About AASN

Building Bridges

A Philosophical Paradox

By Ms. A.J. Mahari

Having Asperger's Syndrome, (AS), and wanting to build bridges might seem, at first thought, to be quite the oxymoron. More to the point, my desire to build bridges of understanding and compassion has all to do with a complicated, to some degree, highly philosophical paradox.

This reality acknowledged, nevertheless, and notwithstanding, let me explain my concrete understanding of the purpose of actual bridges firstly and then examine the philosophical paradox to which I am eluding secondly.

Bridges serve the purpose of spanning and providing passage over a gap or barrier in the concete (and steel) physical world as we know it. They also span sudden interruption of continuity be that in landscape or in understanding and connection between people.

Bridges are the vehicles that faciliate alternative ways of joining in understanding despite any intrinsic chasm that perpetually, to one degree or another, persists between people, Aspies and Neuro-Typicals (NTs) in this case.

This profoundly painful philosophical paradox then, reduced to an overly-simplified explanation to facilitate brevity here, is the experience of knowing I am supposed to want and/or need certain social and relational connection to others. Not only that I am supposed to want this connection and relating but that I am supposed to understand it and accomplish it the way that those who are neuro-typical (non-autistic/non-aspergers) experience it.

It is the paradox, which is based largely upon societal assumption, that is the measure by which those of us with Asperger's are often defined as weird or dysfunctional. It is the imposition of these societal values upon adults with Asperger's Syndrome that is the cause of a great deal of pain and isolation. We need our differences to be recognized in ways that accept and include us and not in ways that reject and separate us from the main of humanity.

I would also like to convey this innate need to bridge in what are often round about ways (so I've been told) to communicate or remain connected despite my own undying ambivalence about this connection and relating and the stress that it causes. This stress is experienced as a very agitated inner-state of high static inside. I have essentially no volume switch. I can't modulate or regulate this. It is either have it up full and try to relate and connect and hold that connection or retreat to darkness and being alone and have that volume and stress dissipate, thus rendering any sought after connection instantly interrupted.

The result of this inherent paradox is a high level of frustration. There can be, at times a feeling of aversion to connecting, disconnecting and re-connecting due to the agitation that it stimulates deep inside of me on a biological level as well as a psychosocial level

When bridges collapse suddenly and I am called on to try to be "flexible" or "flow" (I really don't know how to do this) with something or some situation I have experienced a level of agitation that has often resulted in total melt-down. If not a melt-down a fairly substantial disconnect that can frustrate others in my life but also can be quite frustrating for me too.

The paradox of wanting (sometimes) to connect intensely and relate while not wanting to risk having to experience that instant interruption can feel very defeating. What makes it worse still is if no one in my life even understands what is happening for me at times like this or if it gets minimized in any way.

Bridges, in this philosophical paradox, from the inside out of my experience as one with Asperger's, represent pathways that can bring to me connection and that can help me reach out from within despite often agitated antipathy and still connect me to others.

I spend a lot of my time and energy processing my understanding of this profound and often times painful philosophical paradox and less time actually able to live it in a social way. I am coming to terms with this and I am learning to make peace with this also.

Many people in our lives and our worlds work long and hard to build bridges to us. However, in order for these NT bridges to reach us, as Aspies, based upon my own experience, I believe that the building of bridges must first happen inside of each individual aspie.

Herein lies one of the biggest challenges for those of us diagnosed with Asperger's in adulthood. I will be writing a lot more about this in articles and perhaps an ebook as well.

If each one of us doesn't learn how to bridge from the depths of his/her own restricted world and rigid comfort and to make room for the reaching in of others we cannot learn the cues of clues that even signal these overtures to us.

From this fledgling assimilation and understanding then can come substantial appreciation for bridges to others and for others to build back bridges to reach and connect with us.

© A.J. Mahari, January 20, 2005

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Last up-dated November 24, 2007