Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Bark is Worse...

My husband barks. If we weren’t having a conversation at that moment it can be startling. His intent is to transmit or gather information in a quick, no nonsense fashion using a minimal amount of words. Sometimes we need to clarify his subject matter as we might not know what he’s thinking about. His utterances may come across as abrupt, rude, or simply confusing to unsuspecting people.
If questioned, he usually will protest, “Just answer me! I don’t want to waste my words.” Waste his words? Does he have a daily limit that requires him to ration out his verbiage? What happens at work if he is in the middle of conducting a meeting and his “wordometer” hits empty? He is still puzzling that one out. I am anxious to hear the answer.
Tony Attwood, PhD, explains that people with Aspergers may talk too much or too little. With my husband, talking too much is usually related to automotive subjects. In general conversations it's talking too little. Unless Steve is talking to himself, which always cracks me up. He constantly carries on conversations with himself – he ‘thinks’ aloud.  Attwood explains that many Aspies speak to themselves as a form of self-comfort and reassurance. They may even be feeling lonely without realizing it. If I answer one of his self-questions, he thinks that I have just read his mind. He doesn’t realize that he was speaking out loud. Other times he thinks that he has responded to one of us but he hasn't uttered a word.
Attwood also says that Aspies may move their lips while in deep thought, as though they are having difficulty in disengaging mind and mouth. That is certainly true in my husband’s case, as is the inability to modulate his voice level, intonation or pitch, or to follow conventional conversational rules. Because Steve is so brilliant, his mind is always going a thousand miles a minute, often jumping from subject to subject with no logical links discernible to those around him. If we switch from one subject matter to another, he demands a precise explanation of how we arrived at the new matter. “Inquiring minds want to know.” He is really is an engineer in heart, mind and soul!
Attwood uses what he calls “Aspergerese” communication where he tries to avoid figures of speech, uses concise language, and allows pauses between sentences to give the Aspie time to process the communication. I find using momentary pauses while talking to Steve to be helpful in case he misses some of the words or needs clarification as I typically talk too fast.
When Steve begins his barking mode at home, I actually bark “ruff ruff” back at him while laughing. It will stop him in his tracks and gives him a chance to re-think and re-utter.

It may sound silly, but it sure beats whining about the doggone barking!

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