But you seem perfectly normal to me…

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.

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11 Comments

Filed under About Asperger's Syndrome

11 responses to “But you seem perfectly normal to me…

  1. Gloria Smith

    This is So true for So many things. Aspies face this most strongly. But so many are told this because they “look normal” I was once told by an employer that I didn’t qualify for ADA because I wasn’t in a wheelchair. Even tho I have MS. Every one needs to remember your assumptions can be very hurtful and painful to another. And are we not told to love one another. Making assumptions does not really show the love of Christ.

  2. It’s the same issue for those who suffer with PTSD/TBI. We hear you loud ‘n clear! Your “sound board” is perfect! 🙂

  3. autism

    Why do you treat me, the way that you do
    I also have feelings, I am human too
    Why do you look at me, as if I were mad?
    I`m just a little different, you really make me sad

    Just like everyone else, I too have a name
    All that I ask is, you treat me the same
    I`m not crazy, so why do you tease
    I`m not sick, I don`t have a disease

    My mind is just different from others you see
    So stop what you thinking, there nothing wrong with me
    You could understand me if you just gave it a chance
    Instead of judging me just at a glance

    I wish you knew just how I felt
    About these cards of life, that I have been dealt
    All that I ask is that you understand
    And for once Stretch out a loving hand

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    Why do you treat me, the way that you do
    I also have feelings, I am human too
    Why do you look at me, as if I were mad?
    I`m just a little different, you really make me sad

    Just like everyone else, I too have a name
    All that I ask is, you treat me the same
    I`m not crazy, so why do you tease
    I`m not sick, I don`t have a disease

    My mind is just different from others you see
    So stop what you thinking, there nothing wrong with me
    You could understand me if you just gave it a chance
    Instead of judging me just at a glance

    I wish you knew just how I felt
    About these cards of life, that I have been dealt
    All that I ask is that you understand
    And for once Stretch out a loving hand

  4. Kristen

    You know… I definitely don’t have all the answers and I get it “wrong” A LOT. I am human after all. I have my own set of “issues” that I deal with and my husband is an Aspie. His left arm is also paralyzed. I have been apart of his life for 11 years. I recognize the difficulties that having only one good arm presents. He doesn’t let this stop him, however. He has overcome so much, but is still haunted daily. A couple years ago, we discovered the name of the other condition that has brought a lifetime of struggle…Aspergers Syndrome. As an NT, I struggled with understanding it all. I’m very thankful for the doctor that helped us piece it all together and for God’s strength. All that said, don’t ever assume anything. My husband is a man of courage, strength, determination and honor. I respect him with every ounce of my soul. However, whatever “normal” is, he isn’t. Don’t assume he can do or be what you think he should be. ASK QUESTIONS and learn.

  5. cynthia

    I appreciate your views……I think it can be expanded to point out assumptions about anyone…….aspie or not leads to miscommuniction and misunderstanding.many people without a diagnosis suffer from social inabilities and an increased sensitivity to being misunderstood…..if we opened our heart…let love guide us ..we might be a better people as a whole….embracing differences and common ground mutually

    • That’s very true. People make bad assumptions about others all the time. I’ve actually had people try argue with me over whether my left arm is paralyzed by saying it looks fine. Usually, I don’t care, but it can be problematic when it’s the flight attendant I just requested assistance from (yes, that actually happened). I wish that people would stop making stuff up in their heads. Get the real story, and yes, open your heart.

  6. DeAnna

    Kristen, I hope you realize what an inspiration you are as well. Carlyle is my BFF for a very huge reason. I know AS is a struggle for him, but I’m thankful for it. Carlyle sees me for me and expects nothing but understanding, love and respect. Isn’t that what we all expect? Both of you have given me so much. When I’ve been at my lowest he’s been there too pull me up and squeeze me with that one fantastic arm and help me understand why he knows I’m ok. Isn’t that fantastic and funny? This is a man who used to struggle with relationships? I am so proud of the growth and I know Kristen that one of his biggest blessings is the wife you are to him.

    • Kristen

      Awww….De, you are one special lady!! Thank you for the kind words. I’m not perfect, but I hope I am the best wife for him. You’ve been a wonderful friend to him as well. I can’t thank you enough for being a true friend. For opening up your heart and being there for both of us!! We love you!

  7. I like your blog, Carlyle. REALLY glad we’ve crossed paths.

  8. Sal

    One of the things I appreciate about you, Carlyle, is that you know yourself better than the vast majority of people know themselves. If that is an Aspie trait, it’s a definite plus. As an NT we tend to hide who we are from most of the world and put up a facade for all to see. And because of that facade we make assumptions that everyone else is doing the same thing. That is one of the reasons it is hard for a non-thinking, non-feeling NT to ever understand anything about an Aspie. You are for real! That is quite refreshing.

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