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sarcasm and irony. An example of this would be: “Oh, what a wonderful day this is!” when it’s raining heavily. While the average person would understand and realise the sarcasm, those with Aspergers would believe the person as being truthful and honest. Jokes, Humour and Metaphors People with Aspergers may or may not fully understand jokes and, if they do, they may exhibit a different style of humour that the joke is meant to show. This is because those with Aspergers take everything literally. For example, “What do you get when you cross a Kangaroo and a sheep? A woolly jumper!” – Those with Aspergers would either not understand the meaning of the joke or, if they do, they won’t find it the slightest bit funny. The same thing could be applied to metaphors. While someone might say, “Her hair was the sun”, the person with Aspergers would look at the person with great bewilderment. Honesty and Naivety While some people without Aspergers share this quality, everyone with Aspergers is honest unless they have good reason not to be (and even then, very few would be dishonest). Although lying is possible, technically, they cannot go very long without blurting out the truth. This makes them somewhat bad at keeping secrets, for example, as if someone were to ask the person with Aspergers about the secret he would spend no time coming right out and telling the secret. Not only that, but they are also quite naïve – if they were to be told a lie, they would believe it no matter how obvious. However, if someone were to specifically tell them that they had lied, they would instantly distrust the person and not fall for the same mistake twice. Grudges caused due to this would be described below. Body Language
People with Aspergers have difficulty understanding the likes of Body Language, such as crossed arms, slouching and other signs. Due to 93% of all social communication being done by body language and only 7% being done via speaking, this proves to be a fairly large problem. For example, if someone with Aspergers were to come across someone who may be looking bored or may have the need to leave, the person with Aspergers would not be able to pick up the signs or realise the boredom/haste to leave in the other person and would still approach them anyway in an attempt to converse with them.
Facial Expressions People with Aspergers do not understand the likes of facial expressions. They may often fail to show any facial expression or may even put on the opposite facial expression merely to be polite (E.g. When upset, they may just keep smiling in an attempt not to offend the other person), they will also mostly not be able to detect when a person may be angry, shocked, surprised etc. unless they hear the tone of their voice and what is spoken to detect it. For example, If someone with Aspergers was to come across someone whom is upset, the person with Aspergers may not be able to detect the look of sadness unless the other person were to speak or express their sadness through tears. Eye Contact People with Aspergers are never able to understand the necessity of eye contact. They do, however, see it as an act and sign of trust or familiarity and should only be used when the person with Aspergers trusts/familiarises with the other person. Only then will they give others Eye contact. It’s not necessarily because they are shy (although some may be rather timid), but because they mistrust/are unfamiliar with the other person or see eye contact as unnecessary. For example, a person with Aspergers Syndrome may speak long, full-length conversations with others while never looking the other person in the eye. Social Cues People with Aspergers have difficult understanding various “social cues”. Things like facial expression and body language may be included as social cues, but I have included this topic due to other, rarer social cues that they may not realise. They may not
understand social cues such as realising when a meeting is adjourned, or when to be silent. For example, if someone with Aspergers was to be involved in a meeting, they would only realise that the meeting had ended after someone says ”Meeting Adjourned” or people begin standing and walking away. General Comments People with Aspergers may have difficulty realising that General comments such as “Don’t move” or “Come here” is in reference to them unless, ofcourse, the person is either looking at them or it is fairly obvious that the command is aimed towards them. For example, if a person with Aspergers were to hear a friend of his say “Come over here!” they may or may not realise that the comment was referring to them and not others (however, this only really causes difficulties when there are several people involved in the command – in which case the Aspie naturally assumes that the command is in reference to the other person). Organisational structure and lack of change People with Aspergers, to put it bluntly, have rather large difficulties in unplanned change of routine or timetable. This means that, even for the slightest unplanned changes, such a friend visiting or the change of a subject in conversation might instil fear or cause anger in Aspies. The reasoning behind this is that Aspies like to mentally plan out everything to the exact detail and, if that planning were to go wrong or get changed, they either have a mental back-up plan which they use or find it difficult to cope with the uncertainty of what might happen if, for example, they were to sit in a different seat or walk a different route. This is one of the many reasons Aspies tend to more-or-less hate conversations. For example, if an Aspie were to be told that they were to move seat or classroom, they may obey willingly (or, in certain cases, flip completely) but they will need to mentally formulate new plans to adjust themselves to the change and fear how this change may affect them (for example, they may fear how the person they sit next to/around may react to them or how they may work peacefully knowing that their line-of-sight to the board is ever so slightly less than it was before). Shyness The person with Aspergers, although not naturally shy, tends to be shyer around unfamiliar places and people until he is able to familiarise himself with that place or person. This could lead to the person putting on a façade or guise to hide his true personality/thoughts. Only after getting to truly know the person, will he confide within them his true personality/thoughts. For example, a person with Aspergers may put on a façade that he is a
kind, gentle child and, while that may be true to an extent, he may have a true, hidden personality he is keeping from everyone out of mistrust of them or fear of not being accepted. Empathy and Sympathy People with Aspergers have commonly been known to lack sympathy or empathy – being incapable of putting themselves in other’s shoes or feeling pity for a person whom may be having a rather difficult time. Due to this, they often tend to be coming out with the most inappropriate things at the most inappropriate times and are unable to pick up on various obvious empathetic/sympathetic reasons (which are so obvious they aren’t explained) behind commands such as “Shut up” amongst fellow peers. If an Aspie is tasked to deliver bad news, they will do so regardless of whether the person at the time is happy or distressed. The reason this topic is a rather difficult one to discuss is that, although the person with Aspergers may not be able to realise when they are hurting someone in most cases, they will probably be the first to notice obvious signs, such as “Hey, that person is in tears”, however, if it were a fault of theirs, then they would be unable to understand what fault of their doing may have caused such sadness and merely shrug it off as no fault/concern of theirs. When someone is physically hurt, it tends to be easier for the person with Aspergers to realise and act upon rather than if someone were verbally or emotionally hurt. For example, the person with Aspergers may say to someone “Hey, you’ve been putting on a bit of weight the last time I saw you…” (Well, it’s possible, but more likely they would say something of a lesser effect) and not realise that the other person would take offence to that. Imagination People with Aspergers tend to have, what others would call, a rather “different” or “unique” form of imagination compared to others. This is, quite frankly, a very controversial topic. Some people argue that those with Aspergers find all forms of imagination as difficult, focusing on facts and figures instead, therefore being impaired in topics such as Philosophical Beliefs, Art, Music and other various creative subjects while being exceptionally good at the likes of Maths, History, Science and other logical subjects, Another point argues that it is, instead, social imagination that we lack, and that many of us are skilled writers, artists and musicians. In my eyes, I agree with both the former and latter points to an extent. I find logical subjects, such as Maths, Science, and History etc. to be my preferred subjects, yet I also have English as a preferred subject – having a particular preference for the creation/reviewing of characters and scenes in a story as something I’m able to immerse myself in to. Another example of my own imagination takes place in
the form of Roleplaying in my spare time – playing as the role of another character and getting into their mindset. On the other hand, I look upon subjects such as Art and Music with slight disdain, whereas I find the likes of Philosophical Beliefs to be rather unnecessary, as we are all conformed to believe in what we are told in today’s society. However, I know various other people of the Aspergers Community whom have an interest in Music and Art, proving the fact that we are impaired or don’t prefer in such topics to be somewhat incorrect. For example, one Aspie might prefer Science and Maths to other creative studies, whereas another would prefer Art and Technology. Regardless, however, both types would have some preference for using logical methods within their area of expertise (E.g. Some Aspies may use a lot of shapes or accurately measure/draw their lines in their art and some people might focus on a specific aim in their music). Special Interests and one-sided interaction People with Aspergers tend to have “special interests” that they tend to focus on a lot of the time. These interests are often considered to be rather “restrictive”, “specific” and “narrow”, most of the time going against the social norms. This is known as a key Aspie trait, and one of the most noticeable. Those with Aspergers may start long monologues, rambling on and on about their interests in some cases, even going as far as to change the conversation to include their interests. Although their interests often change, there are most of the time one or two “life-long” interests that remain with the Aspie for the majority of their life. These interests will most of the time take a background role in their life – becoming natural for the person with Aspergers to think about, discuss and research these interests. The Special Interest is allconsuming. The younger Aspies fail to realise that you aren’t interested as, in their eyes, they find it incredibly interesting to them. The older Aspies find they try to avoid speaking of it, but often find that they “think aloud” about the subject relatively often. Either way, they find they often monologue to others about it – either because they want to hear it themselves, even if it is just their own voice, or feel it important for others to know. Many a time Aspies tend to be unable to focus on conversations unless they can relate it to their favourite subject in some way or another to keep them motivated. For example, a person with Aspergers might have an interest in Computing or Games – in a Maths question of, for example, “What is 2²?” the person with Aspergers might go through the process of counting using computers: “If there were two computers, multiplied by 2, there would be four computers”. Same with English – if tasked to write a story, the Aspie interested in Gaming would, most likely, write a story about their favourite game or something similar to the game. When asked to read a story, they will try to relate it to their special interests via imagining (using the
game example again) “What if this book were made into a game?” and getting immersed into the story that way. Isolation and Lack of understanding Those with Aspergers, due to other people’s and their own lack of understanding, often end up failing to make friends and becoming isolated. Often misunderstood and rejected, they have very low selfesteem that is usually expressed by anger and blame at the world around them. They find it hard to make friends because their teachers and their peers see them as different, and as a result, they often experience loneliness and bullying. Those with Aspergers tend to approach others, even if awkwardly (E.g. Someone with Aspergers may try to speak to a neurotypical, but say something incredibly awkward that frightens off the other individual unintentionally – this is especially common with those whom Aspies do not know that well). Although most people with Aspergers are isolated, a small few are not and even fewer embrace their isolation as a good thing. Senses People with Aspergers are sensitive and even hyper-sensitive to certain sounds or sensory stimuli, such as noise, smell and light. This can lead to a feeling of being ‘overloaded’ and often results in angry outbursts. This often means they live in fear of unexpected sensory stimuli which can lead to great anxiety. It is essential to identify these sensory stimuli in order to avoid angry outbursts and anxiety. Although this is fairly common amongst people with Aspergers, many a person have learned to not react to sensory stimuli, however, many find it incredibly difficult. (E.g. Some people are particularly sensitive to sunlight, loud noises or putrid stenches. How they react to it depends on the person). Physical Clumsiness and lack of Co-ordination People with Aspergers tend to have a lack of co-ordination and depth perception (E.g. Failure to tell distance apart). They also find it incredibly difficult to not act clumsy in specific situations. Although they are fully aware that they are acting clumsy, they have no way or method of not acting clumsy (E.g. someone with Aspergers may tend to walk rather irregularly. They know they walk irregularly, yet can’t change their walking pattern). Those with Aspergers may be delayed in acquiring skills requiring motor dexterity, such as riding a bicycle or opening a jar, and may seem to move awkwardly or feel "uncomfortable in their own skin". They may be poorly coordinated, have poor handwriting, or problems with visual-motor integration.
Social Inappropriateness Aspies tend to quite often be socially inappropriate with those whom they don’t know (and, rarely, even those they do know) – coming out with inappropriate comments that might offend others, Where the common Neurotypical might realise that the other person would not want to hear certain comments/bring certain things to attention, the person with Aspergers would most certainly state the obvious. For example, if someone with Aspergers were to come across a Neurotypical with a large facial deformity or imperfection, we would more than likely come out with some snide comment unintentionally to draw attention to it (e.g. “Nice wart/spot.”). Postures Similar to Physical Clumsiness, those with Aspergers tend to have problems with Posture. Being hypersensitive, some people may rock back and forth when in a bad mood to help comfort themselves. This is more of an Autistic Trait rather than specifically Aspergers. For example, someone whom is Autistic, when in a bad mood, may clutch their head and swing it backwards and forwards repeatedly. Precise Speech (“Pedantic”) Those with Aspergers often take things far too literally that some of their speech is considered irregular. They tend to speak literally most times, often being overly formal and precise in their use of language even in a casual conversation. For example, in a report it recalls a person referring to a hole in his sock as 'a temporary loss of knitting'. For a personal example, I find myself often using archaic language such as “whom”, “yonder” among may others – and grammatically correcting other students from time to time. Sayings and Phrases Those with Aspergers (linked with the fact that we take things literally) often have difficulty interpreting the meaning of saying and commonly used phrases. For example, someone may say, “It’s raining cats and dogs!” and, for an Aspie unfamiliar to that saying, they may look at the person with bewilderment and confusion. Grudges Those with Aspergers tend to hold long grudges, remembering things for years later. This could most likely lead to bitter resentment and/or complete mistrust of the person until they eventually learn to build up trust with them again (assuming they ever do). For example, if an Aspie were to be physically attacked
etc. it is most likely that it would have a more prolonged effect than originally assumed. There are some records of Aspies remembering such events up to 20-30 years later in great detail. Perfectionism Aspies normally tend to have obsessive thoughts on succeeding and completion etc. It’s not uncommon for people with Aspergers, in their schoolwork, to view anything marked a B or below as a “Failure”. Due to this, they constantly strive to be “perfect” academically, often punishing themselves for being less than their perfect standards. The same applies for completion, whereas the person would be unsatisfied with his work unless it was completed. For an example of completion, an Aspie Blog mentions a time where a certain Aspie was required to create a poster of the word “Halloween”. He had almost finished it, but the deadline had ended just before he had stuck the “N” on. He kept the N for months, pleading with the teacher that he should be able to stick it on, but the teacher denied it – and his poster was hung up with all the others. It still irritates the writer 30 years later. For an example of Perfectionism, an Aspie with poor writing skills may find that he is constantly crossing out and redoing entire paragraphs of work because it doesn't meet his or her standards. Often they will tear out a page in their exercise books rather than leave imperfect work on the page. References http://life-with-aspergers.blogspot.com/ - Aspergers Blog http://www.mugsy.org/wing2.htm - Aspergers Report http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asperger_syndrome - Wikipedia Article on Aspergers (I managed to root-out some useful information) My own knowledge.