One of the challenges of having Asperger Syndrome is that most of us look so … normal. For the most part, it’s hard to pick us out of a crowd (at least initially): there’s no wheelchair, leg brace, or obvious physical clues to indicate that we are anything but Neurotypical, predictable, average — Just Like You.
So it is probably confusing to the rest of you when we show a preference for talking about math, oceanography, a beloved rock band, or bus seat repair, or start repeating the dialogue from a Monty Python movie.
Or when we simply look at you blankly when you talk at us about your kids, home renovations, or the plot of whatever reality TV show you watched last night.
(They say Aspergians dwell on their own “special interests” to the point of boring their listeners to death, but I would argue that Neurotypicals do the same thing — meaning we’re not so very different after all!
But I digress.)
At any rate, because we look so “normal,” Neurotypicals often lash out at us, sometimes incredibly brutally, when their expectations aren’t met. I suspect it’s an evolutionary, “survival of the fittest” thing, related to the way that chickens will mob up and peck to death any member of their flock who shows a spot of blood on her feathers.
We also tend to be very naive, making us easy prey for just about anyone who pretends to be our friend in order to get something from us. (More on this in a future post.)
Humans pride themselves in thinking they’re above all that, but sometimes I’m not so sure.
As an Aspergian, I have had people say things to me over the course of my life that would be considered shameful (if not grounds for a lawsuit) if they’d been said to someone with Down Syndrome or cerebral palsy.
So, with a nod to the popular “Sh*t Girls Say” and “Sh*t My Dad Says” (and a leap onto the bandwagon), I now give you…
“Sh*t People Say to Aspergians“
- “Don’t be so stupid.”
- “Grow up and act your age.”
- “You’re so smart — you should know better than that.”
- “Why do you have to make such a big deal of everything? What the hell is your problem anyway?”
- “Why do you always have to be such a bitch?”
- “Why are you so uptight?”
- “You’re weird.”
- “You’re off-putting and downright creepy.”
- “We just don’t see you fitting onto our team. Best of luck in future endeavours.”
- “You’re overqualified for the job, unfortunately. Best of luck in your job search.”
- “I’ve told you this 500 times already. What are you, retarded?”
- “You’re so damn smart — YOU figure it out.”
- “Hey, I didn’t know you could draw! Can you just quickly make me a birthday card for my mum?”
- “Oh, there you go, showing off again.”
- “You’re such a good writer. We can’t pay you, of course, but would you mind rewriting our company website?”
- “Oh, you’re an editor? Can I just get you to take a look at this letter I wrote to my boss?”
- “We had a birthday party for X on the weekend but we didn’t invite you because we didn’t think you’d want to come.”
- “You’re married/living with someone? Really? Can Asperger people even have sex or relationships??”
- “You’re such a know-it-all. Is there anything you’re not an expert on?”
- “So what? I forgot my wallet again. What’s the big deal? You’ve got a credit card — just pay for our dinner with that and I’ll pay next time. I promise.”
- “Thanks for loaning me your car. I hit a post in the car-park, but I think your insurance should cover the damage.”
- “You’re really smart — can you come over and fix my computer?”
- “Of course I think you’re hot. Can I come in for a nightcap?”
- “Just answer the question. I don’t have all day to listen to your crap.”
- “Stop asking so many questions and do as you’re told.”
- “You have Asperger’s? Really? Are you sure? You just don’t seem like an asshole to me.”
…and finally, my personal favourite, which is not so much a matter of what the person is saying as how they say it — that moment when you tell someone (even someone you’ve known for years) that you have Asperger Syndrome, and suddenly they start talking to you in that slow, concerned, Special Voice usually used on small children who are wandering alone at the supermarket.
They might as well be asking you if you have your name sewn into the lining of your jacket or need help finding the toilets. (I think this is one of the reasons I find the “Lou and Andy” sketches on Little Britain so hysterically funny!)
Alas, there is no remedy for an outbreak of Special Voice other than to just walk away.
As for the other “Sh*t people say” to us, however, I wish I knew of a remedy for that (one that doesn’t involve a choke-hold or inviting the Neurotypical in question to insert something unwieldy in their descending colon).
(See? Even I know that’s rude.)
Maybe I’ll start carrying my copy of Emily Post’s book on etiquette with me, and the next time someone makes a personal remark to me, I’ll just invite them to have a look.
And then konk them over the head with it. 🙂