Prepare to enter the wild and wooly world of an adult with Aspergers Syndrome, a form of autism characterized by intellignce, quirks, social difficulties and downright strange and oddish behaviours.

People with Aspergers generally are high functioning in everyday life but have great difficulty connecting with others due to the inability to read faces, body language and subtle verbal clues. They also tend to take words literally and have a hard time multi-tasking.

Oversensitivity to touch (clothing has to be soft and often the tags removed), light (do not leave home without the sunglasses), sound (loud noises and noisey places are avoided), taste (many Aspies have quite a limited diet and are frequently very picky eaters) and smells makes the everyday existence more of a challenge.

Fasten your seatbelts and come on in...
To find out more about what Aspergers is..please check out my earliest blog entries

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Going Non-Verbal Voluntarily


On to More of Verbalization or Non-Verbalization as the case may be
So I have explained Selective Mutism and the episodes when I am completely unable to speak…Now I will move on to Elective Non-Verbalization and explain the many instances where I would rather not talk.
Not only did I grow up in one of those infamous Irish Catholic household where children should not be heard or seen, but my family was so large that I would be hard-pressed to be heard above the everyday din and roar.

A few months ago, as I was walking with a friend of mine, I very off-the-cuff stated half-jokingly, that there are 101 reasons Not to talk. Whilst it was an exaggeration, there really are a couple dozen valid Aspie-headed reasons not to say a word.

This is kindof hard to admit and may seem blaringly obvious, but, I don't follow conversations easily. My verbal processing skills are extremely slow, thus if I don't know where the conversation is at or if I fail to understand what is being said...I Don't Comment.
You would not believe how very long it took me to lessen everyday embarrassments by simply refraining from saying anything at all. The sheer volume of times that I have misunderstood and offered my two cents when the conversation was no where in the vicinity of what I was thinking, is more times than I care to imagine. Laughter, ridicule and embarrassment are definitely the three ugly sisters I used to hang with the most. I found them to be quite unpleasant, self-deprecating and downright meanies. It takes a certain amount of humble self-realization to be aware that chats are not my bag and not something to be entered into lightly. I think low-self-esteem has to come into play when one realizes that normal, everyday activities are beyond ones capabilities.

Along similar lines, I realized that one of the main reasons that I do not, as a rule, ask personal, socially acceptable questions like, "How are you?", "What are you doing?", "what do you think?" is that if I ask a question, say, "What do you think?" then that opens me up to get that same question asked back at me, otherwise known as “verbal retribution” (another neologism, made up word group), which people practice quite religiously as a societal norm Its an acceptable custom I noticed years ago. And I avoid that at all costs.
Its like, I am very inquisitive and curious as to how those neuro-typicals operate and think, but in order to find that info out, I have to take a huge risk and I might very easily, be put on the spot and the question mimicked back. Don't really want to go there.
As an example...I don't recall ever asking someone, "What are you thinking?" other than my Partner of 17 years. Before I even ask, I had to seriously contemplate whether it was worth it to ask when it might rebound. I took that chance and thankfully, it did not bounce back. Whew.
"What are you doing?" is a big toughie as it feels like I am invading someone’s privacy, sanctity, space and private world...OH, that's right...nt's don't live in little secure, predictable fortresses like I do..Note-to-self :)
I am finding that the average NT frequently likes to share thoughts, inner musings and such with a much greater frequency than I ever imagined. Its like, with some people, the door is always open. Hmmm, as opposed to the Aspien way of the door is always shut and "Don't you dare Knock" attitude is often present:)

What I consider as serious, heavy-duty personal questions (How do you
feel about that? and "What do you think about that?) are nothing more than average NT social questions. So, you can see why this Aspie has been rather seriously hampered in the social graces and everyday inquiries and banter.
Plus, if I ask, "How are you?" , they might really, really tell me and it could be they think ill of me or there is a huge family drama going on or they might solicit my advice on their intimate personal problems or tell me something graphic or otherwise, upsetting. Too Much Info. Plus, factor in the, sometimes I really don't care and I am trying to be polite. Call it Hurdles and Obstacles in the form of verbal banter.
Questions are huge challenges and full of potential problems. So, except for friends and the perfunctory "How are you?" I tend not to ask them too often.
And its none of my business. Ouch, where did that come from? I guess rejection and rudeness is also a potential that concerns me. I mean, how many times, in my sweet, family of birth, did I ask something and was told to "Shut Up" and that it was none of my business?....far too often.
I definitely have days, where I almost forget my autism, as long as my lips aren’t moving so anyone can hear.

One reason that I will not talk, at times, is my brain is miswired and if I go to say "good morning", even to someone that I normally say that to...my emotions will pour forth in a semi-violent and uncontrollable manner.
Sometimes, I am aware that the emotations (another neologism otherwise known as emotions and feelings) are lurking directly below the surface and I know, I Know, that if I say a single word, any word at all, it needn't be about what is causing this emotional uproar, I will have an emotional break down immediately.

Been there, done that, Do Not like that.

It makes no sense from the outsiders point of view, watching me exploded into tears at seemingly innocent questions and I usually do not feel like explaining why that is taking place. (Most of the time, I seriously may not even know)
I tend to sing at home and frequently, when I start and get it going, the first couple of songs or so, I have to just let ...emotations express before I can get back to a semblance of order and enjoy my little singing venture. More often than not, that is simply what happens with this Aspie.
Verbalization is such a complexity and I am really just starting to understand, comprehend and be okay with my emotional expressions due to their erratic, unpredictable and often, uncontrollable nature.
There are definitely times, where I have to decide whether it is worth the embarrassing emotional display in order to speak and get a point across.
For this Aspie, the emotional center is often directly tied to my verbal center.
In the informal and poorly funded study, where I observe the NTs, this is far from usual. Their verbal centers and emotional centers are definitely not as connected. They seem to keep emotations far from their lips, easily within its own compartment which they can access or not access at will, for the most part. Oh, to have such a grasp!

I feel like I have taken a lot of beating, much strife, from myself if not from others, regarding my verbalizations or lack thereof. It is kindof nice and reassuring to discover the whys and howcomes.
Yet another example of how very different and complex the Aspie way of life is.

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