Inside the Aspie Brain; Why social scenarios are so difficult...


Bravo. You've managed to put into words something that quite a few Aspies have wanted to convey to others for a long while.

I've been a card-carrying Aspie for a long time - Professionally diagnosed when I was 4, not actually told until I was 15 (not knowing why I felt weird in the years between made for a fun childhood /s). Since then, I've grown into someone deeply involved in my network, an eccentric & outspoken guy who's known for some sharp jokes.

Have I overcome my issues relating to social interaction and sensory overstimulation? Hell no - I've become better at hiding them.

Due to the very nature of the Spectrum, every Aspie seems to have their own problems and own ways of dealing with them. When I got told, I pretty much knew that even with the most understanding friends, and with all the effort in the world, I would never quite understand what others think or feel - Similar to a person blind all their life trying to will themselves to see. So I worked around it - I worked myself into an industry where being socially awkward would be the norm. I spent 15 years around other people, subtly watching how they interacted with each other and working out how to respond (not too dissimilar to sword-fighting in Monkey Island). I got involved with colleagues who were the kind of people to get into card/board games in the pub (poker is good for learning bluffing, CAH is great for getting others out of their comfort zone as well) specifically so I didn't have to make small talk. I made sure to get familiar & comfortable in places we'd often frequent, even going solo when I couldn't deal with other people being there.

Most importantly - I took those experiences I'd learnt watching how others acted, and made myself a mask. As the years progressed and my experience in human nature evolved, I added to the mask, improved it, changed it, evolved it over time. It's a completely figurative mask, nothing but an concept - But I still wear it. Putting it on in the morning means I'm ready to go, and turns me into a "normal" person. I get involved with the technical things I need to know at work, I become a mentor for younger colleagues, I give my two cents without issue, I say "Why not?" to things I wouldn't used to before (public speaking being one), and I go out drinking, dancing and being generally social. And then I go home, take the mask off, and revert back to the real me; the one I'm scared for others to see. The one who feels alone living in a city of eight million.

Although I imagine some people in my circles have long suspected and not said a word, I have confided with a handful of trusted friends, as well as HR at the various places I have worked. I have no intention of letting my other colleagues know, and I fear the day some idiot with loose lips tells the wrong person and it goes round the studio. Once it's known, it's the point of No Return. It's a nice ideal to believe that people will be completely understanding, but my experience with my industry (hell, it barely knows how to help burnouts) and with people in general makes me think otherwise - At worst, I'd be considered defective or simply shunned by people who don't want to understand. At best, with all the altruism in their hearts I'd still be known as the company Aspie, with people not exactly sure how to deal with such folks and feel recursively awkward as a result. When those are the choices, I'd rather keep it schtum and get a reputation as an occasionally weird person.

It's not all great as an Aspie hiding in plain sight - Some people are still unsure how to chat with me, I still have certain ticks that annoy me but I can't react to in public (interrupting me halfway through saying something to move to a separate subject still pisses me off). I've lost friends and still feel regret years after I should've stopped caring, including two who poisoned matters then watched me self-destruct. I've noticed people leaving me out of parties or special celebrations and have become paranoid at why, including the wedding of a friend I would've flown across the world for at short notice had he invited me.

In the end, I've learnt it's nice to do things with others...but there will always be that space where I feel more comfortable on my own, in my own sanctuary. While I've got the "mask", I can get involved in public without worrying about things. But it's when I take it off when I can feel like myself and do my best work. I hope that eventually others can see that side of me...but it won't be because they want to understand, but because I feel they'd be okay with it.

/r/aspergers Thread