Archive for the 'Communication' Category

#30 Electronic Communication: Email, IM, And Texting Oh My!

Written by SAPL on Wednesday, December 31st, 2008 in Communication.

Image: Uberushaximus on Wikimedia Commons

You know that guy. Like many Asperger people, he shies away from oral communication and speaks his mind with the keyboard. He thinks texting should be a recognized foreign language. He might text his wife when she’s cooking in the kitchen at home when he’s away for long distances such as the bedroom upstairs. He will engage in a 20 minute back and forth email conversation when it could have been done face to face in five. Especially considering his office is right next door to yours. So close, you can even hear him typing his next response.

Asperger people are notoriously known for their preference to communicate through mediums other than saying it to your face. You have to understand that sometimes the regular mode that neurotypicals use to communicate are problematic for the Aspie as there are distressing phenomenas such as facial expressions to be deciphered and double entendres to catch onto. Not to mention the fact that neurotypicals can be demanding and require the Aspie to look them in the eye, (although get irate when you stare at them too hard and long) and gasp…even smile. Ludicrous!

To circumvent this problem, Asperger people use various electronic communication to get the conversation going. And remaining.

Online dating was probably invented by an Aspie.

The romantic partner of an Asperger might find themselves frequently engaged in hot, passionate, amorous activity with the Aspie wearing nothing but his wireless mouse. After protesting that he only talks to her on Yahoo Instant Messenger when he wants to talk dirty for hours, he may defensively say he is performing his “manly duties” and couples should be romantic regularly. After background checks reveal no wife, and stalking, or uh, research reveals no other female in the picture, she may gently remind him of the fact that since they’ve been dating, they rarely have any face to face encounters, although countless hours of instant messaging. It’s hard to stay romantic when you never see a person, you know.

Not to fear, as this is no barrier the relationship cannot overcome. That’s why web cams were invented.

#28 Brutal Honesty (a.k.a. rudeness)

Written by SAPL on Sunday, November 30th, 2008 in Communication, Socialization.

Shioshvili on Flickr

“Wow, they’ve a got nice place,” says Jack as he and the wife drive by a luxury condo community. “If anything ever happens to you and the kids, I’m moving there.”

There’s honesty. And then there’s brutal honesty. Too often the Aspie possesses the latter.

Since Asperger people would rather be truthful, it never fails that sometimes that truth hurts. Or just pisses someone off. The Aspie is so focused on stating what is true, that he or she cannot foresee how the truth might affect the other person’s feelings. Like equating the loss of the wife and kids to an opportunity to live in luxury, for example.

Yes, if you ever are interested in knowing if your butt really is too big, just ask Asperger people. And then you will learn never to ask again.

Brutal honesty, known to neurotypicals as rudeness, often crops its head in personal conversation, but it can manifest itself in various situations.

Political discussions are never sparing, but the Asperger might appear as the Nazi, rather than just radical, making his views known about not feeding the hungry, so “they will starve to death and we’ll have less people to worry about feeding.”

Brutal honesty can be direct, as the examples above, but also indirect, as in the form of an insulting compliment like, “Wow, you look so much prettier than the last time I saw you,” or “I’m really surprised your boobs are still full, considering most big ones like yours get flat at your age. I wonder when yours will start to go south” to “just wait until we have our children. You’re going to have stretch marks to map the entire state. You may be lucky enough to avoid them with the first child, but by the second…no way.”

Brutal honesty rears its head in both public and private conversation, small settings and large. “Should you really be wearing white considering everything I know you did in college,” the Asperger asks the bride during the reception in front of the groom and the bride and groom’s parents and a dozen other guests.

In summary, Asperger people remind us that if you really don’t want to know, don’t ask.

#27 Honesty

Written by SAPL on Wednesday, November 19th, 2008 in Communication.

Image: swanksalot on Flickr

Asperger people have an innate drive to be honest and truthful. This goes along with their strong sense of morality. Honesty can be a wonderful trait to have if your best friend or partner is an Asperger. And it can also makes things difficult.

Gas is expensive enough. There’s nothing worst than your Asperger partner insisting on driving 50 miles back to the hotel to return an unused bar of soap accidentally taken. Ditto for the neat looking pen with the logo. It all has to stay in Vegas, darn it.

The Asperger child may be a parent’s dream come true, as he will always tell on himself after being naughty. She soon may be looking for other friends after deciding it really is best to let the teacher know who really did prank her house at 3:00 in the morning after hearing a lecture (albeit, in between yawning) from the teacher on how it’s important to speak up and do the right thing.

Preying can be a problem, as Aspies freely give any information asked for, never believing anyone would use it against them or to harm them. A hard lesson can be learned from finding out you’re idea has been taken-word for word, step by step, for a class project to your entire list of clients disappearing and going to that “other company,” a “friend” happened to start after innocently offering to proofread business documents or install important updates to your software.

The Asperger employee may or may not be the “one” of the month when he blows the whistle hard enough for everyone in the overseas affiliate company to hear when the location of the missing files is revealed to be thrown in the trash bin that suddenly needs to be emptied ASAP.

Due to an Asperger’s strong urge to be truthful, it’s important to plan ahead in terms of what profession to go into. While integrity is valued by most employers, there will be some jobs the Asperger person might have to look over.

The following are professions that an Asperger could consider which rewards him or her for honesty

On the contrary, some professions in which the Asperger’s honesty might cause difficulties
Corporate Manager
Lawyer for the business where the Corporate Manager works
Lawyer for the politician who got caught doing something with the Corporate Manager after hours…

#26 Taking Things Literally

Written by SAPL on Sunday, November 2nd, 2008 in Communication.

Once upon a time there was a young college Asperger student working as an assistant to a professor who was a very busy and prolific researcher. The student liked the job-good pay, close to home and school, and was in the area of interest the student wanted to go into after graduation.

But the biggest bonus of all was that the duties involved following lots of “to do” lists, which tickled the student pick. Much pleasure was derived from completing the lists, crossing items off the list, and making sub lists of things on previous lists that weren’t complete and needed to be added to the current one.

One day the student was going through the list and found a personal favor the professor was requesting. In addition to photocopying handouts, doing literature searches, the student was instructed to find a “female doctor.” Since there were no specifics, the student figured the professor needed all the options possible and spent the entire afternoon thumbing through the yellow pages, writing down the names of every female M.D. or D.O. with a name from Alice to Alejandra.

After turning in the list, the student was shocked and a little embarrassed to discover the assignment had been completed incorrectly. The professor didn’t care if her doctor was named Janet or John. She just needed a doctor for the…female region.

Like the student and Cameron, the nine millimeter calling robot, Asperger people take things very literally. Don’t bother communicating with them using hints, nuances, implications, euphemisms, or slang because they will probably not get it and become quite frustrated. This in turn can cause problems for everyone involved, including you.

When you tell the Asperger person you’ll call them back at 8:00 pm, you better be sure your clocks are in synchronicity with theirs. A callback that occurs later than 8:00:09 pm warrants serious explaining and “my clock is a minute or two slow,” won’t cut it.

An even better way to screw yourself over with the literal Aspie is to suggest something negative about them for not getting the hidden meaning by mentioning that it’s “common sense,” or “not literally, of course,” or even making threats you really don’t plan on following through with. The word “lawsuit” dropped casually over the phone may send 3 xs as lawsuits your way once the Asperger person finds “loopholes,” in your threat and takes action on it-even if you never intended to file anything and are just trying to figure a way to make him change his pain in the butt ways.

The Asperger person may see these confusing and ego bruised moments as opportunities to put you at the end of their short tempered correction stick: “She is a PhD. Why isn’t she using the term “gynecologist?” You will be reminded of what is proper and what is not proper, how you are stupid for not being proper, and they will call upon the proper authority resource to convince them everything is okay. (The job description said “research assistant,” not “personal assistant.” Shouldn’t be bringing up medical conditions in a workplace setting anyway. I so didn’t need to know that.)

Photo: jslander on Flickr

“Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” is a popular television series on Fox involving a robot that displays many Asperger traits. The whole gist of the story is this: Sarah Connor (Lena Headey) has a son, John (Thomas Dekker). John is being pursued by a Terminator that wants to destroy him. They recruit Cameron, a Terminator played by actress Summer Glau, who has been reprogrammed to help instead of hurt John (Good Terminator) and off they go running from the Bad Terminator and trying to figure out how to stop him. In between plots, there are love stories, adolescent angst, and plenty of robots getting blown up, shredded, burned, then putting themselves back together in a strange Humpty-Dumpty fashion and reactivating themselves to chase after John again. Pretty typical life for a teenage boy.

Cameron, the Good Terminator, follows John wherever he goes, including school. Although she is beautiful, it’s not long before John and everyone else who interacts with her realizes that she is a little bit “different.” She is supposed to be able to blend in and interact with real humans better than the other robots, but she has her, um, moments.

The following examples may not have been discussed yet, but all traits you’ll eventually see dissected on this site:

Telling the truth with brutal honesty without regarding the feelings of others:
High school bathroom with lots of teenager girls. One girl asks Cameron if she looks fat in the outfit. Cameron says of course she does and her reply results in a string of profanity from the girl seeking advice. Obviously surprised by the girl’s anger, Cameron reminds her, “You asked.”

Literal Interpretation or Misinterpretation of Phrases/Not Understanding pop culture or slang phrases:
Sarah, John, and Cameron are all getting into a vehicle. “I call shotgun,” John says, while getting in the front passenger seat. To which Cameron says, “I call nine millimeter.” (Which is probably what she’ll use to disable a Bad Terminator within the next 10 minutes of the scene.)

Using appropriate social skills or phrases, but not doing so smoothly. Timing is off, phrase is somewhat incorrect, or the social skill is right mannerism/wrong time:
Cameron is conducting a bank heist to access a special vault that will take them to another time. “Everybody on the ground,” she yells, brandishing a firearm. But remembering her programmed manners, she follows it up with (after a brief pause), “Please.”

Picks up a small boy by the collar, lifting him from the ground and tells him very sternly that there’s a chance the Bad Robots will kill him and his parents. (After all, he needs honesty.) When Sarah gives her the “What the hell are you doing,” reprimand, Cameron quickly remembers proper social rituals and asks the young boy, “Would you like a bedtime story?” Yeah, he’d probably like that. Along with being put back on the ground and dry pants, now that the ones he’s wearing are soaked with urine.

Needs to be reminded of personal space:
John (to Cameron): “When you talk to people, don’t stand so close.” Of course, there’s a practical explanation for this. Cameron (to John): “I’m assessing the threat level.” (Obviously. She needs to determine if it’s time to call nine millimeter.)

Image: William Hook on Flickr

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