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I'm Dan Jones, I have high-functioning autism. I am author of bestselling book Look Into My Eyes: Asperger's, Hypnosis, and Me and a number of other books around parenting, hypnosis, self-help, and wellbeing. As well as having autism I also have over 15 years professional experience working with children and their families in a variety of setting from residential children's homes, to social care and family support work, and prior to this I worked within homes for those with mental health issues (including some residents with autism - which obviously isn't a mental health condition, but they were in the homes).

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Autism: Helping Your Child With Social Skills - Tips for Parents

Posted by Dan Jones on April 4, 2017 at 6:10 AM Comments comments (0)


When I was a teenager I didn’t have very good social skills. What helped me develop social skills was discovering hypnosis. I developed an interest in hypnosis for all the wrong reasons, I thought it would be a good way to control my environment – or at least the people in it. As I started learning I discovered that hypnosis has very little to do with manipulation and control of others, and is actually to do with communication skills. Social skills are something most children with autism need help with. If they are towards the high-functioning end of the spectrum they are likely to be intelligent and able to learn if they are interested in learning, so you can teach them social skills just like they would learn piano, or any other skill or talent. It is common for children to be told ‘not’ to do certain things, like “Don’t do this, don’t do that”. This isn’t helpful because it doesn’t teach what to do, all it does is tell you what you are doing wrong. Even learning the skills they will probably continue to struggle with certain things. I still struggle to say “hi, I’m okay, how are you?” when someone says to me “hi, how are you?” This simple reciprocal exchange eludes me most of the time, even when I practice and practice as I see someone approaching me, and I run through that sentence in my mind hundreds of times, but when I open my mouth all I say is “I’m okay” and I carry on walking.

Teaching them what behaviours are and aren’t acceptable is helpful, so it isn’t acceptable to grab something of someone else’s because you want to look at it, or to grab their clothes because you want to feel them. It is useful to teach about personal space, to teach about eye contact and gestures, and body posture, and the use of voice – like voice tone, volume, speed of speech, and varying pitch. It is also useful to practice different scenarios they find themselves in, and have them learn to mentally rehearse scenarios, so that they can practice situations in their mind. This is something I frequently do, I will practice conversations, the different way conversations will go and what I will say or do during the conversation. This all gets me through most interactions with people. I still struggle with extended periods around people, and unexpected situations, and where things don’t go to plan, but have found I understand what is and isn’t socially acceptable much better now. Some difficult ones to break are that it is socially expected that you will lie to people, rather than be honest with people, and I struggle with knowing how to instigate social interactions.

Look Into My Eyes: Asperger’s, Hypnosis, & Me by Dan Jones is available in Paperback & Kindle Here is a link to your local Amazon store: http://apn.to/prod/1542551196


Autism: Understanding Your Child's Behaviour - Tips for Parents

Posted by Dan Jones on April 4, 2017 at 6:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Those with autism often respond in a primal way. They want one message communicated to them, and will usually communicate one message back. They will be happy, sad, angry, anxious, they often struggle with subtle emotions like annoyance. This isn’t to say they don’t experience subtle emotions, but they find it difficult to recognise them if they do experience them, so they will often feel angry and be angry, they won’t feel annoyed which in most people would lead to a more measured response before full-blown anger kicks in. For me personally for example I am normally ‘okay’. I don’t feel happy, sad, angry, or anxious, just normal. For most situations this is how I would describe myself. Then when the microwave starts beeping, for example, I am angry, If I am doing something like working on the computer and want to finish what I am doing before going to the microwave I will be angrily swearing at it to shut the f*** up for the full minute that it beeps for. I can see this is an over-reaction, but it happens every time. As soon as it stops beeping I am ‘okay’ again. Anything which triggers discomfort, whether it is due to excessive sensory stimulation, or uncertainty, etc., is likely to trigger the fight or flight response in the child, they will either become anxious, angry, or they will freeze and shut down from the external world.

They are also likely to have a black and white mindset, so they may be working well in class in school, then one small thing happens and they go completely the opposite way, they shut down, or get angry, or suddenly refuse to do anything. This can seem to come out of nowhere because others around them don’t necessarily recognise the patterns of what just happened. The child themselves may not be able to reflect on what happened to be able to understand why they went from calm to angry. One way to help find out what happened is to ask “what happened” and ask for a description of what they were doing before they got angry up to when they got angry. If you ask “why did you do that?” they are unlikely to know why, and so not likely to be able to answer this question. Asking “what” instead of “why” is more likely to lead to giving you the pattern of what happened, and you have a chance then of piecing together the “why”. An example of this was a child who was sat at home playing a handheld games console, then he got angry and threw it across the room, and started being violent. Asking why just got the answer “I don’t know, I just felt angry”. Asking what happened elicited that he was sat in the living-room, the TV was on in the background, he was playing his game, then he felt angry, threw his console, and became violent. The mum analysed what he had said and realised that the TV programme that was on was a talk show where the topic was absent fathers, and it was an emotive programme. The child’s father was absent and made no attempted to be in his son’s life. It was most likely this which triggered the sudden aggressive outburst. The child wouldn’t have noticed or worked that out by asking him why, but the parent could work it out. What made us confident that this was the cause was that it fit with other outbursts which had happened and what was occurring during those outbursts, like an outburst in class when the school children had to make Father’s Day cards.

Look Into My Eyes: Asperger’s, Hypnosis, & Me by Dan Jones is available in Paperback & Kindle Here is a link to your local Amazon store: http://apn.to/prod/1542551196


Autism: Communicating With Your Child - Tips for Parents

Posted by Dan Jones on April 4, 2017 at 6:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Communication is different depending on the individual child. Those with low-functioning autism may struggle to understand and comprehend some things, whereas those with high-functioning autism may understand and comprehend more, but may find it boring or illogical, and so not be interested in listening, and then there are all of the people in-between. As someone with autism I have always found it easier to understand and communicate with animals than people. This is because animals generally don’t have multiple levels of communication. If an animal is calm it communicates calm, if it is scared it communicates fear, if it is feels the need to fight it communicates aggression. People have subtle expressions of communication which are very difficult to understand, they also have mismatching communication, they may smile and say everything is okay, while actually being angry about something, and then when you assume they are okay – because that is what they have said, they get annoyed that you didn’t realise they were angry.

This really gives an idea for how best to communicate with those with autism. They need the communication to be clear and unambiguous, so say what you mean, say what you want to happen and expect to happen, and make sure that your verbal and non-verbal (including tone of voice) communication matches up. Be as precise in your communication as possible. If you don’t want your child to run, don’t say “don’t run” because that doesn’t communicate what you want, it only communicates what you don’t want, so it is likely to create confusion. Say “walk”. If you don’t want them jumping on the furniture, don’t say “don’t jump on the furniture”, say “sit down”. Often those with autism will need you to be clear and make firm decisions where they struggle to do so, and to help them make decisions by reducing options down to just two choices for them to decide between, and if they can’t decide then you select for them. You could ask “what would you like to do today?” If they say they don’t know, then you could say “would you like to do x or y today?” If they still can’t decide you can say “we will be going out in x minutes, so get your shoes and coat on, we are going to y today.” You will know with your own child what is best for them, whether they are good at making decisions themselves, or whether they can make decisions if they have just a couple of options to choose from, or whether they need to be told what will be happening. It is very comforting to have the structure of being told what will be happening, as long as those things are things you are comfortable doing.

Look Into My Eyes: Asperger’s, Hypnosis, & Me by Dan Jones is available in Paperback & Kindle Here is a link to your local Amazon store: http://apn.to/prod/1542551196

Autism: Dealing With Anger - Tips for Parents

Posted by Dan Jones on April 4, 2017 at 6:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Those with autism often have extremes of emotion, they can be calm one minute and angry the next, sometimes without any obvious cause. This can be intimidating and frightening for parents. There are some helpful ways to manage anger. Obviously, the best way to manage anger is to reduce the chances of anger occurring. To do this a parent can find ways of communicating which, as far as possible, don’t create opposition. This isn’t saying don’t put boundaries in place, just reducing how often you say the opposite to the child. So if you say “no” this creates conflict, but there are many times when there is alternatives to the word “no” which can be used, like saying what you want instead of the word “no”. So a child may ask for something (like a magazine), your answer is going to be “no”, so instead of saying “no” you may say “you can… (have a magazine at the weekend/read the ones you have at home, etc)”. Like anything, this isn’t a guarantee that they won’t get angry, but when you don’t present the opposite view it often reduces the chances of conflict occurring, which could otherwise turn to anger. You can also notice triggers and so intervene with distraction when you know a trigger is likely to occur.

When the child is already angry anything which feeds into the fight or flight response is likely to escalate the anger. So any behaviours which could be perceived as threatening or trapping the child will make the situation worse, behaviours where the child feels they are safe and not trapped or threatened help to reduce anger. So talking calmly (not saying “calm down”) and quietly, not shouting or displaying anger in your voice, sitting beside the child (sitting is a calming act, so this also helps you to feel calmer), or away from the child, not standing in front of them towering over them. Giving them a couple of clear options which give them the chance to have a safe way out. For example; I worked with a teen who became aggressive, he was cutting things with a knife and threatening to cut anyone who came near him. I said I was going to sit in the seat (gesturing to a specific seat) and want to just talk to him see how I can help, if he decides he wants to attack me that is up to him, but I want to just see how I can help. I then sat down, we talked and the situation was resolved calmly and without further incident. Whereas a teen I was working with in a local school got angry, he kept saying he wanted to go to a quit room, which had been an agreed location for him, the teacher dealing with him told him he isn’t going anywhere until he calmed down, the teen felt trapped and eventually injured the teacher so that he could get away, this got him permanently excluded, and most likely could have been avoided if the teacher let him go to the quiet room.

Look Into My Eyes: Asperger’s, Hypnosis, & Me by Dan Jones is available in Paperback & Kindle Here is a link to your local Amazon store: http://apn.to/prod/1542551196


A Little Something About Me & My Journey

Posted by Dan Jones on April 4, 2017 at 5:55 AM Comments comments (0)

I received an adult diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) a few years ago. I suspected I had autism for many years, but I didn’t want to be labelled, so never sought diagnosis until my life hit a point where I felt it was the only way I would get the help and support I needed.

Growing up I had always been different to others around me including my three brothers. My mum described me as a little scientist. As a child I was generally quiet, I tried to keep away from people, I would often do things alone rather than with others. My dad was concerned about me saying that he thought something was wrong with me, but found it difficult to put into words and be taken seriously about his concerns. He was concerned about many things including that I didn’t seem to know how to play, and I didn’t seem to be able to use reciprocal communication unless told to do so. Back in the 1980’s his concerns were dismissed. Mum said from birth I never liked being hugged, and would never hug back if I was cuddled, I didn’t have any issues walking away from mum to go into nursery school, even on my first day. She described how I walked straight in without looking back or acknowledging her, whereas my three brothers all got upset and distressed at leaving their mother on their first day of school.

Mum had tried to organise a birthday party for me when I was about 5 years old, but no-one attended. This apparently didn’t particularly bother me, but bothered mum.

I rarely felt a need to speak out, I kept myself to myself, so through school I was largely ignored. As long as everything was predictable and as I wanted, things went fine in school, but if anyone tried to do anything like giving me the bumps or jumping on me I would do whatever I had to do to make myself feel comfortable again. I didn’t care what extent of violence I would have to use, or who I would have to be violent to. If I was unable to escape the situation without violence I would do whatever I had to do to feel comfortable again. I was very stubborn, because I hate change I would refuse to do things when change occurred. This continued into my working life. When I started work I would walk out of the job if they made changes to my work situation. I wouldn’t think about the consequences of this, all I would be thinking is that I am not happy with the situation, so I need to leave the situation to feel comfortable again. I would be blunt with managers telling them when they are making stupid decisions, and telling them to shut up when they are not listening.

In my early twenties I started working in mental health, and then moved into working in children’s homes before moving into family support work where I was supporting those with autism and their parents and carers. Colleagues would often comment on how I was like the autistic people we supported, and as time went by I considered that I might be on the autistic spectrum. I never considered seeking a diagnosis because I didn’t like the idea of having a label, until workplace discrimination which I had faced in many jobs I had done, reached a point where I felt helpless and trapped, and I became depressed to the point where I wrote a date in my phone that I would kill myself because that seemed like the logical solution for resolving my situation. It was at this point I decided to seek diagnosis, feeling that it could lead to me getting the support I need to help improve my work situation. The diagnosis has been more beneficial for me than I could ever have imagined, it has helped others around me understand me better, it has helped me be more open about myself with others, and it has allowed me to help others through talks and writing my book Look Into My Eyes.

Look Into My Eyes: http://apn.to/prod/1542551196 (Link directs people to their local Amazon website. The book is also available from other retailers as an ebook (Kindle, iBookstore, Kobo, Nook, GooglePlay, etc) and paperback (retail paperback edition ISBN: 978-1326917340)


How An Autism Diagnosis Gave Me My Life Back: A Human Givens Perspective By Dan Jones

Posted by Dan Jones on April 4, 2017 at 5:50 AM Comments comments (0)

A few years ago I became depressed and suicidal due to workplace discrimination. I had thought for many years that I might have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) but didn’t like the idea of having a label, I had seen so many people get labelled and then act and be treated as if they were the label. I had always been told I was very good at my job – which was helping families turn their lives around, but in my latest role things had shifted. On courses I was being told that if I didn’t feel strongly for the families I was in the wrong job, in group clinical supervisions the supervisor would say “let’s hear what everyone has to say, then we will come to Dan because he’s going to have a different opinion” and I would be singled out in the supervisions as being different, and when I wouldn’t speak because I had nothing to say this would get picked up as well “one of you hasn’t spoken much today, I want to know what you all think about that and how it makes you all feel” and then when I try to answer – because I know the answer as to why I haven’t spoken much, I get told “you had your chance to speak, I don’t want to hear from you now, I want to hear what the others think.”

In work I was sat in a location which was ideal for helping me do my job, it was a low sensory area that helped me to be able to focus and shut out distractions, and I was being told I would have to move to an open-plan area that I couldn’t work in. When I raised that I wouldn’t be able to work effectively being moved, and wanted to remain where I was I was told I get treated the same as anyone else and will be moved. I was asked by senior staff whether I had mental problems because of my reactions to things, I was told I wasn’t taking the job seriously and had obviously just rushed my work and not taken any time over it, when I had submitted some work I had spent many hours doing. I was told I had written all the wrong information, yet I had written the answers to the questions asked.

These may not sound that serious to some people, but this type of thing was going on every day. I was fighting panic attacks just to sit at my new open-plan desk, I was feeling like I was obviously in the wrong job when I was being told I shouldn’t be in the job if I don’t think a certain way, I was constantly feeling like I was in the wrong just for being myself. I felt helpless, trapped in my job, I felt that I had lost the status I once had, I no longer felt like I had a purpose, or felt like I was making a contribution, I felt it was no longer acceptable to be creative and ‘different’. My work situation was impacting on my home life, my wife was getting upset at feeling helpless that she couldn’t help me, I was always angry and upset at my situation, when I wasn’t in work I was anxious about going into work, and the anxiety increased the closer I got to work, then I would be anxious while I was in work. Eventually I decided that seeking an ASD diagnosis could help me get support at work. It took about a year from seeing the GP to receiving a diagnosis. Following the diagnosis I felt that I was able to be myself again, I was able to be open with people about who I am and how I perceive things differently, and because this was linked to a label people accepted it. I was able to share my experiences with others as a professional and as someone with ASD which has given me a sense of status, I felt like I had purpose and was making a contribution again, and started to feel back in control of my life, and because I have control in my life again, and feel less angry and anxious my wife is no longer feeling upset or helpless, I wrote a book, Look Into My Eyes, and people were asking me to give talks about my experiences, parents and others who work with people with ASD, and those with ASD, so receiving an autism diagnosis has given me my life back, and I am happier with my life than I have been in many years.

Dan Jones is author of Look Into My Eyes, described as ‘an autobiography through the lens of Asperger’s Syndrome’ which takes the reader through from early childhood to adulthood, explaining challenges experienced at different ages and how he was as someone with Asperger’s at different ages, and strengths of having Asperger’s, what Dan has found helpful at the different points in his life, and what hasn’t been helpful, and tips, ideas and advice relating to different issues through the life stages. There is also an extensive chapter of tips and strategies for parents/carers, teachers, friends, employers, and those with autism spectrum disorder, and a chapter written by Dan’s wife about her experiences being in a relationship with someone with Asperger’s, what the positives are, what challenges there are, and what she does to cope and support him.

Look Into My Eyes: http://apn.to/prod/1542551196 (Link directs to your local Amazon website. The book is also available from other retailers as an ebook and paperback (retail paperback edition ISBN: 978-1326917340)


Extract From 'Look Into My Eyes' by Dan Jones 'Primary School Years: Meditation, Animals & Developing Interests'

Posted by Dan Jones on April 4, 2017 at 5:45 AM Comments comments (0)

At about eight years of age, I found a book that had a profound influence on me - The Magic of Thinking Big. This was a book I found lying around the house one day, and as a small child who loved magic, seeing a book with ‘Big’ and ‘Magic’ both written in the title was enough to make me want to know what it was about. The book taught me that you can achieve almost anything; you just have to plan and put in effort.

I learnt an incredible amount between the age of eight and ten - it has helped me immensely. The next significant learning wasn’t until I was 13, when I discovered hypnosis. As well as discovering The Magic of Thinking Big, I also lived in an environment that allowed me to spend a lot of time in the woods - or at least outside, with nature. I used to spend much of my time sitting in trees. I found life at home often stressful and noisy, and I wanted to escape, so I would go into the woods. I would find a tree, climb up high, and sit on a branch with my eyes closed, just listening.

In the tree I would focus my attention on the sounds of birds. I would try to locate where they were by focusing on individual sounds. I would focus on the sounds of the rustling leaves and try to notice each individual one, trying to break the sound down and see how it was formed. As an eight-year-old, I had never heard of meditation, but I had discovered meditation for myself. Sitting in a tree doing this helped me to feel calm; it helped to shut out the ’noise’. I think I was lucky having the opportunity to grow up in the countryside rather than in a town during this period of my life. Warningcamp became a place I would call home as a child - and still think of as home now.

Having a mum who was a riding instructor also gave me the opportunity to be around horses for all of my childhood. Mum has always told me I seemed to have a natural talent for horse-riding. I think I just feel a closer connection to animals than I do to people. Animals don’t expect me to try to communicate with them verbally - they don’t communicate with multiple messages, like people do. Most animals communicate very simply. People can say one thing and mean something else, and then when you don’t understand that they meant something else, they get annoyed or they tell you that you are stupid for not realising or understanding. On the other hand, an animal will just communicate one message at a time.

I used to have no problem getting on to any horse and riding it - horses seemed to trust me, as I did them. That doesn’t mean I thought they would never hurt me, but what I trusted was that they would be clear with their messages, and that I would understand them. Most wild animals, and many other animals, don’t demand my attention. I like being in nature, just observing, rather than needing to play with the animals. I love observing and learning, and it was this mindset which helped me to discover meditation sitting in the trees. All I was trying to do was to observe and learn. In the same way that someone parking a car may turn the music down to help them park, I closed my eyes to help me hear and focus.

During these early years, I started to become aware of patterns. I don’t know whether I had always liked patterns, but I was becoming more self-aware and so becoming more aware of what I liked and didn’t like. I seemed to have an ability to guess well with competitions like ‘how many coins are in the jar’. At a country fair, when I was about eight, I guessed the number of coins in a jar and got it correct. During the summer holidays when I was nine or ten, myself - along with many other children from the two primary schools in Arundel - painted a mural of different animals. On the last day, we were told to guess how many animals were on the mural, and the person who guessed closest would win a prize to be presented by the Mayor of Arundel. I guessed closest - just one number out.

Many of my lifelong interests started between the ages of five and ten. I have always been confused by people changing tastes and interests as they grow up. My view is that if you like something, why would you one day not like it? Between five and ten, I developed an interest in the music of Elvis Presley; I discovered books that taught me things, rather than just being stories; and I started meditating, although I didn’t know it was meditation at the time. I also became aware of some of my habits which would sometimes get me in trouble.

If I heard tunes or sounds, I would make the same sound myself, usually whistling it. I would copy words or phrases that people said which, for some reason, resonated in my mind when I heard them. What’s more, I would often copy them in a replication of the person’s voice. I didn’t realise that mimicking people could offend them - it would just happen automatically. I didn’t even realise I was mimicking them. And when I became aware I was saying or doing something, like whistling or saying a phrase in a specific way, I didn’t normally know where it came from or why I was saying it - it would just happen.

I would find myself mimicking accents and speech patterns that seemed to resonate with me. The best way to avoid offending people was to avoid people, to try and keep my mouth shut, and to keep what went through my head in my head. This was never easy, as most of what I would do would just happen. Often others would point out to me what I was doing, and I found it very difficult to stop something when I didn’t notice myself doing it.

Look Into My Eyes: Asperger’s, Hypnosis, & Me by Dan Jones, is available in Paperback and for Amazon Kindle: http://apn.to/prod/1542551196


Extract From 'Look Into My Eyes' by Dan Jones 'Primary School Years: Friendships'

Posted by Dan Jones on April 4, 2017 at 5:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Many of my earliest memories are from my primary years. I don’t really remember much before that, and what I think I remember, I can’t be confident about - are they my memories, or just memories based on photographs I have seen? In this chapter, I will share my experience of my primary school years from about five years old up to ten or so. During this time, I began to recognise that I was different and started to learn about how to cope with the world around me.

Mum always described me as having a lot of common sense. I would describe myself as having common sense that sometimes isn’t common, and other times doesn’t make sense… From a very young age, mum trusted me to look after my younger siblings. She had tried babysitters, but often I was still the person with the most common sense in the room. I had good observation skills for safety, and because I couldn’t care less about most things that others seemed to really care about, I was often very calm. If there was an incident that needed to be handled I was likely to be the one who could work out what to do, and then calmly do it. This trait has helped immensely throughout my life.

Mum was a riding instructor, so growing up, she had to work when everyone else was off. My stepdad was a landscape gardener, so he worked long hours whenever the weather was suitable. Because mum taught people to ride horses, I spent most of my time around horses as a child. From the age of about eight, when mum was teaching, I would often be looking after my brothers. We would be at the riding centre, so mum wasn’t far away if we needed her - she couldn’t afford to have anyone else look after us, but she trusted me and felt I was responsible enough to look after my brothers. I knew that if there was a problem, I could either find mum, or seek out any of the other adults who ran the stables.

I remember some of my first experiences attending my first primary school. It was a small school with a cold outdoor swimming pool. I have certain memories that stand out about the pool. I remember flies floating in the pool. I remember the smell of the water. It smelt like water - I mean, it didn’t have an odd smell - but I remember the fresh watery smell from the pool. I also remember the feeling of being in the water, and remember times when my nan would come along and help out during swimming lessons. I didn’t like the swimming cap I had to wear. It used to hurt my head when I put it on and took it off. The cap would stick to my hair and felt like it pulled hair out of my head whenever I took it off. I did enjoy swimming though. My favourite thing about swimming was being underwater. I loved putting my head underwater, and as I got more confident, I would hold myself fully underwater at the steps. I loved how the sound changed underwater - it was quiet and peaceful, not as chaotic and overwhelming as the world above the water. I remember believing I could almost breathe underwater. I was aware that I couldn’t, but I felt that I was able to stay underwater longer by relaxing and imagining I was breathing, so I would make all the actions of breathing without actually breathing in. I would almost cycle air round, as if I was somehow breathing within myself.

I didn’t really have many friends in primary school. I was polite, so if someone engaged with me, I would be polite and do my best to try to engage with them back, but I didn’t really have much interest in interacting with other people. I would much rather have spent a break time at the hedges around the outside of the school grounds searching for snails and looking at other creatures. I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. I would take an ice cream tub around with me which I would fill with leaves, twigs, snails, caterpillars or grasshoppers. I wasn’t necessarily very good at socialising, and didn’t particularly care about others. That isn’t to say I wanted bad things to happen to others - I have always wanted everyone to be alright - but I was far more caring of animals. One day, when I was out with mum while she was teaching horse riding, I found an injured grasshopper. I took it home and tried to nurse it back to health by creating an environment for it and giving it some food.

Unfortunately, it didn’t survive. I didn’t get upset about it not surviving. I wanted it to live and get better, but my attitude was: once it had died, it had died. I did all I could think of to try to save it, and to my knowledge I couldn’t have done more. I remember burying it in the garden, because I thought that was what was supposed to happen to dead things, then I got on with my life. I didn’t get upset about not being able to save it, because I had done everything I felt I was able to do.

At one time, mum tried to arrange a birthday party for me at home. She invited many children I knew, and on the day of my party, no-one turned up. I think this was a telling sign of my relationships with others. I was polite to people but never really invested in my relationships with the other children in school. I was pretty much the same at home. I would prefer to spend time alone doing my own thing, but was generally polite. I don’t recall too much play with my brothers. When we did play, it was usually something active like hide and seek or manhunt, or it was making dens or climbing trees. It wasn’t really things where I was having to play with my brothers, but more things where I played alongside my brothers, or could feel like I was doing my own thing or engaging in a project - making something for some purpose.

I was far better at getting on with adults. I would ask questions all the time about things I was interested in, wanting to know more. At school, I would take my time getting ready to leave lessons so that the other children would leave and I could then ask the teacher any questions I had. If the lesson didn’t interest me, then I would get out as quickly as I could to try to avoid being stuck in the middle of a crowd of children all leaving at once. If I had to choose between spending time with children or adults I would usually choose to stand around the adults, and would normally latch on to one adult whom I would sit next to and talk to. That adult was normally chosen because they’d first approached me and started talking to me, but they would then be stuck with me until they walked away. If they walked off and left me, I wouldn’t seek anyone else out; I would rather sit on my own and keep myself to myself. Sometimes, another adult would come and talk to me and I would then talk to them about topics I enjoyed until they walked off too.

Look Into My Eyes: Asperger’s, Hypnosis, & Me by Dan Jones, is available in Paperback and for Amazon Kindle: http://apn.to/prod/1542551196


Extract From 'Look Into My Eyes' by Dan Jones 'Primary School Years: Developing Influence Skills'

Posted by Dan Jones on April 4, 2017 at 5:20 AM Comments comments (0)

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


Extract From 'Look Into My Eyes' by Dan Jones 'My views on 'curing' autism and the value of autism to society'

Posted by Dan Jones on April 4, 2017 at 5:15 AM Comments comments (0)

I think I am like most others with Asperger’s, in that I see it as something that is a part of me, not as something to be cured. It doesn’t mean I don’t wish I could change some aspects of myself, and I am aware that parents of children with low functioning autism often say they wish there was a cure. As autism is a spectrum, there are some people who have limitations but wouldn’t want to be cured of their autism, and others who have significant limitations or debilitating behaviours or traits; they or their carers would like them to be cured.

I have thoughts of concern if there was a pre-birth cure, so that people were no longer born with autism spectrum disorder. My view is that anything which persists in nature is either something that isn’t detrimental to the survival of that being, and so it isn’t screened out by evolution, or it has advantages to survival. From my studies and my experiences, I feel autism has evolutionary advantages - but to have those advantages, the genes have to be passed on. Some people will be high functioning, and others will be low functioning, but all those who survive will pass on genes linked with a propensity to have ‘autism’, which - for future generations - could be high or low functioning. Those with high functioning autism, I believe play a role in human progress. It doesn’t mean non-autistic people don’t advance humanity; it is just that people with high functioning autism are good at focusing on a task and obsessing about it, and so they make discoveries that others wouldn’t have made, because they wouldn’t have obsessed about that topic in the same way.

Most people who have advanced science have done so through obsessing about a topic and focusing on tasks. They don’t seem to get bored of the task or topic and they can keep at it for years. Non-autistic people could obsess and focus on a topic like this, but most people fill their days with many different elements. I can focus on hypnosis for the whole day; I can miss eating and drinking and sleeping for quite some time without being aware of it. I can also comfortably spend each day not interacting with others. Most people want to take breaks; they get bored or tired of what they are doing, and they start talking about it not being stimulating enough. They want to socialise, whether it be having meals with a loved one or with friends, or going to a party. Many people want to progress in a job or role, rather than to do the exact same job for 30 or 40 years. For many with high functioning autism, behaving in this way comes more naturally.

If there was a stone age society and everyone was doing their role - gathering wood or fruits or vegetables, or out hunting - there could be someone with Asperger’s who isn’t out hunting, is seen as a bit odd and a bit of an outsider, but they have an obsession with how arrows travel through the air, and what makes the arrow go further. This obsession doesn’t get anywhere to start with; no-one is really interested. But then, after years of experimenting and learning and trying different things, the Asperger’s person suddenly finds a combination of wood for the arrow and a way to shape the flint to make it sharp and streamlined; he perhaps adds the idea of a throwing device, able to propel the arrow. Suddenly, this can give the stone age tribe a survival edge. As society has progressed into the digital age, there are more jobs suited best to those with high functioning autism, which is probably why there is an above average number of people with high functioning autism working within the science and maths professions.

Look Into My Eyes: Asperger’s, Hypnosis, & Me by Dan Jones, is available in Paperback and for Amazon Kindle: http://apn.to/prod/1542551196


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