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Stop playing and just grow up!


I've heard it said a lot that people with aspergers are immature, or lack a full awareness of social rules and behaviours - which is just another way of saying we're immature. Like a child, in other words.

No one comes out and calls you a child, at least not in official literature. I have often been called childish by my nearest and dearest and possibly people have thought it without saying anything. No, we are immature. Big difference eh?

Immature is worse, in a way, than being called childish. If you are being childish, it infers it's a temporary state, rather like a tantrum. When you have quite finished acting like a child, then you can get up off that floor and pick up after yourself! So, being childish is moving from the norm, into the childish behaviour, then back again.

This one is pretty apt for those among us who can pretend to be normal in the first place, moseying along, being like everyone else (some hope) and appearing to cope and behave like a real person. Then it all gets too much, we crack under pressure, and like a wobbly dam, that one crack leads to a great explosion of feelings, all in one go. Small villages, family dogs, the loal hero, all drowned in one enormous, unexpected outburst.

So, perhaps, if I'm being kind (I'm not really feeling kind today), I could say I understand why others might see our outbursts, or the times we give in to impulse, as a childish aberration. When we have finished, we should be back to normal and we can forget it ever happened.

As for being immature, that does seem to live a longer life in medical circles. When an aspie is growing up, they very often are immature for their years. I mean, isn't it enough that we have to learn all the ways of the world in a few short years without also being expected to plow out into that world, carving our own furrow at the same time? No wonder we seem to hold back and linger on the edges of childhood.

When you're an adult aspie, being called immature is simply the same as being called childish, because it is usually an insult thrown out by the same people who would call you childish anyway. If it's used in another context, then you're likely to find it in medical situations, as an official way of explaining why this walking, talking, potential-filled adult sitting in the room cannot keep a job, manage their finances or seems to develop a tick if the doctor's receptionist talks at them for too long.

Being immature to a doctor is a milder term and one I can live with, if it helps them understand that my social functions are not fully formed, that I, as a person, am not made in the same way as others. Frankly, doctors can call me what they like, so long as they have a willingness to listen and understand and help. I know it's easy to take offence at the terminology of the medical profession, but just like aspies, they need a way to express themselves, so we shouldn't be too unkind to them.

No, what pokes my goat about being called immature, even in a medical sense, is not any intended or unintentional insult: it's the implication that it can be outgrown.

I know it isn't meant in this way; when used as a term relating to aspergers, it's just a descriptive tool. But immature, that's what you are before you're mature. You know? It's not complicated. First you grow, then when you've finished growing, you're fully grown. Right?

Except, aspies are often immature, which suggests they haven't finished growing or are stunted. Good grief, thinking of the word stunted has really improved my mood right now!

Yes, we are immature (and possibly stunted) when it comes to the ways of the world. Our brains didn't make it all the way to knowing when the axe is going to fall by body language or vocal tone alone. We are immature when it comes to understanding what behaviour to use in which situations. Apparently, we are stunted when it comes to our social level in this massive, heaving, brooding world.

Thanks. The more I think about it, the more I feel it's a compliment. If being immature means I use words and obvious actions to convey my meaning, rather than clicky little changes in body language or moody changes in tones of voice, then I'll stick with that. You can be certain that when I've finished speaking, everyone knows what I mean.

Also, if it means not pushing myself out into the world before I'm ready, then so be it. There are far too many people being pushed out into the world as it is. It's kind of crowded out there. Let them fight it out amongst themselves, I'll stay here, in this place on the edges, with the other aspies, watching the mass fight for position while we move around one another, respecting personal space and understanding when someone needs to be alone.

Yes, readers, I'll come out and say it. In terms of this world, the people in it and any medics who need to know, I am stunted and proud! I will stand here, with my little, half-grown self and hold the flag as high as I can for anyone else who has ever been told to grow up and get over it.

I'll poke them in the eye for you too, if I can reach, or kick them in the knees if I can't. Aspies, if you want to, stay in your rooms, or do a bit more gnashing of teeth on the floor. I'll stand guard until you're finished and then we can go and have a nice cup of tea and a biscuit and maybe a quick battle on the Wii.

So, beware, non-aspies. Childish and immature, we may be, but we have many years of practice in surviving the insults of our modern age. You don't want us to edge further along the road to being mature and grown up. If you combined out aspie talents with also being a fully-functional adult, then the world would be ours for the taking. And with our boundary issues, we'd know how to share it too.

Be thankful that we got to where we are: here, with you and me and a view of the world that differs just a little from yours. That's all it is. Not everything in life can be measured in the same way. Is it really immature to see the sun fall first on the leaf and then on your face?

Amanda

My books and writing blog, with free stuff.
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