Daniel Mangena was diagnosed with, Aspergers, in his late 20’s. Asperger’s syndrome, is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests.
Listen to full interview here:
I’m very familiar with, Aspergers, because I have a 21 year old son who has been diagnosed with, Asperger’s syndrome, around 10 years of age.
So this interview with Daniel will be on the topic How to Navigate Social Cues with, Aspergers, Diagnosis
My son was so afraid of social interactions, he couldn’t speak to strangers. He was so nervous speaking to people that he developed a stutter and the stutter made him almost unintelligible. As he’s grew older, he practiced talking to people. He would talk to everybody that he meets, everybody would come up to me and say your son is such a wonderful kid that’s, because he practiced and now he doesn’t have the stutter and not afraid of talking to people.
Introduction to Asperger’s Syndrome
After receiving a late diagnosis of, Asperger, and experiencing what can only be described as life-shattering trauma at the age of just 20, Daniel spent the next seven years struggling to keep his revelations and events from spilling in to his everyday life as a result of his struggles.
Daniel built a simple four-step system called “Beyond Intentional Paradigm”. Initially, it was built as a lifeline while he was grappling with suicidal thoughts; but beyond intention has transformed Daniel’s life from misery into celebration through his own struggles. Daniel found a path to lasting joy and purpose and he wants nothing more than to share the tools that saved his life.
Daniel is the host of a “Do It with Dan” podcast series, regular blogs published articles and worldwide workshops that have helped thousands across the globe. His prolific work recently earned him a spot in the Wall Street Journal as a master of success and a scene on Wall Street Journal, Market Watch, ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox.
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Late Diagnosis of Asperger and lack of friendships
Myrna – You were diagnosed in your twenties with Asperger’s. Did your family miss your lack of, social cues, or do you think you developed, Asperger, late?
Daniel – As a teenager, I’ve always been really blessed. For me, Asperger, has been a gift. It’s been a gift because the way that my brain works has allowed me to achieve a lot and the social challenges and lack of, social cues, have effectively just been the cost of doing business. When you look at my brilliance, that came out academically including great achievements. I kind of just put up with me living with my foot in my mouth and being horribly awkward and unable to really relate, because there were other benefits that came with my diagnosis.
When things became clearer, siblings would tell stories and they’re like, but we love you so because you were a loner. I don’t really have friends. I never developed relationships and friendships other than my two friends – Nathan and Jamie, who were my friends since I was 15. I don’t have any friends from middle school. I don’t have any friends from high school. I’ve got one friend from college, because I didn’t know how to form those bonds with people even when people wanted to form bonds with me. I didn’t know how to hold and maintain those relationships.
I was missing out and studied much like your son practiced to learn, to understand what those shortfalls were and although it’s a very conscious process, was able to then effectively operate socially.
Myrna – I understand the lack of friends because my son never developed friendships. I had twin girls, their world was friends. They didn’t go to school to learn, they went to school to see their friends! My son’s friends were his teachers.
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Autism vs Aspergers
Myrna – Tell us what is, Asperger’s syndrome, and why is it that people with, Aspergers, can’t understand, social cues?
Daniel – Essentially, the difference between what is commonly recognized as, Autism vs. Aspergers, is that someone that’s more formally viewed as, autistic, doesn’t have the ability to communicate with the outside world. Whereas, Aspergers, have the same thought processes; but we can actually communicate it. Whereas with, autism, especially if someone’s non-verbal, they have no way to communicate those thought processes.
I found in my own experience that everything works in ones and zeros. It’s very systematic and when there’s a disconnection in that systemization, it falls apart. Social cues, are a very fluid, it’s an art form. It’s not there’s a science to it, but there’s an art form to it which doesn’t move in ones and zeros.
People that have brains like me don’t know what to do with it and also because we’re always things that you do unconsciously. For example, in this conversation I have to maintain concentration the entire time because I have to be aware that just because I’ve got something to say, doesn’t mean that I have to say it now.
Myrna – My doctor compared my son to Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory. Just like Sheldon has to work very hard on understanding, social cues, and he would say and what he shouldn’t say. He’s usually very rude because he doesn’t think about the other person’s feelings. He just says what he feels or thinks.
Daniel – What I found to be my happy place with relationships and with, social cues, is to forget what I am thinking. I just walk away from it, I don’t entertain it.
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Using Mindfulness to understand Social Cues
Myrna – I know that you’re a podcast host and you interview people, so when you’re interviewing like when you’re doing this interview or when you’re the host and you’re talking, do you do the same thing? Do you have to get out of your head and operate from your heart space to understand, social cues, or is there other ways that you you’re handling that situation?
Daniel – First and foremost, by using my tools of mindfulness and consciousness in order to engage in this space, I set very clear intensions about this time and set them aside. I’ve given my mind enough to let go by giving a box to play in. I have genuine conversations; I don’t have to think about what I’m going to say, because I’m speaking from the heart. I’m thinking about how to engage with you, I’m holding that container; but in terms of the communication that’s coming from the framework within my heart.
There’s a conscious process in terms of setting that space to this is back and forth I’m sticking clear with my intention to share this space with you, to add value to your community, to create something beautiful together; but then I’m not thinking about what to say. I’m allowing the truth to come from heart based communication.
What is Micro Shifting and how does it help with Asperger’s Syndrome?
Myrna – In your Bio, you talked about, Micro Shifting. How can people with, Aspergers, use, micro shifting? Is there something specifically that you do because of the, Asperger, diagnosis or can anybody use this, micro shifting?
Daniel – Micro, Shifting, has actually shown and proven itself to be one of the most popular aspects of my work with people, because it just makes good sense and just gets good results. Anybody can have a quantum leap. Anyone can have a massive shift. Anyone can have that; but everybody can make baby steps. Baby steps move past resistance and moves past fear because you’re just taking one step.
I’m not taking on the whole thing. Procrastination drops down and you can start to build a momentum towards success in an endeavor. Micro, shifting, is a consistent series of baby steps in the direction of a consciously chosen outcome. That’s how I define it. Creates a momentum, a rhythm that gets us to where we’re going without the anxiety around the big goal, without the ‘I can’t do it’, without the resistance, just one step at a time.
It’s, shifting, your mind to let’s say if you’ve got a big goal, for instance – you want to write a book. What you’re saying is that you take one step and then you complete that step and then you take another step. I understand the micro baby steps and the, shifting, is what you’re saying is once you’ve completed this one step then you go on to the next one.
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Micro Shifting to Millions
Myrna – You don’t look at the big picture like macro? You just do micro, shifting. That’s good.
Daniel – There’s a couple of overlays, there not to cut but there’s a couple of overlays. First and foremost, Micro, shifting, in its pure essence is very much a surrender based process because you’re opening up to God or the universe to present what that next step is and once that step is presented, then you ask yourself what is the smallest minimum deliverable – something I know I can do to move towards this step that God or the universe has presented to me.
I take that step, I celebrate and then I’m open to what the next step is holding i.e. the intention of what the final goal is. I don’t need to keep looking at the big goal. I know if I go one step at a time, God’s got my back on this one step at a time and then trusting that that next step is going to be revealed. Regardless of what shows up even if it looks like it’s going wrong trusting that everything’s going right, because the universe is taking care of me. God’s got my back. The universe only gives me what I can handle and because I’ve been very conscious in choosing what I’m moving towards.
It is one of the cornerstones to teach. I don’t do so much coaching. I’ve got a group program, my signature program is called “Micro to Millions” (principally around financial abundance). But people come for other things too because another cornerstone is that once you effect change somewhere it can be everywhere.
So, if I work on my challenges around abundance, I can use that as the doorway to work on my relationships to work on my health. We find that all the time people come because they want to make money. They find the love of their life, their health improves and they find their purpose and so on and so forth. Micro, shifting, is a cornerstone that’s why it’s called “Micro to Millions” because we are micro, shifting, all the way up to whatever abundance we want to get to.
Asperger’s Syndrome and Conscious Living
Let’s finish up with the, Asperger’s Syndrome. How can someone with, Aspergers, live consciously?
Daniel – I would have thought that’s a little difficult. I would actually say someone living with, Aspergers, is more properly set up to live consciously, because so much of our life is happening at a conscious level. It’s not happening at an unconscious level because we’re stepping through it as a process of thought, so we have the opportunity to interject along the way and introduce something different.
So, when I look at my social interactions for example, it’s actually process wise more feasible that I can be more aware and be more present. When I’m having a conversation with you, because I’m doing it step by step anyway it’s not just an auto play that’s happening. I’m moving through it so I have more opportunity to step in and say am I having this conversation with you, with love and compassion. Am I intentional in what I want to gather from this conversation?
What I want to add to this conversation where I am? Where’s my attention? Where’s my awareness? There’s actually more opportunity now. Opportunity doesn’t mean there’s going to be a probability of the outcome; but it does mean that there’s an opportunity. Again that’s one of the things I’m grateful for with my, Aspergers.
I have more opportunity to be presently aware, because I’ve got that step-by-step process happening in the background.
Myrna – If I were to break that down, I think what you’re saying is the, Aspergers, mind. Because it’s logical and it’s doing the zero one thing that you’re more conscious of what’s going on because you were doing it logically. What you’re saying, you’re doing it. There’s opportunity there to be conscious but we can be consciously unconscious.
Don’t forget, we can be unconscious to our consciousness just because it’s doesn’t mean I’m giving up my attention. Go ahead and explain that one unconscious consciousness. The opportunity is there for me to be aware because it’s a step-by-step process. It doesn’t mean that I’m giving it my attention, I still have to give my attention to that step-by-step process. I get you see one coming and it’s by giving it my attention now. There’s a level of consciousness to it and now I can start to introduce intentionality in how I’m stepping through those communication.
Do it with Dan Podcast
Tell us about your podcast “Do it with Dan”
Dreamwithdan.com is my website and that’s where everything is – my books are there, podcasts, any free trainings and master classes. There’s normally something. My next sort of major free offering is on the 15th of November – doing completely free workshop to empower business owners to create more abundance not-speaking for 15 minutes and selling for the rest of the time.
I’m actually recording a workshop and then I’m going to be selling later. I’m delivering a workshop that’s going to sell for a hundred dollars. We’re delivering it for free on the 15th of November. I’m excited about that. All details for that sort of thing are always going to be on the website. My podcast is me just having conversations with people. I want to inspire change, remove the excuses that we have around change that we say we can’t have and to give people tools that they can employ to create more change again.
Leaning towards this mission of more people living abundant joyful purpose-driven life, because if they’re doing that, then we can reach that tipping point where we move from the 80 percent of negative to 80 of positive and that’s what I’m really passionate about.
Myrna – Thank you for sharing with me as an Asperger parent. Maybe the listeners might have, Aspergers, because I think it’s a big diagnosis now, right? They’re saying that one in four boys has autism and the, Aspergers, is part of the, autism, spectrum.
A large amount of the population is working with some form of social anxiety. I was reading something on Quora about, Aspergers, and one of the things the guy was saying is that you know he couldn’t follow instructions and I will tell you that was my biggest pet peeve with my son. I would tell him to do one thing and he does something totally different and apparently that’s part of the Asperger brain to you can’t follow complex instructions.
We can be successful even with a diagnosis as, Aspergers. It doesn’t have to give you a life that doesn’t have any quality and I know again, in your bio you mentioned that when you first got the diagnosis it was a hard. It was hard for you and you had some struggles even thinking of ending your life – kind of suicidal thoughts but you’ve worked with it and now you’re on the other end and you’re teaching.
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