While it is certainly true that one of the hallmarks of Asperger’s syndrome is a difficulty “reading” social cues, picking up on nuance, taking things too literally, etc, and some of us are better and worse at these things than others (just remember: spectrum, spectrum, spectrum)…
More than one of our member has stated they lost a job or offended a person or persons and never knew why, including yours truly.
…I would like to remind readers however that communication is a two-way street, and that NT’s also mis-read and mis-interpret ASD people, too…
All. The. Time.
Indeed, our little logo at the top right of our blog is a bit of an inside joke. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gone through life at school, work, etc. wearing what I felt was an essentially “neutral” expression that was nearly *always* misinterpreted as being “angry” or “scowling”, when actually I was at the time quite calm and peaceful, though being asked (seemingly out of the blue from my perspective) “why are you angry?”, does, paradoxically, get on my nerves….sometimes makes me want to grit my teeth and say “I *wasn’t*, but I am NOW.”
As one of our members once said in a Aspie meeting, “just because I don’t walk around with an insipid smile plastered on my face 24/7 doesn’t mean I’m angry or upset!”
I also have similar problems with my mother misinterpreting the tone of my voice, always attributing to me motives and emotions that simply are not there. She thinks I’m being surly or nasty when in fact I’m only trying to be plain and matter-of-fact.
“Don’t use that tone with me!”
The problem is, I can’t HEAR and distinguish in my head what “tone” it is you’re talking about. I know when I’m angry and when I’m not, and it’s a problem when other people aren’t able to parse out these fine distinctions that are crystal clear in my own head but evidently not so clear externally.
Part of why I like hanging out with other Aspies, despite our differences amongst ourselves, is that we have all researched autism/Asperger’s enough to be able to speak about it intelligently with one another; with repeated contact and shared experiences, we really do seem to “get” each other better than our NT friends could ever hope to understand us. We even have discovered our own peculiar shared sense of Aspie humor that we all seem to pick up on. It’s delightful.
I’ve noticed the NTs I fit in with best are gamer/comic book nerds and Japanese Anime otaku. Aspies are probably strongly over-represented in these subcultures of American pop culture. But even amongst these NTs, I have experienced clashes, rough spots, etc, that I’ve had to work through. I wish I could say it’s always been smooth sailing but it hasn’t. Still, I have to credit my NT friends that are trying to get me, and I am trying hard to not creep or freak them out or bore them unnecessarily.
Unlike some Aspies who are more socially impaired, I can generally pick up on the ebb and flow of a conversation, and I know to wait my turn and to NOT attempt to dominate a conversation or hijack a discussion…but sometimes I’m too passive and just retreat into silence.
Before my diagnosis at the age of 39 in 2010, I always self-identified as “introverted”. That’s still true of course, but it lacks the explanatory power of Asperger’s syndrome. The A.S. DX has made so much of my past life make so much more sense in hindsight. More painfully, I can see how being undiagnosed but still very much having Asperger’s syndrome played a significant role in the recent past not only in one failed marriage but also some job losses as well.
I’m better off knowing, definitely, than wandering around ignorant and in the dark about my condition.
I think a lot of early autism research suffered from the fact that so much autistic behavior was viewed and interpreted through NT lenses; It wasn’t until Asperger’s syndrome became an official diagnosis circa 1994 that you suddenly had many more identifiable autistic individuals who could more readily communicate back to therapists, researchers, etc. This was quite a breakthrough and has necessitated a lot of revision on the part of more thoughtful autism researchers…those that bother to listen, anyway.
Sorry to post this before my formal introduction, but I just wanted to put these thoughts down first and get them out there.