asperger adults

Nosy Neurotypical Neighbours – What’s up with them?

If I had a nickel for every time I, or someone I know or have Coached or received email from who has Asperger’s Syndrome, thinks that every problem in every social interaction (as adults) is theirs, I’d be sooo rich. Why? Because the world “socializes” us to believe that neurotypicals are normal. Wow! As if – no pun intended.

I have just been through three of the most stressful months of my life in ages due to nosy good for nothing neighbours – each with their own problems – all I’m assuming are neurotypical – one is narcissistic as all get out with no boundaries, hen-pecked, and afraid of his own shadow, for some reason he needs to hide behind women. Another is just plain two-faced who lives next to the one who has no boundaries and just walks up to you out of nowhere and of course, what else, complains about all that’s wrong in his or his family’s life going on and on and by the way, I’m the one with Asperger’s but even I get that if someone is on the phone you don’t interrupt them or if someone (me in this case) is sitting on their stoop with headphones on and reading a digital book that might be a cue (clue) to leave me alone, did he ever, NO!

I try to set boundaries with the guy and next thing you know he’s all out of sorts and acting like I did something to him – typical neurotypical? I dno’t know but definitely not a “normal” one.

Then there is this other neighbour, drinks tons, has next to nothing to say, is over-ridingly negative and super-nosy but yet I am the one with the problem, supposedly? Is she neurotypical – yeah. Normal? Nope.

We as Aspies need to learn to value the differences that we have and that our lives will be lived off the beaten path of all-too-many (not all) neurotypicals are cueless and clueless so please don’t always jump to the conclusion that it is you when things go astray or that it is all you by any means if you have Asperger’s. Let’s face it, Neurotypicals are a very large group and the only thing we know for sure, more or less, is that they do not have any form of autism or Asperger’s. No more, no less do we know. They come in all variety of crazy, weird, off, eccentric, crazy, judgmental, needy, annoying, nosy, etc., etc., etc.

So much for thinking one can find anything but toxic neighbours where I currently live. After all it is not a community at all. It is a bunch of angry individuals because things don’t get fixed unless you fight for repairs. Some very strange people live here. All I’ve been wanting since I moved here was to be left alone by them to be in my interest zone and my work zone and just left alone.

There is so much more wrong in this world than having Asperger’s, so I hope you will learn something I recently learned, it just isn’t always us when things go nuts, wrong, etc. And I don’t know about you, but as an Aspie, I’d have to say neurotypicals totally love to gossip, are often very toxic people (not all) but the ones I live near for sure, and they are really nosy – I just don’t have time for it. It’s all been a bunch of fake needy neurotypical yakety-yakety from the time I moved in. I’m looking forward to the time I can move out.

By the way if you are an Aspie adult and you can stand living in a high density complex, please let me know how you do it – you know the type of place with way too many people all over the place and so many so nosy and so many always wanting to talk to you until you have to get bluntly honest with them and tell them to go away.

© A.J. Mahari, September 15, 2012 – All rights reserved.


Do Aspies Have Empathy For Others?

Almost every definition I’ve ever read about Asperger’s Syndrome lists among the traits and/or characteristics attributed to those with it as not being able to feel empathy for others – as not having empathy for others. I have Asperger’s Syndrome. I have tremendous capacity for empathy for others. I have continued to increase my ability to express that empathy. Do Aspies really lack empathy or is it felt, experienced, and expressed differently? Perhaps in ways that neurotypicals (NT’s) do not recognize as empathy or do not experience as being the way they expect to be given empathy.

As I’ve likely written about in other contexts related to Asperger’s Syndrome, it seems reasonable to say that there are many differences in those who have Asperger’s Syndrome (AS). Men and women seem to have differing ability and context as well as understanding when it comes to something like empathy and compassion as well. (Attwood) There is still a difference not only in the way boys and girls are socialized, what those social norms contain, but also in what society expects from boys versus girls. Attwood, in his book,  “The Complete Guide To Asperger’s Syndrome” talks about this and concludes that females find ways to learn to express and to care-give in ways that perhaps many aspie males don’t.

In my own experience with empathy, as an adult with AS, I know that I feel tremendous empathy for others. That can be someone I am talking to, sitting in a room with, or someone I see on the evening news who has suffered a tragic loss. There is also a very profound sense of connectedness to humanity in its macrocosm that means I experience a lot of empathy and compassion for a lot of world events and things that I see on the news and so forth that aren’t a part of my own life.

A lot of this empathy that I have and feel that is palpable within me there isn’t maybe as much expression of it at times. It depends if I am coaching with someone, or writing. If I am just in my own world, doing my own thing, in the splendor and wonder of my narrow focuses of interest (which are in themselves paradoxically vast) then there is much more that I feel that others can’t know – that isn’t measurable.

The way that Asperger’s Syndrome is defined, like many other pervasive developmental disorders, or even mental illnesses pathologizes and categorizes differences in what are highly divisive and negative ways. There is little if any consideration given to the different ability of many with Asperger’s in and through which things are felt, experienced, processed, and expressed differently. Not being the same as the feelings, experiences, processing, and expression of neurotypicals (NT’s) the presumbed NT’s who set out the defining criteria of Asperger’s Syndrome fail to give consideration to different ability. What is different about those with AS in the minds of those defining it and those who continue to forward that narrow definition of it, despite endless individual manifestations and expressions of AS from all the people who have it, is that there is a tremendous lack of tolerance for difference.

It’s as if there is some segement of society, “professionals” (?) that are charged with defining the ever-illusive “normal”. It’s flawed  logic to begin with. It leaves no room for each to march to the beat of his or her own drummer, to be introverted versus extroverted without scrutiny and/or without penalty of judgment and being patholigzed.

I don’t happen to think there is anything particularly horribly wrong with my brain as someone with Asperger’s Syndrome. Again, the differences between aspie brains and NT brains, see the NT’s pathologize the aspie brains as “dysfunctional”. Why not just different? For all that people with Asperger’s have contributed to this world through the unique genius that is a bonus to our differences, geez, I don’t see that being categorized as negatively as the ways in which we “don’t get NT social”. Who needs it? I mean I straddle that line. I have pushed myself way far to “get it”. However, “getting it” to some extent, and being able to connect socially, feel and express empathy and receive it doesn’t mean that I want or need to be in that “space” that often. I just don’t. I do find myself in that space often in terms of the work I do, writing I do, and knowing what others need from me at times. The rest of the time, time I can have for me, in my splendid aspie world, is time cherised in that world. That is not a statement about egocentrism or being unaware. Again, it’s difference.

The egocentrism of my Asperger’s is something that I am now very aware of. There are ways around it. Do they feel natural – no. Will they ever – I doubt it. Does it matter to me – not any more.

There are also many feelings, such as love, empathy, compassion, and so forth, that are compromised to varying degrees with individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome. This does mean they can’t continue to learn ways to increase understanding  these emotions and their expression. Within the social impairment (so called – I’d say again, different ability) of Asperger’s Syndrome in terms of social relating does feeling or expressing empathy become more challenging or difficult for many with AS, yes. This has to do with the different ways that we process information. It has to do with the NT social context that most with AS, even when we understand it to varying degrees, do not find it to be the way that we engage, the way that we would relate that would be first-nature to us.

Many people with Asperger’s Syndrome have a capacity for empathy. Some more so than others. Some maybe not so much. Again, Asperger’s Syndrome is not the same for each and every person who has it. However, the blanket statement in the pathologizing DSM-IV definition of Asperger’s Syndrome (which by the way is not even slated to exist as such in the up-coming DSM-V professionals now preferring it just be lumped in with autism so that everyone can get even more confused) that people with Asperger’s lack empathy is not all that accurate. It is a statement without explanation. A statemment, black-and-white as it is, that doesn’t take into account each aspie’s individuality, and the reality that people can feel more than you can know. This is especially true when much that can be felt by those with Asperger’s Syndrome isn’t met with the same need for expression, socially or otherwise, often as it is for those who are neurotypical.

This begs the question how professionals can even really accurately assess what someone with Asperger’s feels or has the capacity to feel. How can you know if I lack empathy just because perhaps I didn’t express something that was wanted, coveted, expected or that NT’s define as a “social norm”?

You really can’t, can you?

Should we as people with Asperger’s Syndrome, make up some book and pathologize NT’s who have a greater need and/or desire to relate many things, empathy being perhaps one of those feelings, to others more often than we do because to us that is not “normal” or necessary?

I believe that most aspies do feel empathy. I also believe that they want to experience empathy from others but that often both are lost in terms of expression and reception to the different ways in which we think, process information and to the different degrees to which we feel the need to actually “socialize”.

That does not a lack of empathy make. That makes for difference. More difference that is not understood, not tolerated and that is pathologized by the “powers that be” who decide how it is that we are all “supposed” to relate to one another.

Small box that, don’t you think?


© A.J. Mahari, April 13, 2010 – All rights reserved.