Written by Nathan, a 17 year old Asperger's teen, as a project for his school newspaper:
Every "Aspie" (someone with high functioning autism) wants to be cool, yet most of us aren’t. But the truth is that there are no secrets to being cool; it's about who you are and how you behave. And there are things that you can do to bring out the cool in you.
Below are some tips that'll show you how to look and sound cool with your peers. Use them, and you'll transform yourself into one of the socially adept – and your buddies will look forward to hanging out with you.
1. Always remember that attitude is a key factor in how people look at you. Have a great personality: be talkative, nice, and have charisma!
2. Always remember, the first day of high school is the most crucial. First impressions are EVERYTHING! It's how people will perceive you, for a while at least, until they get to know you better, which will take time.
3. For Aspie girls, don't wear make-up JUST BECAUSE the other girls do. Only wear a style of makeup (bold, natural, etc.) if you love the way it looks on you! Just don't go too overboard.
4. Associate with cool people. This one's a no-brainer. If you're always bringing losers to the group, you'll soon be labeled a loser as well. On the other hand, if you're known for bringing cool people around, your coolness factor will skyrocket.
5. Avoid being a bully and avoid becoming the victim of one. Don't be mean to other people in your school just to make yourself seem cooler. In fact, people generally hate bullies. Also, don't let bullies push you around. It's easier said than done, but in school, using your sense of humor and good social tactics are important.
6. Be a good conversationalist. Everyone loves someone who knows what to say at the right moment. Most of the time, it is much better to be sort of quiet and analyze the conversation, enjoying the humor of your friends. Then wait for the right moment to make a comment, usually to great result. However, if you come up into the middle of a quiet group of people, it is better to take a different approach. Be playful! Joke around with them. Making fun of people is fine, but make sure that you know the limits on it and that the people you're around are the kind of people who know you're kidding.
7. Be aware of how others will perceive you. There's a difference in letting people's judgments affect your self esteem, and being aware of how you come off to others. What you are really doing is being aware of how you look from another person's perspective. In terms of physical appearance: beware of food getting stuck in your teeth, bad breath, body odor, toilet paper stuck to your shoe, etc. In terms of composure: try not to stare too much (it makes people uncomfortable), stand/sit up straight (it makes you look and feel more confident), smile generously, be polite and considerate, etc. Definitely be aware of your body language at all times; analyzing body language can be a useful tool in knowing how to present your cool self.
8. Be fit, clean, and smell good. The first two are compulsory. Brush your teeth, exercise, etc. The third, you don't have to smell nice, just don't smell at all. Deodorant and a bit of perfume over that is good. Not too much. Or just deodorant. Just don't smell bad. It will make your rating go way down.
9. Be friendly and be nice to people. Say hi to people, especially if you make eye contact and they look like they're expecting a greeting, and be friendly with your teachers too.
10. Don’t be excessively eager. Everyone loves someone who is outgoing, but nobody likes someone who is overly excited. Many people find someone who is overeager to be annoying. Try not to force yourself on people. Smile and strike up a conversation, but make sure you know the line between friendly and obsessive.
11. Be funny. I'm not talking about telling knock-knock jokes or being a clown. But if you've got a sense of humor, let it rip (a little). You want to be funny, but you don't need to be the sole source of amusement. There's a balance. And please, when you tell a good joke, just bask in that accomplishment. Don't muddy the waters by going on and on -- you'll just kill it.
12. Be independent. You don't need a boyfriend/girlfriend to be cool. Only go out with someone if you actually like each other, don’t just find a boyfriend/girlfriend who is popular, so you will seem cooler. Love isn't about popularity. Actually if you become close friends with a guy/girl then it might even be more fun going to dances, hanging out, you don't exactly NEED to be in love. If you have a secret crush, try getting really close to them then eventually they might even fall for you too!
13. Be knowledgeable. Ignorance is never bliss. Guys like to have a buddy who knows a thing or two, especially about a range of subjects, from picking up women to current events to wines. But don't overdo it. Drop your knowledge when asked, otherwise you'll look like a showoff, and that is not cool.
14. Be mysterious. Nobody wants to read an open book, so if you tell all, others probably won't be that interested in you. Hold something back, and you'll leave everyone wanting more.
15. Be open-minded. This is very vital. Some people have different opinions and tastes so don't go gossiping about them just because they don't agree with you.
16. Be prepared to put your own foibles in the spotlight. Good comedians tend to use themselves as the principal target for humor, presumably because they know their own foibles so well, but also because it is a means by which they show others the warts-and-all side of their personality which instantly connects with our own warts-and-all side. We all spend so much time trying to be better people, often trying to smother up unpleasant truths about our appearance/abilities/thoughts, etc., that it's great to use humor to release the tension this brings about, to let out a collective sigh of relief that we're all in this crazy rat race together, all feeling the same inadequacies and all thinking the same thoughts about things that bug us.
17. Be the prince of cool. All of these tips will help you be a cool guy around your friends, and you should try to incorporate them into who you are. Your objective should be to try to become the next King Of Cool. But no matter what you do, don't try too hard. Being cool is often an effortless behavior for those who are cool, so don't overdo it.
18. Be who you really are. Don't try too hard to get others to notice you.
19. Be yourself. Don't try to be like anyone else. Live life for who you are. Don't lose sight of yourself or your morals. Being cool isn't about changing who you are …it’s about being confident enough to let people see how awesome you really are.
20. Being cool often means being funny. Tell jokes that make people laugh.
21. Bend rules don't break them. If you're cool, you're a winner. You are not some deluded potato head who values your life above others. You realize rules and laws exist for good reason or because someone in authority thinks they are a good idea. Nonetheless you realize breaking laws or rules is never an option. But bending is.
22. Broaden your factual knowledge or joke material. It is much easier to find funny moments in material you know well – your attitudes, your amazing knowledge of 17th century poetry, your familiarity with fishing trips that went wrong, etc. Whatever the material, though, it also needs to resonate with your friends, meaning that your concise ability to deconstruct a 17th century poem might not hit its mark with somebody not familiar with the piece! As a general rule, people who are very focused on one hobby, occupation, or sitcom can be very funny to other people who are also wrapped up in that particular pursuit. When they try to be funny around people who are not "in the loop," however, their humor often falls flat. In other words, they may come off as "geeks" or "nerds."
23. Don't be a bad mouth. Gossiping about people will only make them hate you.
24. Don't be a downer. If you're in a bad mood, consider staying home.
25. Don't be afraid to be different, whether that means standing up for yourself, defending someone else, or taking interest in something that no one else does, like playing an instrument. The coolest people are the ones who occasionally break against the tide and make people question the status quo. Insecure people will, at times, become jealous of you. These people will try to get to you, in an attempt to take the attention off of you and bestow it upon themselves. The important thing to remember is not to smile in weakness, just ignore them. Not as if you didn't hear your antagonist, but casually and conversationally disregard their remarks.
26. Don't be fake. One thing a lot of kids hate or like is being fake. Think about it. If you have a good friend that is not exactly popular, don't ditch him/her for some fake show-off that fills the hallways of school getting attention for having too much make-up. Maybe that friend that you just gave up on would have been your best friend! People can tell if you're fake or not. Just because someone is popular doesn't mean they are fake. Look at people from the inside.
27. Don't be the last person to leave a party. If that's you, you're probably the annoying one in the group. Just like with being funny, it's important to leave on a high note. If you overstay your welcome, you may not be invited back.
28. Don't bring anything inappropriate to school (e.g., drugs, weapons, ect.).
29. Don't broadcast your weaknesses. Every guy has a weakness, but you don't need to broadcast it. If you do, you'll likely make yourself and your weakness the target of group jokes. If you're sensitive about something, keep it to yourself.
30. Don't care so much about what others think of you. We will always, on some level, be concerned with others' opinions of ourselves, but realize that ultimately, you will never be able to please everyone. Try hard, but don't be so concerned with judging yourself or being judged by others. People have millions of ways to get under your skin. Learn to spot them and become immune. Be happy with yourself and do what you enjoy.
31. Don't copy the people you think are cool because the idea is to be a trend-setter, not a trend-copier!!
32. Don't ever talk back to teachers. It is disrespectful, makes you look bad, and they will watch you from then on.
33. Don't lose your cool... ever. Nobody wants to see their friend freak out. Bad things will happen and you should react, but you don't have to lose it. Keep your composure at all times.
34. Don't overcall. If you're always calling your friends, you're calling too much. There's no perfect ratio, but you should probably call your friends less often than they call you. That way, you'll be in high demand.
35. Don't try to be a bad-ass or a tough guy. That will spoil your image in school.
36. Don't use bad behavior to get attention. There are many young people that take up smoking, drinking, bullying, and other bad habits. Why? Most often, this comes from negative reinforcement. After doing something bad, a person may be "rewarded" with attention. "I can't believe he did that!" people will say. It is easy to misinterpret attention as popularity, even if it's for doing something wrong. If you want to be cool, you need to know your limits. You should never substitute negative attention for really being cool. Most of the time, the people who have bragging competitions about law-breaking and bonging beer do not fit into the category of cool. If a group of people doesn't like you for who you are and the lifestyle you've chosen, move on.
37. Don't walk - don't run - just glide like a 747. While others on the street may choose to walk at a zombie pace and others may choose to walk so fast it's hard to decipher whether they are walking or running you just glide. Your posture is exceptional and you are cool calm and collected thus you glide when seen in public walking from place to place.
38. Dress how you want. As long as your personality shines through, you can wear whatever you like. Guys have been known to get girlfriends even though they wear sweats all the time. That is definitely an affirmation of coolness. Being cool despite wearing something people generally make fun of.
39. If you don’t feel comfortable dressing how you want, then dress well. People don't like hanging out with slobs. No, you don't have to wear a suit to hang out with the guys, but always look presentable and sharp. Remember: We're initially judged on appearances, so always try to look your best.
40. Feel good about yourself. You may want to fit in and be cool at the moment, but later will you feel good about it? These are questions you need to ask yourself before making a decision. Just because you look cool, doesn't mean you will feel good later. You can still fit in and feel okay later on. I promise. Know that being cool doesn't necessarily mean you'll be with the "in" crowd. Everyone has their crowd, just make sure you like yours and you'll be fine.
41. Find real friends. For example, if people don't hang out with you because you don't wear designer clothes, they are not real friends. Instead, find friends that see you for who you are. If the people standing in front of you can't see you for you, then how can they be your friend?
42. Focus on the benefits of being funny. From a motivational point of view, as you travel along the path to becoming funnier, it is helpful to understand the extensive benefits of being a funny person.
43. Have a nice girlfriend (preferably good looking). A nice girlfriend will always make you a valued guy to be around. Why? Well, a nice girlfriend will probably have nice female friends. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out why your friends might like to hang around a guy who knows lots of women.
44. Have a nice hairstyle. Try a buzz cut or laxer flow if you're a boy, side-bangs if you're a girl. Straightening or perming your hair is also very cute! Or at least find a cute hairstyle that fits your face, and your fashion.
45. Have a purpose when you call somebody. Don't call just to chat. Keep phone calls brief. Call once. Leave a message, but only if you need to. If they don't return the call, don't call them back unless it's an emergency. For example, if you're making plans for a party and want to include them, but they don't call you back, it's their loss. You shouldn't have to run after them.
46. Have faith and confidence, be happy with who you are and be yourself.
47. Have your own sense of style. Discover the clothes you prefer/like to wear and create your style. Wear those clothes to school and be unique, but try to know what's fashionable and be up-to-date! Be ahead of the pack. Be a leader, not a follower; that what makes you cool. Don't worry about the people who judge you about your clothing. Hang out with friends who like your personality, sense of fashion, etc.
48. If you are a total newcomer to a particular group, try to find people who have similar interests to your own, which will provide an easy icebreaker conversation. Being new is a benefit, because (unless you were very popular at your old school) you'll have a whole new, fresh start and a chance to get a new identity.
49. If you want to become cool, don't change anything about you. Then you'll just be faking who you are, and then people won't know the real you, which turns into a disaster.
50. If you're a girl, always wear a bit of jewelry. A pretty necklace or even a simple bracelet will do! Even wearing one of those rubber hair bands on your wrist gives a cool impression, I've noticed. If your school has strict rules, maybe a slightly fancy watch would do. Nothing extreme. If your uniform is a polo shirt, do not do up all the buttons, you will look like a weird nerd.
51. Introduce people. Be the person that brings groups together (not necessarily your separate groups). If you have two sets of friends, introduce them (if you think they'll be compatible, of course). And since they initially only have you in common, they'll probably be talking about you when they cross each others' paths again.
52. Just because some popular girls like bad boys, a lot of popular girls also love cute, funny, neat, polite boys. It's your choice though.
53. Just live your life! Live it the way you want to live it, because you will die someday. Do you really want other people to tell you how to live? Love, think, live!
54. Just talk to people, but don't meddle into others' conversations that they have no idea you are listening to, or you will look like a creepy eavesdropping stalker.
55. Keep up with the latest trends, but that doesn't mean that you have to have everything that's in style. Also don't sport too many fads at once. It will make you look desperate and lack a unique style.
56. Keep your "cool". The very definition of cool is being calm, composed, under control, not excited, indifferent, and socially adept. Many times, cool people are those that don't get excited about things, that don't always have to talk, unless they have something cool to say. Learn how to deal with people. Don't get angry or frustrated. Being cool is natural. It's easy to do. Often times, the people who strive the hardest for coolness are sabotaging themselves by trying too hard. People like people that don't try, but are still successful. How does that work? One of the secrets of being cool is that, when one is just between trying and not trying at all, things just fall into place.
57. Keep your word. Keeping your promises will show the world that you're dependable -- a rock. But breaking your word will not only tarnish your reputation, it'll cost you some friends. You don't have to promise the world, but when you do give your word, let others know that it's your bond.
58. Know when not to be funny. Getting the balance right is important when you're trying to be funny; there are times when being humorous about something solemn or tragic will fall flat and insult people. Rely on your common sense and the fact that your least favorite member of the family is starting to glare at you with deep malice.
59. Learn a little about what makes us laugh. Laughter is generally the desired result of anyone seeking to be funny, and usually this is because we view laughter as a sign of happiness or as a release of tension. Laughter itself is unconscious – while it is possible for us to inhibit our laughter consciously (although not always successfully!), it is very hard for us to produce laughter on demand, and doing so will usually seem "forced". Fortunately, laughter is very contagious (we're about 30 times more likely to laugh in the presence of others), and in a social context, it's easy to start laughing when others are laughing. Getting people to laugh, therefore, requires genuine humor, which is definitely about more than reciting hackneyed jokes!
60. Learn from funny people. This is a delightful part of seeking to be a funnier person – you get to watch comedians! Whether they're professional comedians, your parents, your kids, or your boss, learning from the funny people in your life is a key step to being funny yourself. Watch the methods that they use and see what you can adapt to your own situation and personality. Keep a note of some of the funnier things these people say or do. And find what you admire most in these people – even if all you do is cobble together your own funny plan based on one admired trait from each person, you'll be improving your sense of funny tremendously.
61. Learn how to laugh at yourself. Being cool doesn't mean being perfect, and being able to find humor in your moments of clumsiness and discomfort is the defining hallmark of being cool. People will not only respect you for it, but they'll like you for being human, just like them.
62. Learn the key foundations of being funny. In a nutshell, as good comedians already know, being funny boils down to good timing and taking the best advantage of the context. This is why learning long lists of jokes won't necessarily make you "funny" because you still need to grasp the levity of a situation as it's unfolding before you, within the context of those present and the precise facts of each situation.
63. Make funny jokes! But it isn't cool when you make jokes about your friends. It'll hurt their feelings. Being cool doesn't mean being naughty. Behave in class. Sometimes it's time for jokes, sometimes it's not. Don't be too cocky or too much of a show-off. This will make your rating go down. Don't make rumors because that may make people hate you too.
64. Never Argue. When you're cool, arguing is always canceled. You realize winning an argument is pointless. When you know you're right you just know it. You don't need to waste time effort and energy attempting to persuade someone who hasn't seen the things you have seen.
65. Organize an event. Once in a while (say two times a year), you should plan an outing, like a ballgame or paintball. You call the guys, you get the tickets, you handle everything. Note: Making plans to go to your local bar doesn't count.
66. Present yourself in a positive way. Walk with good posture and look people in the eye. If you slump or stare at your feet, people won't respect you. You have to look and feel confident in order to receive the respect you need.
67. Refrain from using too many colloquialisms. This may make you appear as "fake" or unable to grasp your respected language. Speak normally, clearly and confidently and if you feel it is necessary adopt a more formal register and use polysyllabic words. However do not go overboard as this may make you appear pretentious, this being just as bad as seeming fake. Finding the right balance in your speech is important to making you seem intelligent and somewhat sophisticated in the presence of your peers.
68. Don't care about what you think other people think of you. Just go with the flow. If you know for sure someone is judging you – you can voice it, then just act like you don't care...because you don't. Practice thinking this way and your confidence will improve via self-acceptance. People at school will start wondering where you got all this self esteem!
69. Respect people. Respect others beliefs and cultures.
70. Smile. Don't put a fake one too. Try to keep it natural. Don't be sarcastic to people until you're on good terms with them, don't act like you need attention, and don't look like your trying too hard. Be patient. Keep doing your thing. Someone's bound to notice.
71. Some schools have uniforms that you have to wear with ties. If you have to tuck your shirt in, then leave out a little part and smooth it down. Wear your tie properly. Also, if you're a boy, wear your pants a little low.
72. Speak up. Observe people who are "cool"--they usually speak confidently and clearly, at a good pace. They don't chatter rapidly, pause, or mumble. They say what they mean, and mean what they say. Be confident in your word and don't let anyone try to change it. If you state your opinion and people disagree, don't worry. You said what you felt and people will respect you for that, unless you use it knowing it will offend someone. However, make it count. Don't shout out your opinion just to be heard. Make sure it's relevant, and be ready to back it up soundly.
73. Spring back. Every well-rounded, self-confident funny person knows how to take a failed funny – forgive yourself. Sometimes a joke will fall flat, or an observation that cracks you up will just make others groan. Don't be discouraged. Learn from your comedic errors, and keep trying. Even the highest paid comedians don't always get a laugh, and no one expects anybody to be funny all the time. If you feel like you're temporarily off your game, just don't try to force humor.
74. Take a deep breath. Being cool is all about being relaxed and comfortable in any circumstance. Don't lose your cool. If you feel yourself about to lose your temper, or burst into tears, or lose control in any way, take a deep breath and excuse yourself. Stay calm. Don't be disruptive, annoying, or have unpredictable mood changes. You are serene and steadfast in your coolness and it should show. That means not getting too caught up in anything, not even your cool self.
75. The only brand you advertise is your own. You wear simple but stylish clothing free from corporate logo's or slogans. You don't advertise brands like Nike on the shirt you are wearing or Levi on your jeans.
76. Trust in your innate sense of humor. Being funny doesn't come in "one-size-fits-all"; what makes you funny is unique to you and the way you observe the world. Focus first on what you find funny in life and learn from your own reactions to the things that make you laugh. Trust that you do have a funny bone – as babies we laugh from 4 months of age, and all children express humor naturally from kindergarten age, using humor to entertain themselves and others, with riddles, knock knock jokes, laughing at themselves, and even using physical slapstick humor. So it's already in you – you just need to bring it forth again!
77. Try to identify who's where on the social ladder, but on the first day of school, just try to get settled in! If you are new, your main goal on the first day should just be to make friends! Be friendly and socialize with as many people as you can without getting them mixed up. Do not try to be friends with them only because they are "popular." However, after you've been in school for a while and are settled in, you can befriend one of the nicer popular people, they'll be your ticket into "the group." At the end of your first year in the school, try to have found some close friends to regularly spend time with. Having a wide variety of friends helps a lot.
78. Try to maintain a certain "strut" to your walk and posture (hey, always stand up/keep your back straight); appear as if you're not trying at all, but just want to get some place.
79. Use appropriate language. Don't use bad language and stick to your morals.
80. Use Humor: Cool people always use humor and ease in any situation. They don`t get annoyed and angry, and no matter how many bad things happen to them they don't take it too harshly; they make jokes about it. They have excellent emotional awareness and they don`t let bad emotion affect them, they have awesome emotional control and understanding.
81. When you speak people listen. You speak with such confidence, that when you talk people listen. You never mumble. You look people in the eye. And when talking to people you don't look at their possible dandruff, or that mole on their chin or whatever you look them in their eyes.
82. Write a list of all of the goals you are aiming for. What essentially makes you cool is your identity. Try to find your talent -- sports, music, art, whatever. People will notice your passion and respect you for it. You can also learn new skills and meet new people by trying new things.
83. You are always learning. You realize that people not learning are busy dying. You never stand still because you realize when you're cool you have to always keep learning. You are always looking for better solutions to bigger problems.
84. You are friends with all types of people. You have friends who have varying interests. They have different religions. They are different ethnicities. And they believe in things different to you.
85. You are not a member of the masons or any other similar organization. You don't need to know any secret handshake to get ahead.
86. You don't avoid fear - you head towards it at pace. You caress it. You face it. You make love to it. And you ruthlessly knock it over like a bulldozer knocking through brick walls.
87. You don't procrastinate. You realize that this it. This is your life. This is it. This is all you have. And you will use every moment you have as a celebration. When you have work to do you get to work. You don't attend bullshit parties. You put yourself under pressure and use that pressure to ignite your hyper productive skills within you, to get the absolute maximum output.
88. You enjoy wearing black. But you're not a goth and never will be.
89. Start lifting weights and working out at the gym – get some serious muscle tone.
90. You have passion about what you do. You realize being able to exert your talents is something to be grateful for and you are. Conversely you realize that being passionate about something does NOT give you a license to be emotional EVER.
91. You have your own language. If the current common trend is to say "Yo" when greeting people and "Later" when bidding farewell - you use neither. Instead you have your own versions.
92. You know that every problem has a solution. Some problems may have solutions that can be implemented within seconds. Some may take minutes. Some hours. Some days. And others much longer. But every problem has a solution. You realize this. And thus you are solution focused and never ever whine when presented with a problem or problems ...
93. When someone brags they lose coolness... don't brag. It's simple.
94. You never argue. When you're cool, arguing is always cancelled. You realize winning an argument is pointless. When you know you're right you just know it. You don't need to waste time effort and energy attempting to persuade someone who hasn't seen the things you have seen ... read the books you have ... been the places you have ... met the people you have ... that they are wrong and you are right. You're right and that's that.
95. Whining about how you got into your current predicament does not even enter your cool head. You are 100% solution-focused.
96. You never talk down to anyone ever. Everyone is equal. Everyone is a citizen of your world.
97. You say more with less. When talking, overall, you use less words in your sentences. You get to the point. You leave rambling for drunk old men who spend their life's in pubs drinking ale. When you are talking on-line in emails and websites, you get to the point. Your emails are always 8 lines or less. You just practice the mantra of always saying the absolute minimum in order to get maximum impact.
98. You stand tall. You have exemplary posture. You never slouch.
99. You talk highly of other people. When you are introducing people you know to other people. Stand tall and introduce them. Don't just say "This is my friend Jennifer". Say something like "Kyle, I want to introduce you to Jennifer. I really like Jennifer for a number of reasons. She is cool. She is attractive. And Jennifer is very intelligent. She grew up in Australia. She is here in London for 1 more year to finish her degree from the London School of Economics."
100. You're already cool. Whatever anyone else says is invalid. You observe what they say but you don't listen. You realize that you can't make everyone happy.
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