When worlds collide...how to deal with non-aspies

Tongue firmly in cheek here, people, but I thought it might be good to offer some simple guidelines on how aspies can deal with non-aspies, in different situations.

Firstly, patience is always in order. I know it can be hard to be patient with people who just don't understand what you're trying to tell them. Sometimes, it doesn't seem to matter how many times you go over and over the same idea, they don't know what you mean. It's almost as if they stop listening.


Obviously, if they listened properly in the first place, you wouldn't have to go on about it, but non-aspies never seem to learn this lesson. There you are, in full flood of something amazing, great, fabulous and, most likely, world-changing and what do you get? Half an ear, if you're lucky.

Yes, there have been other fabulous things you needed to share and it's worth admitting this to them, when they're being less than enthusiastic. But this time is different and you need their attention, just this once.

If you don't get their attention, try not to beat them into submission. I know it's hard, but leave it and come back to it later. That way, they relax and think you've given up or forgotten. This means you can wait until they're not expecting it and come at the subject from a different angle. Sneak up on it, like, and watch as they listen, only realising their mistake when it's too late to go back. It's worth waiting for.

In a work situation, if you find yourself with someone who is so far from the aspie viewpoint, it's like ponies and giraffes, then you may need to use different tactics. People who really, really don't understand you, often they don't want to either, so it doesn't matter how you say a thing, or how you try to be friends, they still won't respect you.

It can be confusing, as this kind of person is nearly always a lynch-pin of the organisation, someone you have to work with and who is important to your job and other people's. You must interact with them at the same time as observing the little sneer they keep just for you.

Please, fellow aspie, do not give in to temptation and smack the sneer off their face. For those gentler aspies, neither must you let the air out of their tyres or find out where they live and use interesting ways to make their lives more exciting. (Not yet, anyway).

No, you must beat this person in a much more important way: by making them not matter. You are never going to get rid of their sneer, it's there forever and will have been used on many people before you. The self-important person who makes your life miserable at work is a professional at this kind of thing. They can have you crying in the toilets before you know you're even going to do it. And they can torture you without batting an eyelid, still keeping on top of their job and their other relationships.

If you let them get to you, then you won't be keeping on top of your job or your relationships. You, dear aspie, will be off those rails and out the door. You know it's true. So, step back and let them give off their waves of sneery, negative energy, without letting it wheedle its' way inside your armour.

I know this is easier said than done and you won't always win. Sometimes, the presence of this type of person is enough to spoil a job and have you moving on. That could be for the best, but do try to work around them and ignore them first. As I said, they're never going to understand you and some of their behaviour is based on fear. They dislike anything different and are never going to be friends with you. Let them carry on in the ignorance of never having known what a good friend you could have been.

Family. Oh dear, family. Where to start? In my family, the non-aspies roam free, amongst the aspie, the leaning-towards-aspie, the eccentric-somewhere-on-the-spectrum and the-one-you-avoid-on-the-stairs. I'm sure a lot of aspie families are like this, if they're honest. The trouble is, they often aren't honest.

It surprises me how often people expect an aspie to have sprung, ready-formed, from the fresh green earth. This strange thing they have wrong with them is nothing to do with the Family. We never had anyone strange in the family before.

This is a lie, dear aspie. A big, horrible lie, cooked up to protect the current generations from having to remember and admit what they know about the previous ones, as well as shuffling aside any unpalatable facts about themselves.

When they look at you with anger, pity, despair or share a look with one another, console yourself with the thought that they, rather like the evil co-worker, don't know what they're missing. By refusing to acknowledge any common ground, they are denying themselves a chance for greater self-discovery and a more rewarding relationship with you, their kith and kin.

Now, in every family, no matter how unfriendly, there will always be an ally. Seek them out and befriend them. It's likely they've been waiting for an opportunity to support you. This is where odd aunts, or shunned cousins come in handy. They tend to be more up your street anyway and can help you feel supported in a less friendly family environment.

For those of you who already have supportive families, appreciate them. Hang on til I clear my throat. Cough, cough. APPRECIATE THEM!!!!

Yes, I am yelling at you. Do not moan that they don't understand you, do not wish they could make your life easier. Do not blame them when your day falls apart like old cabbage. They are the ones who will always be there for you and, just because they don't always get you, it doesn't mean they're not trying. Give them a chance. Love them. Explain things to them and let them explain things to you. Do not be a pain in the butt.

Yes, I know, as an aspie myself, it can be very easy to be a pain in the butt. We can do it just by wandering through to the kitchen in the morning and drinking that nice cup of tea someone made for us. Except they didn't, and they have to make it again.

There are so many little ways that we drive people to distraction, that when it comes to us being the ones who are irritated by others, we should step back and remember. We are usually the ones who get on other people's nerves, accidentally or simply by pushing on until they can stand no more. Do allow your supportive family and friends their moment of annoyance.

If they feel ticked off with you, don't take it as a personal slight designed to ruin your day. Do not remember it endlessly, ready to wheel it out the next time they annoy you. Put it in perspective for all the times you have probably annoyed them.

I see, looking through what I've written, that the word I started with covers most of the bases: Patience.

We need so much patience to deal with other, non-aspie, people, as they exist on a slightly different plane from the one we know so well. We meet in the middle somewhere, occasionally through a haze or mist. Others need patience with us and vice versa; it's the only way to go.

Of course, it doesn't always work out this way. In my case, it doesn't often happen as patience is one virtue I lost down the side of the sofa many years ago. I've tried looking for it but all I seem to come up with are pennies and old dog chocolates.

Still, it is what we should aim for, the patience to deal with others and help them to understand us. If we can keep meeting in the middle, a little patience goes a long way towards clearing the mist so we can reach out to one another.

When all else fails, just remember that non-aspies are never going to fully understand why the hippo is fluffy and blue, they are only going to see that hippos must be smooth and grey. Some things are difficult to explain, but if others can accept us as we are, then it's the least we can do for them.

Amanda

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