Dear Annie: In my circle of friends, there is a 23-year-old man with Asperger syndrome who drives me crazy. This guy has zero understanding of boundaries. He'll argue, interrupt conversations and answer back to everyone, and he lectures incessantly. He once spent an evening interrupting every conversation I had until finally I said, "Joe, I'm talking to someone else now. Enough." He went to interrupt someone else.
When we went to someone's house recently, he walked in the door, asked the hostess to go to the store and buy him something he wanted and then requested that she loan him a bunch of DVDs.
Here's the problem. We'll be going out together as a group to a concert, and afterward, I'd like to invite some friends back to my place. I only have seats for seven people, and I don't want to include Joe. I know he will ask to use my computer, make ridiculous requests, ask to borrow my stuff, go through my closets and monopolize every conversation.
How do I politely leave him out? If a bunch of us are together for the concert, one of them is bound to say, "We're going to Tom's place," and Joe will think he is invited, too. I realize I will look like a jerk to exclude him, but it's my house, and I should be able to invite whom I choose. Shouldn't there be an expectation of proper courtesy and etiquette? — Bob
Dear Bob: Yes — and no. Someone with Asperger's is unlikely to understand these expectations and needs to be taught. This means explaining nicely (and consistently) when something is inappropriate and informing him how to behave in a way that will make him welcome. Getting angry only confuses him and teaches him nothing. Nonetheless, if you are incapable of that much compassion for Joe, you do not have to invite him. But we don't recommend you exclude him during a group activity. Instead, if you wish to entertain without him, invite each friend individually for a specific time and date, and let them know the guest list is small.
Dear Annie: My husband has two older half-sisters he hasn't seen in years. I've spent six years trying to find them, but I've come up short. It doesn't help that they have common first and last names. I've tried Facebook, Google, etc.
My husband hasn't spoken to his father in years, due to his father's abuse and alcoholism and the fact that his dad never wanted him. His mother is of no help, either. What else can I do to find them? - A.
Dear A.: Does your husband want you to find his sisters? If not, please leave this alone. If he wants to locate them, he should ask his father (or mother) how to find them, possibly through family members or neighbors from their previous hometown. You also could hire a professional investigator to help you.
Dear Annie: This is in response to Hoping for Better Times, the writer with MS who wanted his siblings to visit. He is married, and his wife sounds supportive.
Please tell your readers who long for company to extend an invitation. Anytime people receive a direct invitation to visit on a particular day and at a particular time for dinner, snacks or dessert, whether it's to play cards, watch a movie or go for a handicap-accessible walk, they usually will respond. If they are unable to attend, reschedule the invitation to fit their busy lives, and don't expect everyone to come at the same time. Have one sibling over, with or without other family members. If able, offer to babysit a niece or nephew for a short period of time to get to know them.
Take charge of your loneliness, and don't talk only of your illness while visiting with others. Those conversations should be short and direct. An MS support group will help. — Licensed Psychologist
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2014. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.