Repost: Acting, Aspergers and Sundays

From November of 2010:


Gavin Bollard has a good blog post on how persons with Aspergers tend to be actors:

I think that aspies tend to be good at acting because they spend so much of their daily lives acting – and from a very early age.

For example, it’s true that aspies often don’t get jokes (although you rarely hear us complaining when neurotypicals don’t get ours). Young aspies quickly learn that it’s easier to “act like you got the joke” than it is to take the brunt and embarrassment of being the only one who didn’t. We are quite often called upon to “act amused”.

Then there are those sad and solemn occasions where sometimes we feel intense waves of emotion – and sometimes we don’t. Again, honesty in these situations leads to ostracisation. Sometimes it’s simply better to “act sad” or “act shocked”.

For years, when there was a time of sadness, like a death, I would try to force emotions and even at times “act sad.”

These days, the time that I tend to act the most tends to be on Sundays when I’m at church.  Being a pastor is probably not the best vocation for someone with Aspergers.  What I’ve learned over the years is that pastoring is an incredibly people-intensive duty that can wear even neurotypicals out.  But I believe God called me to this, so I learn to “fake it.”  I’ve learned (the hard way) to be more outgoing, more willing to engage in small talk and listen to folk.  It’s wearing and there are times I want to run and hide, but it’s important, and I do get to learn more about the people at church.

Acting is something people with Aspergers have to do if they want to get anywhere in life, especially if we want to remain employed.

Gavin concludes by saying that there is a price to paid for all this acting:

Acting can be very tiring work. You can’t expect the aspie to “act normal” all of the time. Aspies who are doing a lot of acting will often find that they need more sensory breaks and alone time than when they’re not acting.

Indeed. Which is usually why after church, I have to take a nap just to “recharge.”

I don’t want to give people the impression that being an Aspie pastor is one big chore. A few Sundays ago, I was at church for six hours during the Trunk or Treat event. I left tired and “peopled out” but I was also jazzed about the ministry that was going on at church.

Acting can be draining, but it’s also damn rewarding.


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