Thursday, November 24, 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.

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