Kylyssa Shay is a middle-aged American woman living with autism who enjoys sharing hard-earned life hacks with people who need them.
Sometimes, People with Aspergers Would Like to Stop Accommodating You and Relax
To present even a reasonable appearance of normality, many people with any degree of autism at all, even those of us who are labeled as high functioning, must memorize hundreds of social rules. We aren't done even then; we still have to memorize what expressions on your faces mean what and practice in front of mirrors so we can put them on our faces when we communicate with you. We Aspies also have to try to decipher the hints, innuendos, subtext, and passive-aggressive attempts at behavior modification many people use instead of plain speech.
While we are doing all of that, we may also be attempting to simulate normal eye contact to make other people comfortable and to insure they don't think we are sneaky, lying, or undependable based on what we look at or don't look at on their faces and how we go about it. All the while, we're worrying about whether people are going to misinterpret what we're saying. Many Aspies are worrying so much it makes the concentration necessary to do all that other stuff somewhat elusive.
Most people appear to put more weight on body language, facial expressions, and physical appearances than on words or actions when it comes to what they think a person is saying and what they think of that person's character. Most people have a lot of conditions they require fulfilled, a lot of rules they require to be obeyed, and a there's a lot of acting to be done to communicate with them without upsetting them. They can easily become volatile and make verbal attacks or form intense negative opinions about us if we make even a minor misstep in communication. Communicating with non-autistic adults requires many people on the autism spectrum to almost constantly walk on eggshells.
Many people with high-functioning autism or Asperger's Syndrome are spending most of their time in your presence doing difficult and tiring things to accommodate you. Most people only notice the slips, when our memories fail us and we forget how to make an expression correctly or perhaps choose the wrong one or when we react to what they've said rather than what they've meant.
As you can probably imagine, all of this makes having relationships very difficult for people with autism. People with even the highest-functioning forms almost never get an opportunity to just relax and enjoy themselves when other people are around. If those of us on the spectrum acted and spoke in ways logical and normal for us, the vast majority of people would never take the time or effort to get to know us or might even stop associating with us. Sometimes, it's just too much work for us because we still have to do everything you have to do on top of it.
If you love or care about someone who has AS, I'm asking you to read on and consider a few compromises and very easy accommodations to our differences. With very little effort you can make the life of that person you care about easier and less stressful. You can improve your relationship by changing just a few of your habits every now and then so your friend or family member can sometimes just relax and be himself or herself around you. If you are looking to learn about getting along with high-functioning autistic people, you've found a great place to start.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a licensed therapist or medical professional of any kind. I am simply a person who has Asperger Syndrome, another name for high-functioning autism. The purpose of this page is to give insight to people wishing to understand more about AS on a personal level - to help them understand more about what it's like to have a spectrum disorder. None of the suggestions on this page are intended as replacement for advice from a professional.
Stop Hinting and Using Subtext
Try to think about what you say before you say it. Are you meaning exactly what the words mean according to a dictionary or are you trying to say something more than the cut-and-dried words alone are stating? If you are trying to modify a person's behavior without directly asking him or her in words, you are hinting. If you are trying to communicate something different from what the actual words say by combining them in a certain way to convey a subtle and more emotionally significant meaning you are using subtext.
Don't beat around the bush, nothing is going to come out of it that you want! The person on the autism spectrum will only get confused and frustrated and is more than likely going to try to guess what you mean. I usually guess wrong and upset the other person. He or she usually guesses (incorrectly) that I'm being contrary or purposely rude or that I'm just pretending I can't understand what is being hinted at.
Wouldn't it be so much easier for everyone involved if we all just said what we meant?
Learn How To Talk About Aspergers
Lots of people in our culture don't believe in the existence of learning disabilities or problems that do not have any visible physical indicators. This book helps explain that Aspergers exists and what it is in a way that would be helpful for use in communicating with people who do not understand what high-functioning autism is.
Stop Assuming Autistic People are Making Hints or Speaking with Subtext
Focus on the Words
You will get to relax a bit more if you follow this suggestion, too. When an autistic person is speaking to you, focus only on the words. Think about what the words mean strung together and let go of any feelings you may have that the speaker has hidden a secondary and secret meaning in them for you to find.
While some autistic people enjoy playing word games like making puns it is not usually natural for us to speak in emotionally saturated code like most people do. If you assume we are saying what we mean, you stand an extremely high chance of being right.
When people assume I am hinting it only frustrates me and makes them have difficulty understanding the actual words I have spoken, no matter how simple in meaning those words are. This makes other people seem a lot slower than they actually are. Average people usually aren't stupid; they are just usually spending so much time searching for things that don't exist that it sometimes seems that way. Perhaps this is why many Aspies seem to get along better with children than adults; children usually don't speak in or expect other people to speak in hints or subtext.
Life isn't a Cold War spy movie; we don't need to communicate in code.
Act on How Your Friend or Family Member Says She Feels, Not on How You Think She Ought to Feel
This seems kind of obvious and I think it's good advice to apply to everyone you know, whether on the autistic spectrum or not. If your family member says doing a certain thing makes him uncomfortable, it makes him feel uncomfortable even if you think it shouldn't. If your friend or family member says she is fine with something, she is probably fine with it even if you think she ought not to feel fine with whatever it is. However, many people learn to say they are fine with things they are not fine with (autistic or not) because they've learned that they can avoid the much more painful embarrassment of other people dramatically overreacting and making a scene.
With very little effort, you can choose to be polite and act like the autistic person means exactly what he or she says.
Please do not make a scene or attract attention in public when you decide to not believe what your friend with Aspergers says about how he or she feels. Insisting that that person act offended or acting loudly offended on his or her behalf will probably only make your friend or family member intensely uncomfortable, embarrassed, and ashamed. The more often you make scenes in public, the less he or she will want to do with you.
Let Us Be Ourselves
And really, really mean it
When you are spending time with your autistic friend or family member you can really ease the pressure on him or her by telling him or her that it's OK for him or her to stop acting around you when you aren't in a public setting. Only say this if you truly mean it. If you can't handle a lack of eye contact, a lack of appropriate facial expressions or body language, or the presence of autistic behaviors such as hand flapping, spinning, or rocking do not make this offer.
Negative reactions to being ourselves when we've been invited to be ourselves are very emotionally painful and will cause us to lose a great deal of trust for the person who reacts in such a way. In my opinion, such reactions, when combined with a request to be ourselves, also make the normal person look like an immature jerk.
Be prepared to explain what you mean because people usually don't mean we really ought to relax and be ourselves when they say that, they usually actually mean to act and speak as they do when they are relaxed.
I treasure the time alone with my significant other because he accepts me as I am with only a very little reassurance now and then.
Questions & Answers
Question: My undiagnosed Aspie boyfriend blocked all communication with me after four years of dating. What do I do?
Answer: I'm just a person with Asperger's myself. A professional therapist would likely be much more helpful to you than I would.
One thing I know as a person who has been in relationships is that there's usually a logical reason people stop communicating, even if their logic doesn't make sense to you. I sometimes withdraw from all people due to something going on with a particular person or with me. For instance, perhaps one of my roommates is treating me like her maid, but it makes me withdraw from all human communication in for a few days or weeks. It's not that I'm holding a grudge or giving her the silent treatment, but that her failure to view me as a person like herself, with thoughts and feelings, was deeply disturbing and hurtful. Most of my social effort goes into fitting in, so my motivation to socialize disappears when my earnest attempts to fit in, such as cleaning up after a messy roommate, backfire and result in emotional abuse. It's like finding a landmine in your yard; after that, there's no telling where it's safe to step.
Question: My cousin's son has Aspergers. She told me, but I think she has forgotten. Is that possible? I have moved closer to her and her husband and I'm doing a little reading up on the symptoms. I really feel she has Aspergers as well. I don’t want to approach that subject, but I would like to know how to behave so she does not get stressed out with me and to help her son as well, especially when he is about to lose his temper. I feel awkward in certain situations.
Answer: It seems unlikely she's forgotten her son has ASD, but she may have forgotten she told you. As to how you can behave around her, try out the tips in the article you asked this question on. As to you feeling awkward, figure out what you need to do to behave normally around people different from yourself. Lots of neurotypical people have great difficulty with that because acceptance of difference is often actually suppressed in our culture, rather than encouraged. I'm glad to see you are forging your own path to better understanding, and that's definitely a step in the right direction.
Question: My boyfriend, by all signs, has Asperger's syndrome. He has never mentioned it, but how could I approach the subject with him, or should I?
Answer: It really depends on why you want to approach the subject. If you want to make him more comfortable, I'd say go for it. As to how I don't know you or your boyfriend, so that's up to you. Whatever you do, lay out your motivations first and clearly or he'll wonder just what the bleep is happening, Asperger's or not. That's just my experience with guys with medical issues they weren't aware of.
© 2012 Kylyssa Shay
If You Have an Autism Spectrum Disorder What Could Friends and Family Do to Make Relationships Easier?
barb on November 13, 2019:
my partner of 17 years has high functioning Asperger's syndrome; a musician. That is what he has done all his life.
I am attractive, love being social with all genders.
When a man enters the scene, on any friendship level that I might hug or not even, his perspective is that I am breeching the loyalty and cannot be trusted. I've never slept with anyone else nor want to.
It is harmful on boh sides, as his perspective is damaging.
Tessa Schlesinger on December 19, 2018:
Well written. You've put it in a nutshell. I think a lot is misunderstood about aspies. It has taken me a lifetime to learn to connect to others. I have also learnt that there are situations that I need to avoid. I can't manage them.
My daughter who taught at a special needs school for autism said she only learnt to communicate well with me when she realized I had Aspergers.
In turn, as I realized I was far deeper on the autistic spectrum than previously diagnosed, had to learn many new skills.
I'm okay now, but it is draining sometimes to socialze for long periods of time with people who are not logical and do not answer questions direclty.
Mark on November 16, 2018:
Thank you for this really helpful article. I have made a new friend who has AS and I came across your article while researching so that I could understand her better. It has really helped my understanding.
Rob Ferdon on May 17, 2018:
Thank you for the insider information! I am starting a relationship with a women and her 22 year old son has Aspergers. I didn't know much about it so I began to educate myself about it. I have been on many sites and saw this one that had in site from a person who actually has it and thought it would be a beneficial aspect to learn more about it from. I want to gain as much knowledge about it out of resect for her son as well as his mother. Thank you!
Unknown idiot with major depression disorder on April 15, 2018:
Oh my god, I’m currently trying to befriend this guy and lemme tell you I have been reading everything from before he told me so wrong now I feel embarrassed (kinda laughing at it too). I’m so glad I stumbled upon this article while searching for answers because the way I act socially I was hurt and confused when he suddenly stopped talking and interacting with me, I thought I had messed up kinda bad. I made him uncomfortable in some ways because of me misreading too. (So the timeline of events lined up very well In a way where it seemed like I was being shunned)
I think I’ll try talking to him more in person instead of trying to text, and put forward more effort? I just don’t know the line between keeping up friendship or just being annoying. Especially since he’s a manager and I’m an employee, and always running around doing things. But he does give me his full attention when we talk, I should probably chill with the sarcasm and jokes too right? And change the way I act towards him at work. I want to slap my forehead cause I feel like an idiot, thank you so much for this article.
Alegria on December 18, 2017:
a slightly different perspective.... not even being conscious of memorising or monitoring anything in particular or that specific, but just the constant tension and discomfort when communicating with most people and trying to detect just generally what it is they want or expect or what their intentions are... even when suspecting they want a different or better response not feeling the energy rising to give it and just generally wishing it wasn't so draining... the exception being those people who are actually honest and direct and not playing social games to get the energy or get their way or whatever... if someone doesn't really like you then it's all just a waste of effort, but if it's a work colleague then you/I am obligated really to make an effort... and that's what it is most of the time.. effort
Adam on October 09, 2017:
That was so satisfying to read. I can strongly relate to much of what you said, even laughed a few times. Particularly, the "Stop Hinting and Using Subtext". I get so mad at my girlfriend, I ask a basic question and she responds with irrelevant information. Or an example, if I do not hear someone, I might respond with, "What?". Nine times out of ten they do not repeat what they said. It can be so frustrating, I think, because why would anyone not just mean what they say? Sounds so impractical, autistic or not.
Anyway, thanks for writing there. Please write more. I will read them.
cazmc on April 27, 2017:
Thanks for the feedback. I met a woman at a conference once who had lost a 3 year old child to cancer. She told me she had the same experience that you are having - people just backed away from her, probably because they didn't know what to do or say. My take away from that conversation and from this online exchange is to just be there and show up! We can work out the rest along the way. Thank you and I'm sorry for your losses. Maybe you should express to these people that it helps you in this time of loss to be included in everyday things.
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on April 27, 2017:
I'm currently going through the grieving process for several human loved ones and a cat I inherited from the most beloved of them all. I can tell you what I want, but I don't know how relevant it would be to your friend because every person is different.
I want to be included in my friends lives like I was before the losses hit. Many of them have pulled away. They avoid even mentioning my name on facebook like admitting I went with them somewhere or played a game with them irl for ten years while recognizing everyone else who did the same would be bad for some reason. It makes me feel invisible and unwanted.
Be sure you tell your friend that you care about him whatever job he's working, whether he succeeds or fails you'll still be there, because I think anyone would appreciate that sentiment.
cazmc on April 27, 2017:
I am an NT with a friend who I believe has Aspergers. So I really appreciate hearing your perspective. It helps me to understand a friend that is really different from most people I know. He is currently going through a grieving process because he is leaving a job he loves and taking on a new one that's challenging. He is trying to cope with feelings of sadness and pain that he doesn't understand. He was totally not expecting to feel this way and he has trouble expressing what he is feeling and he wants the pain to go away. For my other friends - I have an instinct for how to help - encourage them to talk, express themselves, hug them, be present. But when we talk and I ask him how he is feeling he can't tell me very well and I feel like even the question feels like a judgment to him. Especially if he can't answer it. If this was a NT person I would treat him as I would like to be treated, but we are so different that doesn't work. I'm not even sure he likes to be hugged. Of course as a woman I know we always want to talk about feelings or even want to talk more than men do in general. I appreciate your comments about taking someone at their word as to what they want. However, I don't think he knows what he wants. So I was reaching out to ask what works for you when you are grieving or feel like you can't express emotion? Do you want someone to be patient and encourage you to try? Or should I just be silent? Or offer a distraction from the situation entirely and go out and do something fun with him?
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on April 22, 2017:
You're absolutely right. Some autistic people have a genius for acting and have no difficulty fitting in. It's best to find out each individual's talent and skill at acting and how much it either does or does not exhaust them. We can't all be actors as talented and skilled as Morgan Freeman or Robert Carlyle, but then again, some of us may be and many may fall somewhere in the middle of the road, too. The better we can fake normality and fit into whatever culture we live in, the safer, happier, healthier, and more financially fit we can be. Everyone has different levels of ability and different challenges.
Shay on April 21, 2017:
Speaking as someone who grew up with Asperger Syndrome... I might also add that not everyone with Autism or Asperger Syndrome is the same. We have different lives and environments growing up, the same as anyone, and we all have our quirks, anxieties, phobias and other differences that make us react or behave differently in certain situations... Some of us are more adept at socializing and fitting in than others. I just want to point out that it’s a good idea to get to know us as an individual, and try to meet us wherever we may be at the time. It may seem like a lot of work and patience sometimes, but other times, we just might surprise you with how "normal" we are!
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on December 27, 2016:
I'm happy to help. Depression can be a killer, so thank you for reaching out to a young person suffering from depression. I have Aspergers and I've found that I get along best with introverts because they tend not to put uncomfortable social pressures on me because they, personally, tend to really understand how uncomfortable certain social situations can be without explanation.
Luna55 on December 27, 2016:
Thank you so much for this article. I have a friend I met online who have this syndrome. He is 18 only and it is accompanied his chronic depression. Thank God, he open up to me and told me about his syndrome in two days. I've been listening to him and talking to him about him. I often tell him that he come come to me when he feel alone cause he often feel that way. I do not really get about this so I don't know what to do really as I'm an introvert myself. This article let's me know more about it so thank you.
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on December 21, 2016:
We make accommodations for people like you constantly. Otherwise, some people like you attack us emotionally, financially, or even physically.
We can't get or keep a job, get appropriate medical care, or even get treated with basic human decency unless we can accommodate all of the NTs around us to their satisfaction. I've personally been beaten into the hospital for "being a retard" when I was caught by a couple of NTs when I was rocking in reaction to having just been raped while I was homeless. All those things (that particular rape, the beatings, the homelessness) were direct or indirect results of being autistic and unable to feign the right degree of normality to keep normal people from acting like savages. Forgive me if it doesn't make me cry if you don't love anyone who is autistic enough to treat them like a real human being now and again; your hurt feelings kind of seem small and petty compared to getting beaten into the hospital because normal people can't accept me.
If you read the words on the page, it's clear they are intended for people interested in being better friends to the people they love who have autism, not for people who hate being around us. If you can't stand people different from yourself, don't read what they write and don't spend time with them. You might also ask yourself where your urge to lash out at random autistic people online comes from and deal with it.
You have no idea who you've chosen to lash out against today or what I'm currently suffering. Just so you know, my sister just died and I'm dealing with the fact that people like you have made it so there's no grief counseling available for people like me that does anything other than model us into modes and expressions of grief that won't bother people like you. I can't get help with my pain; all I can get is help keeping people like you from reacting badly and immaturely to my expressions of grief. You probably don't care and see my desire to be thought of as a person as something I just shouldn't have because you can't see me or anyone like me as someone with needs and feelings. You seem to see my basic human needs and desires as selfish.
This page upsets you because I've asked people who WANT to to give their autistic loved ones a chance to be themselves, to stop accommodating them for just brief periods of time. Think about that for a minute. You are upset by someone giving suggestions she was asked by a reader to give to people who desire to be better friends to the autistic people they love. Autistic people have to accommodate normal people every second we are with them, yet you see it as selfishness to explain how people who actually care about their autistic loved ones can sometimes give them a chance to have some relief and to be themselves.
Tessa on December 19, 2016:
Please listen carefully to yourself.
It's all about you. Your difficulties etc etc.
And again, we NTs have to bend over backward to accommodate you.
How about the NTs. Ever spared a thought how hard it is for us to deal with aspies? Very hard!! Consider that too please. Much appreciated.
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on October 26, 2016:
I can't really shed any light on why your friend blocked you on facebook, because autistic people are just as individual as anyone else. The only autistic-specific monkey-wrench I can think of is that we tend to believe what other people say. A mutual friend could have said you did or said something that would very logically get you kicked off friend lists if it were actually true. I'd suggest you investigate that possibility and then consider all the usual reasons people block each other on facebook if it's not the case.
I've blocked people on facebook for:
* Repeatedly posting political material to my wall to start arguments.
* Joking about subjects like rape and not stopping when asked.
* Horrible offline behavior like kicking out a gay child, abusing a spouse or partner, bullying someone in the workplace, or committing a violent or malicious crime.
* Repeatedly being rude to my other friends.
* Cyberstalking someone else I know.
* Continuing to talk down to me or to treat me like I'm stupid after I've asked them to stop.
* Actually calling me or someone else retarded or anything similar.
* Trying to use me and my friends to promote whatever they're selling too frequently.
* Trying to modify my behavior by making strange public hints, refusing to say what they want in plain English, and refusing to stop when asked.
* Posting rude comments including profanity on my articles or editorials on websites like this one.
* Plagiarizing my writing and using their byline on it.
That's just a very short list because there are many reasons I've blocked people on facebook. You'll notice that they are perfectly normal reasons and that you'd probably block people for similar things if they applied to you or your situation. Autistic people block people for every reason other people do; we may just have a few extra reasons stemming from how poorly some "normal" people react to anyone who is even the least bit different.
Instead of trying to figure out autistic reasons your friend may have blocked you, try to figure out reasons that a guy with his political, moral, and social leanings might have blocked you.
david on October 25, 2016:
i had a friend how was autistic.we were friends for about 4 years and one day he blocked me on facebook and never spoke to me again and i dont know why..can you shed any light on it.?
Deborah Demander Reno from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD on January 19, 2016:
Thanks again for the great tips. I agree wholeheartedly, the world would be a whole lot easier to navigate, if people would say what they mean, and stop hinting around.
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on September 01, 2015:
What a great approach to a new romantic relationship! I hope you find the information helpful.
anonymous on August 31, 2015:
I am falling in love with someone who has Aspergers. Thank you for this article, it is insightful and helpful to me. I really just want to understand this person better and try to be there for them in a way that they need me or wish me to be there.
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on July 06, 2015:
I hope you find it useful and I hope your son's brothers take the time to get to know him. I'm fortunate in that my brother tries, but I think he's just on the edge of the spectrum himself so he "gets" a lot of stuff he might not feel himself because he might feel similar things if slightly less intensely or intrusively.
One thing that helped a person I know become a friend of mine was that I told him it's like we have a different interface with the world and run on a different operating system from most people. We're sort of like Macs in a world where PCs are the norm.
Georgina Buziak on July 06, 2015:
THANK YOU FOR THIS well informing article!!!! My son is 25 and even his own brothers haven't taken the time to learn WHO is is!!! SAD!
Toni Boucher on September 24, 2014:
I really like this ! I have linked it to one of mine & will share with families and staff. Thanks for pointing out the ironies in such a thought provoking article.
violetpinks on July 14, 2014:
This article provided me some insight. My situation is I am a mother of an aspire son. I am very familiar with raising an aspie child, in fact he's my only child and so I am not sure I would even know about parenting a NT child. The point is that I am familiar with Aspergers when it comes to parenting... Not when it comes to aspie adults and relationships. A year ago when I started working at the place I work now, I immediately noticed a man who was extremely smart, great with his clients (caring), had a fun sense of humor related to our profession. He works great in our crazy setting and he is genuine in all things. He came across to me as someone who was a loner in school, extremely smart, and not many friends if any. I guess if I went by other coworkers' comments "nerd" would be their classification. They think highly of him, but they say that about him. I don't judge and I don't get that at all about him. Yes, he may seem a bit different, When I would see him, my face would blush, my heart would race, my breathing would become fast, and I stumbled or stuttered. I am a NT (I think) and I've been told that I'm very attractive and I've had my share of handsome jerks over the years. I realized that I am smitten over this man because he is everything I look for. Being a mom of an aspie, I had a hunch that he had some kind of Autism Spectrum diagnosis, but I never thought anymore about it. I worked up the courage after 4 mos. to call him and tell him who I was and I thought he seemed like a great person to get to know. He straight out asked me if I meant a date, and I panicked at stressing him so I said "no pressure. I thought maybe friendly outings like grabbing pizza or a movie". He said ok, but he couldn't remember who I was. I told him that I would introduce myself. I did and he was very sweet and polite and smiled very warmly. I volunteered my number and I didn't realize it at that time, but he rang my phone so, I would have his. His job is extremely demanding. I won't go into what profession he is, but it's a very very demanding job that requires long hours and stress - but he does a great job. I am in a related profession and I work collaboratively with his profession when taking care of clients. I'm sorry for the novel. I texted him here and there where he would answer some times and not others. He has been nervous acting around me at times and sweats and turns red. He seems like he is really anxious about being around me. He just says he's been working so much lately because it's been insane (it's true, I'm there and I see it). I am afraid because I haven't seen him lately (night shift rotation), I've texted him asking him how he is doing. I fear I've texted too much. I hate texting, but I did anyway. He has a history of not responding to all of them and even he apologized for his lack of response. I texted him a text that said sorry I was afraid I was bothering him and I thanked him for being sweet when we talked and joked at work (we had a moment where he came out of his shell and became a chatterbox with me- he seemed so comfortable). I also said in that text that I really was interested in him and attracted to him and I find him so interesting. But I also said that I didn't want to text him if he didn't want me to. I didn't want to bother him. I said that I would let him contact me if he wanted to get to know me and I hoped he would. I asked him please don't be shy. The lack of responses made me think I was texting too much, or worse, he didn't like me. His coworker and I were talking the night before and he asked me how my fianc (an ex) was enjoying working in another close town. I knew this coworker before when my ex and I toured with the recruiter, had dinner with two of his coworkers, but the ex ended up working in the next town. Also, I took care of another of his coworker's child at a later time all before I hired on to this facility. I know his coworkers from different interactions prior to him coming here. I answered this coworker with "we are no longer together". He became startled and apologized up and down. I assured him that it was ok but the fear that he may have mentioned this to the man I am falling for, made me tell him of my predicament. He became quite warm and encouraging about the idea of us getting together and gave me much information and insight on him. He confirmed that he has narrow food tastes, is inexperienced, never dated, he loves and wants a child of his own, he is loved by all the coworkers' s kids. He also said he is a great guy, caring, loyal, and he would be very good to me. He just said that he felt he has a few quirks related to his I diagnosed social awkwardness and his inexperience with relationships. He suggested that if I ask him to do something, he recommended doing an activity themed on fun Rather than romance. He said once he knows me, he will come out of his shell (I've seen this happen once before with him). He is somebody that I've fallen for. It does not or ever will bother me about his habits and anxieties. I want him to be himself and to know that I will respect him and accept him for who he is. This is crazy, but I've never had this feeling about anyone before. I just want him to try to overcome whatever anxieties he's having about me. I've been told that maybe he's intimidated by the fact I'm "pretty"... It would break my heart knowing I caused him stress. Physical looks are not important. I'm scared I blew it. But I still care very much about him and his well-being. Is there any suggestions? I'm sorry for the long post, I just had to provide the background to convey what the situation is. Thank you so much
shnookie04 on July 10, 2014:
@Loyal1: Be vary careful, my husband is a successful Attorney who courted me and listened well, hung on every word In fact it never occurred to me he had mother to say or add. Once we were married it was back to his routines you cannot disrupt or he gets very aggressive. He has never talked of his family his job nothing in 15 years! Only what do you want to do about dinner, do I need to take the dogs out? Do you need anything at the grocery store? Questions but never ever conversation. He really hid so much in out courting and his first wife left because she was lonely and any sexual advances stopped I think because I got tired of being the only one initiating I realized if I stopped he never would. And he didn't. It has been a very sad lonely existence. I have no family and close friends are hours away. I am almost 50 and going back to school so I can get a job that will support me and my dogs. He never wanted kids yet hinted he may when we were courting but now I see why. I would have raised them and him... I have to be honest, he does not understand much it takes so long to explain anything to the point he remotely understands that I just do it myself ALL of it. He feels justified earning a good living and it doesn't bother him he can't hang a mirror, install a doorknob or really anything! Be very careful I would wait and date another year it took 2 years of marriage for everything to come out. :( how do you start over at 47 when you gave your best years to someone who acted like you didn't exist for the past 15 :'(
xjonquilx on May 22, 2014:
Wow. I wish I could make so many people read this before even attempting a friendship with me...Yeah. I am blunt. And I tend to speak in facts. And people constantly misinterpret this as being mean or attacking them no matter how hard I try to dress it up. I always seem to say the wrong thing, use the wrong inflection, the wrong body language, and/or the wrong facial expressions. And I have spent a lifetime studying NT behavior and trying to connect with it in every way possible. Psychology/behavioral science, astrology/numerology, drama/acting, socialogy, religion/philosophy, etiquette, social engineering even. And I still can't get it right! I've mostly given up on trying to interact with the world now days unless I absolutely have to. There's no point in "whipping a dead horse".
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on March 07, 2014:
@Loyal1: You seem like you've got some expectations of how your conversations should go and feel anxiety when they don't go the way you expected or don't at least go a way that you are familiar with. That's something that could be very difficult if you interact with an Aspie regularly. I've noticed a lot of NTs who have a lot of expectations seem to not realize how many expectations they have.You seem to have noticed that he doesn't automatically project the emotions and feelings you expect or hope he will. If he does, he's probably nothing at all like I am. I'm an enigma although I have no intention to be. I have the same feelings everybody else has, my body just doesn't automatically light up with them like other peoples' bodies seem to. But more than that, if I don't give myself some expression for NTs to see, they tend to utterly misinterpret what I say. They obviously don't mean to but without the gestures, postures, and facial expressions they expect, they just can't take what is said at face value. Interacting with blind people and children is always easier.If you haven't noticed by now, some Aspies tend to communicate bluntly . I think that automatically comes from speaking in facts with nouns rather than with gestures and social conventions. We tend to cut right to the 900 pound gorilla in the room with no finesse.
Loyal1 on March 07, 2014:
@Kylyssa: I am considering marrying my aspie boyfriend. I am 46 and he is 57. Nowthat we have dated for a year and I realize there is so much I don't REALLYknow about him because I believe he has tried so hard to communicate to melike he's an NT for so long. Today I confronted him: "I think you hide a lot of who you are because you are afraid I would see you as some kind ofalien or monster if you simply said the things you want to say and the wayyou want to say them. I think you are hiding a part of yourself from me,and I don't know if it has to do with your being an aspie or not..." Heagreed that he hides part of who he is from me, but didn't say why yet.This was the first day I brought it up, so it will take some time and sometrust.In the past, when we've had some kind of argument over a difference ofopinion, he will say "I don't know how to inject warmth into what I amgoing to say.." so this has been my clue that he works really hard to"inject" into his conversation feelings, maybe even a persona that is nothis own, that he things will please ME. Do aspies in relationships do this?I don't want him to be unnatural, and I know how hard it is for aspies to"pretend" and perform just to get along in the NT world. But I want thereal Ken (his name) and not the man who changes his way of being just toplease me or keep me in his life.Today was the first day we actually talked about his hiding part of who heis. I am anxious. I want him to be his real self, and yet I don't know whohis real self will be.Is this common for Aspie/NT relationships? That the NT feels there's moreto the Aspie than the Aspie lets on and the Aspie feels it might bedetrimental to the relationship if he/she lets on who they really are as anAspie?Please advise. This would be a second marriage for me, and I have twochildren, and I want to be in this relationship with as much understandingas possible.
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on February 26, 2014:
@htebbe303: In my case, it isn't necessary for the person I'm talking with to avoid eye contact in a way that is unnatural to him or her. As long as the person doesn't keep trying to get me to return eye contact (and you might be surprised to realize how aggressively some people do that) it makes me a lot more comfortable. Your approach might be better than just trying not to force eye contact. Until you figure out what unconscious things people do that look like trying to force eye contact, your approach of avoiding it might be best. Not all people with Aspergers are alike so other people might be bothered even by just making eye contact naturally even without being aggressive about it.
htebbe303 on February 25, 2014:
Does it help when 'normal' people realize what makes a person with aspergers or any type of autism, more comfortable? When I notice things like lack of eye contact, I purposely try to avoid eye contact to help make that person feel more comfortable while talking. Instead of them trying to accommodate me, I try to accommodate them... does that help?
Rose Jones on January 12, 2014:
Thanks so much! I have a kid with ASD and I appreciate any help I can get. Bookmarked and linked to my own lens: https://hubpages.com/politics/the-autism-site2
Amadeus00 on January 03, 2014:
...well done, informative and necessary speak...
Loyal1 on October 01, 2013:
@Kylyssa: Yes, we agree to disagree, but he, too, is a registered republican and follower of Rand Paul, so I have to be careful when we disagree not to come across as wanting to change who he IS, but I admit I wish I could change his political stance, or at least have him see why I think Rand Paul's policies, some of them, are in humane without my boyfriend thinking I mean HE is inhumane. My friends keep telling me I won't change him - they're not talking about the Aspie part - but the political part. And I am sensitive when I argue my points that he might feel I am trying to change his Asperger part, but like you said, that doesn't factor in. I want us to talk about the glue that holds us together, but he doesn't take to sitting and having conversations like that. But I guess I can just go with my gut feeling that we were meant to be.
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on September 30, 2013:
@Loyal1: I don't know about your partner but I love my partner for who he is and how he shows it. I love him for being kind, caring, empathetic, and accepting and it absolutely matters who he is to me. Having someone who needed to change me to love me would be unacceptable. But just accepting me and letting me be me, while it's a great start, would not be enough in a relationship. There has to be love, attraction, and respect as well. I wouldn't worry as much about the Aspieness as about any extremely opposing political or religious views. I was married to a religious conservative Republican gay man for over ten years and believe me, his sexual orientation was the least of those issues. I don't think my Aspieness even factored in except that he believed I should always somehow know exactly what was bothering him without him ever saying. Then again, his NT boyfriend told me he had just as much trouble with that.I don't know about your partner but I tend to believe what people say so as long as he feels you are honest about still loving him even if you have to agree to disagree on a lot of issues things should be OK. My ex was incapable of agreeing to disagree even though he pretended to.
Loyal1 on September 30, 2013:
@Kylyssa: Wow. That is so helpful. I am ADHD with some sensory processing disorder issues, and along with who I am as an "NT," I've always been kind of naturally open to people seeing the world differently. Perhaps this was the magnet. I am a philosopher, so my friends often feel I should take more of a political or religious stance on things (I am also a minister), but my open mindedness comes from my believing there is no one right or wrong way to see life, love, politics, God, relationships, etc. I think we found each other because neither of us can be put in a box and neither of us puts others in a box. That said, he is VERY politically opinionated, and we don't agree on how certain politics affect human rights (arghh!) and I have anxiety that maybe our political differences mean we value different things. When i bring this up, he doesn't seem concerned. So here is my real question and anxiety, and since I am "NT," please forgive if I offend: he found me on a dating site right after he left a 6 yr relationship. I am afraid - do some Aspies not care so much who they're with as long as they have someone who lets them be?
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on September 30, 2013:
@Loyal1: I think it depends on the person but if you can find Aspies in your area that have common interests with your boyfriend it might be a good idea. Aspies may naturally gravitate toward one another because, after I was diagnosed, I found out that both a long-time friend and a newer friend have Aspergers and I realized that, while undiagnosed, my best friend and my partner both have lots of Aspie traits. However, I've met Aspies that I cannot stand to be around. One thing to keep in mind is that people on the autism spectrum tend to be very opinionated and if those opinions clash there can be issues. I've found friends (not lovers) by using dating websites that have an option to say you are looking for friends. It has worked out I think because they match you with friends the same way they match you with a lover by matching interests, beliefs, politics, etc.
Loyal1 on September 30, 2013:
@Kylyssa: Thanks!! I just signed up to Squidoo as an NT because of this very page! I am in love with my Aspie boyfriend, and posted a question above about my getting other Aspies together so we could have comfortable community together and everyone could be themselves. I think my boyfriend and I would benefit from having others over now and then in a way that is less pressure.
Loyal1 on September 30, 2013:
Do Aspies like to hang with another Aspie or two? I ask because my Aspie boyfriend (I am "normal") prefers my company alone, but I would like us to be with others in a way that would make him comfortable and not put pressure on him. Having people over can be good for us as long as it doesn't tire him out or put pressure on him. Of course I will ask him, too, but thought I'd ask others: what if we found a few other Aspies and I cooked dinner for everyone? (I am kind of extroverted, and love all kinds of company) Do Aspies, once they get to know each other, actually relax more around each other than us "normal" people?
anonymous on July 28, 2013:
@muscleheadbob: I know, right? We are often the ones expected to suck up our hurt feelings and get over it. I often find myself poking fun at myself when I realize I've somehow slipped up socially. It's frustrating to try to explain how I see things, especially when it's politically incorrect to compare it to commenting on someone's dress size, intelligence levels, religious views, race, or any physical disabilities. That causes an uproar, but it's true. When someone points out where I am failing socially and they claim to understand the limits I'm working in, I feel that's rude. Since I'm not nuero-typical it is impossible to explain this without looking like a jerk because I'm the one who is not "normal."
anonymous on July 28, 2013:
@anonymous: Agreed. I don't like feeling my words are being twisted.
anonymous on June 23, 2013:
Speaking as a fellow Aspie, this is a really good article. My life would be easier if the people in it read this article. However I have been lucky enough to find one amazing friend who accepts me just the way I am, one person with whom I can show my true self.Other than him, I mostly just get along with babies and small children.
Kay on May 20, 2013:
I have several people in my family that have Asperger Syndrome although only one is diagnosed. You have great insight here. Thank you!
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on May 11, 2013:
I have to say that just being yourself is great. I don't really have any experience with this so I don't know.
anonymous on November 01, 2012:
@anonymous: In your opinion! and a little pushy.. anyway If only it was only that easy and their was abundance of As people around our home towns for this to happen thus not needing nt folk for natural socializing as us humans need and want though out our lives.
anonymous on September 09, 2012:
@Kylyssa: Thank you. Don't know if my friend is a H-F Aspie or not, but they have repeatedly requested that I be as direct as possible. They take me quite literally. Culturally, and certainly within my family, communication was rife with hints for politeness -- or common sayings. . For someone that isn't used to it, and doesn't naturally pick up on that. it does seem crazy not to "say what you mean, and mean what you say." Let me tell you, it takes practice and I can now sympathize with the effort they have made and the judgements when they don't adapt so quickly. Thank you for another perspective from a place of honesty. I feel I have grown and matured just from reading it.
anonymous on July 07, 2012:
I really enjoyed your article. In Denver, the GRASP chapter is a welcoming place because it is for and by people on the autism spectrum. Our chapter here in Denver is a place where people are free to be themselves. It is so rare that people on the spectrum get to spend time with others like themselves.
anonymous on June 23, 2012:
This is an excellent article, and makes so much sense. I have AS and is so tired of NT thinking I am talking about their insecurities, when i am just making a comment. There is no subtext in my speech, i am just saying what i am saying. When this occurs this makes me not want to speak to people for days or weeks on end.
anonymous on June 18, 2012:
@Kylyssa: It's okay, Kylyssa. I wouldn't get into a flame match with anyone, but thank you for affirming that I can disagree, because as you mentioned, I tell it like it is :-) I mostly wanted Ann to realize she was speaking to someone who DOES know what it is like to walk in the shoes of someone who is on the spectrum or has a loved one on the spectrum. I simply related what I and my children (those that can) have done to make our social lives good for us. Maybe we just have social groups who accept us as we are and I have forgotten that not everyone is as gracious. Life is WAY too short to live it being angry with others, or I dare say, ourselves!
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on June 18, 2012:
@anonymous: Debbie, I removed the replies to your comment that I felt were inappropriate and I removed your response to them as well because it no longer made sense out of context. To everyone concerned, Debbie has a right to disagree with me. I knew that suggesting non-Aspies occasionally change their behavior to accommodate Aspies if they so desire would not be well received by some. I frankly expected a bunch of NTs to comment with things like act normal or only play with your own kind. I've heard it for decades so it certainly doesn't come as a shock.
anonymous on June 18, 2012:
@anonymous: My take on this page was that she was telling us not to play games, put on airs, read a bunch of meaning into stuff and just be open and honest. If you can't handle that, it sounds like you aren's seeking new friends that are Aspies or people w Autism. I have a very good friend with autism, and I find her honesty wonderfully refreshing. My daughter has autism and sometimes says things bluntly, but she has no ill intent. I personally appreciate what she said. I need all the help I can get relating to not just Aspies, but all people. It's always better to be aware of how the way you act affects people.I
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on June 17, 2012:
@anonymous: This is targeted at people who wish to be better friends to their Aspie friends and family members. If they choose to read it it means they want to accommodate their Aspie friends or family members sometimes. I'm not tattooing the information on their foreheads; they have to come looking for it because they want it. You said "If you don't like how NTs treat you, why would you want to be friends with them?" Why is it so horrible to give people information if it will help them get along? You said "Hang out with other Aspies." Why limit my possibilities to less than 1% of the human population when I can communicate with other people and they can learn things and will usually choose to be nice if they know how to? Don't you think NTs are capable of learning and loving enough to want to make their AS friends and family members happier? You said "You tell NTs not to tell us how to act, but then you tell them how to act. Bit hypocritical, if you ask me." In my opinion, explaining how people can be considerate if they show a desire to be more considerate is different from requiring people to behave in a certain manner or shunning them. All the effort in a relationship doesn't have to be on the Aspie side. Besides which, I wrote this page at the request of a friend who wanted to know how to be a better friend.
anonymous on June 17, 2012:
If you don't like how NTs treat you, why would you want to be friends with them? Hang out with other Aspies. Whatever the person "is", if you don't like how they act, find someone else to be with. You tell NTs not to tell us how to act, but then you tell them how to act. Bit hypocritical, if you ask me.
Elares on June 16, 2012:
This is a great lens. My husband is on the spectrum and I can relate to much of this.
anonymous on June 16, 2012:
@Kylyssa: Good point Kylyssa - I often wondered the same thing myself! In fact, the better option is to be the non-aggressive person. And with this added strength we learn how to not continually engage with people who stir up our sensitivites. That is my responsibility - and makes my world a much more pleasant place :)
muscleheadbob on June 16, 2012:
@Kylyssa: yeah, i find myself in the company of neuro-typical friends and as a situation i deem outrageous occurs(socially like an inappropriate response).. i look at my NT friend and ask "did that seem odd to you too?" Due to consistent exposure, I have gotten better at looking at those as they are. Most of the time my friend will go "no, you're right, that person was a little off".
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on June 16, 2012:
@muscleheadbob: I've always found it so backwards that people with learning disabilities have to learn to accommodate "normal" people while normal people aren't even judged badly if they can't behave normally around people with learning disabilities. Or why is it that, when a child or adult with a learning disability is bullied, the first solution proposed is to give the victim some kind of training or therapy to fix him or her so he or she won't be a target for bullies? Why isn't the first solution proposed giving the bully some kind of training or therapy so he or she won't bully other people?
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on June 16, 2012:
@anonymous: Me, too! I seldom know how to ask for help, from whom to ask for it, or even when it's appropriate.
anonymous on June 16, 2012:
I don't always know how to ask for help and when it is appropriate or not. I spend a lot of time over analyzing things and making very little headway. I love what you said about being direct because all the hinting in the world is not going to get your point across and I can't read between the lines!
reikilyn on June 11, 2012:
Just because I look so independent, doesn't mean I am happy to be alone all the time. I do need you and your help, I just don't know how to let anyone know - cos I haven't ever had anyone who I can trust, to count on.
muscleheadbob on June 11, 2012:
maybe if this article(and paraphrased versions of it that allow NT's to stroke the ego associated with their feelings of "tolerance" and "sensitivity" will sink in. There have been many like this in the past. I get to hear random conversations of NT's talking about their nephew with an ASD and how sensitive they THINK they are only to demonstrate massive ignorance moments later. We're expected to not only forgive this intolerance but also take responsibility for their feelings after our honesty.