Why I Act Like a Jerk at Times (or What You Should Know About Aspergers)

When I tell folks that I have Aspergers, the first reaction is usually that I have this cute, eccentric trait, like that charming old uncle they once knew.

Sooner or later, the same folks witness me doing something stupid; something that might come off as me not caring.  They are appalled and upset at my callousness.  They usually never realize that the eccentricity and the obtuseness are part of the package.  I might be cute, but I can also piss people off and not really know I’m pissing people off.

There’s a reason some folks call Asperger’s “assburgers.”

I’ve decided I need to write something to explain to folks what it’s like to be me and maybe understand me a bit.  Here goes.

I don’t always know that I’ve upset you.  Most people get angry and don’t have to say anything to get the message across.  But realize your powers don’t work on me.  I have no idea you might be angry at me or that I did something that bothered you.  If you are upset at me, you need to tell me.  I can’t help you if I don’t know, literally.  I can’t read your body language, so use your mouth instead of your body.

I have a hard time handling more than one thing. Now, I’ve learned over time to be a bit more versitile.  I’ve also tried different things to help me to remember something needs to be done.  But none of that comes naturally to me.  More often than note, something slips through the cracks.  I’m really trying to remember this thing or that event, but I might forget.

I’m doing everything backwards and in heels.  Okay, I don’t do the heels.  But for someone with Aspergers, we have exert more energy to get things done, especially to function at near neurotypical levels.  I have to push myself beyond my limits often.  If I fall short on something know that sometimes, it might be because this is harder for me than for you.

My communication function is “damaged.” It’s possible for me to hear something that I need to tell someone and then not tell them, even though I know I should.  I need to work better at this.  But one of the issues with an autistic disorder is that you have issues with communication.  Me exactly.

I will annoy you.  I’m going to bug you.  I’m going to do something that will drive you crazy.  Just know that.  But remember, why I might be annoying.

Know that I’m really trying. Don’t immediately think that I don’t care about work, or church or your friendship.  It could be I’m trying the best I can.  Remember my communication functions don’t work like yours. Ask me if I need help.  Just ask me, period.  And show some grace.  I’m not trying to be a jerk on purpose.

Learn about Aspergers. If you are working with me and I tell you I have Aspergers, learn as much as you can about it.  Don’t think you know how to deal with me, because I assure you that if you do that, you will be dissapointed.

I’m feeling it more than you know. Back to the “I don’t care thing.”  You might think I don’t give a damn, but on the inside I feel terrible.  It just doesn’t occur for me to show that to you.  Folks with Aspergers do have feelings, sometimes even deep than you.

That’s all I can think of for now.


4 thoughts on “Why I Act Like a Jerk at Times (or What You Should Know About Aspergers)

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  1. As the older sister (but really more of a parenting figure) of an awesome, intelligent brother who we believe to have Aspergers…thank you for writing this. I am incredibly protective of his image and how people see him-especially since we’ve additionally overcome other issues in the past with our home life. He is great with science, and particularly passionate about marine biology. Everyone is different in social situations and require more energy…like those with Aspergers or even those who are born incredibly shy or with social phobias. Thanks for a great post.

  2. A lot of what you’ve written here certainly strikes a chord; some of your descriptions could well refer to me. My wife (who suggested I read this post) wonders if I don’t fall somewhere in your neighborhood of the Aspergers spectrum. Maybe so, but I’ve also been told I’m “a good fit” with an “ADD profile”, and that I’m a “highly sensitive” individual by a therapist. My introversion index runs practically off the scale on the Minnesota Multiaxial Clinical Inventory test. What it adds up to is I spend what feels like inordinate amounts of time and effort trying to understand the things people say to me and to appropriately respond.

    I don’t know much at all about Aspergers, but the effort required to “function at near neurotypical levels” really hit home. In the excellent book, “Driven to Distraction”, by Edward M. Hallowell, he cites a study done that showed brains in adults with ADD process sugar about 8% less efficiently than “mainstream” folks. This was considered an underlying reason for so many ADD victims to fall into amphetamine addiction or become devotees of extreme exercise. I’ve felt it myself, the metabolism boost from a good exercise session enables me to think more easily and clearly than other times. Perhaps Aspergers operates in a similar fashion.

    Maybe I have some amount of Aspergers. I’m not sure it matters. Knowing which intersection I fall into, in the Venn diagram of my brain doesn’t really help much. I am so tired of the effort I have all but given up on trying to be social. I’ve been married for 12 years, and dated my wife for 7 years before that, and still have communication malfunctions on an almost weekly basis. What hope is there when it comes to relative strangers? I’ve tried explaining the ways in which I’m broken to co-workers, yet I still come across as grumpy to the extent I get teased if I dare smile at anything.

    I applaud your courage to go forth and work with people of all stripes despite these handicaps. It exhausts me just thinking about what an effort each day must take. Thank you for this essay, it does help to know I’m not the only one who struggles with this stuff.

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