24 November 2005

Aspie - Normal Translation

Maybe that should be the other way round.

I don't think I have Aspergers Syndrome.

I DO have less than perfect social skills and prefer a structured environment. Not in my house - it's a tip - but in my head and my dealings with others. I am capable of extreme creativity, of opening up my feelings and the like, but I need to feel complete and absolute control over the situation to allow that. I love people and crowds and multiple input and constant feedback and validation, and yet hermitage suits me too.

I am one of those weirdos who respects, for example, Simon Cowell. Yes he is rude and blunt but his focus never wavers. He is completely convinced that the whole focus of the competitors in X factor is to learn and improve. So many times he and Sharon Osborne effectively say exactly the same thing to a performer, but she will pad hers out with words about 'liking them' and 'appreciating their hard work'. Simon just can't see the point of that. When he speaks, how far you have come is irrelevant compared to how far you have to go. Absolute, blunt honesty. Structure. Predictability (in as far as his mood or the performer's emotional state will never change his focus.)

Call me nuts but I get a sense of safety from that. The guy might be incredibly insulting, but he doesn't lie. Is he Aspie? I'd lay money on it if I had any.

That's the crux. I feel safest in a bullshit free zone, where there are no undertones to a communication, no layers of consideration beyond the point that is 'officially' at hand. In face to face communication I too often forget that others have multiple agendas; to be blunt, I forget that they are not up to speed; that other factors get in the way for them.

Am I an Aspie? Computer says no. (Joke - Little Britain again - click on picture for soundbite mp3)

Where's the cut off line where someone does or does not have that condition, anyway? I could probably reach out and touch it from my place on the sliding scale.

Still, through a site called About.com I found an excellent forum for Aspies at WrongPlanet.net.

I've been reading the forum thread about fitting in to a school (which one member rightly pointed out should be about fitting in at a school, because otherwise it means managing to get your whole body to fit inside, like Alice at the White Rabbit's cottage.)

I so wish I could join. I so want to be seen as one of the family, part of the team, able to converse. I want to be accepted by these people.

Why? I produce Aspergers children. My daughters escape diagnosis, my sons do not, but they have male-female equivalent brains. The multiple channels between left and right hemisphere in the female brain mean that I and my girls can hide amongst the weirdos normals with more success. We never quite feel like part of the gang and end up as leaders or outcasts (although an outcast who neither cares nor notices becomes a leader very quickly - security is magnetic.) However we are not so blatantly unfitted to the sausage factory process that is our low budget, 'cram 'em in and push 'em out all looking the same' education system.

This is my gift. Sitting as I do, so close to the borderline, I am bilingual. I get, and overuse, analogy, a 'normal' skill. I understand a lot of what the normals are saying, if they don't put too many layers into it. I am crap at office politics, at sniping and one-upmanship. However, I speak fluent Aspie.

Things that Aspies don't really 'get':
  • dishonesty,
  • shallow or changeable opinion,
  • mood swings,
  • fuzzy word choices (body language and intonation do not factor so the precise words chosen are crucial.)

I guess most of all I want to plough into that forum and play translator. I want so much to convince these people that they should be proud, not browbeaten, that others attacked them. That the fear and isolation they feel faced with a bunch of 'normal' (bullying, sly, manipulative, changeable) kids is what each of those so called normals actively works to avoid feeling by trying frantically to establish themselves as 'better' (a.k.a. more homogeneously interchangeable with the pack) than someone else; that every time even an adult belittles someone else it is not about attack but about defence.

Aggression is born of fear. Fear is born of insecurity. The Aspies so need to wake up and realise that they are not subnormals trying to live up to normal expectations, but lions trying to live like mice. The mice are only in charge because there are more of them, but we need to help both species to learn that lions exist. Not always better, not always worse, but different.

Its ok to be a geek, its a special gift to be able to switch from hearing and sensing more than others can take in, to focusing so completely on a task that nothing else gets in the way. Why doesn't our society value our geeks? Why does what they can't do so well cloud our vision of what they can do better, instead?

OK so I have two goals. Motivation and translation. Its not enough that the Aspies find each other, or those with a high enough IQ to appreciate them. I want to tip them off to the basic workings of the less focused mind - how to walk through the world of mice without either squashing things with their big lion paws, nor stopping to take offence or feel hurt when some mice start belittling them for not being small and squeaky.

I want to be a bridge and a validator. I want to be their mum.


Anonymous said...


stumbled upon ur blog..nice one.
well it is sometimes difficult to understand normal people...they do weird stuff.


Cheryl said...

Thank you Rahul!


Ally said...

Good post. There was an interesting article, including some interviews, in New Scientist about 'autistic pride' a few months ago. I know that there are similarities between Asperger's and Austism, so there may be some stuff that's interesting to you? I've googled for the beginning of the article - here but unfortunately it's one of those ones where you have to subscribe to read all of it, and I've given the mag away.

Astryngia said...

Well, there you go - and I've been talking about wanting to be an 'interpreter'. Such similar experiences, thoughts and feelings. And remember, you didn't produce those Aspies all by yourself - the gene passes on through the male side. So...you chose more than one Aspie for a husband??? If you did, I bet that, like me, you went for the triple whammy and had an Aspie parent, too. I don't think Simon Cowell is an Aspie - but I do think we appreciate that kind of certainty in communication because of that parent. Not intending to rush in where angels fear to tread here, but living with an Aspie will have its own toll on your identity. This is only just starting to be recognised.

Cheryl said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cheryl said...

Astryngia - I don't get that - I hope you will blog to explain 'toll'.
Looking forward. Living with parents has a toll, regardless, but if there is a specific pattern then I would love to know.

Ally - yes Aspergers is a very high functioning condition on the autistic spectrum - thank you - found a coupkle more good sites by googling for that - including the site of the people who organised it. Good stuff!

Ivy the Goober said...

You and my daughter would get along great. She has taught me a lot with her self-described "brutal honesty" the thing is, she's really right, and I always know where I stand with her. Very admirable, and something I strive for. And she's not even hateful, just HONEST and STRAIGHTFORWARD.

Badaunt said...

Good lord. You've just described The Man. TO A T.

Cheryl said...

Ivy - LOL! Yes the gobsmacking thing about truly honest people is that they can say the most cruel truths, but only out of genuine interest and trying to help.

Badaunt - Ah. Oh.

Anonymous said...

Useful article, Chezz. I grew up unable to read body language since it was always at odds with what I was told was right. I think that I believe the body language far more now, and basically discount what people promise if it doesn't agree. BS detector. OK, it took me many years to get to that point, but maybe if you try the same you'll avoid the label of "aspie" and feel that you are useful to the world the way you are. Too much time in psychoanalysis produces constipation of the intellect and emotions - "How should this make me feel if I were normal". Honesty is so much nicer.


Cheryl said...

I like you!

There is no such thing as normal. Sexually, intellectually, emotionally we are all on these sliding scales and the deliniation of these conditions is still empirical and subject to change.

As adults we all, given opportunity and sufficient self confidence, find 'our level', 'our people', 'our place in life' but this is not possible in a school environment, not just because of the developmental stage where peers are desperate to fit in, but because state schooling is so linear. Thats when a diagnosis can make all the difference, and self diagnosis even in retrospect can allow a new insight into old issues and can only be postive.

Very complimented by your terminology - its more of a rant that an article and full of grammatical bloopers that I can't be bothered to go back and fix!