Recent forum discussions within the pagan community here have again brought to my attention the apparent differences in perception by aspies and neurotypicals (NTs) and the misunderstandings and cross-communications that can occur because of these basic differences, amplified by the difficulties often encountered in online discussions. In general communication on forums is problematic as the reader only has words to work with, so the normal feedback we get from verbal communications such as body language and tonal inflections is missing. Therefore, it’s easy for miscommunication to occur and also for feelings to be hurt. Something someone said in innocence can easily be taken out of context. Throw Asperger’s into the mix and these problems can be compounded even further. Aspies tend to hold conversations that are free of hidden meaning or agenda – unlike NTs who may look for and assume there is a hidden meaning or agenda, whether it is present or not. Aspies often have trouble “reading” body language and tonal inflection etc. As these subtle queues are not present in online conversations anyway, NTs are probably more likely to misread what an aspie writes as they assume there must be something more to the meaning. An aspie may be perceived by NTs as being tactless and rude, whereas the aspie might see him/herself as being truthful and honest and totally justified in telling what s/he believes is the truth. Aspies tend to take things at face value and not read in hidden intent – they say what they mean and mean what they say – most things are taken very literally. NTs often don’t “get” this. I assume (or hope) you can see how these misunderstandings can ultimately lead to flame wars, with each party thinking they are in the right.
One individual in particular, who has openly stated that he has Asperger’s Syndrome, has been in the thick of such online disputes. Sometimes I cringe at what he writes, and wish he would just pull his head in, as I can imagine the sort of responses his comments are likely to generate. However, I can see where he is coming from (from an aspie point of view) and in many cases I can share and identify with his sense of social injustice, but I can also see why others would misinterpret his words (looking at it through NT eyes) and try to turn it around and use it to persecute and ostracize him. He does tend to invite trouble, in my opinion, and sometimes his words might be better left unsaid. But, I also see that so much of the online drama is due to the differences between aspies and NTs and how they communicate, and not just one individual’s attempt to right some of the wrongs in our society.
I wonder if any of my ramblings will make sense to anyone else? I just felt the need to “vent” anyway. I’m too chicken to take this info to any of the forums, and perhaps its not appropriate to do so in any case. As I wrote to this aspie friend recently, sometimes I feel I’m too NT to be aspie, yet too aspie to be NT …like having a foot in both worlds yet belonging to neither …if that makes any sense …sort of puts me on “the other side” of both sides. ::::sigh::::
I decided today to add another page to this website – Strengths & Advantages of being an Aspie! If only all the angry & intolerant NTs on the various pagan forums I’m on could read this information and gain a better understanding of AS and why some aspies feel the way they do, half these flame wars would never happen. Even those few people who have responded in a polite and rational way could benefit from knowledge of AS traits. They might not necessarily see these traits as strengths but at least they’d have some understanding of the driving force behind the online comments and have a better appreciation of the stance that one particular aspie is taking, and why.