Although during my primary years, I had poor emotional connection. I didn’t really notice it. From my perspective, I was living in my own world. My dad had written about my poor emotional connection, and mum has mentioned my difficulties with emotional connection, but to me, I was more interested in doing things on my own. Human nature is a wonderful thing, although I didn’t approach others to try to befriend them. Others would sometimes approach me; I liked familiarity and certainty, and I disliked engaging with people. I think I was lucky in some of my early ‘a-ha’ moments!
One such moment was realising that if I had a friend or two, I felt more comfortable speaking with them than with people I didn’t know. I was able to learn how they would respond, and if they walked away and stopped spending time with me, it wasn’t important – but while they were there, I could use them to make my life more comfortable. Writing this down here with my ‘adult head’ on, I feel like it sounds bad. It was, and still is, one of my ways of coping with the world.
If I wanted something, all I had to do was find a way of getting the person I was friends with to be the one to sort it out. So, if I wanted to have something to drink I would try to think about how I could encourage my friend to go to a teacher and ask for me. I would do things like encouraging them – saying that it would be good if we could both have a drink – or I would appear to be helpful and if we were doing something together, like making something, I would offer to do a task I thought they would least like to do. I’d say, “I’ll do this if you want”, and while they are pleased with me doing something they didn’t want to do, I would say something like, “This is quite difficult, would you be able to grab me a drink?” I would try to make it look like I didn’t want to stop then, because I was so focused on getting it done – I’d get the message across that what would really help me to get things done was having a drink…
As an adult, I now know that I was playing into a theory from social psychology about how people like to reciprocate – if you do something for someone, they are more likely to do something in return. Between about eight and ten years old, I learnt a number of these techniques to influence situations and to make them more comfortable for me. Then, in later life, when I discovered hypnosis, I realised that many of these techniques are in fact hypnosis techniques. Another technique I used to use was one for influencing groups of people. When I was in the playground and would want to play manhunt, for example, and everyone else was thinking about playing football, I would suggest the idea of manhunt loudly enough for the children either side of me to hear the idea, I wouldn’t make a big deal out of it. After a moment or two, if those children quite liked the idea, they would suggest it, and gradually the idea would spread through the group, until the children who actually made the decisions picked up on the idea. Then, one of them would suggest it, and everyone would agree with the person who suggested the idea. No-one would realise that I had suggested the idea first, and I didn’t care whether I got credit for the idea or not – as long as we were doing as I wanted.
I saw this happen to other children, where they would suggest ideas, seemingly get ignored, then eventually someone else would suggest the same idea and everyone would agree with that person; the child who originally suggested the idea would get stroppy about how they had come up with the idea first. It confused me as to why they got stroppy when they were doing exactly what they wanted to be doing. Did it really matter who took the credit for the idea?
This idea didn’t always work – not all my ideas were things that everyone wanted to do – but if I was expected to play with other children, I would rather do something I see as having educational value than just, say, playing football. I liked manhunt because I got to practice evading capture, I developed skills for sneaking around and having patience. I could see that these skills could have value. I couldn’t see how chasing a ball and hitting it into a net had value. You also don’t have to work with others when playing manhunt. You may share a team, but you still work on your own, whereas with football you are expected to work together.
I have never been particularly competitive, but I do like to do the best I can – and I stick to rules. I don’t have a very good emotional connection with others and struggle to understand their perspectives on many emotional issues. Mum and dad have both described how I seemed to have poor emotional connection. I have learnt over the years how I am supposed to respond in some situations. I still make mistakes, but I do much better than I did when I was young.
Look Into My Eyes: Asperger’s, Hypnosis, & Me by Dan Jones, is available in Paperback and for Amazon Kindle: http://apn.to/prod/1542551196