something we’re capable of, even if things aren’t always going the way we want them to.  Most importantly, it’s absolutely worth it.

patrick gif

Now, I do understand that I’ve only tackled these subjects from one or two aspects.  The sad truth is that there are times where even though you want to believe so much that a relationship with a particular person will work, some people are simply incompatible with each other when it comes to romantic relationships.  Simple friendships are one thing, but romantic relationships come with its own terms and conditions, and certain people together just don’t make the cut, whether they really want it to or not.  But that’s a completely different subject altogether.  The bottom line here is this: don’t let your pre-established set of expectations for a relationship get in the way of choosing to learn and grow with another person, even if their preferences and beliefs don’t always go hand-in-hand with yours.

 

The Other Side Of the Conflict Coin

911-photo

There are many instances in life where I hear older people talk about ‘simpler times’ and compare them to the way things are in the world today, and it’s usually viewed through a rather negative lens.  Being that the world is the way it is today, who can really blame them?  Violent protests, constant acts of terrorism, racism, and division between different groups of people are only some of many things that plagues our world today, and a lot of these events are covered through stories told by deeply flawed news stations in America.  Most of the time we hear these stories, we either shrug them off, simply content with the fact that were weren’t directly affected by the events, or we absorb these stories and allow fear to take up space in our minds.  I’m not going to go very deep into the negative influence that the media has had on us in America as a society, but I will say that it absolutely has had a hand.

Growing up, I didn’t pay much attention to the news or politics or what else was going on around the world.  Most of my biggest concerns with life were usually strictly centered around my own life, as is usually the case with children growing up and becoming teenagers.  When I think back to the ‘problems’ I believed I had then, they’re laughable and even a little sad when I consider now how pointless most of them were.  At the same time though, it’s all still part of growing up and becoming the person you’re meant to become.  As I got older, my awareness for world events grew and I didn’t like what I saw.  Fear was usually my first reaction to a lot of the negative news, and I avoided it like the plague.  Now as a 21-year old Aspie coming onto 2017, I think more deeply about the kind of world that I was dropped in, and I ask myself more why I was put in this time of all times.  With this in mind, I have listed a few things that come from my own perspective about the world today.  I do hope that you will at least be able to appreciate the way that I choose to look at it.

1. Almost nothing that gets reported about stuff that has happened surprises me, nor do I see these things as unexpected.

Some people would call this ‘desensitization’ since people have the tendency to grow numb to bad news after a while since we get bombarded by it every day.  For me personally, I’m typically not surprised by any of this news because I have the basic knowledge that the acts of violence and hatred play a large part in human nature.  Given that we’re looking at the actions of humanity, it’s to be expected, whether we like it or not.  In no way do I accept the fact that it is what it is, but I’m not surprised by any of it either.  Humanity fails us every time, no matter how hard it may try.

2. The bad news makes the good feel more refreshing

In this world full of tragedy, violence, and division, there is still good, and that good makes itself stick out more amongst the bad things as long as people are willing to see it.  If we spend so much time dwelling on the tragedies that go on in the world, we lose sight of the good things that we have, and we don’t spend enough time ‘counting our blessings’.  When the bad news starts to overcrowd, remember that you always have something that you can be thankful for (it was just recently Thanksgiving Day after all).  There’s always something that shines a good light in your life.  Whatever that may be, dwell on that, and never take it for granted.

3. Some of the best things about humanity are made clearer in the midst of tragedy

It goes without saying that 9/11 was a tragic and terrifying event, but even in the wake of the tragedy, some of the best of humanity emerged in the form of people’s heroics.  Heroes like former Marine Jason Thomas and former Vietnam vet Rick Rescorla are only a select few of many people that were responsible for performing feats of true heroism during that horrifying morning.  When the worst of humanity rears its head, some of its best bites back, and I believe it will continue to be that way.

 

Autism And Depression: How Bullying Plays A Part

After a while of not writing any blog posts, I’m back with a new post about autism and how depression has had a history in coinciding with it.  Because there are many people that believe that a lot of those with autism don’t feel many emotions, not much thought is given to the fact that autistic people are capable of having depression.

Like any neurotypical people, autistic people are completely capable of experiencing depression too.  I’ve touched on my history of depression in previous articles not too long ago, so I can say that I’ve experienced it firsthand as one with Aspergers Syndrome, and I’ve known others with autism that struggled with depression.  To touch on one factor of depression in autistic people specifically, I will mention bullying.

Young people with autism are unfortunately the target of bullying in schools.  According to a 2012 national survey conducted by the Interactive Autism Network and Johns Hopkins University, children with autism are three times as likely as their neurotypical siblings to experience bullying, and according to the parents that took the survey, 61% of children with Aspergers, 28% of children with autism, and 37% of children with other autism disorders have been affected.  Being bullied by others simply for what makes them different absolutely has the potential to make a child with autism experience depression because of the feelings of loneliness and worthlessness that is provoked through being bullied.  Sometimes other children will do things on purpose that negatively affects an autistic child’s senses.

The issue with depression in an autistic child or even a little older is that it’s harder for the parents or other adults to recognize when an autistic child is depressed.  The symptoms practically ‘overlap’ when it comes to autism and depression.  If someone with autism is emotionally distant or socially withdrawn, people are quick to decide that the behavior is part of the child’s autism, rather than it being linked to something else since social withdrawal and emotional distance can be common in certain autistic people anyway.  This is why it’s all the more important that parents pay closer attention and make sure to have conversations with their child about how things are going at school so that they will know whether or not things are going well.

While it’s obviously sad that autistic children get bullied at school, particularly in different fashions than others at times, this is fixable.  It can be prevented.  What needs to happen is that the school boards need to have more motivation to handle serious matters like these, and it’s the parents’ role to see to it that these issues are recognized and fixed.  As someone who has heard dozens of stories about the treatment of autistic children in schools, I can say that this is something that saddens me and I hope so much that autistic children get better treatment in the future soon.

 

Autism’s Role In… Social Interaction

I was homeschooled growing up, so most of the social settings I was involved in was church or youth group (which is more or less the same thing, just with different age demographics).  After getting my high school diploma, I had the opportunity to get involved in other different social settings like my first job, then eventually college, and get exposed to a lot of people from different walks of life and different cultures and mindsets.  While my exposure to others on the spectrum started before college, I had the opportunity by the time I went to college to meet a lot of other people on the spectrum.  I’m positive I’ve said this before in previous posts, not one autistic person is exactly the same as another.  All autistic people have different personalities, mindsets, and strengths and weaknesses.  There may be some similarities in terms of weaknesses and even strengths, but no two people are exactly the same, as is the case with pretty much anyone else in general for that matter.

So what can it typically be like for autistic people in a social setting?  If they’re different, what different kinds of scenarios are there for people on the spectrum in public?  There are many different kinds, but to keep this short, I’ll list several that I’ve observed, including my own personal experience:

1. There are autistic people who are completely anti-social.  They prefer the company of themselves instead of interacting with other people.  Interacting with other people can be considered intimidating to them and they feel more comfortable alone, staying within the borders of their minds to brainstorm and sometimes even talk to themselves.  If they have no choice but to be in public, they will stay away from large groups and stand to the side to keep to themselves and let their minds take them wherever they want to go.

2. There are autistic people who actually want to interact with others, be heard, and talk about things they are very interested in.  The third thing there is one of the truest of them all.  They want to talk to people about things they’re passionate about and interested in, but that’s about as far they’ll go.  They can sit with someone and have an almost one-sided conversation by continuing to talk about what they’re passionate about with very few breaks in between to allow the other person to talk.  As I’ve said in previous articles, autistic people hold their passions and obsessions very near and dear to them, and they want to share it with others, sometimes unaware that others are simply not interested.  I’ve learned that the best thing to do is to let the person talk and try to listen as best I can, and then when I’m ready to move on, I can politely inform the person that I’d like to talk to someone else or move on to a different subject.  If done politely and calmly, this usually works.

3. There are autistic people who want to be part of a group or talk to other people but they feel uncomfortable when placed in that setting because if no one is talking about something the person is familiar with, then it can be hard to be engaged in the conversation.  There’s also the possibility of the person feeling left out because very little attention is payed to him.  This can lead to the person feeling awkward and deciding to move on, feeling ignored and not valued.  While this can type of scenario can absolutely be relevant for other kinds of people, autistic people can tend to feel the weight of that much more significantly and will tend to think a lot afterwards about how much people may or may not value them.

So those are some concepts for you guys to think about.  One more thing to mention is that I’d say that when you meet autistic people in public, they can surprise you, intrigue you, maybe even wear you out a little bit (even have the tendency to do that), or maybe you won’t even notice them at all because they’d rather stand to the side.  Personally for me, when it comes to going out with friends, I’ve always preferred just going out with one friend because it feels good to give special attention to one friend without all the distractions of other people, even if I really like them too, and it’s easier to find my words and follow conversations.  In groups a lot of times, there’s the tendency for someone to get left out, and I don’t like the thought of being responsible for that nor do I like to find myself in that position myself.  I love to talk, and I love to meet new people and form relationships, but as you’ve learned a little bit of just a second ago, I’m pretty particular about how I go about it.  There’s no single way that all people on the spectrum approach people or conversations in public, and for people who are higher functioning, you probably won’t even realize that the person is autistic on some level until later, but regardless, I hope that listing these things helps increase  your awareness and helps you think of ways to manage these scenarios when they come.