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Tag Archives: Asperger’s Syndrome

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 just watched a special on PBS called “The Human Spark” which is a series about the quest for the answer to what it is that makes humans unique. One of the episodes focuses on the brain itself and the areas of activity; it utilized things like MRIs and things of the like. There was something interesting…

     They found that there was an area in the brain that became active whenever we thought about times other than the present- things like anticipating the future and reflecting on the past such as putting seperate events together to find patterns and learn from them. You still awake? Good, because they found that the exact same areas were active when we think about other people. This can be something as simple as facial recognition, but also especially when a person tries to discern what another person is thinking or feeling.

      Anyone who knows about Asperger’s Syndrome, although I suppose this could apply to all of the Autismy things, knows that these are two of the admittedly many things that we have difficulty with. I find it interesting that they are the same areas of the brain. This at least partially explains a possible reason for some of the common symptoms. The inability to anticipate the future, I believe, is why we get such anxiety when there isn’t a routine or when there is a change. Our brains are not able to properly use those parts of the brain. If you were blindfolded so as to not be able to use your eyes, you would be worried if you then had to walk on a balance beam, right? Read More »