Xanthippa on Aspergers

Tools to help Aspies conquer the World!

A response to my post ‘Aspergers and Writing’

One of my most popular posts of all times is ‘Aspergers and Writing’, in which I explore some of the difficulties Aspies face when writing and, perhaps, some practical advice on how to improve this difficult-for-most-Aspies skill.

Over the years (yes, years…) since I have written it, it has received a lot of comments which update the post and keep it ‘fresh’.

Here is an example of a ‘conversation’ in the comments which shows how the comments people leave help others and keep the post relevant.

A reader called Riayn left this comment:

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.


To this comment I replied:

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.

This exchange had been up in the comments for a while.

Then, a new reader named CD joined the conversation:

‘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 to 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 not my best but you get the idea. To write this simple sentence I’d begin 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 damned 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’
I hope CD’s advice can help more people – which is why I am highligting it as a post in itself.  Thank you, CD.
And if you have found strategies which work for you, please, share them!!!  We need to try all the ideas we can get!!!
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26/06/2012 - Posted by | Asperger Syndrome, Aspie Communication, Writing | , ,

2 Comments »

  1. I have always seemed to have found such greater ease with summarizing, or “paraphrasing”, a topic as opposed to writing an essay or expanding upon those same points. Oftentimes, when I am confronted with an essay question, I am able to answer the question that has been put forth in either a short paragraph, or only a couple of short sentences. To expand upon that is pure agony. This is significantly worse when any questions about my preferences about the topic arise, especially so when it is something as simple as “Do you like Plato or Aristotle better?”. For such questions I can come up with no responses whatsoever to meet the teachers’ criteria; the best that I can do is outline each philosophy, and attempting to show that they are both simply opinions, and that therefore there is no greater side. If anything can be derived past that it is simply an attempt to synthesize a philosophy which only takes points from those two, and uses each philosopher as a foil to the other, so that the faults may be minimized. Because of this systemic analysis of the material I have been failing my college courses that seem to rely on composition, since some variation of that question is usually the writing portion of the final exam, or the final paper and I have not been able to receive any reasonable services from the disabled students office. Yet somehow I got through high school with one of the highest GPA’s without feeling challenged by the teachers or my peers in any significant way, since the teachers accepted those papers and my “high level” of reading comprehension as proof that I understood, and so I was left to attempt improvement in isolation (which has quite obviously failed). I am terrified now because, although college seemed to be this great pinnacle of learning, where I could finally pursue areas like quantum mechanics and molecular biology while simultaneously working on my areas of difficulty, in reality I find it to be a stifling rank and file assembly line of “general education requirements” where I am not allowed to even glimpse what I desire, nor do I seem to be receiving any form of much needed help. Despite having failed English 1A twice now (and bordering on a third), they refuse to let me drop to a lower level course to work on my writing because “with your excellent proficiency in reading and comprehension, I really doubt that you couldn’t write a good paper if you wanted to”. I notice that this has become more of a tirade than a comment, so I think that I will apologize and end here. I do wish to say, however, that I am quite glad to have stumbled across your blog. Thank you for your time, and I hope that you will have an excellent day.

    Comment by Michael | 06/03/2014 | Reply

    • I sooooo ‘get it’!!!

      Rest assured, the problem is not with you but with the college!

      A few decades ago now, I arrived at University (in Canada, Universities are more academic while Colleges are more trade oriented) full of expectations of a brilliant place to learn and explore. And, to a degree, it was. But…

      It was so rigid and unbending and, well, ossified… I entered fully expecting to stay long enough to get a doctorate, to go as far as possible – but I got out as fast as possible with the minimum degree I could get, and would never go back.

      And the system here and then was nowhere as broken then as it is now in the US.

      I found that because I am an outspoken libertarian, I was being ostracized by the left-wing students and faculty alike. Yes, I had friends – but not one of the in my year in my field of study and certainly not among the profs, though they were very friendly with my classmates. Sad.

      And, for the first time in my life, my essays were scoffed at – something I found surprising.

      So, yes, I get it.

      I was just lucky that the requirement for me to take non-science courses was so very low that I could ‘chew through it’.

      I suspect that this is why so many Aspies are autodidacts…teaching institutions are simply not set up to deal with us. Square peg, round hole…

      You are not alone! And sharing like you have, rest assured there will be other Aspies who’ll read it and feel a little less alone. So, thank you for sharing!

      Good luck!!!

      Comment by xanthippa | 06/03/2014 | Reply


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