I have touched on this topic in several issues of this blog before, but it has never been the focus of an issue… so… I think it deserves some extra time.
Being and Aspie or Autist is something that most NTs cannot wrap their heads around. This is not a lack of intelligence or empathy on their part. Neurotypicals are capable and intelligent… but Autism is so outside their ken that it is difficult for them to identify with us. A lot of Autists and Aspies lament this fact, but let’s put this into perspective…
As an Aspie, I am often bewildered by the behaviors and reasoning of NTs. Their emotional responses, reasoning, instinctual responses, and logic abilities are a complete mystery to most Autistic Spectrum Individuals. What most Autists and Aspies do not understand is that we are as much a mystery to them as they are to us. That’s right… They can’t fathom our reasoning, logic, intellect and emotional responses any more than we can theirs…
Honestly… We can’t see them in ourselves… I am in a unique position. As a film maker, I see myself on tape a lot. I also record a vlog… so I see my emotional responses a lot more than most Aspies. Let me tell you… We are… Hard to read at the best of times… The word that best describes us is “inscrutable”.
I know this sounds odd, but trust me… it’s true… what we think is showing clearly on our faces is not.
Watch this video if you don’t believe me…
At around the 5 minute mark… When I am showing the rubble of the factory, I am almost in tears. My throat aches, my eyes are burning, and my voice is about to hitch… Literally, I felt like I was about to have an extreme and humiliating crying jag. (Please note that I kept the camera rolling in spite of that… I am that committed). But… it doesn’t show. I KNOW that it is happening and I can’t even see it on the video…
So, it is little wonder that we have a disconnect between us and the NTs around us.
The disconnect would not be an issue, except for the fact that we are all primates… Primates are social animals, and as such, there are instinctual reactions to behaviors outside of the mean for the social grouping. The effect is less evident with Aspies and Autistics, because we are often the one who is outside of the behavioral norm.
|This… Well… This is pretty accurate|
On the flip-side, I frequent a couple message boards dedicated to the Autistic condition. There are large groups of Aspies and Autistics on these boards. When it is just Autistic Spectrum individuals, the primate behaviors abound. The odd man out is often shunned or treated badly, just like Autistic Spectrum Individuals deal with when confronted by a group of NTs.
While growing up, this can be devastating to the self-esteem of Autistics.
The problem with this is that, to be able to benefit from the possible treatment options available to Autistic Spectrum Individuals, one must be able to function on a healthy emotional plane. being down on one’s self can be the biggest stumbling block to advancement.
Parents of Autistic Spectrum Individuals want the best for their children… Well… Parents of NT children want the same for their children as well… but the parents of Autistic Spectrum Individuals have a long roe to hoe in front of them…
They will often end up overcompensating. As opposed to being completely honest with their children, they opt on the side of excessive caution.
This is something I don’t understand. Autistics and Aspies tend to be grounded in fact… So much so, that a need for truth in our personal reality can interfere with those social relationships we so desperately crave.
So… because the parents worry about their children so very much, they will speak platitudes… “There’s nothing wrong with you.” – “You’re just wired differently.” – “People just need to accept you for what you are… a special snowflake.”
While these concepts are important for a healthy self-esteem and the possibility of treatment and social skills training… They are hazardous to the Autistic Spectrum Individual. When I say hazardous, I am not talking to one’s physical health – instead, I am talking about their possibility for normalization and socialization.
Think about this… Most treatments involve the practices of cognitive behavioral therapy and skill training.
“Skill Training?” You ask?
Yes, skill training… the behaviors of social groups are dictated by social skills… They are called skills because they are just that… They are skills… skills can be learned…
Now comes the part that will be difficult for most NTs that have an Autistic Spectrum Individual in your life… Believe it or not… Most of us NEED the cognitive behavioral therapy and social skill training… BUT…
And this is a big but…
|Kinda what I am talking about.|
If we believe that there is nothing wrong with us… If we have the self esteem required to be comfortable with ourselves, then we are not capable of the mindset required to benefit from any possible training, therapy or help.
Ironically enough… If we have excessive self esteem, it gets worse… Since we feel that there is nothing wrong with us… We will believe (possibly rightly, possibly wrongly) that the rest of the world is filled with irrational, illogical, loud, nosey and overly emotional people… That is to say, NTs… but since there is nothing wrong with us, it must be something wrong with the rest of the world. We will believe that the inability of the rest of the world to engage in hyperfocus means that we are surrounded by mental defectives… The fact that the rest of the world does not engage in special interests and obsessive tendencies means that we are surrounded by lazy and unmotivated people…
In short – if we have excessive self-esteem, we are arrogant asshats…
I know… the wording of this issue is combative and a bit snarky… but I speak from experience… I was one of those snotty, arrogant asshats… I really was…
I spent years after my diagnosis… in DENIAL… There was nothing wrong with me… It was all of you that were flawed… I was an ass… plain and simple… And since I was certain there was nothing wrong with me… I avoided the mental health professionals… they just wanted money from me… I fought the diagnosis, training and therapy… In short… I was insufferable… And it was because I was told that there was nothing wrong with me… I believed it… I believed it to the very center of my being…
We walk a fine line between the special needs of our condition and the needs of our personality and soul… Be careful before you tell your Autistic Spectrum Child that there is NOTHING wrong with them… this can be devastating later in life… hell… it can make their lives miserable now…
|This… This is EXACTLY what I am talking about.|
Images in this issue SHAMELESSLY stolen from the following sources:
5 thoughts on “Care and Feeding of Your Aspie: Part 52 – The Pitfalls of Excessive Self Esteem”
I am an aspie myself and enjoy reading your blog and sharing it with others. You do an excellent job! I know you posted about needing topic ideas a while back, so what about an obsession with a certain person or people as a special interest? I think it would be a good idea!
Thank you for your input, I believe we are discussing this on wrongplanet. If you are not a member, join up and hit the topic titled “Care and Feeding of Your Aspie” and join us.
I just watched your pie video. I haven’t cried this much in along time. I totally understand. Spent my whole life wondering why knowne noticed when I was mad or hurt. I really couldn’t tell you were that upset around minute 5. When I saw the rubble I started weeping. I found out I have aspergers earlier this year. I am 50 years old
I posted a link to your video on my Facebook page. I also let everyone know that I have aspergers on Facebook. We need to talk to each other as humans to better understand each other. I will do my part thanks to you and your work here.
Thank you very much for your kind words and sharing. I feel that this series is an important step in NT/Aspie relations. Please share with everyone.