Saturday, April 6, 2013


Between comments from readers and recent life experiences, I am again reminded that  not all of the situations that Steve and I share are fueled by Aspergers Syndrome. Rather, they are simply matters of differing  opinions or life views.
Still, rude is as rude does.
Many people are blunt, to the point, ‘rude’. Aspie or not.
Aspies may have a tendency towards rudeness due to emotional blindness, as discussed in John Elder Robison’s article 'Are Aspergians Really Rude...' 
One common characteristic of people with Asperger's is that we are more or less blind to the non verbal communications of others. As a result, we find ourselves forever saying and doing the wrong thing, with the best of intentions. We're described as arrogant, aloof, uncaring and inconsiderate.
I contend that we are none of those things. I believe we are simply blind, emotionally.
We do not respond to other people's observable cues because we don't see them. Neurotypical people read the signals and respond; we don't. But just as a visually blind person can understand a world he can't see, I can understand and feel empathy and emotion even though I can't automatically see the triggers.

When it plays out in the real world, though, it's easy for people to get a wrong impression. Imagine my wife and me, walking on the recreational trail. She trips on a stick and falls. I turn and look at her. There's no sign of injury. None of her limbs seem twisted or broken. She did not yell loudly, and she's not making any loud noises now.

"Are you damaged?" I ask because I know it's possible to sustain damage that's not visible from the outside. I'm not too worried, though, because I know most falls do not result in injury. I've seen this before.

"No, I don't think so." Her answer reassures me that there is no cause for alarm. I'm relieved.

"OK, then, get up and let's go." I give the only practical answer I can see. The day is passing, and we are standing still. Time to get moving again!

I have had third parties observe exchanges like that with a very critical eye. "I can't believe you're so callous," they say. But if you read my thoughts, I wasn't callous at all. I made a reasoned evaluation of the situation and acted appropriately.

The relief I felt when she said she wasn't hurt was a genuine empathy reaction. And in that case, it's all that was needed. There was no real injury or pain to share or mitigate.

Robison goes on to explain that his wife knows and understands him. She is okay with his response because he just shows his feelings differently.

A friend recently had an epiphany about the impact of family dynamics in her life and was trying to explain it to her Aspie hubby.

I tried to explain…only to be met with blank stares. I finally asked "You have no idea what I'm talking about do you?" He looked at me with that deer in the headlights look and said "I'm trying". I just laughed and said "I'll talk to [so and so] about it". He smiled and said “Thanks”.

When I try to get Steve’s perspective on interactions, I don’t always agree to his way of thinking, but I am able to understand a bit better what fuels his reactions, or lack thereof.

Occasionally I try to get him to consider my viewpoint. It may or may not get across to him. When it doesn’t, I am more than glad to leave him alone, lol.


  1. First, thanks for posting, ive missed you. Secondly i seem to be forever running around patching up the unintentional damage created by my two Aspies. We were sitting with a lovely Christian family yesterday with three young children (thankfully they didnt understand) but Hubby was explaining the battery-less torch he bought son and how you charge it by shaking it with his hand. He realised that he was making an action that could have been construed as rude but instead of keeping quiet he just blundered in and pointed it out. I was mortified. Thankfully they were kind enough not to say anything and were more amused about the colour of my face. Got to love them, dont you.

    1. thank YOU for missing me! it's been crazy around here - carving out some quiet time for writing has nearly been impossible

      looking back on 'embarrassing' situations in our household, i'm beginning to think that i am the only one to notice such things - it often seems that others either aren't aware or it doesn't matter to them - perhaps i am a bit more sensitive to anything that may make my spouse look silly... yes, love them - or, as the saying goes, leave them... either they accept us for who we are (imperfect people in an imperfect world) or they can hang out elsewhere - lol