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Thursday, 21 January 2016

Asperger's and making the most of our differences

I’m reading The Rosie Project at the moment (only on chapter 3 so far but I highly recommend it – it’s brilliant if you want to see the world (and the rest of us) from the perspective of someone with Asperger’s and be able to laugh about our differences – sometimes that’s our best weapon!) As I say, I’m only on chapter 3 but already it’s done a lot in my mind to redress the balance between us (NTs) being right and those with AS being wrong – we’re different: we see things differently, we react to things differently (if we react at all) and therein lies the challenge. We want our AS partners to connect with us, to see things our way. But, actually, by embracing our differences and working as a team to each other’s strengths and weaknesses, could we be the perfect partnership?
I don’t know. It’s a question I’m asking myself too. And I know there are all kinds of hurdles and misunderstandings and frustrations to work through. I also know that, sometimes, like when your AS partner ignores a question or someone’s greeting because he’s zoned out, that Asperger’s is at odds with the world and that, if an aspie wants to build relationships and function well in society, they need to adapt – even change, to a certain extent.

But, at least sometimes, can we combine our very different traits to get the best out of a situation? Take The Rosie Project.

It’s such a breath of fresh air after serious, factual, self-help books that I read some of it out to Ethan – the best part of a chapter. And somewhere, in the middle of the chapter, was a reference to a hot January evening.

I recall briefly (we’re talking a split second) wondering about this as I read that line and surmising that the author must be being sarcastic (as evenings clearly are not hot in January). I, even more briefly, recognised that the sarcasm didn’t really work and was out of character for the narrator of the book but didn’t dwell on it and was onto the next sentence without a second’s hesitation. I had to stop a couple of times during my reading to inform Ethan that ‘this was a funny bit and did he ‘get it’?’ since his face showed no understanding, connection or hint of a smile. He, somewhat exasperatedly, confirmed that ‘yes he did get it and yes it was funny and he was enjoying it, could I please carry on.’ When I reached the end of the section Ethan’s response was: 
‘Is it set in Australia?’

‘Yes,’ I replied, bemused. ‘How do you know that?’ (‘and why is that insignificant fact the one thing you’ve decided to pick up on?’ I thought but didn’t say)

‘Because he says about it being hot in January.’

‘Ohhhhhh,’ I said, the penny dropping, ‘I knew it was set in Australia and still didn’t realise that’s why it would be hot in January. I thought he was just being sarcastic.’

Ethan looked at me scathingly, ‘No. Why would he be?’

Why indeed? The bloke’s got AS for goodness sake! But maybe other details that wouldn’t have made sense to me through the course of the novel now will, thanks to Ethan and his penchant for seemingly unimportant details. We make a good team!