3 Things you need to know about people with Aspergers
I’m going to ignore the fact that the DSM no longer includes Asperger’s as a diagnosis. Asperger’s remains a useful way to categorize people with very low social skills and very high IQ — and a high rate of manic-depression and suicide. It’s useful to separate out these people in order to help them. It’s like separating out people who have a gene for breast cancer. There are things you can do to make their lives better.
My son and I have Asperger’s so I am constantly thinking of how to help both of us better fit into the world. Here are three things that stand out to me.
1. To get along with someone who has Asperger’s, look closely at that annoying car.
You know when you’re on the highway and everybody moves along like a ballet – merging, exiting, changing lanes. There’s moving over for a truck. There’s moving away if you’re blocking someone who wants to go faster than you. There are all kinds of unwritten rules we adhere to in order to not run each other over.
The Asperger car is the one on cruise control at exactly the speed limit. Technically, that’s what everyone is supposed to do, but there are a million scenarios where if you refuse to slow down or speed up, you actually make everyone else’s life hell.
But there’s no way to tell that annoying car, “Hey, you’re breaking the law,” (because they’re not) and you can’t tell them, “Hey, you’re being inconsiderate,” (because they’ll say, “Well, that merging car could have slowed down until I got by.”) You can’t tell that car, “Hey, there are some unwritten rules you’re not paying attention to.” (They’ll say like what? And then they will argue.)
So there’s no way to tell the annoying car they’re annoying because they actually don’t understand the concept of annoying. They only understand the concept of right and wrong. People with Asperger’s have an intense need to do the right thing the right way. But often they fail to see what that is: Am I doing the speed limit? I’m right.
2. People with Asperger’s don’t have friends.
Someone with Asperger’s doesn’t feel a huge need to connect on an emotional level with lots of different people. They might think they are connecting emotionally. But it’s not how other people do it.
Like, the Asperger father who never called to say he loves you, or the Asperger girlfriend who disappears for five days because she didn’t know you would expect her to be there. It’s a friend who never calls or emails because they don’t see communication as part of a friendship.
There are a million different ways people with Asperger’s inadvertently isolate themselves from the world of friendship, but suffice it to say that while people with Asperger’s have lots of depression and lots of anxiety, you’ll rarely hear them say they need more friends.
People with Asperger’s want one friend. The problem is that in adult life your one friend has to be your spouse. So if you know you have Asperger’s you need to focus carefully on finding a spouse. Theoretically, this should be easy because high IQ and good looks go hand in hand, and the definition of Asperger’s includes higher IQ.
The thing that keeps most people with Asperger’s from finding a mate is understanding they need one. People with Asperger’s understand the theoretical need for a date for the prom. They understand theoretical desire for sex. They understand the concept of everyone has a house and kids and they don’t, but they don’t understand the leap you make to get there – you have to actually want to be close to one person.
It’s overwhelming to be close to people. A lot of people with Asperger’s who are married sleep in separate beds or have sex with minimal physical contact but you need to find the thing that’s going to work for you so you can have that one intimate relationship. Otherwise, you’ll get older and realize everyone is paired off and there’s no room for you to have your best friend, because adult life best friends are spouses.
3. Asperger’s is actually a workplace issue.
If you have a high IQ and low social skills it means you’re generally right and you generally don’t notice when you’re wrong. So life is pretty good, not for the people around you, but for you, if you can just go with that.
The problem is people need to be connected in the world to feel useful. It’s no fun to be right about everything if you can’t also be useful about what you’re right about. So people with Asperger’s need jobs, and people with poor social skills get fired.
There are a few ways to think about getting a job. One is that a job can be a break from the overly sensory aspects of the world. You can get a job where everything is the same. Your job is repetitive, nobody bothers you and the office is quiet. For some people this type of job would make them kill themselves. For someone with Asperger’s this job is like a vacation. Think DMV, court reporting, librarian, or even retail.
I spent most of my 20s doing retail, and though I didn’t know I had Asperger’s, I knew I adored my job. I had the books in every section of the bookstore memorized. I knew every publisher of every book. I loved the monotony of shelving books alphabetically day after day. Even the customer contact was lovely. They would only ask me questions about my narrow bookstore topics or sometimes ask for change. This is the type of job that is perfect for someone with Asperger’s.
The reason we stop doing these jobs is because we’re ashamed of having such a high IQ and enjoy doing jobs that don’t require high IQ. So part of getting along in the world with Asperger’s is accepting that not everybody has to have a high IQ job just because they have a high IQ.
The other thing you can do with work if you have Asperger’s is specialize. People with Asperger’s are obsessive. If you can find a way to get paid for what your obsession is, then your employability is secure even though your social skills are not.
Don’t kid yourself that typical Asperger’s specialties are useful. Memorizing air travel minutia, train schedules, military formation, Pokemon decks: You cannot monetize these fetishes. Memorize stuff other people with Asperger’s are unlikely to gravitate to, like the characteristics of Generation Y. Then people respect your work.
Really, I have a feeling that what gave me the ability to bridge from a quirky writer to a marketable writer was focusing obsessively on Generation Y. Nobody could memorize the facts as fast as I did, and because they were all in my head I could synthesize them faster than everybody else and come up with trends. It gave me a key advantage in my career that separated me from the typical career paths of unemployable people with Asperger’s.
When people say to me, “I have someone in my life who has Asperger’s. What can I do to help them?” my first thought, no matter what age they are, is that the person with Asperger’s needs to understand that they need a life partner and they need a job. The high rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide in the Asperger population come from not having these two things. It doesn’t matter if you get paid a lot. It doesn’t matter if you have kids. It doesn’t matter if you make enough money to live on your own. You just need those two things: a life partner and a job.
Thanks Penelope. My youngest has Asperger’s and the advice at the end of your post really helps me. There are so many things I’d like to help him with but I can’t do it all; probably shouldn’t do it all as it’s his life to figure out. But I can talk to him about job and spouse.
I would think that you know this about Bi-polar, also. Your first sentence touched me. I understand. While I do not have Aspergers , I consider myself having something quite close to it. I am bi-polar (NOS) with co-morbidity of severe anxiety. Had it since childhood but nobody knew back then what it was and in the sixties Valium or Librium was shoved down ones face. I dint know manic depression and suicide was an Issue for people with Aspergers. At least you can work and fine work it is. Someone like me can hardly make it out of bed most days when manic. I Have pushed and pushed as hard as I could to make it to the top of my profession and the disease got the best of me. Haven’t been able to work for 15 years, and lost all my friends. I thought friends were supposed to be there when you need them. I lost all friends and extended family. I believe that Apergers is a developmental disorder while what I have is a mental disease. I do not know if the stigma associated with your disorder is very high, but People like are in so many cases considered like lepers. You end with 2 thins someone with Aspergers needs , a life partner and job. I am fortunate to have one, a life partner I hope. The divorce rate for people like me is about 90 percent and its not uncommon for people like me to go on disability. i don’t even want to touch on the suicide issues. I give you an immense amount of credit for facing your disorder head on. I suffer every day with this disease 24/7, and I don’t know who I will be from day to day and fear going to sleep at night. Writing keeps me somewhat sane. I sure do miss having a job but for people with my disease employers don’t understand. You haven’t touched on the stigma.There is even stigma in the medical community. Our country needs to be educated on issues above the neck and just not below the neck. Thank you again. I learned lots and have an admiration that you seemed to have figured it out for yourself and family while people like me don’t have the opportunity. You give me some hope. Again, thank you kindly.
I have a similar dual-diagnosis and have worked full time for 13 years in an office, at a desk, doing the same thing, and since I stopped, I no longer want to kill myself.
Hi :) Yes,depression is quite common in ppl with aspergers.Its as if the two feelings work against each other for me.The aspergers makes you recluse so u can recover from the complete mental drainage and the depression makes you feel lonely and wanting to reach out to ppl but then when you do you know it was the wrong move as social contact is just too much to handle sometimes.crazy how complex our brains are huh.Stay positive because one day you will get that one day were u feel happy and it will come back to you I promise ya.god is good.
Thanks for this… I work with individuals and families affected by intellectual disabilities (which includes the label of autism, and used to include Asperger’s). It’s a bit scary that lots of people are going to lose access to services based on their diagnosis no longer existing. Thankfully, we don’t have to stick too strictly to diagnostic categories due to our broad mandate. I’m working on creating a boundaries/relationships/sexuality/parenting skill development module for folks, and this sort of info is useful to know in terms of some of what I need to include in the ‘curriculum’ (which is going to be able to be customized depending on who the facilitator is talking to). I love your blog and read every post!!
Plus the DSM is on its way out anyway.
While #2 and #3 are going to be generally correct, I do take issue with the first, in part for trying to be specific to a broad group of unique people and for trying to do so with a car analogy. I’ve come to the same conclusion with #2, still at a loss as to how I’m expected to do anything about it. For #3, I’m grateful in *so* many ways to my job. In my case, it had to be a high-iq job, because my mind is easily bored, and it requires challenge. The additional benefit is that it pays better, allowing me to live in a location better suited to other needs, like a quiet environment with pets and nature.
What a courageous person you are Penelope. Thanks for putting yourself out there, for using your life to help and inform people. Isn’t that the purpose of all our lives when you et down to the raw basics? You’re brave. Thank you for showing what you feel…
I have a friend who has Asperger’s and this was a very enlightening article. I think she looks at friendship much differently than I do. The car analogy was so insightful.
This made me sad. A preschool child I had at age 2 had this I mean has this. I told his mom who said Nope nothing is wrong with him. Even his dad was questioning and the mom told the dad NO nothing is wrong. She blamed me for not having enough kids (14) for social interaction to teach him social skills. He went to kindergarten where I picked him up and he had a letter every single day from the teacher saying he made this noise or yelled while sitting under the table, etc. The biggest one was he flat refused to get off the playground so the principle had to stand watching him until his mom came. The mom will not see what this child has and is as effected him greatly.
Thanks for talking about the parents who refuse to get their kid evaluated. It’s so common for parents to think that giving the kid a label will only be harmful. Until we acknowledge who we are and our strengths and weaknesses we cannot be our best selves. I think so many parents cringe at the idea of acknowledging their kids’ weaknesses, but that’s part of a parent’s job – to help the kid see clearly who they are.
My name is Alt Tab and I have Aspergers as well. I liked your annalysis of the 2 things you need when you have Aspergers, which is funny because I don’t like too much of what I read. First, I don’t agree with the whole social thing. Aspies know how to socialize when they have people that are worth socializing with just like everyone else does. The only reason everyone else is so comfortable socializing is because they’re in a world of clones that look, think and act just like they do. It’s preety easy to talk shit when you’re in the majority. Another thing I don’t agree with is this whole “lack of empathy” thing. It’s fair to say that people react differently to different situations and events, but t’s pretty damned arogant to say that somebody is mentally difficiant simply because they didn’t react the way you wanted them to. I found your blog to be simple and informative, unlike the propagand pamphlets straight out of WW2 Germany I’ve read in the past. I think some aspies resent being compared to annoying cars,.
spoken like a true aspie.
@Alt Tabb: Agreed!. I think this article meant well, but it’s highly untrue. I HATE repition in a work place, makes me feel insanely trapped. I love routine in day to day normal chores, but pretty much everything else is more fun spontaneous!. I also have like zero close friends, because some died, & the ones in the past who are alive are too repetitive for me, in cyclical living, it drives me insane. I feel more & deeper than probably E.T. So maybe I am not an aspie*, maybe I am an alien. *;) xoxoxoxo*
P.s.: I like what you said at the end Penelope, by the way, about a life that sings ~*
But all people need a life partner ! & a job. No matter what those two things mean individually. P.s.S.: you & your son are beautiful! And I hope my thoughts bring more sight than harm! Just from personal experience, it helps to see from all angles~ . We’re all in this together, all people, this thing called life~ *;)
Hey ya I agree, with what your saying, they may have meant well. But I have alot of empathy, I care for people. I have friends who I get along with we have laughs, talk. Everyone’s different not all people with aspergers are the same. Even people who don’t have aspergers have troubles with socializing, or who love routines. We do not have any weaknesses. We are just like everyone else. I like routines sometimes, but most of the time I like just making up my day as it goes, be spontaneous at times. We should be treated equal, I believe everybody is equal.
We also understand the law, were not stupid we are intelligent people.
Respectfully, when you say “just like everyone else does”, that’s the important misunderstanding. Other people aren’t, in fact, “clones” thinking just like everyone else, but rather are simply minding the “unwritten rules” in order to get along with each other. The differences in how people feel and react are there for everyone, but there are particular strategies to smooth things over and make yourself understood that most people without AS are familiar with. People with AS are sometimes noted for misunderstanding the thoughts and intentions of others, and likewise, it can be hard for people without AS to understand those who have it.
Certainly, the car comparison might be upsetting, but it is actually a good description of what it feels like on the other side, as someone without AS who is trying to figure out why their friend or loved one with AS does some of the things they do. While you may not realize it, Trunk’s description of trying to explain to the driver of the “annoying car” what they’ve done wrong actually fits perfectly with what you’ve written here.
I don’t think anybody is arguing that failing to notice these rules or pick up on the queues about the feelings of others is a mental deficiency, per se. Not being aware of something or insisting that it is not true is not the same as being unable to understand or learn. It can, however, be very difficult for those without AS to tell the difference between “not knowing the rules and making a social mistake” and “intentionally breaking them in order to hurt others”. Understanding that is probably beneficial to people with and without AS alike.
Medically, Aspergers does not exist any longer as a diagnosis or condition.
The name might have disappeared from the DSM but it will always be used to describe this condition. In matter of fact I just trained some major employers and yes we used the “Autism Spectrum” but we are in fact talking about Asperger’s.
Penelope I have been following your blog for around two months. There is something in the way you share your life that strucks me and helps me go beyond my own limitations. I am completely without Asperger´s. My sister is bi-polar and I was born wanting to balance the equation, wanting to conform, thinking about others, about that slow car driving in the highway, about that fast car reaching the speed limit… How to deal with all of them without bothering anyone… I drive fast, but I cant stop considering everyone else´s needs around me. The honest and fresh way you have to express yourself has helped me see things in a different way. I admire your honesty, I fear imagining myself being so crudelty true.
Fascinating article. You are doing so much to help people understand each other and themselves. This is why I love the internet. I would have never had the chance to learn from you without it!
Penelope, I love this. You created a life that you enjoyed, with your talents. Asperger’s is part of why you’re awesome.
Fabulous blog. I find that I’d rather have a small family business than a job. A job always entails politics and meetings and 9 to 5 mandated schedule. I prefer to choose my own schedule, have zero meetings and politics, and select my own staff. We are an e-tailer with biz at home. It’s a perfect fit. Here’s hoping I never need to interview again ever!
Personally I don’t buy that it’s a disorder. Nearly everyone in my huge extended family is aspy as are my friends (who I do not call on a regular basis but I enjoy seeing them). So to me this is normal and I think the neurotypicals have issues (shallow, illogical, petty, overemotional, political, not noticing the obvious, dumb actions).
I have found since I had kids I especially have zero capacity for maintaining friendships on a daily or weekly basis, aside from the fact I run into them at my kids’ school and sports. I’m trying to keep my kids alive and moving in a forward direction. I’m trying to stay married. I have to feed a houseful of men and boys, no small task. To be really social I need to have a lot of time on my hands and firing on all cylinders (good health, low stress etc). If I’m overworked or stressed, the ability to be social is the first thing to go out the window.
Freud believed that love and work are what everyone needs, right? Or is that an urban myth?
Well, he certainly said we have a death drive and a pleasure principle.
I think it’s great to tell Aspergersish people to focus on finding a partner. I get that. It took a long time but it finally makes sense.
The question is how. I’m almost 30 and have never been in a relationship. Why would a ‘normal’ in their right mind enter into a relationship with someone on the spectrum? What types of people should we be looking for? Someone with low IQs but high empathy to balance us out? Or fellow spectrum types who won’t notice our weirdness?
Hi Andrew– You should realize there are a lot of women out there who appreciate weirdness and quirkiness and some of us find it very attractive, sexy, unique, challenging (in a good way) and adorable. I am in love with a guy who I presume has aspergers based on him telling me has a form of autism as well as characteristics of his that match the (former/DSM-IV) criteria, plus the way people describe aspergers on forums/blogs. You do not need a lower IQ woman. I think the woman needs to be curious, adventurous, patient, fun-loving, and interested in learning about aspergers. It would also help if you share some of your interests. It also needs to be a woman that inspires you to meet her in the middle as there is a risk with aspergers that her needs for your time, attention, affection might not be met. She is likely to meet your needs if she matches the description I mentioned; on the other hand, she may eventually bail if her needs are not met or if you are not at least showing you are trying!
Incidentally, the guy I am in love with I believe is not interested. He had told me he was interested in me, and it really seemed to me that he was, but he also explained he was terrible at relationships. He has now disappeared for the last three weeks, more or less. In this disappearing act, he proved himself right.
In any case, that is my opinion of the type of woman to look out for. Good luck!
Thank you, Sideways— but I’m gay, actually. Which doesn’t change the fundamentals but it does create additional challenges: Namely, there are a lot fewer possible partners out there for me.
When you say, “curious, adventurous, patient, fun-loving, and interested in learning”– those sound great. Maybe they make sense to a ‘normal’ person. But they’re less meaningful to me. I operate best when I have specific examples. And I could argue some of those traits both ways. “Adventurous” for example. I’m definitely not adventurous. I like routines, and entering into new social situations can be nerve-racking, i.e. going to a new bar, taking a vacation or going on a trip where I can’t easily leave prematurely.
What I’d like Penelope to provide is some sort of checklist people like me can use. A flowchart, is possible. We need someone who can write down all the unwritten rules about dating.
Apologies for my heteronormative assumption! (A big word I learned from my sister). But, I am sorry. Yes I agree that the rest of my comment still stands. Quick disclaimer too that I am mainly speaking from my own experience of having strong feelings for someone with aspergers, along with reading what feels like everything there is out there on how successful couples have made it work. Of course I have factually probably only read 2% of it all, but it’s still a lot! Therefore my response comes from gut instinct of my own situation but certainly not any cat experience or experience. I agree it would be great to hear from Penelope or others with more knowledge on the matter. In the meantime, I will give you my response.
First of all, I agree with someone’s comment above that love is love. That is true, and in my opinion, you should first look for someone who you simply feel comfortable with and happy around, who you trust, and who also feels comfortable and happy around you, and trusts you. This will have probably 95% or more to do with your individual personalities and chemistry, rather than the specifics of your neurology.
But if you are having trouble literally identifying or recognizing certain traits that could make a coupling more successful from the starting gate, here are the specifics on what I meant with the admittedly very subjective adjectives I used above. Apologies in advance for any long-windedness.
curious – what I mean here is someone who demonstrates a strong interest in learning new things on a range of topics. It is okay that you may focus on only a few. In fact, if you focus on one or two specifically, a genuinely curious person will be interested in learning more about your focus topics and what makes them fascinate you. because I am a curious person, if someone tells me they love astronomy, somthing I have never thought much about, then I will suddenly be open to hearing the fascinating things there are to learn about astronomy. To me, curious means a person who is fascinated by the world. I could read about Italian folk music, politics during the Ottoman empire, 1950s American dating rituals, Korean fashion trends, and be very focused and interested by what I read. Because I am a curious person. I think someone like this would just find aspergers to be something valid to learn about, and in turn they would be more likely to be able to adapt as needed to specifics of your needs. Take for example my reading about aspergers. Initially I was motivated to read a lot in order to understand the man who I love. But then I got more drawn it as I found it fascinating to learn about a dimension of the diversity of human experience that I had previously known nothing about. A fascinating new world opened to me.
Adventurous – in thinking about it, I believe here what I really meant was all the aspects of curious that I mentioned above. Someone who is willing to try new things. You will recognize this by someone perhaps who travels, eats a wide variety of foods, follows a less conventional career path, etc. That said, I agree that your predeliction toward routine could contrast with this. Specifically what I had in mind in saying this was that, for me, I would consider it an adventure to navigate a relationship with an aspie. Probably why intervultural relationships have also often attracted me. Just my adventurous side. Some people want “normal” and “typical” but an adventurous person will be stimulated by the adventure of learning to live together and compromise with an aspie. I understand you are interested in routine and I think that you both have to be willing to compromise for each other to some extent. But overall I think the adventurousness of a partner could be an asset. You both have to be comfortable enough in the relationship to allow both of your sides to emerge. For example, you let him go to Thailand because he has always wanted to (and maybe you don’t go together, or you do if you can handle it)… while he also respects your need for routine and doesn’t often ask you to deviate from your routine; when he does, it is for a good reason and with fair warning.
Patient: I think you would recognize patience by seeing someone who rarely loses their temper, gets mad, yells, but who does SAY calmly what is bothering them. If they don’t SAY what is bothering them and calmly look for common ground, they could be repressing those feelings inside, and that is unhealthy for them and any relationship. The way you would know the difference is anyone who never raises issues or concerns, or tries to resolve differences, is probably repressing. Someone who routinely raises issues in a calm and reserved way is patient. Patient people are also people who you notice are willing to postpone their own gratification. If someone is nagging you to hug them, and you aren’t in the mood for touch, and they roll their eyes or get annoyed, then they are not demonstrating patience. Keep in mind no one is perfect, but overall patience I think is something to look for an your mate.
Fun-loving: I am reconsidering whether this is a good idea as an aspie mate but my gut says yes, so let me try to explain from my own experience. I am fun-loving which to me means I have an open spirit. If there is music on at the store that I like I will dance and sing along, and hope to amuse people by doing so. I love to play sports and get very enthusiastic with my team mates when they make a great play or score, etc. I love to cuddle and play game with my children. When someone says something cute or adorable, I feel like hugging them. So with an aspie, it might seem like some of my physical affectionateness would have to be somewhat held in. But on the other hand, I am able to genuinely enjoy my aspie more than maybe others can. It’s this fun-loving spirit that makes me fall in love with him in even more when he says something unconventional or looks at something a new and different way that I had never thought of. It makes me want to jump up and down. Hopefully I don’t sound like Tom Cruise. :)
Interested in learning – this was just redundant with curious (see above).
In general, I think you will find there are plenty of people out there to love you. What might hold you back more is a limiting belief or incredulity that people would. When I was first divorced with two kids I could not believe anyone would date me now that I was older and with two kids. For about 3 years, I met no one, because I really thought it was unworkable. Now, 5 years later, I routinely meet new people who show interest. I am of course even older than I was when I thought I was too old! That is because I shed my limiting belief, and my confidence (as well a recognition when men were showing interest) returned.
Andrew, this is not actually bad advice from sideways. I think you are looking for more clear direction.
So here’s really clear direction. Marry anyone who loves you. Or do whatever the gay equivalent of long-term commitment is in your state. Anyone who takes the time to love you really understands you and that is reason enough to love that person back.
Other things – -looks, jobs, money, ambition, location – it all changes. And the more we fit peoples’ expectations about a mate, the more choosy we can be about those other, nonessentials. Since you are outside of most peoples’ expectations for a mate, you should focus on that one thing: meeting someone’s expectations. If you meet them, keep that person.
Thank you, Sideways and Penelope. It is incredibly helpful when people spell things like this out for me using specific examples.
I have been guilty of judging people based on the things Penelope mentions (e.g. career, education, geography, attractiveness) because they are much easier to objectively discern than emotional compatibility.
Hi Andrew, My husband is an Aspie and I am neuro typical. We met 12 years ago on the internet, while playing the same game. Our relationship isn’t always easy, but it works. I actually think a partner of an aspie needs average to high IQ as there are more things to deal with than in a relationship with an NT person. But that just makes it all the more fun. Not sure this will help you. But please don’t give up, there are certainly people out there that enjoy quirkiness.
It’s important and crucial that aspy’s date or build relationships with like minded people. Who else understands you …. you do. Give it a try and I wish you the best.
Men tend do much better at dating than Aspy woman. Heck I wish I could find an Aspy guy. He will listen to me ramble about a bunch of nothing and look up at me every so often and give me a smirk that he is in fact still alive. He won’t argue like normal men, embarrass himself around others and I don’t have to worry about him hitting on my GF’s. I’m not big into sex and neither are they. It’s a perfect match for ME. As of the woman they have no chance and 90% usually end up alone. They tend to strike no interest in what most men like….example… sports. They look gorgeous because the lack of muscle tone in their facial features and it’s crazy to see so many aspy gals doing this on-line dating thing. They’re making up profiles that make others think they’re normal girls and YES you can be fooled very easily. A good friend of mine met a gal on match.com and they even dated for 8 months. I met her and it was obvious she was an aspy. I asked her if she was an aspy and she stormed off and I never saw her again. YUP…..she’s an aspy. haha!!!!
Jenn, please don’t think I’m picking on you (although as an aspie I often do this.) but you are wrong here.
Aspie men don’t have a better time of it at all. Men (in general) normally do the approaching, women (in general) normally are approached. Most women are pretty (whether it be natural or with make up, hair, clothes etc.) and will therefore attract men.
This is where aspie men and women grind to a halt all too often because we then mumble and mess up our lines and the moment. This is the hardest hurdle to overcome, let alone where you move on from there.
You then have some misconception that your aspie mate will listen to you ramble about a bunch of nothing and look up every now and again etc…
He won’t be listening and he will most likely be looking up at you wishing you would stop rambling because he’s engrossed in his own interest.
He won’t argue??? You sure :) My wife is NT and I would argue all day long at all the things that seem to be silly, pointless, not done in a sensible way etc BUT I don’t because I don’t want to get into a long ‘debate’ on something that is not worth my breath or thinking time. I have enough to contend with in my mind without arguing about nothings.
Over my life I have learnt to take the easiest route. So do I want to argue. YES. Do I? Nooo, I don’t want to be stuck here arguing about something that someone should be doing…AGAIN….if they didn’t listen before they won’t now so I will not waste my time and I don’t want any anger or negative thoughts taking up my headspace and messing up my day. If I did you can be sure that the day is going to go downhill for us both and fast.
Compromise for most Aspies in a relationship tends to be a case of ‘putting up with’ or ‘settling for’ because most NTs who try to understand don’t. They can’t and neither can we ‘really’ understand how you feel. It’s often easier and better really for us to do the settle for and put up with because that is what we should do in ‘normal life’ and it helps keep us in practice of how to deal with the real world.
An Aspie not embarrass himself around others :) He will probably be silent, bored, nervous around others, which leads to a desire to leave the environment OR drink to calm his nerves and perceived ‘shyness’ which will then lead to him talking non stop about things that interest him, others not being able to get a word in, people thinking he is arrogant or ignorant. Recipe for disaster (I met my wife when I was absolutely smashed or I would’ve just sat opposite her not knowing whether she like me or not and not saying a word.)
The hitting on your GF thing is a bit silly. If a man loves you Aspie or not he isn’t going to hit on your girlfriends. If he is Aspie but not in love with you, then this could be a cursed thing because he might not be able to tell you and trap himself into a relationship that he does not know how to get out of. We are very very concious that we offend people and we can be scared to say things to people especially if we don’t want to offend them.
The sex thing is a stereotype. The Aspie’s don’t like Sex much is not true at all. Each to their own. Without being too graphic my wife needs to turn me down all the time or she would not be able to walk!!! I concede there isn’t a lot of thought about ‘love making’ or ‘sharing’ in my sexual thoughts but I can assure you that sex is high on my agenda. Maybe it is because it diverts from the constant ‘thinking’ of the day????? I do enjoy sex just as I enjoy cuddling, kissing, hugging and all the other clingy physical contact things that my wife has to beat me off throughout the day :)
So they are not a perfect match for you for the reasons you are stating.
The right person (Aspie or not) is the perfect match for you and sometimes you have to take the risk of being made a fool of if you confuse body language etc and take that jump. Its really hard and many times you can end up going home feeling so sad at the end of the night / day but then one day your life becomes 100x better and you meet the person who will help you get through the rest of your life without feeling alone.
Personally I think it would be a nightmare to be in a relationship with another aspie. Mainly because we are so consumed by ourselves and our own needs that 2 of us doing it would be pointless. We would never spend time together apart from going through the motions (lust.)
Aspies tend to not have anything in common with anyone else. Yes your specialist subject may be the same however you will then argue about the minor details of that specialist subject or have a focus on a totally different minute detail of that specialist subject.
Better to find someone who you are attracted to and who is attracted to you. Someone caring that enjoys you enjoying yourself. Someone who is interested in you, not in your obsession. Someone who is happy to let you have your space and ‘me time’ when you want it but also ready to be physical when you feel the need to cuddle, kiss, hug or ……..
Be happy but please don’t believe all these stereotypes. We already try to imitate so many NT stereotypes in our daily lives just to get by without convincing ourselves that we are all a stereotype as well.
Why would a ‘normal’ in their right mind enter into a relationship with someone on the spectrum? Andrew, really?
I’m an aspie to the core. My wife took to me because I was nice, caring, and took seriously my provider/protector roles. I live to be my family’s hero, it keeps me grounded.
I have a great career and can provide for everything my family wants. I am in charge of a team of computer repair engineers, who come to me for advice when they cannot figure something out. I also have never taken a computer class in my life. Computers are patterns, and when the patterns break, so do the computers. These breaks are easy for me to spot, as they interrupt the flow of the pattern. Ah, sorry, I believe I just Aspergered Out! My need for you to understand everything as I do. A blessing on the side in my job, as I can make a carrot understand how to use or perform self-repair on their computers.
For my kids, homework help is a breeze. Especially if creativity is involved. And if it’s something repeatable, then I can’t get the information to stop… I end up overhelping and getting a Dad, come on comment… but it’s laughed off.
Now go out there and find your better half! She’s out there waiting for you to fix something for her…
Just be open in the beginning about your specialties from the get go! And communicate! Never assume she knows what you’re thinking, unless she says so.
Lastly, absorb her input… no matter how much your inner being wants to run, escape, correct, modify, or discredit…. there has been more than one occasion that I have missed something key in the cloud of my perfectness….
BTW, before I was diagnosed with Aspergers, I chose my screen name by the title of a song I could identify with. It’s by Suicidal Tendencies and it’s called “Nobody Hears”… If you have aspergers, see if you identify with the words of the song.
I love this post. I also love the show Parenthood. They should use you as a source, although they might already because they handle the character with Asberger’s brilliantly, imo.
Hi, P. This post resonated very strongly. As a retail teen, I was the sole freak who knew the paint department inside out. As a copywriting adult, I parlayed my aspie ‘superpowers’ into a lucrative and satisfying home-based business:
It was fascinating to read of your journey, too. Kind regards, P. :)
I too am a woman with Aspergers and a son with Aspergers. One difference is that I’m in the closet. No one outside my family knows about my diagnosis, only my son’s. I’m a hypocrite, and it’s all for self-preservation when it comes to job opportunities and my workplace. (In fact, I am using my fake alias name to post this!) I got a small taste of what it wold be like for me when a boss casually opened up about his ADHD, by way of explaining why long emails were not his preferred method of communication. Over time I watched as my co-workers began seeing every minor mis-step my boss made through the filter of him being ADHD, and began questioning his ability to do his job. He was eventually let go.
Well I have bad news for you. Its not going away. If you were honest people would probably understand you better. Check your ego and live who you are. Not who you want to be.
1). People (not on the autism spectrum) who go through horrible tragedies and/or deep depression all report that their “friends” quickly disappeared and stopped returning their phone calls. Then they seem shocked to learn that their “friends” are really casual acquaintances who drop them like a hot potato when they become a “drag” to hang out with.
I submit that people on the autism spectrum don’t really have fewer friends, they just aren’t interested in these kind of “friends”.
An ASD friend will still return your phone calls when your other “friends” are long gone. They will tell you that it’s stupid that you keep talking about your dead parent/spouse/child. But, if they sense that you need it, they will listen to you do it for the 50th time because that’s what friends do.
2). I read a post that Aspergers Syndrome is arguably the most successful diagnosis of the past 15 years. It created a place for people who were commonly undiagnosed or misdiagnosed to learn about themselves and other people like them. It created a community where none had existed.
I think I see what you’re getting at with your second point. I just want to throw it out there though that if your community only exists between people who are a lot ‘like you,’ then that’s not a very rich community (in more ways than one, particularly when we’re talking about labels that come from the DSM)
For Andrew: Just look for someone who is genuinely kind and somewhat patient.
Oh. Wow. I just love this advice for people with Aspergers who are dating. It’s so simple and it will work. I wish I read this before I gave my own, not as incisive advice.
Genuinely kind, patient, AND who loves you. And I’d add generous, especially when it comes to time and spirit.
Dating an Aspy is easy? Let’s not kid ourselves please. By all means it’s not. I’ve seen both sides of this fence and yes men do much better than woman but for those who are dating aspy’s they have many many different challenges. It would be better to say yes it possible as long as you accept the challenges.
Where does this ‘men do much better than women?’ Through lack of social skills the easy way out is to pick up a sport to have something to enjoy with others. This can then leave you stuck in the male ‘macho’ world while they all pair up over time and you are left all alone albeit with a sport that you can talk to any other person that likes that sport.
Think about all those single guys in snooker, pool, billiards, darts teams!!! The ones that play every night in their local league. Never seem to have girlfriends. always out on the lash with the lads. Stuck in a rut just as many people can be at work, trapped and unable to get off the train without an empty hole being left in their life. This was their passport to social engagement. A way in to being one of the lads and an entry to the singles scene where you can utilise the group’s confidence to help you meet girls……….Well all of those guys get left behind.
Should add that I eventually got out of this trap aged 30 and was married a year later. been married 9 years now but I spent my late teens right up to 30 in a virtual constant drunken daze, being told that girl after girl fancied me but not having the courage/confidence to approach or even not noticing and they all got bored trying to get notice by me.
I had learning disabilities as a child and a lot of characteristics of autism when I was really small but was determined that I was not autistic. After reading a book by Temple Grandin called “Thinking in Pictures,” I was first introduced to the idea that there are varying degrees of autism (asperger’s being mentioned).
However, I’ve heard that it manifests differently in girls than in boys. The typical, male-oriented attributes didn’t really fit me but when I saw so much of myself in a listing of symptoms as they manifest in girls. What are your thoughts on male vs. female traits of aspergers?
This post was an eye opener to me, a fellow aspie. I have a very good job (professor) and a partner who loves me. But most of the time, I think about leaving him. I want to be alone more than anything. I am disgusted by lots of his habits. I no longer want sex. I prefer the company of my dogs. I long for loneliness. I have suicidal thoughts every day, mostly I think because I feel trapped into having to cope with another person on a daily basis. I seriously consider going back to living alone and spending the rest of my life alone. I struggle with this every day. But maybe it is due to being aspie, more or less bipolar and prone to sucidal thoughts? I am stuck. Linda.
Suicidal thoughts are a sign that something is wrong. Don’t ignore them, and don’t listen to them. Get whatever help you need. Tell someone in your life how you feel. Opening up will help. There are lots of resources for you. Don’t think that you have to live this way.
I agree about the need for help and resources when it comes to suicidal thoughts, so I hope that is possible.
And I also know that for me I like to be in a partnership but have to have my own space — sleeping in my own bed is really important, as is having my alone time, or I get really restless and anxious. It’s a delicate balance.
So why not go back to living alone? I believe it’s what most people would prefer to do, if they could afford it.
I think you need to sort out how much is depression, and how much of the issue is your feelings for your partner. When we are depressed, our outlook on everything can be slanted toward the negative. So, once you get help for the suicidal thoughts and depressed mood, maybe then you can start thinking about whether you want to remain in your relationship.
I at this point in time have trouble understanding what is required from me. In terms of rules and what to do in certain situations (when to apply a hug or a hand shake) or noticing things wrong I have done or didn’t do leading to a lot of useless conversations which to me sometimes is like crazy people explaining their crazy with meaningless social nonsense, for example being constantly asked to “hang out” or “go out on the town” which will always be a no and then explaining it as “people need each other for fun” which none of that makes me at all comfortable or to in my mind to be understandable. There is absolutely hidden things that people seemed to of already learnt at which I don’t know when this knowledge was available for me to learn. I am content with myself and anything extra is just overwhelming and counterintuitive to how I want to be and live. I liked your views in this article aswell.
I have Aspergers, my son has it also and my grandson is profoundly Autistic. I’m 66 now, and I’ve got to tell you, I didn’t even start to develop social skills until…yesterday? The other thing is that you tend to figure things out for yourself, by logic. I ruined my entire high school career after moving to a new school and having a boy ask me (also you feel compelled to answer any question) “Are you a virgin?” Not know what a virgin was I thought for a minute. The only virgin reference I had was Virgin Mary. Virgin Mary had a baby with a man not her husband. Virgins must be bad. So I answered with an emphatic, “NO!” Needless to say, I got only the assholes asking me out. Great start. Have you see the TV series The Bridge? You must.
So is the differentiating factor the high IQ? Because children of alcoholics and people with PTSD are kind of the same way.
With PTSD (my own experience) you think a clear sense of right and wrong should protect you, but it doesn’t. You’re just trying to keep from getting hurt, so you stick to what you know is right, and you want everybody else to do what’s right because you’re afraid for yourself.
And then friends…..once you realize alcoholics don’t make good friends, you push them away. Then you have no friends until you can figure out a new way to relate to people that doesn’t involve drinking and socializing in bars.
Is Asperger’s more of a subconscious thing? Whereas everyone else is just making conscious decisions in life? Is it involuntary, like the high IQ? It’s out of your control?
Also, loving someone with Asperger’s is the same as loving anyone else in this world. Be kind, caring, and understanding, because that’s what we all need. Love is love no matter what your issues are (another example of my right-and-wrong thinking)
Randolph, you bring up an interesting question, which is what’s the difference between the odd ways that people with PTSD interact with the world and the odd ways that people with Asperger’s interact with the world.
I read about this a lot, of course, since I have both.
If you have PTSD you are generally a genius at reading nonverbal cues. You have probably taught yourself to read nonverbal cues because there was craziness all around you and no one protecting you so you protected yourself by trying to predict trouble.
People who have borderline personality disorder– and extreme caused by PTSD — often seem to function like mind readers because they are so good at reading peoples’ nonverbal cues.
If you have suffered trauma in the past, you might react to people in nonstandard ways — people have conditioned you to expect nonstandard things from people.
If you have Aspergers you react to people in nonstandard ways but the reason is that you are misreading those people.
So if you have PTSD you read people well and react poorly. If you have Aspergers you read people poorly and react poorly.
This makes total sense. That question’s been bugging me for so long. Thank you.
I’d love ot know what people who drive the annoying car, have no friends, but do not have a particularly high IQ are called. I think it is just ‘weird’.
So many times I can tell I make other people uncomfortable, and I just want to say, “I’m so sorry you don’t like me and want to get away, please don’t feel like you need to spend a lot of time complaining about me to co-workers to justify your feelings, everybody who has met me for the past 40 years has come away with similar feelings, you are normal.”
Ha ha is your blood type AB by any chance? The Japanese blood type horoscope says that people with that blood type are not easy to get along with for other people. Maybe because they Sense that the blood is incompatible. Lol what a strange concept.
Wow, you have described me to a T! I apparently have some Asperger symptoms (drive the speed limit, enjoy doing my job because it’s repetitive even though I know I’m capabable of doing more and in fact quit a higher-paying job where I did more because it was causing so much angst, don’t seek out friends, am just fine being solitary…). I like being me, however, and can’t imagine being any other way. Yes, I envy people who are outgoing, and have lots of friends, but that’s never been me and I’ve never figured out how to be that person (or why I’d need to). Thanks for this post!
Lol this made me laugh. All those people who moan about traffic cameras just there to make money. I used to get near beaten up when I just could not understand what people’s grievance was.
They are there to stop speeding, not to make money. If you speed you get caught, don’t want to get caught, then don’t speed and thus don’t make them money.
Why argue about these things? If you don’t want to get done for speeding, don’t speed. lol.
These days I bite my tongue like everything else. I only ‘debate’ if I really have to.
Looking for advice. Thank you in advance to anyone who takes the time to read this. I know it is a little long.
I am a NT female. I met someone recently whom I completely adore. Although she has never stated she has Asperger’s what I have learned about it so far leads me to believe she does. This doesn’t change my feelings for her at all. In fact, I now have a much better understanding of her behavior and admire and love her even more as a friend. I honestly feel like we met for a reason.
Keep in mind we have known each other only briefly via a professional setting.
A mutual colleague stated in passing this person was going through a divorce. Having been through this myself, I could relate to her pain and therefore reached out to her by email. This was before I suspected Asperger’s. I made it clear I did not expect her to share anything with me but wanted her to know I was praying for her and was available if she ever needed anyone to talk to. She stated would not be able to engage in a conversation because she is very private but stated that it did not mean that she would not be forever grateful that I reached out to a complete stranger and perhaps future friend.
We have since reconnected for professional reasons. I gave her a card letting her know I was thinking of her and praying for her etc. and offered support re: the divorce (a friend to talk to) and invited her out to a museum because that is something she is interested in. She politely declined via email and asked me nicely not to bring up her personal life to her or anyone again. She also stated she was very sad someone had shared that information with me. I thought it was a little strange as I had already emailed her about this over the summer and she was very grateful I reached out (completely different response). Maybe it;s because we interact more frequently now so I know more people who know her. Not sure.
Anyway, she stated we could never have the friendship I kindly offered as she is very private and has very close friends and long-term friends and a wonderful family which is more than she could ask for.
I was very hurt (of course) because no one likes to be rejected but also because I have grown to really care about her and even more so now that I have seen the signs of Asperger’s. I care for an autistic adult whom I have cared for since he was a baby. Given this I have a heart for this population. But that is not the reason I want to have a friendship. I would like a friendship because I see something in her that I admire and respect and just want to spend time with her.
I let her know I was hurt etc. and that I haven’t and would never discuss her personal life with anyone BUT that I would be fine and didn’t want that to change how we interact. Since then we have seen each other in a professional setting and everything is fine. We mostly interact via email rather than in person anyway for obvious reasons.
My question is this: How do I know if she just doesn’t like me and really just doesn’t want to be friends or if she just has a hard time trusting people? She is a lot older than me (probably in her 60’s) so she truly may be content even though her family and close friends live in other states.
I am wondering if, perhaps, she thinks that if we go out I expect her to discuss her feelings and personal life which she doesn’t want to do (more of a literal interpretation of what I said).
I did mention to her later that going to a museum doesn’t mean she had to bare all only that we walked around and looked at the artwork etc. No expectations to share personal information.
My second question is: How do I build trust with her and let her know that I am a safe person? I have never rejected anyone or ended a friendship for any reason and would never do that to her.
It’s hard to know if I should just walk away or continue to try over time to build some type of relationship with her (platonic). I don’t want to overwhelm her.
I would find such an email intrusive. It’s not a good way to start a healthy friendship.
I’ve rejected lots of people because it just doesn’t feel right.
I might thank someone kindly in recognition of sincere good will and kindness but not to encourage further such interaction.
That could be. Unfortunately I cannot elaborate in an effort to protect her identity. She wrote a book that changed my life. she knows that and she gets it. I do know her professionally just not personally because she seems to get nervous in social settings hence avoids them. She is one of the kindest gentlest people I know and responds to me with love.
She allowed me into her professional life just not her personal life. She has thanked me on several occasions for helping her so as far as creepy and intrusive while others might view it that way she doesn’t otherwise she wouldn’t have allowed me into her professional life.
Again I can’t get into details, but do appreciate the fact you read what I wrote and took the time to answer it. I would like to believe that people are not genuinely out to hurt others on this blog so try not to take things personally. I just wanted a little more insight into the situation but realize now that may be difficult given the fact that so many details have been left out.
I have worked with a couple of Aspy woman over the years and as bad as this sounds it’s really just best to leave them alone. When they are at work they are there to work and not socialize. This is how they’re wired and you need to understand this. Do some research online before you keep trying to “figure” this gal out. You will never figure her out so stop trying. Watch the “Temple Grandin” movie and after you will better understand their challenges. They will communicate via text or computer more versus a live conversation. Why? Remember….they’re Autistic. Asperger’s is no longer a term we recognize but we’ll always refer to it as such because who wants to be labeled mild to severe Autistic? If I were you I would just leave her alone and allow her to come to you. You can seek her out all you want and if anything she will really eliminate you from her life if you continue coming at her they way you do. Stop trying to save your co-worker/friend. She handles things differently than the rest of us so let it be. She’ll be fine. I promise.
Honestly you sound a bit creepy and like you are the one who may need friends, not her. She has said she has friends and family, and it is incredibly patronizing of you to assume just because she has aspergers that she needs more friends, or you as a friend. She was pretty clear to you she is not interested in a friendship. This could be for any number of reasons. But either way, your pursuing it further is disrespectful, and frankly, creepy, and borderline stalkerish. You also should explore how you have grown to love/care about someone do deeply whom you barely know on a personal level. Bery strong and unhealthy codependent traits. These are your issues, not hers. I am sure it is not what you would want to hear, I am sorry if that hurts as well. But sometimes taking a good look at yourself is the best medicine.
I am not hurt by your feedback at all. Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion. There are many details of the story being left out here so I take it with a grain of salt. That would be patronizing if I assumed she needed friends because she has Asperger’s but that’s not the case here. That’s not why I initiated a friendship. I probably did not make that clear via my post. I initiated a friendship because I have grown to respect and admire her as a professional. I am asking the questions to come to a better understanding. I didn’t want this person to feel like she can’t be herself around me or develop a friendship with me out of fear of rejection. Everyone is different and we all have our share of issues. True. Thank you for your feedback.
She is politely saying thank you for your kindness but I don’t need any more friends.
If she was in her teens she would have told you in no uncertain terms but as we go through life we learn that we are offending people in the way we speak (tell truths) and so we learn uber politeness.
If uber polite hints don’t get noticed you are going to get a quite blunt…………Look Therese, I am grateful for your concern but I have told you that I do not want to be your friend on a personal level. I don’t want to offend you but please leave things as they are/were.
I think maybe she may be a person with a developmental issue, I would have squashed it, and let her be. That’s a huge social Q that was missed. I don’t mean to be rude or disrespectful, but when I read that thread I was thinking exactly as you were Sideways.
This is a really lovely post but one point needs clarification. Neither a diagnosis of Asperger’s or high functioning autism (HFA) is related to high IQ. Individuals with these diagnoses can and do have varying levels of cognitive ability.
In diagnostic terms, HFA simply means that the affected individual does not also have comorbid subaverage intellectual ability. The same goes for Asperger’s. Not having intellectual disabilities does not mean that one has a high IQ.
You’ve really exposed so many things I didn’t know till now, with a better understanding of this, it’s now easier to deal with these kind of situations back home in Kenya
I wish I at least had high IQ and an intense need to do right to go along with my social inaptitude and proneness to depression and self isolation…hmm.
How can you run businesses and have Asperger’s?? Aren’t you interacting with people all the time?
Welcome to the world of ebay, e commerce, working from home, ON YOUR OWN AND BY YOUR RULES :) This is heaven for us Aspies until some stupid Irk does something to hold you up at the post office. lol
Good God. I came here for the homeschooling irreverence and now Asperger’s? I’m certain my 10-yo son has it and your posts are rocking my life!
Thanks to the vast information ;)
OMG! Penelope! Why am I getting the feeling that you are describing me, except for I have never had an IQ test?
I have a strong need to “do the right thing the right way”, but my husband often says I’m not considerate of others, but my response is always, it is the right thing to do.
I never say to anyone, except my two little children, that I love them. I have to consciously make efforts to remind myself that communication is part of a friendship or any meaningful relationship, so I can make an effort to call my parents, once a few weeks… And I really, the last time I called a “friend” was probably years ago, I can’t even recall. I do remember a friend calling me last month.
And wow, finally, I’m not the only one who feels “overwhelming to be close to people” and probably not the only one who hates physical contact. The only people I like to physically touch and kiss are my 3-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter, that’s it. I try to avoid physical contact.
When it comes to jobs, I was stressed or even depressed when working in the banks, and then co-founding a start-up with my husband. But fortunately, I am now feeling super fulfilled on my mission to become a great artist who hopefully can leave a legacy and inspire others to live a more creative life.
Shall I get an IQ test? And what if I don’t have a high IQ? That means I just dread physical contact and intimacy without being particularly smart, right?
I had been very stressed and even depressed for years and years, until I found out that I was an artist.
Hello, I just wanted to say that you do not necessarily need to have a high IQ to have Aspergers, it can be the case, but not always. I myself have asperger and so do one of my brothers and two of my sisters, my brother and I have above average IQ’s, but my sisters have below average IQ’s. It is 50/50 here, but I do not think you can use it as model for the asperger population in general. Btw, I am female (in case you thought I was saying only males with asperges are smart or something.)
Ok, first of all, this subject of dating. Shorty, you got the wrong man any time you long for lonelyness and have suicidal thoughts. I’m afraid those are specifically symtoms of being in a byplanetary [neurotypical and aspie] relationship of any sort. Those feelings simply mean you have spent too much time around nts. My girlfriend and I are both aspies and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We are also a byracial couple; I’m black and she’s white. Now you may well scoff and ask, “why do you advocate interracial but not interplanetary dating?” Good question. The difference between interracial and interplanetary relationships is the issues in an interracial relationship are largely external, dealing with people’s stupid oppinions about whether or not the 2 of you should be dating, while the issues in an interplanetary relationship are largely internal, dealing with each others sensory issues, fassinations and interests etcDealing with the outside world is a job in itself and it’s not fair to have to drag job issues home with you. Ask any teacher about that problem. Home is a space where you can be yourself and nobody should be allowed in to that space that compromises that in any way. That would defeat the purpose. This is why we have web sites like this one and countless others dedicated to these subjects. Everyone, including aspies, need some sense of community; we are not automatic loners as some think. After all, if this was true, why do we have imaginary friends? Saying that someone is a, “Loner” simply means that they would rather be in their own compnay than deal with a hostile world that never makes room for you. But I wonder if any “loners” have thought about this, If a person who was a complentary match to you existed, which by the way they do, would you prefer being with them over being alone? It’s a question most aspies don’t have the time or space to think about, but it is vital. I’m glad that you bought up this issue. It certainly doesn’t get enough media attention. The constant prevailing perception that nobody in their right mind could ever prefer a nerd over a buffalo wing eating beer swilling jock is outdated at best and offensive at worse. As you can see, I have a lot to say about issues like this, but I will close this entry out now.
At an early age, we noticed my cousin did some things different than a “normal” child. He walked on his tippy toes, licked his lips a lot, and his social skills were not up to par. He was put into a private school and failed kindergarten, after that my aunt moved him into a public school where it took about a year for them to have him tested for dyslexia. The doctor said he was dyslexic and had ADHD. Well a year after that one of his teachers suggested he be retested. Turns out he had Asperger’s. My aunt and uncle don’t know when the right time to tell him is. They think by telling him it could make a difference for the worse. Any thoughts?
Hey I have autism and my parents told me as soon as I was diagnosed, I think its good for children to know whats happening to them, help them understand why there different. I always knew I was different but never understood why until my mom and dad told me and it was the best thing they could do for me. They talked about it with me explained in a way that a 10 year old autistic child would get. It took me awhile but I learned to accept that I was autistic. You wait till hes an adult or even till hes in highschool, hes going to take it worse. I believe you should keep no secrets from any child. Special needs or not. I hope this has helped. I believe the sooner he knows, he’ll have more time to accept it before he’s an adult and out in the world.
Love this post, and especially your advice to Aspies to a) get married and b) find a career. My two biggest goals on my blog are to help young adults and older adults find these two things. Your advice about specializing in an interest that has a niche is sage. Think of three circles: Passions, Giftedness, and Opportunity. At the intersection of those three circles is where one wants to specialize.
I find the tone of this article disturbingly and unrealistically tragic and negative. Also there are very broad, sweeping statements made that, while I see some validity of supporting evidence, in themselves are so simplified that they are untrue.
“People with Asperger’s don’t have friends” is a particularly horrible, untrue sentence. There is a big difference between having difficulty in keeping friends and not having friends at all. Our friendships might work in peculiar ways but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
“The problem is that in adult life your one friend has to be your spouse. So if you know you have Asperger’s you need to focus carefully on finding a spouse.”
I guarantee you, if I only had one friend in the world I would go insane. What if I found myself in a long term relationship that was unhealthy? I would be better off single. To say you absolutely must have a spouse is a massive generalisation. It is true that I am not interested in having loads of friends, I want a smaller number of GOOD friends, but there is a huge difference between wanting a small number of genuine friends and only having 1 friend who is a spouse. While I do see the importance of recognising the need and benefit of having a partner (for many people, not for all, whether they are autistic or not), you absolutely cannot say that this will be the case for all people with Asperger’s.
You say it doesn’t matter if you have kids but you need to have a partner? Why is a partner definitely necessary but raising kids is not?
This is a problem for us; we see the situation from our very narrow perspective only and can’t even begin to imagine a perspective which deviates even slightly from that, even when we are talking about other people’s lives.
I am happy for you that you have learned about yourself and have found a way to live and work with your mind as it is, but I don’t appreciate being told that I have to follow your exact steps if I want to be happy also.
I agree with your post Eric, just because you have Asperger’s doesn’t mean that you have a concrete set of things you must achieve for fulfillment. I would like to say that an Aspie I would like to say, as mentioned before by someone else, that I want a small group of good friends. Also I want a partner but obviously the reason I’ve never been in a relationship (im 22) is not because I don’t want one. I still don’t have the skills and this is not from lack of trying because in my job which I have been in for 4 years now I have worked with customers and I regularly make myself go out socially as well. I would think the many aspies who want a relationship but do not have one would be offended by you saying that the reason that we don’t have partners is because we don’t want one.
Also If anyone has any advice for me for relationships I would like to hear it. All the advice I have heard so far is that I should just look after myself, be positive and stay open to having a relationship and i will find myself in one. One of the main reasons for this is that it shows and it makes you look desperate and having a reason to live shouldn’t be your reason to live but rather someone to enjoy the journey with. What do you mean that we should focus on getting a relationship exactly and how does that work?
Just realised the tone of my earlier comment was probably a bit unnecessarily aggressive, apologies, just one of those days.
Your original tone was fine. There was no reason for you to apologize.
First of all I’m a HUGE FAN of your work. I love your blogs. Thank you for being so open and honest with your readers about your life. I guess that’s another awesome advantage of being an Aspie.
My son (10) has recently been diagnosed with Aspergers. He’s brilliant and amazes me everyday. My biggest concern is that he doesn’t have friends. I know it bothers me more than it bothers him. How can I get out of the mindset that he needs to have friends, playdates, etc. Can you write something to parents of Aspies about these things?
Love you! Keep writing!
I am so sorry to read that blog of yours. I am not saying that in general terms you are wrong, but it is so stereotyping the case. Asperger disorder has many shades and generalizing as you are doing is very confusing. My son has Asperger, and I fought many years with so many psychologists, they kept saying that nothing is wrong with my son, I insisted until finally a group of specialists gave their diagnosis to us. My son has Asperger, but he is far away from being depress and moody, he is so happy, he has his moment like everybody else, he does has problems in understanding between lines and has lots of challenges in critical thinking in school. My son wants many friends and does everything possible to have many friends. I am not saying you are wrong, but you took the issue to a very extreme.
Sorry for my English
I am 200% sure my friend has asbergus. The problems he has in life are all due to it. I need advise, how in gods name do you tell a 32 year old man he has asbergus? Also. I cannot see how the hell this was not picked up during his schooling or by his family or even a shrink that he now sees. I love going out in big social groups but there is no way I can go out with him any longer with my other friends as he is socially WRONG in every sense of the word. Its not through embarressment, he is rude to everyone of my friends & tries to take me away by myself all the time ignoring anyone else with me. I love the guy to death… to me he is amazing, smart, loyal & always honest. I would never be friends with anyone else that behaved the way he does, but I understand him and because of his asbergus I know none of it is deliberate or meant to hurt people intentionally. I know mentally he has gone off the rails before & pulled himself back and its all because of the condition. I can never see him having any other long term friends that are not going to want him or use him. Its a sad situation and I never would have known asbergus even existed if one of his late friends (now deceased) had not pointed me to an article that related to him.
Perhaps you can share this article with him, or ask him if he would be willing to take an online screening quiz? Here’s one from Psych Central – http://psychcentral.com/quizzes/autism.htm#.Ur2_mNI3uQ0
Thanks buddy… I’ll have a squizz. I was thinking of asking him who his psych is & telling them.
Thank you Steve. I just took the test….
Really fascinating and useful post. I like the car analogy too.
Would you consider reading and possibly even this post – http://wp.me/pDjed-1ES about a boy with Aspergers trying to get to Christmas no1 in the musci charts in the UK?
IQ has nothing to do with Aspergers, and there’s nothing on that Wiki page that says there is. There are folks with Aspergers who are very low IQ — and some who are on the opposite end of the intellectual spectrum. I dont know where that myth got started, but it’s very prevalent and sort of obnoxious.
+1 They’re certainly narcissistic, in my experience, but not particularly intelligent. The couple of Aspergers people I’ve worked with often *tried* to do impressive things, and failed. They then seemed far more predisposed to to rationalise about it afterwards than other people. Ironically, that inability/unwillingness to recognise their own past mistakes made them less likely to improve their ability afterwards. It’s called the Dunning-Kruger effect.
What we call everyday “intelligence” is often just the ability to apply previous knowledge to new problems. It’s not just about being a creative thinker. For the reasons stated, people with Aspergers are particularly bad at acquiring experience from making and recognising their past mistakes.
Do you have a source? The person was right in sayingTalk about taking it to another level. Guess I’ll one up you.
People seem to complain about our rigidity a lot until they need someone to fill their STEM jobs. As technology grows and more of these jobs are needed that clearly you guys seem ill-equiped to do, it will only a matter of time until we outbreed you guys and become the majority. When that time comes, your “social skills”, or whatever you call that thing you guys squandered to create rigid social hierarchies and other forms of jockeying at the expense of others, will only be good for bartending at a local nerd bar.
Yes, I do have a source. And I quoted it. The Dunning Kruger effect – look it up. I’m not surprised you missed it in amongst all that sanctimonious rationalising.
Hi! I think I might have Asperger’s because I need to do the right thing, don’t have many friends, and have low social skills. But I can’t memorize well. My personality type is INFP so maybe I’m just extremely introverted, intuitive, and perceiving.
“You have to actually want to be close to one person.” While I want to marry, have children, and homeschool them, being close to people is a problem. When I am out of the house, I study by myself, eat by myself, and even watch movies by myself. I just go to class, listen, take notes, and recite as best as I can. I do things with people when they ask me, but I seldom ask them to do things with me. It would feel like I am imposing myself on them.
“You need to find the thing that’s going to work for you so you can have that one intimate relationship.” How do you find this thing?
“So part of getting along in the world with Asperger’s is accepting that not everybody has to have a high IQ job just because they have a high IQ.” I’m in law school because we had a legal crisis in the family. My family said to me that I could study in law school and do whatever the lawyer was doing. I knew about my personality type in college, but I didn’t know that it would be a bad fit in law school. I can’t memorize well, can’t think fast on my feet, and don’t compete well. Sometimes I think that I should have pursued art or stuck with being a researcher.
“The other thing you can do with work if you have Asperger’s is specialize.” I read the book Do What You Are, and the only job related to law is legal mediator. I can do that. I read a lot of self-help books, even though I don’t apply all of the ideas. I like the Myers Brigg personality test and think about the personality types of people I know.
“The person with Asperger’s needs to understand that they need a life partner and they need a job.” I understand that I need a life partner and a job. A job is something that I could do with hard work. When I applied for my first job, I applied for at least 100 jobs and got 10 interviews and 2 job offers.
But when it comes to having a life partner, my first thought is always, “Who would have me?” I like people but don’t want to be close to them. Should I apply what I did to get a job to find a life partner? I’m not even attracted to men. How could I date them? Maybe I should find someone like me.
Wow, Joyce, I really appreciate you writing here and sharing so much about your situation. I would love to hear Penelope’s response to your comment, including your situation with being an INFP (same as me) and your profession, as well as your questions.
You are obviously very articulate and I hope you don’t give up because of the social challenges. I am not on the spectrum but I resonate with some of the challenges, and it’s taken me years to accept that I have hermit (as well as social) qualities that are different from our mainstream, conditioned culture that seems to favor extroverts who want to (and do) make things happen. We INFPs (and whatever else is going on with our unique designs) do things differently, and have our own unique gifts and talents to offer too. There is no black and white advice that works for everyone.
Thank you for being honest. I wish my other Aspy girls would start being honest and proud of who they are. Some are still in denial and they continue to have men beat and take advantage of them. If you’re not interested in men than I would stop pursuing them. Don’t put a man in a situation that’s not fair to him. Would you want someone doing that to you? I understand you want kids and marriage but if you don’t like men or have any interest in them maybe this is something that you should not push. I’ve seen many aspy woman date guys who in fact never had a chance. This builds anger from guys and this is how terrible things happen. Be patient and maybe you should consider dating a woman? Why not? Give it a shot and see if it works. You are in law school so you’ll make tons of money soon!!!!
I’m a 45 year old Australian who has Aspergers and its dogged me all my life.
I have an intense interest in 60’s music,jet aircraft and European landscapes,but when I attempt to share what I know with others,they quickly wish to end the conversation.
Women find me incredibly uninteresting,boring,dull and nerdy.
I’ve been involved with only two women my entire life,including my ex-wife who I was married to for only seven months.
I enjoy employment that is predictable,and puts me in contact with as few people as possible.
I know a lot of facts and figures,but don’t have a clue about social norms.
But,oddly enough,I don’t agree that I lack empathy. To suggest this offends me greatly. I care about animals,people who are poor or sick and indeed my own family-I just don’t know how to put my thoughts across when confronted with these real-world situations.
My advice to anyone who has the disorder-accept that you have it,join a support group,and understand you are not beneath NT’s,just different to them.
Your comment is really helpful to me, thank you for sharing your experience. I too had the misconception about empathy, so you have clarified that for me. You don’t sound uninteresting, boring, or dull at all, so I hope you are kind to yourself and that people learn to appreciate you for who you really are.
Thankyou Felicia. Keep smiling and enjoy life.
This is inspiring, thx. I have autism and I have alot of empathy I don’t always know how to express it. We have different challenges than other people. And yes we do somethings different than other people. I have a support team including my family, a social worker, good friends. They have helped me through alot. I believe everybody is equal in the world no one is beneath anyone. I’m sure you will meet a woman who will love you for who you are, I believe that there is man for every woman and a woman for every man. You sound like a great person haves a sweet personality. Good luck on finding that special someone, you will it’s only time.
Charmaine, I really don’t have the ability to attract partners.
I have all my sixties records arranged in order of year and month,as I’m obsessed with sequence, and have to know the the date every song was recorded-if I don’t,I’m incredibly irritated.
I have hundreds of photos and DVD’s of aircraft,that I spent years building up and have just let it get out of control to the point where my social and love life is not dealt with.
You sound like a wonderful person and I’m so proud to be able to identify with people like you.
I don’t believe we are that different,in fact if anything we’re perhaps too normal. We don’t take risks,we don’t get into fights, we don’t generally break the law-we’re too busy with our interests. I’m fine with that.
I’d love to meet someone someday-maybe an Aspie- who understands my interests and mannerisms,just as I will hers.
Charmaine,never be ashamed of who you are-you can’t change it,so embrace it.
I agree with most of your message apart from I would add ‘if you want to’ on the support group and not just suggest that they should.
I can’t think of anything sillier than a load of people pretending to be interested in each other’s lives whilst wishing they could just go home.
To me (might be OK for others) it seems nonsensical.
You lot listen to me talking about my life then afterwards I’ll listen to you. We all know that none of us are interested in what each other’s saying unless your opening line has a hook in it and the most interesting thing is watching each of our interpretations of interested looks like :)
Much better is just to go out with your mates and pretend to be interested in their small talk. They’re your mates and will forgive a bit of fakery plus you get to be properly listened to some of the time by people who know you and do care about you.
I and my son have Autism Spectrum disorder with Tourrettes. Having children has been wonderful. My daughter may be on the spectrum as well but not sure as of yet. We are going to behavior specialists. My mother and father never brought me to specialists as a child. As a matter of fact they were annoyed for the most part with my odd behavior and its inconvenience in their lives. I want my children to get all available support. My son can be a handful, he also has ADHD. We just started melatonin to regulate bedtime so he is not tired at school. My daughter has always been easy to get to bed. Myself, I have a schedule since 17 and that is 3am during insomnia two days up. My son thank god does not have my never ending list of fears. I hope as he ages he does not develops them. I should mention he is currently five years old. His Tourrettes is worse than mine while my spectrum is worse than his. I did not attend college do to my anti social ways, I was home schooled in high school. I pray my children will be able to lead a life conducive to college. I do not work. I did try to stay employed from age 18 to 24 when I decided it was not something I was able to handle. After retiring from the work force I was able to feel a sense of freedom and focus on my life. I am an artist and make handmade jewelry that I sell. Money has been tight and my aunt advised my to seek SSI. Honestly I don’t mind having the syndromes I have I’m loving life. I could do without the embarrassing tics….. But oh well. I do have three friends. I met them online and all three have the same as me. If I was not married I would consider dating one of my friends, he has been helpful in being there on my bad days. Honestly being normal is boring and I’m far from bored. I’m glad to read stories of other people with Asperger’s. we are not alone.
Consider passing the driver who won’t change speed, and then slowing down to two miles per hour under what they are traveling.
“If you have a high IQ and low social skills it means you’re generally right and you generally don’t notice when you’re wrong.”
That’s probably the single biggest narcissistic misconception that most people with Aspergers have about themselves: that they’re generally “right” and have high IQs. I used to work with a programmer that was one, and boy was he a pain in the arse. He’d frequently come in during the night to “improve” the system, only to of course break it when the dream he’d had about how to improve things turned out to be utter hogwash. Then, conversely, he’d have the cheek to go tomato-faced and fly off the handle when you carried out some work (approved, during office hours, and well-tested) merely because he hadn’t been asked in advance for his opinion. In reality, nobody ever sought his opinion on anything, because he was so incompetent, arrogant, and not to mention junior.
I left after six months of management failing to rein in his narcissistic tendencies, and so ultimately did several other members of staff. The company never made a profit again, going by the (frequently months late) submissions of accounts they’ve made to companies house since that time. I notice that particular job isn’t on the Aspergers guy’s LinkedIn profile any more, despite him spending 5 years in the role. Instead, he’s got down that he was running his own company during that time, which even a quick free check on companies house shows was dormant during the time in question, and still is.
He’ll probably find some other company to ruin in time, though. One that doesn’t do proper background checks. People like that always do.
AB, I just have to say that you are a bitter jerk! Aspies are anything but narcissistic! Their thinking that they are always right is an extension of their inflexibility. Aspies do not spend long among of time on their looks, think they deserve the best in life, etc. as narcissists do.
Aspies brains may tell them, for example, that in the morning, every morning, it should go: pants on, shirt on, breakfast, teeth brushed, etc. The man you wrote about thought he was right about the programming because his brain is inflexible, not because he thinks he is the best at everything or that he deserves to have his way, like a narcissist would.
Yes, it sounds like he may have been incompetent at the job in which he was employed. Understandable no one would ask his opinion- as an Aspie he would probably give the answer in which he strongly believed was correct and would be too inflexible to be shown the actual way in which the problem should be solved. In fact, in true Asperger’s form, it would be so hard for his brain to wrap around the idea of any other way to do things that he would have a “melt down.” Do you think he would want to act like this in public? Don’t you think he would be embarrassed?”
It is not his fault that his employer didn’t fire him for the entire 5 years. It is not his fault that his employer lost his business because of poor staff choices. I’m sorry you are so bitter, but it’s pretty sad you’re using the Aspie as a scapegoat.
It’s not his fault his employer didn’t fire him? Tell me, was it his fault he was deeply incompetent, arrogant, and a liar that has misrepresented himself to future employers by omitting that job from his CV and pretending to have been doing something else instead? Or are those personal character flaws attributable to some external factor or other too?
Make no mistake about it, this guy was merely someone with a fancy medical name for being a jerk.
In addition to the issues above, I once witnessed him spend an entire morning on the phone, apparently trying to convince some medical practitioner or other that he had heart trouble. The person on the other end of the line appeared to be re-assuring him that recent tests showed no such medical issue. “No really. There isn’t. We’ve checked. A Lot.” was how the conversation seemed to be going. His side of the conversation was, needless to say, very loud and distracting to the rest of the office. At the end, he signed off with “OK, well, then please tell Dr Whateverhisnamewas that I thank him for his opinion, but I still think he’s wrong!!” Apparently it had been some secretary and not a doctor upon whom he was inflicting his inexpert opinion on Yet Another Subject (but that he of course was convinced he was better qualified to comment upon than an actual medical doctor). Another day it was some jeweler he was trying to convince that a ring was worth more than he’d appraised it at. Yet another day he spent a loud and annoying hour telling the CEO how to run the company. Another day it was the sales dept that didn’t know how to sell.
In short, he was a jerk. And as clear an example of the Dunning Kruger effect as I’ve ever seen.
As I said above, people with Aspergers are not especially clever. The ones that are convinced they are are usually instead just especially incompetent at recognising their own small limitations.
This guy doesn’t sound to me like an Aspie at all. Sounds to me more like the bloke you have in every office that thinks he knows best. The David Brent ;)
I am an aspie. he doesn’t sound like one to me. He’s just a bighead.
Just to clarify on the top of the page, I am an aspie. Are you seriously comparing Aspergers to breast cancer? Aspbergers isn’t a cancer!!!!! Fucking moronic way of thinking if you ask me