Where Can Adults With Autism or Asperger’s Find Friends?

OK, we all know that adults with autism or Asperger’s syndrome have trouble making friends – and if you are an adult with Asperger’s, this is probably sounding pretty familiar by now! But let’s now talk about ways to solve all of the problems of building friendships.Yes, it is hard to make friends if you are an adult with Asperger’s syndrome. Yes, it’s lonely. But there ARE things that can help. There are organizations that can help; and tools and strategies that can help. Let’s talk about some of them.Local Asperger’s Support GroupsThe first line of defense, so to speak, for adults wanting to make friends should be Asperger’s groups and organizations dedicated to such things. This is because Aspies will tend to get along better with other Aspies as a general rule. It is wonderful to meet other people who think the same way you do, act the same way you do, talk the same way, and just generally understand you. Now, there is diversity in the Aspie population just like in the rest of the world. You won’t automatically get along with every Aspie in the world, but you do have a much, much better chance. You can find someone who shares your interests, someone who wants to “be” and interact in the same way that you want to.Many of these organizations run support groups for adults with Asperger’s; some can put you in touch with others with Asperger’s syndrome.Find a Group in Your CityMany cities have their own Asperger’s groups and meet­ings. These are definitely worth finding. Washington, DC, for example has a very large group called “Asperger Adults of Greater Washington,” or AAGW. It has almost forty people come to meetings every month. Most groups are not nearly that big. They meet in one corner of a tea cafe once a month. At the beginning, they have social time for their members to talk with each other-then they sometimes have a speaker or a discussion topic, and more free form social time at the end.Every group for Aspies is run differently. Some focus on just free time for conversation, some are all speakers, some discussion based, some are more therapy oriented. Some only have as few as 4 members; others, like AAGW, could have as many as forty.The wonderful thing about these groups is people are usu­ally very nonjudgmental. You can feel safe there, safe to be yourself. If you fidget a lot and can’t look anyone in the eyes, no one will care. If you talk about trains all day, they will understand. If you have too much anxiety to talk but just want to sit and listen, they will be glad to have you there. Whatever your level of functioning and way of being in the world, at an Aspie group you will be greeted sincerely. Most people are very friendly, although of course it depends on the person and group; and you will feel welcome. You will recognize yourself in others. You will feel less alone.The OASIS website maintains a great list of local support groups in all fifty states. A lot of these are for parents but there are some for adults with Asperger’s syndrome too.Also, try using Google to find local groups, or email a national Asperger’s email group to ask if anyone there knows of local groups (Examples are grasp.org groups, ASAN at autisticadvocacy.org, Autistic Daily living Yahoo group, etc.)National Asperger’s Advocacy GroupsIn addition to all the local groups, there are a few national or regional Asperger’s organizations that run support groups for adults with Asperger’s. These are all very useful groups to know about.GRASP, or the Global and Regional Autistic Self Advocacy Network, runs support groups for adults in several dif­ferent states but focuses on the New York City region. Their current list of support groups include locations in California, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York and more. There are several based in the New York City area.ASAN, or the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, runs groups in several different states as well. These are run by people on the autism spectrum and are often focused more on political issues (such as advocating for rights for people on the spectrum, and how to work to reduce the number of negative messages about people with autism in the media, how to educate people about autism spectrum disorders, etc.).ASAN’s website talks more about the goals of the organization. It was started by two young men in their 20s, both with Asperger’s. One was just starting college, one in grad school; both with a vision to create an organization for people with autism spectrum disorders; An organization run by people who had the same disorder in order to create a welcoming place of support and also to create an organization that would fight for the rights of people on the spectrum.A third organization is the Asperger’s Association of New England, or AANE. They provide support groups in most of the six New England states. They are based in Boston, and have several groups in that area. They have social ac­tivity groups, where members go to various places together (bowling, out to dinner, to see a lecture), as well as support groups and social skills groups. A full listing of groups can be found at aane.org.A great website to find support organizations and support groups which lists groups broken down by U.S. state is: aspergersyndrome.orgThe listing of support organizations here is extensive. While these listings are not necessarily all oriented for adults, with a little work, you can likely find a support group that will meet your needs.How Else Can Adults with Asperger’s Find Friends?It’s useful to meet other adults with Asperger’s, but sometimes you just want to be able to make friends with the people around you. How can you accomplish that? How can you develop more friendships in your life?Work on your social skillsOne option is always to get counseling to help work on your social skills. A good counselor can tell you where you’re going wrong and work with you to help change the weak areas. They can identify those areas in which you need help, and model proper social skills. They can role model with you what to do and say in social situations. By working with a skilled therapist, you can be more aware of the way you come across, and gain more friends with your new, improved skills.Seek out people you are compatible with!But you still need a place to meet the right people. All the social skills in the world aren’t going to help you get along with just anyone. People have very different personalities, interests, and communication styles. You need to meet people who are compatible with you.But how do I do that, you ask? Well, look around you. Decide what you have an interest in. If you like to read, join a book club. In the process of discussing the Great Gatsby, you just might stumble upon a kindred soul. Like to swim? Join a swimming club. Many Aspies make friends much better when they are DOING something with a person instead of just talking to them. They need something constructive to do while being with a person; that way the focus is on the activity instead of the conversation.If you like history and World War II, join a historical preservation group. Maybe you can get involved in Civil War reenactments.If you’re into sports at all, join a sports club; non-competitive sports are probably more likely to spur friendships than competitive, but you never know. If you like to sing, join a choir. If you like to write, find a writing group. The list is endless. The important thing is to match your skills and interests to a group of like-minded people. You might still have social skill issues, but you’ll have a common interest with these people and be much more likely to develop friendships. Just be patient and know that developing friendships takes time; it doesn’t happen overnight. Go slow and try not to rush things. Trying to rush into things will put pressure on the other person and make them much more likely to end the burgeoning friendship prematurely. It is hard to wait, yes, but worth it in the end.Eight Places to Find Potential Friends1. Intellectual interest groupsBook clubs, political discussion groups, moral and ethical discussion groups such as Socrates Cafe, MENSA are all good places to look.2. Athletic PursuitsLook into local groups for soccer, basketball, swimming, or any sport that you have an interest in.3. Creative ActivitiesArts and crafts, photography, painting, writing, and other creative arts; people meet to share work, discuss technique, or engage in said art during group time with others.4. Religious OrganizationsChurches and synagogues can be great places to meet others. Often they hold their own discussion groups, choirs and activities.5. University GroupsIf you have a college or university near you, they may hold special interest groups that are open to the public that you could join.6. Science and TechnologyDo you like computers? Science fiction? Medicine? Find like-minded people in a group dedicated to these topics.7. Your WorkplaceSometimes you can find like-minded people in your workplace, or at least people to go out to a baseball game with. A lot of times this doesn’t happen, but it can occasionally.8. Activity GroupsPeople might meet to play board games, chess, Scrabble, go hiking, or do any manner of activity together.While it may be difficult for an adult with autism or Asperger’s syndrome to easily make friends, it is possible with a little thought and energy.

Web 2.0 Real Estate Marketing – It’s Social!

The visionaries behind The Cluetrain Manifesto prophetically summed up our current market opportunity in the first of 95 theses–“Markets are conversations.” The folks you want as customers are increasingly expecting conversations with their real estate or mortgage broker. Your challenge? Figure out how to make an introduction. And I am going to give you the secrets–step-by-step…Listen FirstSince markets are conversations, the nice thing is people (generally) don’t mind you joining the discussion. This gives you an enormous free classroom. Take advantage of it.Listen to other experts, competitors, and practitioners. But, most importantly listen to your customers.The interesting thing about listening to your colleagues and competitors is that you can see how they are talking to their customers and then benchmark their success. Nowhere is it easier to do competitive intelligence than on the Web. If they are marketing on the Web, all the easier.Looking for the smartest and best in the business at Web 2.0 real estate marketing? They are the folks watching their prospective customers. Here are the key questions want to know about my customers in the social Web?
Who are they?
Who do they talk to?
What do they talk about?
What words they use?
I highlighted a very important concept above, but let’s not get too far ahead.Obviously, from the title–Real Estate Marketing–we are all in the real estate or mortgage business. Don’t forget your customers are not. They don’t talk to real estate people. They don’t talk about home inspections, escrows, seller concession, and mortgages, unless forced to. And they don’t know what FHA, subprime, and Fannie Mae are.Search is your friend, especially the blog search engines. Remember you are looking for conversations. Conversations about homes, buying homes, refinancing homes, mortgages, mortgage brokers, mortgage scams, real estate rip offs (yes, look for hateful conversations too). Here are some good places to start for conversations:
Technorati
Google Blogsearch
IceRocket
Twitter
FriendFeed
Back to words! This is the number one failure in marketing and a death sentence in Internet real estate marketing. Words are how customers find us on the Web. If you use words that they don’t–you guessed it: No conversation!These conversations, from blogs, discussion groups, and Twitter, are short and candid. Write them down and use them.Identify a NicheYou know where they are, who they talk to, and the funny words they use. The next order of business is to find out what they want (not what they need)–another common marketing blunder.Their conversations will tell you this valuable information. It will reveal their pain, like their monthly payments going up unexpectedly, a job loss, or may be a divorce that is going to force them to reconsider their current home or loan. Maybe they are just concerned about getting a bargain on a foreclosure, short sell, or distressed spec home.Once you know what they want and how they ask for it, time to start building your Web 2.0 mortgage marketing platform.Building a Web 2.0 Social PlatformWeb 2.0 real estate marketing is all about directly engaging your potential customers in conversation, but you need an identity. This is what your website or blog needs to be. Almost every social service or application on the Internet associates you with a website. If you don’t have a URL for people to learn more about you your efforts are already dashed.How you design and build you home base is critical to your success. Did I mention it is your identity? This is how people are going to decide if they want your expert real estate counsel.I typically suggest a blog. It is simple and versatile. Plus, it is a conversation.Here are a few suggestions on where to get a blog:
Wordpress.com
Blogger.com
Typepad.com
The other consideration to this platform is your name (identity), which in the Web world is a domain name. Take some time in figuring out the right name. It doesn’t have to be your company name, and probably shouldn’t be.Here are some creative guidelines:
Consider your list of words your customers use
Consider the niche you have selected
Short is better
Register only .com, .org, .net
With your social identity and home in place it is time to fill it with credibility.Content in KingWeb copy is the current king of Internet marketing and lead generation. You need to not only know how to write, but what to write. Again, go back to your list of words your customers use. Take each one and design your Web site to talk about each of these key words.A good resources on writing good copy for your website or blog is Copyblogger.com.Your written words are critical because they are the language of Google and other search engines. However, don’t miss the growing importance of other media types, like audio and video. These richer media types help to make a more personal conversation. Consider adding in podcast, short audio messages, as well as video into your social platform.Here are some resources for developing out your audio and video content:
TalkShoe.com
BlogTalkRadio.com
YouTube.com
Revver.com
Content builds credibility and trust, the two critical components in any sales. Make sure your real estate marketing plan understands the impact of content to a simpler sale.Develop Amplifier RelationshipsOkay, we have a platform and lots of valuable content. But, who knows about it? The Internet is a big place. You, alone, screaming into an already buzzing conference hall filled with good conversations is not going to get you noticed.You need amplifiers. People who find you interesting and are willing to tell others. Hopefully, some of these already have a big audience.This, like the conventional offline Rolodex, is the role of social networks. Connecting with people who have audiences is the quickest way to get into the conversation.Great places to build a social network of amplifiers:
LinkedIN
Twitter
Digg
Stumbleupon
These are all great tools and people on the Web love to share, but no one likes someone how takes advantage of a relationship. Be respectful and add value first. Even in little ways.Distribution Makes a KingdomBeing a king is only interesting if you command a kingdom.In the Internet world that is an audience of potential buyers that respond to your recommendations and/or you have a networks of amplifiers that brings this ability.Creating that real estate marketing kingdom is a process of distributing your name, your value, and your content.The most effective way of executing that distribution is built into a lot of the principles I have already introduced:
Blogs (RSS)
Twitter (140 character ads)
Delicious (Bookmarking content)
Digg (Voting up content)
Stumbleupon (Voting up content)
Add to these inherent distribution channels some well placed personal emails and you will be a real estate marketing tycoon in no time.Assembling the Web 2.0 ToolboxYou have the road map. A real estate marketing plan that should have you flowing leads in no time, but what are some tools you should have on hand to run your new real estate marketing empire?Here are some of the basics:
Google Analytics (website analytics)
Twhirl (Twitter client)
Camtasia Studio (Windows) or SnapZ Pro (Mac)
Webcam
Microphone
The key to building your real estate marketing platform is trying, testing, tweaking and re-testing. These tools allow you to produce and try a variety of approaches to your social market, which is the quickest way to real estate lead generation success.

Social Psychology

Our thoughts, feelings and behavior are influenced by imaginations or presence of other people. Sometimes, immediate situations like watching television and interacting with people influences our behavior. Social psychology explains human behavior as a result of interactions and how we respond to immediate situations. You get to learn how individuals interact in a group.Many empirical and quantified researches have been carried out in social psychology. This is to be able to explain behavior patterns that emerge because of the surroundings. There are times when the chosen sample to be studied is large. In this case the psychologists conduct sampling and surveys in the field. Before conducting a research you should carry out a reconnaissance visit to the field so that you ensure the findings will be relevant to the topic of study.Scholars in social psychology are interested in topics like social influence, attitudes, social cognition, cognitive dissonance and interpersonal behavior. This is because most behavioral changes revolve around the ways in which both social and mental processes determine the way you act. If you examine individuals’ perceptions, belief system, moralities and identities, you will be able to rank the individuals in the society.There are written journals and online information about social behavior. If you are interested in specializing in this field, you should be ready to examine the individuals’ background, socialization process and social history. Analysis is possible only if you have detailed information about an individual. The topics of study are wide, forming sub branches and this gives scholars a chance to specialize in the areas they like best.