Springingtiger's Blog

Aspergian Thoughts on Communication

Although we think more deliberately, I think we are more inclined to observe our thoughts than ordinary humans. Just as we are on the outside of society looking in, so I myself on the outside of my thoughts, scrutinizing and analyzing them. However I cannot be sure whether that is because of my Asperger’s or my religion. On reflection, as I cannot remember a time when it was not so, I shall attribute it to Asperger’s.
We enjoy, or perhaps not, a separation from the world, from common experience, from common understanding, from common humanity. In all that happens we have to find a bridge across which we can communicate. I have in the past described it as being like living in a bubble and that still occurs to me as substantially true. Interaction with humans is quite exhausting, because their language has to be translated into our language. It may appear that we speak the same language, but we understand it somewhat differently. I am perfectly capable of using idiomatic language, but I think my usage has an extra step which involves unpacking the idiom according to context and interpreting it.
There is a common misconception that we can’t recognize gestures and facial expressions. The problem is not one of recognition, but of interpretation. Gestures are quite easy, I learned about the Satir categories as part of my NLP training so I simply refer back to that. Facial expressions are more of a problem as it is quite easy to misunderstand them, particularly as so many of them are indistinguishable, I frequently have difficulty telling the difference between laughing and crying. Because it is usually impossible to separate speech from other noise I sometimes lose the context of a person’s expressions and gestures and become dissociated from the conversation to the point at which I cease to listen or respond. Fortunately most people are so interested in what they are saying they don’t notice I’ve zoned out. My wife is not readily fooled and frequently punctuates her speech with questions like, “What did I just say?” Questions like, “Do you agree?” are easier because a yes or no answer stands a fifty percent chance of being acceptable, if not right.
Some people object that we ignore them and think us rude. Rather they miss that if we do not want to talk we won’t. Sometimes there is nothing I want to say and sometimes I do not want to expend energy on listening, if I am already listening to something else, like the news, I probably can’t understand them anyway. What humans fail to realize is that silence is perfectly acceptable, there is no need, nor should there be any obligation to talk all the time. If there is nothing one wants to say, is it so wrong to say nothing? Should I choose not to speak, why should I be expected to explain my silence, why can it not just be accepted?


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