Just because you have Asperger’s doesn’t mean you get to be an ass.

Yes. I said it and I’ll say it again.

Having Asperger’s doesn’t mean you get to be an ass.

I realize that Asperger’s is a neurological disorder that affects the way we interact with others. We miss social cues. Sometimes we aren’t able to externally convey the emotions we feel inside. I get it. I do. I live it every day. I know how it feels to feel misunderstood. I know how it feels to constantly doubt yourself.  I know how it feels to be bullied, belittled, and left out. If you have Asperger’s, you probably know those feelings too.  We may not pick up on social cues, but our experiences have certainly taught us how to spot when someone is being sarcastic or cruel.

You know how it feels when someone ignores you.

When someone dismisses you.

When someone is deliberately rude to you. With experience, you can even learn to tell when others are being hurtful under the guise of being nice.

You know how much that hurts. That’s why you don’t get to do it to others. Because it hurts. Having Asperger’s is no excuse for being rude.  I realize that social cues are hard for us, but common sense is not.  Logic is not. If you’re not sure if you’re being rude, you can:

Ask yourself “Would this hurt if someone said/did this to me?”  If the answer is “Yes”, then it’s rude.   Your friend is excited talking about his favorite reality TV show. You think reality shows are a waste of time.  Telling your friend that you think his show is not worth talking about is rude. Would you want your friend to tell you that something you are passionate about was worthless? This is especially true if the person is talking about their family, children, or pets. Although we could care less about the 50 baby pics of the SAME BABY that all look just alike, to the person sharing them, they are precious.  Because it is important to them, we should show them the same politeness we would want if we were sharing something we are passionate about.

* Ask yourself “Is this constructive? or is it just critical?” Your friend is trying to change her hair style. She has put her hair into pigtails like a toddler would wear. She asks what you think.  A rude, critical response would be “It looks childish. You’re not two. That hairstyle is for toddlers.”  A constructive response would be “I don’t think the pigtails really bring out your best. I like it when you wear your hair parted on the side because…”  A constructive response can encourage your friend to change something without hurting her feelings.  The end result is the same – change. The difference is that one response is hurtful and the other is encouraging. Would you want to be hurt or encouraged?

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* Remember, just because something is true doesn’t mean it is something that needs to be said out loud.  I think this is one of the hardest lessons for Aspies. If something is TRUE, why can’t we say it?  I mean, it is the truth, right?   In an online group, a woman said she told a coworker that he “smelled like a hobo on a subway”.  Was he smelly? Probably.  Would this comment have hurt her if someone told her she stunk? Yes.  Was it constructive? No. Critical? Yes.  Then it shouldn’t have been said. Her “truthful comment” hurt her coworker. It was mean and unnecessary. Just because a statement is true doesn’t mean it isn’t hurtful.

I realize that most Aspies I have met/talked with online would rather have someone tell them the truth straight out. For us, a lie (even a little one) to sugarcoat the truth is offensive. If I look ridiculous, tell me.  For the love of Pete, please don’t let me leave my house smelling like a week’s worth of body odor! This is another way the NT/alltistic community is different than us. Although we would want a friend to be direct and say “Whew. You smell pretty bad. Maybe you should hit the showers before we go”,  most NTs find this offensive. They may want to know about the BO, but they want you to tell them sweetly, softly, gently. For the straightforward Aspie, sometimes this can feel like a lot of unnecessary dialogue, but it is considered rude to be direct and polite to pussyfoot around the issue.

* Social niceties are a part of society.  It’s important to say “please” and “thank you”. It’s important to take part in polite conversation.  I realize most Aspies find it annoying that alltistic/NT people say “How are you doing?” when they really do not care how we are doing.  They really don’t want us to answer honestly and tell them all about our day. They expect us to say “Fine.”  It’s a pointless conversation really, but it’s part of social etiquette. So is talking about the weather. “Nice day we’re having.” “Looks like it’s going to rain later.”  These are pointless conversations strangers have with other strangers because unlike Aspies, NTs seem to have difficulty standing next to each other and being silent.  Although the conversation is pointless, the intent is to connect (albeit for only a few seconds) with another person. Ignoring the polite rules of society because we feel it is unnecessary is another behavior that makes others think Aspies are rude.
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* We have to be accountable for our behaviors too.  We say we want others to think of our feelings. To get them to do this, we have to do the same.  We have to think of others’ feelings too. We know we need our down time to regroup, but we have to make sure that we aren’t ignoring others in the process.  While meltdowns are sometimes inevitable for us, we have to ensure that we aren’t hurting other people with our behavior during a meltdown. (Some Aspies have admitted they say the most awful things to their spouse during a meltdown.) Sometimes we can’t help how we feel: overstimulated, overwhelmed, exhausted.  We may not be able to control the emotions, but we do have some control over what we DO with the emotions. We need to be accountable for these actions. Again – how would we feel if the behavior we just displayed was done to us?

* Having Asperger’s is a reason for our behavior. It’s not an excuse. Our diagnosis allows us to understand our behavior. It gives us a sense of community as we find other people with Asperger’s to relate to.   It is important that we identify our strengths and our limitations, but it’s not an excuse not to try. I see so many young Aspies online who have said things like “I have Asperger’s so I don’t like people.” No.  That’s simply not true.  You don’t get to use Asperger’s as an excuse to be rude. You don’t get to use it as an excuse not to try. There is a difference between knowing where to draw the line and not even making an attempt.  If we want people to understand, we have to try to meet them halfway.  A friend invites us to dinner. Maybe we know that we can’t tolerate a loud, noisy restaurant on a Friday night, but we know we can handle a familiar restaurant at lunch time. Make a lunch date instead. Don’t simply give up on meeting your friend because you “have Asperger’s”.

Sometimes it is hard for us not to be bitter. Living in a world that often does not understand us and does not make exceptions for our differences is exhausting, but we aren’t doing this for the NTs. We’re doing these things for US. Because changing these behaviors makes us  better. These changes makes us kinder and more empathetic. They help us take accountability. They help us say “Asperger’s is part of who I am, but it isn’t ALL that I am.” And you are so much more than just an Aspie. You are.

You are kind.
You are caring.
You would never want to intentionally hurt someone you care about.
You want to be a good friend even if you don’t always know how to do it.
You have a big heart hiding behind your introverted self.
You have an amazing amount of compassion.
You are loyal and hardworking.
You want to be accepted.
You want to find your place.
You want to play the game, but you can’t seem to figure out the rules.

The rules start here.
Treat others the way you want to be treated.
Be honest but be nice about it.
Remember that not all truths (especially opinions) need to be said out loud.
Be polite, even if it seems silly.
Know your limitations.
Take accountability for your actions.
Don’t ever, ever use your diagnosis as an excuse not to try.

And finally – never give up.  You are not alone.

notalone

 

 

 

 

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66 thoughts on “Just because you have Asperger’s doesn’t mean you get to be an ass.

  1. Speaking as someone who is (I think) NT, thank you for sharing these thoughts…this is very helpful for someone like me who is trying to understand Asperger’s so I can be a better friend to those who have it.

  2. NOBODY gets a free pass when it comes to making a basic effort to get along with other people (although many groups seem to think that they should). For aspies it’s more difficult because NTs are just plain weird so we’ve got more chance of screwing up by mistake, but that just means you have to learn the rules and follow them (most of the time) even if you don’t understand them.
    I think we, as aspies, actually have the advantage in that – being inherently logical – we might find it easier to think about the mechanics of just getting along in a herd population, rather than seeing any bending of our desires in order to please others as an imposition or an admission that we’re ‘giving way’.
    You do what you have to do, then you move on.

    • Maybe we are trying, asshole. But maybe, what seems to you like a tic-tac-toe game to you, is actually a Rubix cube to us. Don’t even start on the whole, “Put yourself in someone else’s shoes,” Thing, because we LITTERALLY cannot do that. Our brain does not work that way. We do try to put ourselves in other’s shoes, but what is offensive to them, is not to us. If we are at a dinner party and we cannot eat anymore, we won’t pretend to be hungry. But NTs might (For whatever reason) try to eat more just to fit in Mrs.Johnson’s recipe. We seriously aren’t trying to be rude and get away with it. Sure, there ARE people that will pretend to be an aspie to get away with being a bitch, but don’t go and assume all aspies do that. I fucking hate people like you who are too lazy to learn, so their assumptions are wrong. You bitches act like our condition isn’t real, and just go and assume that we are the same as NTs. Well, we’re not. Nice try douchebag.

  3. Oh yes, Pensive! Important to keep saying. Same goes for those who use other “excuses” for inconsiderate behavior, such as older age, or superiour religiosity.

    • My four year old son is certainly on the spectrum and I try to read as much as possible to help him and understand him better. I tell him the rules and we practice all the time. He knows that please and thank you is necessary and uses them appropriately because he has been taught how to. The only reason I knew how to help him this way is by reading adults with aspergers blogs.

      I thank you for taking the time to write this in a way I can understand.

      • Thank you for recognizing it and starting young. Your son will thank you later. My 30 year old stepson is surely on the spectrum but his parents lauded his genius and neglected to teach him manners and the very basics of living with others. He’s a very sad man who cannot fathom why he’s alone.

      • That is so sad. The older you get, the hard it is to adjust your thinking. ❤ I know I have certainly struggled. I hope my experiences can help my son have a smoother ride than I did.

  4. You know, I think this is the nicest, kindest post anyone has ever written (or rather, that I have ever read) on this subject 🙂
    It always bothers me quite a bit when people say “But I have Asperger’s/Autism, so when I picked a fight with you/ was nasty to you/ said mean things, it is totally ok, because I don’t have to be nice. I can say anything I like.” – being autistic means its harder for us to learn the rules. Sometimes its harder for us to communicate. But that doesn’t give us license to be deliberately mean.
    A lot of the examples you gave were things that an aspie might do accidentally, but that’s honestly not the problem, in my eyes – the issue is when people are deliberately nasty, then use “asperger’s” as an excuse…

    • Thank you so much! I see those behaviors too and it frustrates me. When one Aspie uses his/her diagnosis as an excuse to be a jerk, it makes us all look bad 😦 So glad you read my blog! Thank you for your kind comments!

    • That’s sad. Those people should be saying “I am so sorry I hurt your feelings, I didn’t mean to, I have AS and I don’t ‘get it’ sometimes, and I’m glad you told me” – not “I don’t have to be nice.” I wonder how that is working out for them – the rest of the world doesn’t “have to be nice” to them either, once they’ve been deliberately rude, ya know?

  5. Once again, you’ve hit the nail on the head. One more point to make for those who want to see the world become more accepting of Aspies: whenever someone who claims to have Asperger’s uses it as an excuse for not making an effort to be tactful, polite, and kind, it becomes that much harder for the rest of us who do make an effort to be taken seriously or treated with respect when we have a social lapse or meltdown.

  6. I- wow. What a beautiful post. Honestly, I think a lot of alltistic people would do well to take your advice, as well – empathy and the effort to feel it is becoming a rarer practice. But seriously, what a beautiful post. I love that you encourage one to be better – the best one can be – and not just rely on one’s limitations as a crutch.

  7. Very nice post! My son is 7, PDD-NOS, and he’s social, but a bit socially clueless. I want to do what you do and EXPLAIN the why behind the rules of NT/social behavior. He has to live in the NT world, so the best thing I can do is give him the tools to make it less exhausting. I wonder if that might be part of the “jerk problem”? Maybe for some it’s been so exhausting to try to figure it out they just gave up, since no one taught them well enough?
    But obviously, some people are just insensitive, narcissistic jerks (NT’s included), and no amount of outside input will help.

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  9. Great read. As someone with Asperger’s, I actually feel terrible guilt if I ever make someone feel bad.
    Yes, some things come harder to us, but that’s not an excuse not to make the effort to be cordial. I may not be a social expert but my Mum taught me manners and I stick to them.
    Accidental behavior is excusable, and can be fixed with the support of parents and peers. But jerks exist in all walks of life and autism is no different. Unfortunately said jerks are often clever enough to use autism as a shield, and this can’t be excused as it paints all of us in a bad light.

  10. As an aspie myself, raising two amazing aspie sons I wish more parents would embrace and teach what you speak of here. I’ve met aspies who were asses and parents of aspies who were asses, people who use the diagnosis as an excuse for all sorts of things. I hope your message reaches many :o)

  11. Thank you for your words. Im an NT married to an Aspie ( recently diagnosed). Sadly he has only attended one session of couples therapy and refuses to continue. Our whole marriage has been misery and sadly without his willingness to make any effort I have decided to separate from him.

    He is defiant and doesnt want to see my perspective at all. I have spent the past year researching Aspergers and attended 3 types of therapy to help me cope and understand him and still he does nothing. Im heart broken . …

  12. There’s a lot of stuff out there about how Aspergers doesn’t really exist and is just and excuse diagnosis for parents to let their kids act badly. And a LOT of people do seem to let their NT kids get away with shit no child got away with back ‘in my day’. That said, the assumption seems to be made in the article that there’s a lot of Aspies ‘gettin’ away with turrible rudenesses’. And in my experience, those of us on the Spectrum arent allowed to get away with much without being drugged and disciplined and shocked and therapied out the yin yang. Making weird hand gestures is enough. “Quiet hands!” Republicans get to be rude, why cant I?

  13. We are just finding out that my 16 year old is an aspie. If he bumps up against a rule “today’s was ‘no your friend who is a girl can’t sleep in your room this weekend, but she is free to stay on the couch” then he calls me names, says things that are completely innapropriate for a lad to say to his parent and pretty much will always reduce me to tears. He thumped the kitchen counter and threw himself to the floor. I have abusive males in my past and it triggers feelings that are too much for me. I told him I was scared and he called me a liar…

    I don’t know how to parent him. We are waiting for mental health help (and I myself am recieving talking therapy) but it’s taking so long. I wish I’d worked all this out years ago, like when he was a 1 year old who sorted his cars according to colour and flapped his hands when he ran… I feel out if depth here and my husband feels the same.

  14. Possibly speaking out of turn here, because this isn’t my blog, but speaking as someone who is now (in my late thirties) going through the diagnosis process, this is my take on things.

    The neurotypical/Aspergers divide is a lot like the Windows/Mac (or Linux) divide: if you try to run Windows software on a Mac operating system, you are not going to get a happy result. If you expect someone with an Aspergers operating system to react well if you treat him the way you’d treat a neurotypical, and expect him to react like a neurotypical, then it’s no surprise you end up with error messages or a system crash.

    Here is how the incident you related above plays for me, from an Aspergers perspective:

    1. You prevented your son and his female friend sleeping in the same room because you were afraid they would see each other’s privates, or have intercourse. The first doesn’t matter, because unless one of them is deformed, they probably haven’t got anything the other hasn’t already seen (at least in pictures). If they are friends, then they are not planning to have intercourse. If that is the case, then you are punishing them not only for something they haven’t done, but something they weren’t planning to do. This is injustice on a grand scale – and illogical too. Depending on how far your son has taken the logic, you may also have insulted his friend by implying she sleeps around.

    2. Making an invited guest sleep on the sofa is rude. It is also embarrassing for your son to have to explain it to his friend – particularly if he invited her and either said or implied that she would spend a comfortable night and/or have the traditional ‘sleepover’, instead of being exiled to the sofa.

    3. Has your son ever harmed you in any way? If not, when you said you were scared of him, why should he believe it? You were blaming him for the acts of your previous partners, and that’s illogical. This is especially true if you have never discussed your past with him. As far as he is concerned, he has never given you any reason to be afraid of him, so why would you be afraid? Therefore, if you are saying you are afraid, you are lying.

    I had a similar problem with my parents when I was a bit older than your son. Looking back – knowing now about Aspergers – the differences in operating systems were a big part of the whole problem. We approached the situation from entirely different angles, so it’s no surprise that it ended in a massive row with me hardly speaking to my parents for years. In fact, our relationship has never recovered, and probably never will. We are now polite acquaintances: I go to see them, we talk about the weather and similar neutral topics, and that’s pretty much it. I never talk about anything that really matters to me. Any possibility of a deeper relationship has been completely destroyed.

    If you don’t want to risk something similar happening with your son – a misunderstanding due to differing operating systems being blown up into a family rift – then now is the time to think about how to avoid it, because your son is just at the right age for things to get epically screwed up. He’s on the verge of becoming a man, but he doesn’t have the experience (because for Aspergers people, social interaction has to be learned intellectually) to realise that neurotypicals are weird and illogical, and as an Apsergers person you just have to learn to cope with it.

    As the grown-ups in the family, it’s up to you and his father to help him realise where the social pitfalls are. In order to do that, you also need to have a good hard look at your own reactions. If your son is like me, he operates on logic. If a social custom is illogical, he won’t understand it. In order to avoid problems, you, too, need to recognise that lack of logic, and get him to realise that living in a world with neurotypicals means you just have to obey their stupid rules in order to have a quiet life.

    You might want to read Temple Grandin’s book (“Thinking in Pictures”, I think) – she calls these illogical social rules “Sins of the System”, and says she learned to identify them, and figure out which ones she could break and which one she just had to live with.

    I also read somewhere – and it rings true for me – that Aspergers people don’t understand social hierarchies – even that of parent/child. I know I’m not good with the whole “I am higher up the scale than you so you have to do what I say even if you think I’m wrong, and you’re not allowed to complain” attitude. It might be worth re-evaluating the way you deal with problems; if someone doesn’t quite “get” hierarchies, relying on your position of authority as parent isn’t going to go terribly well. Your son is sixteen now, and, like all teenagers, probably thinks he knows everything. Couple that with a lack of innate respect for social hierarchies, and you just know it’s not going to end well.

    Following on from this, if men shouting in your presence scares you, you need to talk to your son about why that is – and acknowledge that it isn’t logical for you to transfer your fear to him (thus blaming him for other people’s actions) but emotions aren’t logical, particularly for people who don’t have Aspergers. One thing that contributed to the destruction of my relationship with my parents was that they kept insisting that something was so, when it wasn’t. My attitude was “I know that’s not true, and you know that’s not true, so why don’t you just admit it? Why are you treating me as though I’m too stupid to figure it out?” I could see the logic of lying if there was a possibility the person you’re lying to might be fooled, but when the lie is obvious, what’s the point? It’s just silly and insulting – plus it prevents any possibility of actually sorting out the problem. Also, if you are wrong – admit it. Not admitting it when you’re wrong comes under the heading of ‘lying’. Some parents seem to have this weird hangup about admitting to their children that they were wrong about something. This is not a smart move with someone with Aspergers, if they’re not good with social hierarchies. To me, wrong is wrong. Everybody can be wrong, and it’s not a big deal – as long as you admit it and fix it. Someone pretending they’re right when they know they’re wrong is stupid and it makes me lose respect for them.

    You might want to consider the option of forgetting “parenting” in the traditional sense (me parent, you child, do as I say), and seeing if a more equal relationship might work. After all, if Aspergers is a new diagnosis, you are all three of you in new territory. The best way to figure it all out is to pool your data. If your son is like me, he operates on logic, and explaining “why” rather than issuing orders, is likely to be better – especially if you acknowledge when “why” is “because it’s a stupid social rule that you just have to learn to obey if you want a quiet life”. Or “because if it gets out that you and your female friend slept in the same room, her parents might think you were having intercourse, and be angry with her, even if it’s not true.”

    Also remember that it’s hard for Aspergers people to talk about feelings. If you just don’t have the words to talk about how you feel, what are you going to do? Your only options are scream, or shut up. Your son screams and has a classic temper tantrum. I go silent (my husband and I can have an entire marital row in complete silence). However, since having a screaming tantrum isn’t an appropriate way of dealing with emotional turmoil, your son needs to learn to use an alternative. Silence is better: sometimes I can talk about my feelings after they’ve died down. However, one major pitfall: do not do the “You’ve got no right to feel that way” line. A person (neurotypical or Aspergers) feels the way they feel: telling them they’ve got no right, or that they’re wrong to feel that way, is totally unhelpful. They do feel that way, even if you don’t regard it as justified, so accept it and move on from there.

    The bottom line is that you can’t consider Aspergers like you would any other disability: it’s not that your son is a normal young man with Aspergers. He has Aspergers – there is not a ‘normal’ person in there somewhere, whom you can locate and interact with if you just try hard enough. There is not some defect that you can fix. His mind runs a different operating system to yours, and you all three have to work at mapping where the differences are, so that you can construct some sort of bridging software that will allow your different operating systems to communicate constructively. You and his father will have to take the lead on this, because sixteen-year-old boys in general are not known for their emotional stability and maturity even under normal circumstances.

    But it’s important that you get him “on side”, and don’t imply that you think he’s defective, broken, or worth less. From my perspective, I don’t see what’s so wonderful about the neurotypical operating system: it’s illogical, it causes more problems than it solves (think politicians as the arch-neurotypicals), and if it wasn’t for the fact that most of the population are running it, nobody would want it. (A bit like Windows, really…) I like my mind the way it is, and I wouldn’t change it even if I could. If your son is the same, treating him like he’s defective (especially if he’s got a sneaking suspicion that it’s actually neurotypicals who are defective!) is not going to be helpful.

    Read as much as you can about Aspergers and autism that is written by people with Aspergers/autism (start with Temple Grandin) – it will help you get a handle on your son’s thinking processes, and also some insight into yours, so you can start mapping the differences, and how to deal with them and help your son to come up with strategies to deal with weird illogical neurotypicals in the future.

    And good luck – don’t despair. You will get through this; identifying the problem is the first step to a solution, and you’re well on the way.

    • These nt sob-stories are hilarious, aren’t they; but you know nts, they live for melodrama.

      It is ironic how these people run the world and everything in it, can make up whatever bullshit rule they want and are able to change them at any given time without explanation and if anyone fails to follow them, it’s their fault, but their still not happy unless they can play victim every second of everyday. Their like a king who’s lifelong dream is to become the most put-upon character in a bad daytime soap-opera.

  15. I have known lots of children and teenagers who had been diagnosed with Asperger’s but very few adults. However, I know quite a few adults who are either denying an Asperger diagnosis or don’t realise they are on the autism spectrum despite being in their 40s and 50s. My worry at the moment [you’d call me an NT but I say I am “ordinary”], is an undiagnosed friend who is in most people’s words “being an ass”. To me he is being frustratingly Aspergian and I am having trouble coping.

    Once, he didn’t “get” some jokes online where people were being ironic and he concluded I was a racist and wouldn’t speak to me for months, nor allow me any contact with him.

    Now he thinks I have aired a heap of critical private information about him [which I certainly haven’t], has verbally abused me in a shocking fashion in public and hasn’t spoken to me for 5 months so far. He has broken my heart, I feel badly misjudged and no one is talking to him about his misinterpretations etc. and he’s just going to stay stuck hating people for absolutely no reason. He was always asking me about what to do and say in social situations, so I used to help him out. However, in writing/online he doesn’t understand a lot of language related to social interaction and he won’t allow any communication to try to inform him of differing views.

    So he hasn’t picked up on social/written cues, thinks I have been cruel, he’s ignoring me, and has been deliberately rude and insulting, rather then me or any NTs doing anything negative to HIM! It is sooooo frustrating to be placed in this painful situation. I guess no ideas on how to resolve it… I can see perfectly well how he arrived at his distorted conclusions, but no one else can and he refuses to have any views aired, declaring me “unforgivable”. Meanwhile, I’ve never been the recipient of this sort of behaviour in my life and I’m still upset.

  16. I’ll admit, I only skimmed through this piece, but it just looks like all the same sets of rules that neurotypicals expect us to follow, but that somehow never apply to them. I’d rather see something like, “Just because you’re an NT, that doesn’t make you entitled.”

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  18. I’m a twenty year old who was just diagnosed and it’s strange to me. I have said and I quote to people “I can’t hear the tone or volume of my own voice, can you let me know if i sound rude or my volume seems to loud so i can try to correct it.” The funny thing is i said this to my roommate who is a psychology major and she went behind my back to her friends and said i was just using aspergers as an excuse to be rude to her. I didn’t know that i sounded rude. I asked that it be pointed out to me so i could remedy it or explain exactly how i meant for it to be said like my psychologist tells me i should in order to avoid conflict. I don’t understand what i did wrong. I thought my roommate would understand that aspergers has it’s challenges. She kept saying “I know what it is.” However, her way of going about things makes me believe either she doesn’t or she is the rude roommate. I don’t believe i use my aspergers as an excuse i instead try to explain to people that i just don’t get things quite as well and i might need a little bit of help with people clarifying things or me explaining what i really mean. I’ve met strangers on the daily train home who seem more understanding and helpful than my roommate. I just don’t understand why strangers seem understanding and helpful while my roommate who i thought was my friend seems so cold and brutal.

    • That is the most hurtful thing. Because it’s an invisible disorder, people think we’re fine. Just because we can do “X” means we should be able tod o “Y”. So often, mental health care providers are the worst at being empathetic. They may have read about ASD, but they don’t UNDERSTAND it. Your roommate is being a jerk.

    • Consider the axiom/proverb: “Familiarity breeds contempt” Definition: “extensive knowledge of or close association with someone or something leads to a loss of respect for them or it.”
      That’s probably why your roommate friend may seem less sensitive than total strangers. They don’t have to be around you all the time.
      Also, The world at large is not obligated to adapt to the behavior patterns common in the Asperger’s individual. I’m not trying to be unkind here, I’m just saying, do your best. If someone is willing to say, “Yeah, you sounded mean there, here’s what would sound better…” then great. But, ultimately, you will have to rely on your own powers of observation and literally teach yourself to “sound better.” Also, don’t think of the way you are as a curse, think of it as an opportunity to grow. Be patient with yourself. Be forgiving of other’s impatience as you try, they have problems with interactions, too (clearly.)
      Look, I have ADD. I have spent a lifetime struggling with it, and I was not clinically diagnosed properly till I was 38 years old. I am 59, now. I still have to adapt my behavior to conform to the norms of the wider world when I’m interacting socially. It’s hard, but it’s worth it. It’s worth it for you, too.

  19. Thank you for writing this – I quite enjoyed it and the comment thread as well. I just had quite a negative experience involving a community group, at least 3-4+ were aspie. One of them was deliberately rude, others were selfish & disrespectful. I was expected to ignore the rudeness because “he doesn’t mean anything” – but that’s not how it works and anyway I could tell he was doing it on purpose and he thought it was funny. Meanwhile I got squeezed out like some kind of villain, never an apology or recognition that my feelings counted for anything. Not just aspies get bullied, you know, I’m an attractive, intelligent, soft-spoken woman so I’ve been a target of bullying and harassment all my life – this was one more in a ‘safe place’ and it was heartbreaking. I have been reading about what kind of emotional damage relationships with aspies can wreak (fortunately my experience is not at all as dramatic as some) (faaas.org & aspar are good ones). Manners and thoughtfulness are not illogical constructions – they are necessary for decent and healthy social functioning and very logical if you attribute a value to human emotion and esteem. Sometimes I wonder, too, whether aspies assume NTs automatically ‘get’ the social rules – everyone has to learn. But everyone has to care too. I have a lot of compassion (from childhood, actually, wired to value other peoples needs more than my own) but at the end of the day, rudeness is not acceptable, and I do not tolerate harassment or abuse. Thank you for our support of that premise. I hope the apparently common misconception that aspies get a free pass is abandoned as more people learn about these conditions.

    • On further analysis, the group which included multiple aspie or aspie-like people was operating in a way that was like a circle of codependence. I’ve read into themes of codependence, enabling, loved ones of alcoholics & narcissists – I don’t mean that AS is the same as addiction or narcissism, but frankly, being on the other side of a relationship can be similar. I guess that point is for anyone else who is on the other side of this to share if they see it.
      As far as this conversation: well, there it is, one more reason, aspergers or no, one does not get to be a jerk. One can’t say “I don’t care about your feelings because I really don’t care about your feelings” and one doesn’t get to not care about people’s feelings. It’s not just about him/her. Don’t take it the wrong way, but anyone’s lack of emotional intelligence (eg. aspergers) is their own problem, not their friends/associates. I hope they feel no shame in seeking the support and acceptance they need in light of that. But there is a very real limit to how legitimate any lack of emotional intelligence will be as an alternate way of relating to people. Sorry so long and I don’t mean to hijack, but this has been an interesting exploration for me. Apparently there’s a genuine controversy about this. But basic principles, open, respectful hearts: and we have to meet in normal.

  20. This is superb. I work with aspies and their families and I always recommend your site. It makes everything so much easier to understand from both sides of the fence. Keep up the great work and I’ll keep signposting people to read your stuff.

  21. Hi! Thank you for writing this; I think it’s important for (all of us Aspie or not) to understand why we do the things we do, while also owning our stuff. I’ve always had a difficult time with one friend of mine. She is smart and caring, but she often says very strange and hurtful things. I felt like something was off. She has a strange way of communicating and her voice is incredibly loud. Her conversations are often one-sided and it may take her 1/2 an hour to get through her uninterrupted ramble on the phone to say, “And by the way: How are you?” She makes inappropriate comments and has zero filter. Last night I hung out with her solo and came to the conclusion: maybe she has a mild form of Asperger’s. I cannot diagnose someone, obviously, but I looked some things up online and much of it matched her and what I’ve known of her over the past three years. She has a hard time making and keeping friends, always has interpersonal problems with her coworkers, and has extreme anxiety. So my question is: does she know she may have it? Do most people know if they haven’t been diagnosed? If she doesn’t what can I do to help? I’m not suggesting I tell her I think she has it because that cannot be good, but I’m asking what is the correct thing to do? Since I’ve been hurt by what she says many times, and have brought it up to her when it’s happened, I feel like I should take a bit of a break from her. I don’t want to be mean, but I don’t know what to do…

    • OK.. So worst case scenario is that you are overwhelmed by her and may need a break, right? 🙂 I suggest telling her you think she may have Asperger’s. I began looking into it because a friend suggested it to me. I read and researched and then found a therapist. Before that, friends would just disappear but never want to really tell me why. I had no idea how my behavior affected people. Be a good friend. Let her know.

    • In all honesty, being polite is how most of us seem ‘normal enough’. This leads to a whole other set of annoying behaviors.

      It is even possible to get so good at reading people(because it is just patterns after all in the end and once you study enough you can be better than most NT’s ever could because apparently they have this aversion to the truth and are more prone to ignoring or denying it). Within weakness is a strength waiting to be nurtured into being.

      Also, I don’t think it is that things aren’t being expressed. Even little children who don’t know how express things. I think it is just that the adults don’t know how to teach it and when you have Asperger, that is something that is needed. Without that meltdowns are reality even for adults. When the emotions get so high and I just don’t know what to do with it all, I paint. Everyone knows to leave me be when I am painting. I will just go somewhere quiet during a time I can do so and paint. Then all those emotions we don’t always know how to express get expressed. Sometimes it isn’t that we don’t know how at some point, it is just that their is so much they can’t possibly be expressed in a way NT’s find ‘acceptable’. Many end up coming off as eccentric because of it. NT’s are also responsible, as they think that just if someone is rude they don’t care. Empathy is in the heart, it is relating on a deeper level. To appear to be empathetic means you appear to be such. NT’s for whatever reason choose to base this off of things that are simply put, illusions.

      You did forget one thing. NT society can be very very tiresome. People with Asperger are not made to deal with that crap, but do anyway many times. So… seek out a group of people like you if you can and have a group of people who understand. It can give one strength to put up with the insane crap that fills NT society, much of which is completely illogical and irrational. People with Asperger are not wired for that sort of society. I think more along the lines that maybe it is natures way of adapting since when people with Asperger learn the logistics of how to tell when someone is lying etc etc etc it is very hard to lie to those who have it. It gets to this point where the NT hits a point they cannot break past because of illusions either of their own or others but either way ‘social’ in nature that prevent them from continuing.

      So I think it should be said that any “weakness” can be turned into a strength.

      A lot of people get upset because NT society works like this. “Be yourself. No not like that, your doing it wrong.” The reality my mother once explained to me when I was a little girl is this. It is considered desirable for an NT to want to save the world or care about everyone in it. It is not reality. The entirety of NT society and social structures is based on illusion, something none of us as human beings were designed by nature to have. In fact, they are constructs by long dead humans. Despite this fact, being polite won’t kill you. In fact, your more likely to get what you want out of life if you buckle down and be polite, at least meat people not wired for that sort of ‘brutal honesty’ in the middle so your not hurting their feelings on purpose. At the same time their is a middle ground. Obviously, if people cannot handle your honesty then you will never be as close as someone who can.

      Just something to chew on I guess.

  22. I am almost sure my father and only brother have AS. Mother must have some level of psichopatology for having married somebody within the spectrum. I appreciate the effort by blog author to put herself in perspective, something I gave up trying my male relatives to do. In my 40s I finally came into terms with my relatives’ AS, I keep my contact with them as minimum as possible I consider myself some kind of NT survivor who has been able to cut AS negative influence into my own family. Having my only brother never married and being him in his late 50s I wonder if I will have later to look after him. From my experience i would respectfully ask those with AS to consider devoting your best to other ways of fulfillment different than parenting.

    • “I am almost sure my father and only brother have AS. Mother must have some level of psichopatology for having married somebody within the spectrum.”

      Thanks for that; it explains my entire life of parental abuse, psychologically torturing me like it was nothing; and then victim-blaming me when I became depressed and anxious so they could rationalize torturing me even more.

  23. My comment is more of a question. How do you tell someone that they may have Asperger’s, especially when they are 55 years of age? & what do you do with family members that accept this person’s behaviour because they think he has Asperger’s (enabling behaviour)

  24. Pingback: Aspergers and socialising | The City Hopper Blog

  25. I found this searching for ways to teach my son how to be nice. He was diagnosed with Aspergers about a year ago, and while his sensory processing issues have gotten better, he has become very mean, with an attitude of superiority over his classmates and his teachers as well as us. We’ve tried reasoning with him, asking him to think about how it would make him feel if they same things were said to him. He would be so upset, but he doesn’t care about being mean/rude to others. I just don’t know how to get him to see the he is being rude. Any suggestions? He is 8 and very intelligent but immature (on top of the Aspergers diagnosis.

    • Hey there,
      My son is 12 now but 8 was the age where we had to take more direct action with him. He saw a counselor for most of grade 3 – it was life changing for all of us. I have always been the one to talk him through things but he really needed another trusted adult to give him the coping skills to get on well at school and socially. His Aspie like behaviour with a very large dose of anxiety caused him to try and control his environment to such an extent that it drove others away and yes – he came off like a little know it all jerk – but he just didn’t see it in himself. If you have the resources to invest in a therapist of counsellor that specializes in kids believe me, it’s worth it. It also helped that at age 8 he started to really want to have friends so he was motivated to understand how to get and keep friends – something that before age 8 he really didn’t care about. Good luck.. Happy to help if you have any other questions.

  26. Sometimes I wish I could go back to not caring about anybody’s feelings. Dead serious cause thanks to actually having a understanding of how people think/feel I now have the ability to pick up on people making jabs at me just because their “Mad” “Sad” or otherwise “Dissatisfied”. By dissatisfied I mean I didn’t cover for them again or forgot something once in a while oh shit the sky just fell. I honestly don’t feel like apologizing for shit when people immediately blow shit the fuck out of the water and say some shit like “well just like always you didn’t do anything bleg bleg bleg”. Do I have every right to be pissed yes absolutely but instead that stupid shit sends me into a manic depressive downward spiral from hell. I then get to dwell on that shit for the rest of the day. Anyway fuck it I’m tired and got to do some damn cleaning so that we can actually eat one of 7 people the only person that cleans daily == me. Well at least now I’m pissed not sad but I’m sure it will swing around as I over-analyze the shit out of it.

  27. I have aspergers and I try to be as kind as possible, but I do give as good as I get and I treat others as I am treated. If people are crule I have managed to come out with spontaneous comments that puts people in their place or I keep asking for detailed explanations explanations about this comments so as that tire out. From my perspective with some nt people you have to be one step ahead as they do try to be manipulative and get one over you.

    • The important thing is, you are trying. You are making yourself aware of what might be offensive for no reason, and that is all anyone can ask of you.
      Don’t give up. Keep working at it.

  28. I went to a school for “gifted” students, which simply meant Asperger’s; and they they were the biggest bunch of assholes I’d ever met, but it was “gaslit” by victim-blaming (i.e. you deserved it for being stupid).
    I still hate them for it.

  29. Thank you. Finally, an intelligent statement about the personal accountability of people who are afflicted with Asperger’s. I know these folks struggle, but I also know that they have to learn to live in the environment that they are placed in, i.e.: The Real World. They want to have a good and rich life and make meaningful connections with other people? They have to learn how to interact within that World’s social norms.

    Will it be easy? No.

    Is it worth it? Yes.

    I have had a number of encounters with people with Asperger’s. Three of those people, I can say with certainty, deliberately indulged in rotten behavior because they felt they had a “right” to because of their diagnosis. They made no effort whatsoever to behave normally or show any restraint and in fact, a glint of pleasure filled their eyes as they “asinined” their way through any given situation, and in fact, made special effort to be as revolting as possible. In other words, they were completely aware that they were doing something wrong. Sorry, I have zero tolerance for that “type” of Asperger’s person. Those ones deserve the disdain they engender.

  30. I am so happy to finally hear someone (else) saying this!
    People with disabilities/on some spectrum, are people too, and we are as capable of being asshats as any human is. The idea of people with special needs being incapable of moral wrong and beyond accountability is just an extension of the idea of us being infra-human. And still I see people with my same diagnosis, or some other, cling to it and refuse to question it while they complain about literally every other manifestation of that idea. Oh! But the one in which they can do whatever the heck they want, apparently, is convenient and can stay. This doesn’t just defeat their/our cause, it is just hypocrisy!
    PD:…and don’t get me started about the double standards out there for males and females with Asperger, or any other disability, when it comes to expectations and shelf-control…
    “You should not have snapped at your cosin, like that. He has ADHD. He can’t control himself”
    “I have it too”
    “Yes, but that is not an excuse for snapping”
    “…”

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