First things first, I suppose a little introduction is in order. They usually make me uncomfortable but since we don’t have to guess who is going to go first this should be a little easier. Besides, there is nothing in this world I know more about than myself, the hard part will be keeping this short and sweet. I am 30 years old, and I just discovered a few weeks ago that I have Asperger's Syndrome. In the grand scheme of things this doesn’t change anything, I’m still exactly the same person I was before I figured out why I am so different, and yet at the microscopic level at which I examine myself it’s monumental. This has given me something I have searched my whole life for, perspective. I have found my voice. I hope to help others find theirs. Welcome to my world.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


They called me socially phobic for years. At first they implied that this meant I was afraid of people and I snickered behind my hand, I’m intrigued by people and the way they behave, but I am certainly not afraid of them. They reiterated with the qualification that I was afraid of negative judgment, and they got a little closer to the truth. Then they had to go and say I had poor self esteem and attending a workshop would help me with that. There is nothing wrong with my self esteem, the things I am good at I excel at and the things that I’m not good at I accept. Socializing is one of the things I’m not good at.

I don’t understand all the rules. Human beings make so many rules for the right way to do this or the wrong way to do that. Rules for saying hi, rules for saying goodbye, rules about how long its ok to talk about one subject, rules about how long you should talk about things that have no meaning before you can talk about the things you want to talk about, rules about how you should act when someone else is talking about something you have no interest in.

Most people don’t even see them as rules, for an NT these connections happen without thought. It comes natural to banter back and forth about things you don’t care about. It’s friendly to stand around and chat about the weather. It shows that you care about people when you take an interest in their interests. Most people instinctively know when its their turn to talk, when its ok to initiate conversation, and when its appropriate to make their excuses and carry on with their day. Its not that I don’t know these things, it’s that for me they require an extra step in the thought process. This can make social situations highly stressful.

Most people also have wide and varied hobbies and the ability to take at least a passing interest in the things that appeal to their friends. I have a hard time talking with anyone at length about any topic that doesn’t interest me and these are few. I have *fixations, a few topics that I know a great deal about. I have extreme difficulty engaging in any activity that doesn’t involve one of these. My mind starts to wander and I find it intensely stressful to maintain the appearance that I am listening and interested. It takes conscious effort stay within the socially acceptable parameters of chit-chat, something I don’t understand the concept of in the first place. A wandering mind interferes with that, and I can’t help but think my time can be used more efficiently. This isn’t intended to offend anyone, it just is what it is, and although I can fake it sometimes I really have to wonder what that is doing for anyone in the long run. Faking it just doesn’t seem right.

This is doubly hard when I am working on a project. My state of mind is difficult to describe at these times. I have to pay very close attention to my behavior or I risk disconnecting from the world at large completely. Interruptions aggravate me, and I have to be on guard against snarling at people for doing the things they are entitled to do. I am aware that they are doing nothing wrong and this goes a long way, but when I am all wrapped up in something it makes it damn near impossible to focus on my tone of voice, body language, and facial cues. People who want to be around me at these times need to learn to rely on the words I am using and ignore the social cues I am presenting.

I can only imagine that ignoring these takes just as much conscious effort as it does for me to maintain them in social settings.

*(in no particular order):
Late Roman (approx 300AD) – early Middle Ages (approx 900AD)
Psychology, Sociology, Philosophy – The science of people.
Sex and Pain

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