The Care and Feeding of your Aspie Uncategorized

Care and Feeding of your Aspie: Part 27 – Things that Every Autist Wishes You Knew

Since this guide is designed to facilitate communication and interpersonal relationships between Neurotypicals and Aspies, this entry is long over due. This is a list I have compiled from all over the web of things that Autistic Spectrum Individuals wish that Neurotypicals knew. These are not in any particular order, so please do not lend weight to them by the order presented.

  • Often, we tell people we cannot do something. There is a HUGE difference between I can’t and I won’t. Often NTs can’t wrap their minds around this. If we tell you that we can’t do something… it is not a refusal to do it. There is a very real possibility that we are actually unable to do what has been asked of us, either because of dissonance, sensory issues, or a lack of clarity in instruction. 
  • Due to the nature of Autistm,  many of us are afflicted with sensory issues. Things that you take for granted… sights, smells, tastes, tactile sensations and sounds that you take for granted and often don’t even notice… are sometimes overwhelming… Sometimes, they can even be downright painful. 
  • We are visually oriented. Telling us how to do something will probably just frustrate you. SHOW US how to do something. You will be pleased with the results. 
  • There is no autistic appearance. Autists come in all shapes and sizes. Anyone who tells you differently is wrong.
  • Don’t touch unless you are invited to do so. Touch is an incredibly intimate experience. If we don’t know you to the point where we are totally comfortable with you, we won’t welcome a touch event. If you are told that you can touch, hug, etc… take it as the compliment it is. 
  • We are not defined by our condition. This is often explained by the saying “I am not autistic. I have autism.” I dislike the wording of this… as this is a bit like, “I am not autistic… I am autistic.” I do, however agree with the sentiment… We have autism… one NT might have chronic halitosis, another might be short or bald… These possibly prejudicial conditions do not define the NT. Why should being an Autist (Autistic Spectrum Individual) define us?
  • We are terribly literal. Colorful language can be difficult. Hyperbole can be extremely confusing… When you exaggerate, we try to picture what you just said. Idioms, emotional connotations to words, sarcasm, metaphor, simile and many other linguistic constructs will be lost on your Autist as they rely on creative use of words that we have problems with. We will often be confused when the meanings used or implied do not mesh with the dictionary definitions of words.
  • We will remember a wide range of trivial and useless information. If we are babbling about something, imparting information this means two things a) you have found a topic we are interested in and b) we trust you and value your opinion enough to share what we know. Cherish this… it is rare. 
  • Social interactions are difficult for us. We WANT to be part of them… sometimes… if you see us trying… HELP US… explain nuances, help us tell the other people in the situation that we are autistic and you are our NT to Autist Translator… 
  • Eye contact is difficult for us. We’re not sure why, but it is true. My personal belief is that this is a left over instinct… an atavism, if you will. In nature, eye contact is a form of challenge, a contest for dominance. For most of us, the residual conflict that is inherent to this challenge can be problematic. It can lead to dissonance, emotional discomfort and even pain. 
  • Tantrums will happen. Please try to understand. We are not ill behaved… It is a stress response. We are attempting to remove an anxiety causing stimulus. It is not something we can control. On the same note, meltdowns can and will happen. Just remember that these are as hard, if not harder on us than they are on you. 
  • Our cognitive processes are logical and literal. Our emotional processes are not. This causes internal conflict and stress… Which leads to over stimulation… when we catch feelings, it can be very difficult for us to deal with. 
  • Since our sense processes are somewhat scrambled, we perceive words differently. Some words will have sensations attached to them. They can be slimy, fuzzy, prickly, sour… and we will avoid those words to the point of bad reactions to them. 
  • We will have obsessions. We cannot help it. Our brain is just like this. 
  • Due to the way our brain works, when things do not line up with our cognitive model of the world… it does not seem that we are the one who is weird. We won’t think that until someone points it out to us. while it sounds egocentric, we are wired in such a way that it seems as the world is filled with odd, irrational, loud, emotionally unstable and rude people… We are not truly delusional… the behavior of others is completely foreign to our cognitive functioning. 
  • When we have feelings they are bigger. Our emotions are extremely potent. While emotion over coming rationality is rare… it can be horrifying… when we get angry, we are enraged… when we are sad, we are devastated… when we are glad, we are MORE than happy… when we love… we do it with EVERY quanta of our being. 
Images in this in this issue SHAMELESSLY stolen from the following sources:
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