A couple of really interesting things occurred to me this week which really re-emphasised some important areas for me personally as someone with Asperger.
The first was the importance of listening intently initially when a conversation begins.
I am attending a series of meetings at the moment which is part of an process with a group to explore ad-hoc issues; it is a kind of self-exploration/learning exercise.
At last week’s meeting my mind started to drift very early on before the conversation had really got started. What my mind was partially on was when I was going to get to the time when I was going to speak later; in other words – in true Asperger fashion – my mind was on me!
I forced myself mentally to stop and focus. I have found in the past that it is incredibly important for me to relax, settle in and focus initially so that I concentrate. If I can do this for a while I become relaxed and engaged and this enables interest to build and allows me to focus properly.
In the meeting, I forced myself to do this and got fully involved in the conversation and then started to take information in and make positive contributions.
The second key issue was with a blue-collar worker in my place of employment who operates around me.
He has a reputation for talking; in fact, he talks too much. He is also very loud and tried too hard to engage and does so sometimes at inappropriate times. When he does, you can sense that people around him are uncomfortable!
I got chatting to him the other day and he told me he was autistic. As soon as he said it it seemed so obvious and made me wonder why I hadn’t considered it before.
The more I talked to him the more I understood. He obviously feels lonely which I resonated with and appreciated people finding the time to talk to him. I am going to try and do what I can to assist him going forward.
The key issue that has been impressed on me via my interaction with him is his need to please; he simply tries too hard. I can see why other people find this difficult and counterproductive. You can sense he is trying to prove himself and I can see how it creates uncertainty in others; indeed, I can also see how some – not many – will then take advantage of this and, possibly, bully.
I know personally that I mustn’t try to hard to please. I always reach out to people and try to be amenable, but I am not going to press if that is not immediately reciprocated. Maybe they have other things on their mind or are simply having a bad day. It need not automatically be my fault.