The fact that I can type 80+ wpm does not mean that I have two good hands to type with. In my case, it means I have learned to type very well with one hand. I still struggle in many other ways because I only have one good hand, though you may not understand or even notice them until you try going through a day using only one hand. Obviously, I can’t give you Asperger’s syndrome for a day, but I hope the comparison to a physical disability gives you something to think about.
I have spent many hours working on my social skills with a professional, but I have still been pulled aside by a supervisor and told that I “don’t seem to follow social norms like everyone else.” I may seem to do well in some (or even most) situations, but I still have Asperger’s syndrome and I still have some struggles because of it. The supervisor I just mentioned was aware that I have Asperger’s syndrome, but didn’t really know what it is. The first of the traits from the DSM IV I mentioned in my previous post was “marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors … to regulate social interaction.”
Liane Holliday Willey, author of Pretending to Be Normal, wrote, “My deep, dark fear, the one that makes my bones scream, is that there are AS people in search of friendships who will never find any, no matter what they do, solely because of their AS. … I know the reality that will wound them as they stumble forward, deeply lonely, and ever more estranged from others.”
“It’s not about his Asperger’s syndrome. It’s that he constantly talks about the same things all the time.” That was said to me once in reference to an aspie friend of mine. This is the problem that the assumption “but you look normal” leads to. It also demonstrates that Liane’s fear is valid; my friend was being rejected because of an aspie trait – “encompassing preoccupation with one or more … restricted patterns of interest…” (DSM IV).
Several years ago, a pastor came to the sound booth while I was shutting down after church. He looked at me and said, “I guess I have to talk to you about computers, since that’s all we have in common.” The best response I could muster at the time was, “are you sure about that?” He proceeded to talk about his computer problems. I wish I could have pointed out that we are both Christians or that he is a musician, so we both have an interest in how the worship sounds. I really wish he could have just skipped his assumptions about me and offered a topic.
Please set aside your assumptions. They get in the way of understanding.