Q: How do you tell an extroverted engineer from an introverted engineer?
A: The extroverted engineer looks at your shoes.
My husband is shy. Whether it’s due to his basic nature or due to Aspergers I do not know. My mother-in-law describes Steve as painfully shy from infanthood onward. It takes great effort for him to meet new people and go new places.
When we met, my hubby had been to a half dozen states plus brief forays into Mexico and Canada. Now he has only a half dozen states left to visit, and has been to over a dozen different countries. Needless to say, I like to travel.
For Aspies, new situations can be terrifying. They love their rules and routines. Many deal with OCD or anxiety/panic attacks. These can be difficult for spouses and families. Fortunately, I have no problem with traveling on my own. Even with our kids. If Steve is apprehensive about going on an adventure with me, he stays home. He is much happier as am I.
I can easily envision my husband as a very serious child. His mother says he often would hide behind her when he was young. I notice even now that when we go out in public, Steve often walks a several paces behind me or, if walking beside me, will only do so while holding my hand. The constant hand holding was one of the things that caught my heart early on. I love it!
Both of our neurotypicals sons were shy when younger, but have since outgrown it. While our oldest son is extremely outgoing now (wonder where he gets that from? lol), our youngest son is still a bit on the quiet side. Since he just entered his teens we shall see how long that lasts. Steve however will probably always be shy. His shyness, coupled with the Asperger trait of lack of eye contact, makes him seem unapproachable to many people. He doesn’t make friends easily, nor have friends other than a few guys from college whom he sees once a year.
Because of Steve’s passion for and intense focus on cars, he can talk for hours to perfect strangers about anything automotive. For a while he claimed that his ‘best friend’ was a fellow who did some towing work for him. Steve and the fellow would call each other and talk for hours. When I questioned Steve about his ‘friend’, he couldn’t tell me the guy’s last name, where he lived, or the guy’s wife’s name. He didn’t know how old the fellow was, where he went to school, or name a single other friend the guy had. He could, however, name every vehicle the guy owned!
Like many Aspies, Steve simply has no concept about what a friend is. By my actions I try to show him every day. He deserves no less.