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Communicating under pressure

The frustrating thing about talking to your aspie is that you are part of a much bigger picture, but you can only see part of it. To the non-aspie the conversation is between two people and whatever the difficulties, there is no real, proper reason why the words should not pass and be understood. To the aspie, there is so much more going on.

On a good day, the aspie might be distracted, thinking about other things, nothing important but certainly something more interesting than the non-aspie's obsession with getting out of the house by 10am. There are always lots more important things than leaving by 10am and they all take precedence in the aspie's wonderfully-ordered mind. So it is that the memory of dropping biscuits into the cow field at the age of five easily pushes aside the droning about being late again.

On a middling day, which covers many days, the aspie is not only distracted by the wonderfully-ordered mind, but also by the ticking sound the cooker makes when you forget to knock it off, or the way the curtains blow in the wind as you insist on opening the windows. Or the sound of next-door's car alarm going off yet again because it is impossible for a grown adult, supposedly an advanced species, to remember to switch off the alarm before they use the key.

A middling day may be full of many nuisances which do nothing to harm the aspie but have the power to drive them over small cliffs, over and over, right through the day.

Meanwhile, the non-aspie is trying to talk to their aspie about the documents they had through the post yesterday, the ones they put in a safe place so they could be used today. Firstly, you assume your aspie remembered to put them in a safe place; then you assume your aspie considers them important - properly important, not just important to you and the rest of the world.

You forget that the car alarm has set off again and how many times does a person need to open and shut the doors of a car before they get in and drive away?! What documents? What are you talking about? Can't you see your aspie is stressed? What do you mean there's nothing to be stressed about? You're always wanting something and everything is so difficult! (Cue melodramatic exit to place of safety).

Then there are the bad times. Luckily, these don't often last a day, they just feel like they do. These are the times when the bigger picture is full of dangers and trials, overflowing with awful endeavours all sent to push your aspie right into their mini-breakdown and out of the reach of anyone, even you.

To the non-aspie, it is a place somewhere, an everyday place. People go there all the time. It could be a busy shop, a hospital, a friend's party (see, it's safe because it's a friend's party), a street full of shoppers (see, it's safe because we don't have to go in the shops), the school at home-time, the college at going-in time - anywhere that has enough triggers or big enough stresses to make your aspie feel the world has come to an end and is now broken into many loud, dangerous, floating pieces of life which defy understanding.

Amidst all this life-threatening chaos, you want to talk to your aspie and have them listen? You want to ask them something? You want a conversation? Would you have a conversation in the middle of a war-zone? If soul-stretching demons were descending, would you want to talk then? If you were in the primeval forest and a soft breathing sound came from behind, would you pause to discuss the weather and then get tetchy when your aspie acted as if you were mad?

I know, it is drama. It reads like your aspie is constantly over-reacting. But it is only over-reacting if you are not the person living through it. A fear is only groundless if you are not the one in the grip of it. A drama is only divorced from real-life if your life is not full of drama already. A conversation only makes sense if both people are able to have it, at the same time.

And just because you can't see the bigger picture doesn't mean it isn't there.

Sometimes it is a very big picture and your aspie a small speck amongst it. Other times the picture is contracting and doesn't leave enough space for life. Try to see how complicated a conversation can become under these conditions and then be kind to your aspie.


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