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I'm looking for some advice, either from AS/ASD adults or parents/carers of (probably older) AS/ASD children.


I suffer very badly from anxiety, to the extent that it stops me doing what I want to do. This is causing particular problems with my university course, especially in oral presentations and in participating socially in conferences. However, it is important that I am able to do these, as they will play a key role in my future success/employment prospects. :tearful:


The problem is not that I do not want to participate or that I do not have anything worthwhile to present. But I find that even with speaking in lectures/small discussion groups, I am physically stopped from speaking, or at least saying anything coherent, by my anxiety. Unfortuantly, I then become anxious about my anxiety which makes things worse. :wacko:


In addition to these 'bigger' events, I also find myself getting very anxious before my individual supervision sessions. I don't know why - my supervisor is very understanding of my AS and the difficulties it causes me, I know the work I'm talking about and there really is no reason for me to become anxious.


I talked this through at my Assessment of Need. I'm getting mentoring support which might help, and medication was also suggested. I was very against this initially, but having had some time to think, I wonder if it is worthwhile thinking about. I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions/strategies I could employ to reduce my anxiety, and whether medication is something that might be worth trying or not?

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I am using Avena tincture on my 4yr old daughter for anxiety, I really think it is making a difference, the woman in the shop knew of stronger herbs but this one was safe with her epilepsy and ep. meds. It has no contraindications at all (unless you are allergic to oats)


Have you considered alternative remedies?


A x

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Hi Mumble...

No specific ideas, I'm afraid, but maybe some 'aversion therapy' techniques might help? you could start by talking to family groups/friends for very short periods with very well 'rehearsed' and prepared speeches, then maybe set yourself small set targets within the class environment - maybe asking one question per lesson or attempting to answer one question rather than keeping your hands down even when you know the answer? If your tutor is supportive, maybe they could let you 'practice' on them one-to-one prior to any sort of class presentation? (I'd be careful how you word that if you're taking any sort of 'sex-ed' courses! :o:lol::lol: )

Other than 'little steps' I can only suggest rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Not much help for a spur of the moment job, but the more comfortable you are about how you want to present it the less you have to think about it at the time... There's that old chestnut about 'imagining your audience naked', but I think that's possibly fraught with all sorts of dangers depending on the make-up of the audience!

Hope someone's along with something more helpful soon...



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maybe some 'aversion therapy' techniques might help?

Standing on my head until I can disguise myself in a beetroot field!!!!! - well I suppose a new career in the lesser known 'beetroot army' saves anxiety about what I'm currently doing!!!! :lol::whistle: But seriously - thanks for the suggestion - my supervisor recommends aversion - suggests I'm calmer if I have something else to do to take my mind off the speaking - but seriously . . . if he goes hiding many more students for me to 'find' he's going to be running out of hiding places (I'm sure the students can't be geting lost that much without some gentle persuassion - students aren't that stupid are they . . . :rolleyes::whistle: )


you could start by talking to family groups/friends for very short periods with very well 'rehearsed' and prepared speeches

That would requiring having family that didn't think me having AS was stupid and daft :tearful: . . . and having friends :tearful: . . .


If your tutor is supportive, maybe they could let you 'practice' on them one-to-one prior to any sort of class presentation? (I'd be careful how you word that if you're taking any sort of 'sex-ed' courses! :o:lol::lol: )

My supervisor is supportive and extra one-to-one time has been built into my AoN. The trouble is in the transfer - even if I could do it with him (so to speak :shame::o), doing it with others in a different room doesn't work. It frustrates me because I know what to do and I want to do it, but my mind's telling me 'absolutely not, no way, run for the beetroot fields' - my reaction is not something I have any control over.


There's that old chestnut about 'imagining your audience naked', but I think that's possibly fraught with all sorts of dangers depending on the make-up of the audience!

:sick::sick::sick::sick::sick::sick: - a room of balding, semi and post-retired men in tweed jackets (sorry if I'm being stereotypical) - desperation will never go that far . . . :lol:



Aro - thanks for your suggestion - I've never tried anything herbal/alternative, don't really know anything about it, but I'm interested in anything that might help. :)

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Mumble, I dont have AS, at least not last time I looked, but I do have some of your phobias. Speaking in public is an absolute nightmare for me, & now as part of my job I have to do library tours each September when the new students arrive. I age 10 years each time but I have made myself do it and it is getting easier. For me it stems back to something that happened at school, was there a particular trigger in your case?


I've just finished reading Derren Brown's Tricks of the Mind, & he outlines a quite simple technique you can try for overcoming phobias, I'm going to have a go as September approaches.

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Hi Mumble,

I can totally empathise with you because the same thing happened to me, I was studying music but every time I had to do a performance i would go to pieces, the way I got through my A levels was with proprananol (beta blocker) from the doc for a week before. It did stop the shaking etc but by the time i got to Uni I couldn't face doing any performances at all !! So I skipped lessons where i would have to do this and dropped out altogether at the end of the first year. The thought of doing something in front of someone terrified me and yet privately i would imagine playing (piano) to the Albert Hall or something daft.I have since got over it to some degree and did play at church. Since then I have got my diploma with the open university and am studying towards a degree with them (home based, no performance, history of music and theory, that sort of thing). I since have been dx with an anxiety disorder, but wish I could have overcome it back then.


Medication is a thing for you to use ( in YOUR control) to help get these important things done.

There are herbal remedies too....Bach's remedies ,kalms. etc

Maybe finding more out about a kind of confrontation therapy or whatever, where you gradually become accustomed to speaking out etc. I was told to imagine every one in their underwear !!!! :lol:


Hope it gets better for you. You are worth it !!

Edited by reuby2

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Pearl and Reuby, thanks for your advice. :thumbs: As far as I'm aware, there isn't any 'trigger' - I've just always had a problem talking in front of/with people, to the extent that I'll want to speak (the problem isn't that I don't want to or that I don't have anything to say), but that I can't physically say anything, and it frustrates me so much, particularly because I do not feel in control. I can put my power-point presentations together, imagine the presentation - it goes well in my imagination and is something I can do without any difficulty. But when it comes to the actual speaking to/with/around other people, it's as if someone's turned the volume down or pressed the mute button on a romote control I'm unaware of - for the few times I have spoken in seminar disscussions (and these are usually the ones by supervisor leads where I feel more comfortable anyway) I'm so quiet no-one can hear me and the lecturer has to repeat/rephrase what I say for others.


I have to present my work in September as a necessary part of moving through my course - my supervisor will be doing it with me (this is written into by AoN, including the possibility of him taking over if necessary). I am already panicking about this, and I want to think about ways of trying to cope now, so I can try them out before September. It really concerns me greatly - the people who will be listening are people/know people I could be working with in the future. As far as I see it, my future success in an academic career depends on me getting through this difficulty.


As to Derren Brown - I scared my sister totally at Christmas when we watched his show as I rationally went through everything he'd said and pointed out the details he'd slipped in to alter/lead the participants' thoughts before he explained it (I see/hear the details that are supposed to be subliminal! :hypno: ) - had her running for the TV mag convinced the live show must be a repeat!!!! :lol:

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Hi Mumble. I used to have this problem a lot. I couldn't speak at all in college in Tutor groups. It was especially horrible when a tutor would ask a question and go round the room looking for answers. I knew the answer and everyone else was getting it wrong. I knew he would eventually get to me and my heart would beat loudly (so loud, I couldn't hear anything else!), my palms would sweat, I got red and hot and by the time he came to me I could bearly gasp out an answer, before going cold and almost fainting....


I decided to become a teacher (God help me) and for some reason had no problem speaking in front of students. Years later when I changed career all the staff had to do a presentation and I got heaps of praise for my speaking skills!


What I would suggest is that first you do a presentation in front of your supervisor/mentor on a one-to-one. When you feel comfortable with that, add one more person - probably better if it's someone you don't know and someone who will not be judgemental. Wait till you're comfortable with 2, then go to 3 people. Then add 2 more. If you build up slowly, you will feel comfortable and are less likely to be anxious.


Hope that helps and good luck

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Hiya Mumble,


I know exactly what you're going through with public speaking, I have the same problems. I can do the speech in my head and it all comes out fine and I can speak while alternating my tone and pitch in order to make points effectively and use the way I speak to signpost listeners to the important points etc. But as soon as I get up in front of people I turn into Little Miss Monotone and 'mumble' my way through whatever I have to say, usually at great speed.


However I recently made a breakthrough with public speaking which has actually laid a few of my fears to rest and proved to myself that public speaking is something I can actually do. Not necessarily do successfully but I CAN do it.


I would be reluctant to rely on medication to help in these situations as essentially in order to keep making positive progress towards speaking in public eventually you will have to do it without the medication anyway. So while it is harder now and will be more of a challenge to speak confidently and positively in public, if you can achieve it without medication you make greater progress overall.


I think the whole aversion thing is right, if you can distract yourself in the few hours/minutes leading up to the presentation you will give your brain less chance to do serious damage to your confidence. I used to sit in University presentations going over and over in my head how rubbish I was, how I couldn't do it, how my speech was useless and thinking how much better everyone else was (when in reality it wasn't true that everyone else in the class was better than me based on the grades we received for the presentations). I never even gave myself a chance to just do the speech, not even do it well and successfully, just to do it in the first place and at least have a go at it. By the time I would stand up to talk everything would be a huge blur and I'd be panicking so much that the speech would just come out, mostly all wrong, and those few minutes would turn into some of the most painful experiences of my life.


A few weeks ago my brother got married. I refused point blank to be a bridesmaid but they still wanted me to be a part of the wedding so asked instead if I would write a poem to be read out in Church as part of the service. Initially I was fine with the idea as it was just assumed that someone else would read it out. The more time passed and I didn't come up with anything to write the less likely it looked that anyone would be able to do the poem but myself. When I did eventually write something just after Christmas it turned into less of a poem and more of a little speech with a poem tagged on the end. Because of the speech and the fact that it was obviously coming from me, it was my own opinions/humour, I really had to read it out loud myself in order for it to work. Total nightmare. Not only am I Aspergers but I'm also not exactly at my ideal weight, far, far from it in fact so I have no self confidence because I'm shy and don't like being around strangers and no self esteem because I'm overweight and think I look like a freakazoid...PLUS I would have to be standing up in front of people dressed in posh clothes and not my normal jeans/cardigan combination. I kept telling myself I couldn't do it but ultimately deep down inside the disappointment and hurt it would cause others if I pulled out of doing this the day before the wedding/week before was too much for me to deal with so I had to go through a kind of acceptance thing.


It turned out to be the key to me being able to get through the speech. Because I was somewhat forced to accept the fact that I had to do this speech whether I liked it or not the pressure about whether I could do the speech or not was removed. It didn't matter whether I thought I could do it or not, I had to do it, simple. So I moved onto worrying about whether I would be able to do the speech well or not, whether I would rush it or I would get too shaky to speak. Sometimes when I speak or get really nervous I can get an eye twitch and I was petrified about this happening on the day. I tried to think about other people making speeches and how they just seemed to be so confident and able to do it...why couldn't I be the same? I tried to think about what was different, what made them different to me? The answer is they believed they could do it, or perhaps didn't even question this part of giving a speech in the first place. I had to believe I could do it, I had to let my personality out and give myself enough of a break that I could have a decent stab at getting through the speech.


I tried not to think about the speech too much in the run up to the wedding, fortunately because of the wedding and other things going on in my life at that time the speech was put on the back burner anyway I didn't really have to make a conscious effort to not think about it. In the days before the wedding and the night before I really started to panic but again just tried to distract myself, think about other things and I also tried not to read the speech too much. I let myself read the speech once a day, that's all, I knew what was in it, I wrote it!! I knew I didn't have to memorise it or anything like that and I know I can read words from a page so I didn't want to ram the speech down my throat too much. I found in the past that re-reading something over and over again only served to bring to the forefront in my head all those fears and negative feelings that I associate with giving a speech. The morning of the wedding I was petrified. I was scared about the speech, scared about wearing a dress and what people would think I looked like, scared about socialising and being able to be positive throughout the day. I didn't look at my speech once, I concentrated on getting ready and thinking about other things. I also did something else that while might not seem appropriate, really helped. It's not medication, but it's not far off. I had a couple of Vodkas. I know, not exactly ideal coping mechanisms but the drink took the edge off my panic and stress and allowed my body to relax just enough that I didn't have a panic attack and total meltdown. I got to the church in plenty of time due to my the fact that my ex-boyfriend (we were still together at the time) was acting as Usher. Still I didn't look at my speech, I put it down on my chair and distracted myself trying to make small talk with a few of the guests and looking out for other guests arriving. I sat down as late as possible, just as the bride was coming into the venue so I couldn't sit there and fret forever. It also helped that other people did little readings from the bible before me and I allowed myself to recognise the fact that they too were nervous and worried. For once I didn't give my brain chance to convince me that they were totally confident and able...I think it helped that I knew those who were speaking, they are close family members and I know their mannerisms so could tell they were nervous too. It also helped that the vicar called me up at the wrong moment and so I wasn't prepared. I was supposed to do my speech after the second hymn but she called me up just before it....Arrragghhh....I didn't have time to panic though and I couldn't get away with turning around and questioning everything, it was the middle of a marriage ceremony!!


I felt the speech went ok, I felt like I rushed it a little bit and that I wasn't as expressive as I'd have liked. But I did show some expressions and I did try to sell the jokes how they should've been expressed. I changed tone and pitch a couple of times and people actually laughed! I stopped and took deep breaths when I needed to and allowed myself to regain composure if I felt I was getting panicky, I didn't beat myself up either for needing to stop. I accepted that this might happen and worked around it. Essentially I took control of my brain and in the past I've always escaped doing this by fobbing myself off and saying 'I can't control how I think'. I can control how I think, I can make a conscious effort to recognise when I'm thinking inappropriately and make an effort to think positively.


I spent the rest of the day fending people off trying to give me compliments :lol: Talking in public is one thing, accepting compliments from people I'm not quite ready to deal with just yet!!!


Don't know if this will help, I know I haven't given any concrete advice and instead just rambled on about some stupid wedding speech, but sometimes reading other people's experiences and knowing that someone else has been in similar situations can help with the whole 'why me, why can't I do it and everyone else can?' thing. You're not alone, you're not abnormal to fear speaking in public....it is quite normal and actually quite expected. If you can accept the fact that you are going to give the speech and try to remember that everyone else will be nervous as well and that they're not expecting you not to be nervous then these are the first few little progress steps you can take towards turning making a speech into a positive experience.


Good luck and think positively!!!




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