Thursday, April 3, 2014

It's All in the Eyes: Am I Still an Aspie?

The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Boredom with small talk
*High IQ and high level of talent

"Can You Read People's Emotions?" The New York Times Quiz
On October 17, 2013, I took this quiz for the first time, and scored 28/36. The average score for this test is in the range of 22 to 30 correct responses. Does this mean I'm not an Aspie anymore?

I'm ready to dispel the 1st Myth that Aspies always, consistently have trouble reading people's faces and body language. 

I don't. I don't think I ever really have. It may be hard for some of us with Asperger's traits, but surely it's not a constant, unending struggle. There are ways to learn interpretation of body language and tone of voice. We learn by watching movies, TV shows, and plays, or better yet, acting in plays ourselves. I have found acting to be especially helpful in learning to bridge communication gaps.

But you know what? I'm guessing the myth came to be because even though Aspies may understand what another person is feeling and even possibly feel empathetic . . . well, what do you do then? How do you handle the situation? That's where we sometimes get stuck.

I remember being 14 and meeting my best friend's new friend. As we waltzed all around the school campus where a twice-yearly thrift shop was being held, I watched this new friend looking at the ground, smoothing the fabric of her skirt, twirling her flowing hair, scuffing her sandals, and stealing glances at the other girls around her. I took my best friend aside and whispered, "I think your friend is feeling left out."

My best friend (who, by the way, had Asperger's traits herself) frowned and darted her eyes towards her new friend and back to me. She seemed at a loss for words. We strode on, and suddenly I realized it was up to me to set the new friend at ease.

So I turned to her and said, "You look really pretty - even though we're all wearing sneakers and culottes, and have our hair in braids."

The new friend did not reply, but she gave me a smile and started to relax, and I knew I had said the right thing. It was perhaps an awkward, abrupt speech for me to make, but it was heartfelt.

Boom! Aspie Myth number 1 exploded!

I read recently that it's not always easy to make and keep friends. Here comes the 2nd Myth: Making and keeping friends has nothing to do with intelligence.

Um, excuse me? Creating and maintaining friendships requires a vast deal of intelligence. It's just that Aspies tend to use our "academic smarts" to inform our "social smarts," and sometimes the wires get crossed. But I think Aspies almost always can pull off some really great friendships - especially when we bump into other Aspies, right?

Seems to me that the reason Aspies are pegged as being social dummies is that we want something more useful, engaging, or fun than simple, yawning small talk! I mean, who wants to be told what the weather is like outside when you could be telling your friends about Voltron and Starblazers? (This is what my husand did to me - he can't stand small talk. It's lucky we have a baby now, since it gives him an easy topic of conversation.)

So, take the "Can you read people's emotions?" quiz yourself, Aspie or otherwise . . . and please post your results! Thank you!

How this topic relates to Christian living:

John 3: 16

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 13:34
Love one another. - Jesus