Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: September 2010

I know that I have Asperger’s, because I know that I am not normal*(footnote). When I first, out of pure curiosity, read Atwood’s book on Asperger’s, I was surprised. I sat there, reading this book, thinking, “Yeah? ” “So?” “What’s so strange about that?” and “That doesn’t seem unusual to me!” It took me a while to stop and realize, “Wait a minute… if this is something that, apparently, isn’t the way the mind works for the majority of people, and it sounds to me like someone was writing a book about me… then maybe that’s a hint that the problem all of these years wasn’t the fact that I’m just a jerk, or stupid, but maybe it’s that other people DON’T think this way!” That was the moment when things started to make sense.

I always was aware that other people aren’t thinking the same things that I am. When I’m stressed or physically uncomfortable I have a tendancy to forget this, but I am still aware that others have their own thoughts. What I didn’t realize what how their brains worked. Normal people have all of these unconscious neural pathways that let them know what they did wrong and what to say and how to say it and and and….

Here’s where “the cruel balance” comes in. I’ve learned over time what it looks like when I’ve hurt someone’s feelings. I know what the face means that happens after I’ve said something that was rude and mean. Often I thought briefly about what I was going to say, but their reaction I hadn’t anticipated. I know when something shouldn’t be said, but it’s AFTER I’ve already spat it out! It’s a bit too late by then.

I can tell when I SHOULD try to comfort someone. I know just enough about communication to read it, but not anticipate it. This cruel balance I think I can actually sum up in one sentence (which I probably could have posted by itself and have end of it):

I am normal enough to know that I’m doing something wrong, but not enough to know what the right thing is.

I know just enough to seem as though I should know better. I’m an american sports car. I look flash and like I could whip around corners and excel on the Nuremburg track, but in reality I would be out maneuvered by a Honda.

I know just enough to be dangerous. I can read people and anticipate what should be done beautifully… when I’m NOT in the conversation. If I’m watching people, I can analyze their reactions and anticipate what should and shouldn’t be said with wonderful accuracy and speed. I’m a Mitsubishi Evo or a Porche Carrera 911. Then someone asks me a simple question and I’m a lumbering Bendy-bus (the one’s in England that look like 2 subway cars killing people on the roads).

If I were more abnormal, my problems would be more evident as a problem as opposed to a choice. If I were more normal, I wouldn’t be writing about this in the first place.

* I just want to ask that no one take offense at my use of the word “normal.” I suppose “average” would be a better term, but to me they are fairly synonymous. To say that others are normal does not mean that I am trying to convey the idea that people with autism are “abnormal.” People who are normal or average all have at least one thing that would be considered bizarre or peculiar. So I guess by normal I mean typical souly in the context of the problems people with autism have. Please don’t complain if it offends you. Just realize that normal is more of a concept than a truth… if that makes any sense… which it probably doesn’t.

I will start by stating that I do not, nor have I ever, had selective mutism. I think that there was somebody in my family who did… but I don’t really know. I just watched a documentary on it, and I was surprised at how much I could relate to what they were going through.

According to this special, one of the reasons why they don’t talk is because they’ve developed a sort of phobia regarding speaking in front of others. When they do speak, it’s often to a select few that they really trust. It’s not a matter of lack of ability. It’s more of a matter of simply feeling completely terrified to speak, even if they’ve done something like broken an arm.

Although I have a different set of problems, I can relate to that. I too am often afraid of having to speak to people, who sometimes are people I’ve known for all of my memory. Although, I wasn’t always like this. It developed as I sub-consciously knew that I couldn’t socialize effectively. Eventually, after trying Zoloft for what appeared to be social anxiety, I found out that once the fear was gone, I was rather rubbish at speaking with people. Once this became conscious, there was no turning back. So the Zoloft became useless, as my fear was now a rational one that had basis for existance.

Yet I know what it’s like to be with people, wanting to communicate and say something, and being unable to open my mouth to speak. Sometimes the person I’m speaking to seems interesting, and I actually WANT to talk to them, but I just can’t bring myself to utter a word. I’m just so afraid that somehow, whatever it is that comes out of my mouth, it will somehow insult the other person and I will be percieved as a person that doesn’t care.

Also, much like selective mutism, people have a tendancy to assume that it is a conscious act. They assume that people with selective mutism are doing it on purpose- often for that same sorry explaination that they’re seeking attention. When I’m inadvertantly insulting, inconsiderate, or insensitive, people assume that I was fully aware of what my thoughtless remark (or the parts of the remark that don’t actually involve words) would induce, and that I meant it deliberately and completely.

You know, for people who spout about how inconsiderate and insensitive AS people can be, they can be very inconsiderate or not understanding themselves, can’t they?