KATHY MITCHELL AND MARCY SUGAR \ Annie's Mailbox Most people can handle more than he thinks
Dear Annie: I'm a 36-year-old bachelor who adores all of the bonding, caring qualities in the heart of a good woman. The problem is that I've been afflicted by an age-long disability, an automatic date killer known as epilepsy.
Recently, after a nice lunch date at the park, my date and I visited the local roller rink. We were blading away to some hip-hop tunes, when I had a grand mal seizure. I regained consciousness in the hospital and was informed that my date, in near hysterics, had exited promptly from the building in embarrassment. Needless to say, I don't think there will be a second date.
No matter how great a guy is, if he has a disability, women see him as a liability. What am I supposed to do? Hopeless Epileptic
Dear Hopeless: Most women are actually quite understanding about such things, provided you warn them in advance. We can understand if you don't want to disclose your medical condition on the first date. However, if you have frequent seizures, and there is a likelihood that you will have one during an evening out, it would be best to prepare your date. People can handle more than you think. For more suggestions on how to deal with such social interaction, we recommend contacting The Epilepsy Foundation (epilepsyfounda-tion.org), 4351 Garden City Drive, Landover, Md. 20785-7223 (800-332-1000).
Dear Annie: You recently printed a letter from "Steamroller's Mom," about her 24-year-old daughter, "Alice," who talks nonstop, never letting another person get a word in edgewise. Partly because of this, Alice doesn't make new friends easily and never keeps a boyfriend for long.
Your advice was sound, if her talking was a matter of breaking a bad habit. However, the daughter also needs to be checked for mania in bipolar disorder. Her mother's description fits the symptom known as "press of speech," which is often seen in that disorder. Many effective treatments are available. Thomas G. Gutheil, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston
Dear Dr. Gutheil: Thank you for your expert opinion. We appreciate the alternative suggestion. Here's more:
From Abingdon, Va.: Has Mom considered the possibility that her daughter is hard of hearing? Some forms of hearing loss occur only among conversational tones.
Hence, the attempt to control a conversation. As long as they are talking, they can't be missing what others are saying. They may seem aggressive, but they avoid appearing inattentive or stupid. Mom should ask her daughter to get her hearing checked as soon as possible.
Dear Annie: As a specialist in learning disabilities, I feel that "Alice" may be struggling with an undiagnosed social cognition learning disability. People with this disability often have difficulty initiating conversations; maintaining the give-and-take of a conversation; perceiving and interpreting body language, gestures and tone of voice; understanding how to begin and maintain relationships; dealing with conflict; and speaking appropriately to different audiences (friends vs. doctors, for example).
People with social skill disorders must be taught these skills explicitly. This involves identifying the most troublesome behaviors, role-playing appropriate behavior and giving lots of positive reinforcement.
Alice should have a thorough evaluation of her strengths and weaknesses, and engage in social skills training. Vanetta Porth, Ph.D., Center for Learning Success, Acton, Mass.
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