Aspie group dynamics; or High Functioners sometimes need each-other time.

A segment of a social network

A segment of a social network (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One uncomfortable topic that sometimes confronts us when we form a local Aspie community stems from the fact that all Aspies are still unique individuals, and that despite some broad commonalities, sometimes our ASD manifests very differently from person to person.  Some Aspies are nevertheless very high in IQ and have managed to one degree or other to at least function effectively in NT society through various coping mechanisms.  Some of us even hold full time jobs, etc.  While others in our big groups are very impaired indeed and it is a struggle to understand sarcasm or other aspects of humor.  Some Aspies are more self-reflective than others.  Some are more intellectually engaged than others.  Some expend the mental effort to try and understand the thought processes and probable reactions of others in a rational, intellectual way (because it doesn’t come to us intuitively very easily or at all), while others either can’t or don’t want to.  While it’s important to have support groups made up of Aspies of all levels, so that we can share experiences, hopefully impart wisdom, solidarity, and help each other grow and develop, the painful truth is that the more high functioning among us sometimes need a break from the larger group of Aspies.  We need either “me” time or preferably also some “small group time” with those fellow Aspies we deem to be on the same High Functioning level as ourselves.  We need some active social time apart from “big group” time to let our hair down and just be ourselves, to form more profound friendships and just talk about whatever we share by way of common interest and not just on the daily challenges of being an Aspie, as tends to dominate the discussion in “Big Group” settings.  Some of our fellow High Functioners have castigated us who are more of the “partial separatist” mindset as being “bigoted” towards our Lower ability fellow Aspies, etc. but I think this charge is unfair.  We put in our time and do attempt to render service to our less fortunate fellow Aspies.  But I don’t think we’re under obligation to devote ALL of our social time to ALL the Aspies in our local area to the explicit exclusion of NOONE EVER.  I think sometimes a self-selected small cadre of high functioning Aspies is a natural outgrowth of Aspie “big group” social dynamics.  I think committed, specialized elites emerge in most large human social gatherings, actually, and that we Aspies are no exception either.  Nor should we feel guilty about it or be made to feel guilty about it by others, so long as we put in the requisite “service time” to the larger community.  I realize I probably sometimes give off a “creeper” vibe to some NTs, rightly or wrongly at times.  But real talk, there are some of my fellow Aspies in Big Group settings that creep ME the fuck out as well, and I sometimes need a break from those certain individuals.  I need to be among those who are as adept at getting and using sarcasm and other forms of humor as I am.  I don’t want always to have to explain my jokes and suck the humor right out of them in the process.  I like being among similar-level Aspies because we all seem to “get” each others quirky humor better than some other lower-functioning Aspies or NTs.  There’s a shared understanding there, like we’re all “dialed in” to a special frequency that only we can hear and make sense of, while NTs and more disabled Aspies are unable to tap into that same frequency.  It has been a bone of contention at various times over the history of our local “Big Group”, and some in “Big Group” are completely unaware of the existence of our private sub-groups that are “invite only” and we would prefer to keep them that way, fine thanks.  Some Aspies would probably want to lambaste us for being cliquish and exclusive and “no better than NTs”, but such accusations are superficial and ignorant, and insist that we High Functioning Aspies ignore or repress our own social needs for the good of the lowest common denominator whole.  We are simply unwilling to do that.  We’re not abandoning the larger body, but we do crave and need our “me” and “we” time respectively.

 

I’d be curious to hear of similar experiences with group dynamics in other locations.  Is it Big Group all the time every time, or do you subdivide sometimes into smaller enclaves to better meet your specific social needs?  I do recommend having a “Big Group” setting at least once a month, but I also think it’s okay to creatively go beyond that in a “Do-it-yourself” kind of free association way.

 

And gawd I know I that somebody is gonna think I come off sounding like an @sshole above, no matter how much I try to explain myself and offer empathy for Aspies not on my same level.  I don’t think I am, but I also accept I have limited control over other people’s perceptions of me.

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Aspie group dynamics; or High Functioners sometimes need each-other time.

  1. I agree with you John. I think a few of us don’t come to the group as much now because the topics are dominated with more basic Aspie struggles that we are well beyond. I have spoken to two others who also no longer come for that reason. It may seem cliquish or elitist as you say, but if the group doesn’t meet our needs, interests and current levels of functioning, then those who have advanced further than basic struggles are going to get bored and move off. It is a shame there is no way to split the group into those with more basic troubles, and those wanting to talk about more complex issues, but it don’t imagine it could be done without offense.

  2. This is an easy one. Piggybacking on my prime post pasted here – hey, that sounds bad! – based on my own experience in the technical high school, full of nerds, a few observations: 1) there are different tribes of nerds; 1) there are different levels of nerdity amongst the nerds; 3) there are even those who aren’t nerds. Despite the neurological paricurarities of every person, we’re all human beings and we all have our interests, and the empathy between people also varies, what’s the surprise? We may find particular topics or gatherings uninteresting and just not want to link with these. People having one point of interest for mutual cooperation does not imply all there will be blood brothers for life. It is nice to be inclusive, to help people out, but it is absolutely natural that groups within groups form. Another aspect is, according to the popular saying (here in Brazil) “those who try to hug too much, squeeze too little”. Let’s face it: nobody is best friends with every single Facebook contact, it’s humanly impossible. There will always be those selected few ones you’re closer to, hang out with, it can’t be different. The best is to find your tribes.

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