He, like others with Asperger’s, spent every day feeling extremely anxious – and if he was lucky, this might lessen to feeling merely moderately anxious.  Each day he ran the gauntlet of trying to second guess NTs, watching every twitch of non-verbal communication intently but with no idea as to whether he was interpreting it correctly, waiting for the communication to end badly, as it so often seemed to, with him left feeling utterly baffled as to what had gone wrong.  Another bad experience to add to his ever-increasing catalogue.  I was struck by the sheer amount of energy that it takes for people with Asperger’s to try to appear ‘normal’ and the levels of stress and anxiety which they experience and which are continually reinforced on a daily basis.  The realisation that this is how my husband must also feel was profound.  It began to dawn on me that some of my behaviour was – completely inadvertently – having a negative impact on him – as well as any other Aspies that I happened to come across in my life.

My husband and I both felt that we had an extremely close and strong relationship before the TA training, and this new understanding has taken us to an even greater depth of intimacy.  We are still learning and we mismatch at times, however, we now have the language and awareness to explain to each other why we are upset, confused, withdrawn or anxious.  It means that resentment does not build up and any misunderstandings are sorted out quickly and, most importantly, with patience and care.

If more of us (NTs) had a greater understanding of what Aspies go through on a daily basis and became curious about the small changes we could make; imagine the profound positive impact this would have on the quality of life of those with Asperger’s…."

 

Laura Knight

(NT) Care professional - Married to Richard Knight

A turning point for me has been learning about the mechanisms behind peoples' (NT and Aspie) behaviour; that decisions in others are often made completely out of awareness. Hence I realise that when I experience negative behaviours from people, that the negative behaviour which I experience originates in part from history that they carry, making any impact felt by me less personal and hurtful.  I see TA as a knowledge system that I am pleased to have encountered. I am motivated to share what I know of TA that is useful to others, for them to use and benefit from.”

 

Richard Knight

(Aspie) Cost Engineer, Estimator, Modeller, Analyst – Married to Laura Knight

“I encountered TA first through my friendship with Richard Hall, and through Richard by meeting and receiving training from Peter Flowerdew. I have been fascinated throughout the early stages of my learning of TA. The TA skillset which I have so far gained has had a profound impact on the level of understanding and connection that I share with my (NT) wife, beyond what I felt was already remarkable.

 

TA provides me with a set of models and tools with which I can translate my experiences of seemingly chaotic human behaviour and communication into a coherent structure that I can work with and understand. I have formed friendships through TA including the Trustees of The Different Engine, with a common TA language and set of TA principles, which connects what is in itself a group of Neurodiverse people.

I found it very insightful to observe the dialogue that developed between the NT and Aspie group members over the two-day workshop, and to witness increasing mutual understanding between these members. I have been able to apply what I have learned about Aspies, and about NTs’ misconceptions of Aspies, in my counselling work with secondary school students presenting with strong Asperger’s traits. Rather than seeking ‘to fix’ a problem with the Aspie students, I seek to help them get their individual needs met within the school environment.”

 

Neil Keenan

(NT) Psychotherapy & Counselling

Director - Help! Counselling

“My work with Aspie and NT colleagues at The Different Engine has been invaluable in improving my understanding of the needs of Aspies, and in providing practical support to them and their NT partners, family members and friends. I work closely with clinical supervisors, and, when necessary, with other outside agencies, such as GPs, schools and local mental health professionals. I always consult with clients and work with them when advocating on their behalf to outside agencies. I follow the codes of ethics of the European Association for Transactional Analysis (EATA) and the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP). I am a Certified Transactional Analyst registered with the United Kingdom Association for Transactional Analysis, and I am accredited as a Psychotherapist by the UKCP.

"As a  trainee psychotherapist, I attended the  TA 101 workshops for Aspies/NT as I was interested in how I could help and communicate with Aspie clients. What I actually experienced was far richer than I could have imagined. The Aspie presenters and attendees were extremely open about their experience of the world and their interactions with NTs. I hadn’t really realised the extent of the daily challenge they face and, as part of the NT world, I was acutely aware of my own ignorance and of the NT behaviour that can, quite inadvertently, make Aspie lives so difficult. I saw TA starting to bridge the understanding between the two worlds."

Amanda Cook

(NT) Psychotherapy & Counselling

"We each have our own reasons for being part of this group, and we all bring something unique to it...  We see ourselves as an engine for change... We want to drive a fundamental change in the way people approach neurodiversity..."

“Chris had co-presented on a number of the 'Apsie 101' workshops, and I asked if she thought it would be worthwhile my attending. (I was skeptical, having had no training in TA or psychology, and was worried I wouldn't understand.) I attended, and was able to follow easily enough, and learned a surprising amount about TA, psychology and my own personality as well...  By the end of the weekend, I had gained enough of an understanding of the language of TA and the differences between the NT and Aspie mind to be able to talk confidently about it with Chris.  Being able to use this common language to explain our experience to one another is priceless.”

 

Ian Russell

(NT) Telecommunications Engineer- Married to Chris Russell

"My husband and I had been together for about four years when he began to suspect that he might have Asperger’s.  I had always known he was ‘a bit different’ but had never considered that there might be fundamental differences in the ways our brains worked.

He talked me into attending the ‘Aspie 101’ training course.  At first it seemed like any other personal development training I had attended, however, as I listened to the experiences of those in the room with Asperger’s I was overcome with a profound, and physical, sense of sadness.  I was shocked to hear a business consultant with Asperger’s say that sitting in that room, with people who were open minded and genuinely trying to understand what it was like to see the world from his perspective, was the first time he had ever felt safe.  I was stunned.  I had never even noticed the background peace and safety I feel every day – and here was someone telling me that this was something he had never experienced. 

You can read about Peter Flowerdew, Rich Hall and Chris Russell on the Presenters page.  Fellow Directors of The Different Engine CIC talk about their involvement here...

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