I am not in a good place at the moment. One of the problems with having Asperger syndrome is understanding how others feel and what other people mean. It can be very confusing and frustrating at times. It is hard for me to explain to people who don’t have this condition to understand how difficult it can be.
To help you understand what it is like to have Asperger’s and how confusing it can be let me give you a few examples.
Let’s say there is a comic book character called Wally The Waiter. This is Wally…
Wally is a clumsy waiter who is always falling over things and getting in trouble. He doesn’t mean to be so clumsy but he can’t help it. Some people are just clumsy. He may be clumsy but he always works hard. He is always busy making sure everyone gets their food and he always makes sure that everyone is happy. He is working hard in the picture below. Can you find him? Where’s Wally?
Now if you are American or from another part of the world you might find this task far easier and less confusing than the British people reading this. I am hoping that the task of finding Wally might confuse you. Not because you are looking for him but because to my English eyes there are two Wally’s. There is my made up comic book character ‘Wally the Waiter’ and there is this guy…
So you might be forgiven for being confused. American’s on the other hand might not be as be confused. When I asked “Where’s Wally?” They are looking for ‘Wally The Waiter’, they are not looking for ‘Waldo’ as that’s what Wally is called in America.
This type of confusion is what a lot of people with Asperger’s have to deal with. Something you might find simple to understand, like the Americans looking for Wally, might be really hard for someone with Asperger’s to understand. Just like the British people looking for Wally.
Social interaction can be difficult for people who have Asperger syndrome and because it is not a condition that has any visible signs it can be hard to spot. Like you can’t tell who is a vegetarian just by looking at them. It’s only really when it comes to having a meal that being a vegetarian might have problems. For example…
Imagine you’re a vegetarian. You are far away from home and you’re sat on your own in the only restaurant in town and you are starving. No matter how hard you look at the menu nothing on there seems to be clear if it contains meat or not. There is only one waiter in this restaurant (let’s call him Wally) and he looks like a friendly sort of chap. He comes up to you and asks if you are ready to order. You ask him if anything on the menu is suitable for vegetarians. He looks a bit annoyed and then goes away and brings back another menu. However the menu he has brought back just appears to be the same menu. You find this confusing. Does this mean that he has understood that you are a vegetarian and all the food on the menu is ok to eat? Before you have time to ask him the waiter has gone. So you just sit there wondering what to do. The waiter returns and asks if you are ready to order. “Is this same menu that I had before? So everything on here is Vegetarian?” you ask him. This makes the waiter angry. Instead of answering your question he just gives you a long stare and tells you he will return when you are ready to order. So you just sit there feeling hungry and confused as the only person who can answer your question of what you can order is the waiter. You call the waiter over and ask for something without meat. This makes the waiter very angry and he storms off. Is he going to return with food? Meat free food? Is he going to return at all? You sit there feeling hungry, upset and confused waiting for the waiter to return. You then see the waiter happily chatting to other customers. Maybe the waiter isn’t angry after all and your meal on it’s way soon. You wait, and wait. You try and catch the waiters eye and he finally comes over. You ask him how long your meal is going to be? He starts shouting at you and then kicks you out of the restaurant. You have no idea what has just happened. You didn’t mean to upset the waiter, you were just hungry and waiting something to eat.
So being someone with Asperger’s is like being that vegetarian and dealing with someone with Asperger’s is like being the waiter. They both saw things differently. The vegetarian felt isolated and alone and just needed the menu to be explained to them. The waiter on the other hand just thought that the vegetarian was deliberately trying to make his life difficult, but he just didn’t really understand what a vegetarian was. If the waiter had explained what each meal on the menu was then there wouldn’t have been a situation. The vegetarian would have had their meal and the waiter wouldn’t have been so angry.
Having this condition isn’t something that can be fixed. It is just how the brain is wired. like being left handed or right handed. I am left handed, and no matter how hard I try to write with my right hand it just doesn’t look or feel correct to me. I will never be able to use my right hand in the same way I can use my left.
There are lots of situations in life which can be difficult if you have Asperger syndrome or need to deal with someone with Asperger’s. It can be a bit of a mine field. You think everything is going fine but then one day something just blows up in your face. Social media can be like a mine field. It is full of people who have their own ideas, agendas, and their own way of expressing themselves. Lots of waiters, vegetarians, Wally’s, Waldo’s and you don’t know who is whom. Some people you might feel close to because they say things that you can relate to, they on the other hand might hate you. Some people you might dislike but they think you are awesome. Some people clash, some people connect. It can be very confusing for the average person to navigate the online world of social groups and cliques, so imagine what it is like for someone who has Asperger’s. There are people who find swearing at others acceptable and those who take insults to heart. I find it hard to understand the difference between friends having ‘friendly banter’ and two strangers having an argument.
I often struggle to understand how my words might be interpreted by others, and as a result can find that I have caused offence when this was the furthest thing from what was intended. I hate to think that I have ever upset anyone. It is never my intention to do so. I don’t like to say bad things about others, I know how horrible it feels. I always feel the need to fix things and make things better but then even that can be interpreted as being meddling and intrusive at times. I have always been a bit of a sensitive soul, and some things said online I will never forget. I have been on the receiving end of abuse there was that person who wanted to set me on fire and dance around my burning remains. I may have problem understanding others at times but I’m sure the person who wrote that didn’t want to be my friend. Either that or they are/were a friend who was ‘just having a laugh’ and this was their idea of ‘friendly banter’. I just don’t know.
Because of this struggle I have with understanding others I have decided to remove myself from some social media sites. Why remove yourself you might say? Why not just leave your account and just not use the sites? I did try that, but I found it hard to let go. Hard to step away. I would just keep going back just to see how people are and what they are doing. I just really need some time off line to sort my head out. Saying that I haven’t gone completely, I still have a online presence, so who knows what will happen. I may return, I may not, I don’t know. But if you look, I’m sure you will find me.