I’ve frequently heard “does not share” as a symptom or “tell” of autism/Aspergers.
Things like “An autistic child does not generally share observations or experiences with others” or “Healthy children share thoughts, ideas and knowing looks with others; if your child doesn’t, that may be a spectrum indicator” are just a few examples I found with a quick Google search. I’ve heard it mentioned many times (tho’ since it’s Friday, and my “battery” is running very low, I’m not able to conjure up a lot of examples), and it’s always stuck in my mind that this is one of the things that people close to me complain about the most.
I don’t share enough. I don’t “clue them in” on what I’m thinking, or what’s going on in my life. I don’t include them in my developing ideas. I don’t communicate very well. I don’t communicate at all, according to some (including my partner).
Well, okay. I can kind of see how that’s true. But it’s not because I want to block people out of my life. That’s not it. I’ve tried, many many times, to share my thoughts and ideas, and it fell flat. It failed. The things that move me, that thrill me, that bring me to live, aren’t the kinds of things that others grativate to, for some strange reason. How many times have I been told I’m boring people by going OnAndOnAndOnAndOn about 12th century intergenerational transfer of wealth, and how that at least in part gave rise to the Crusades? How many times have I been looked at as strange, because I thrilled — absolutely thrilled — over a certain piece of music, and played it OverAndOverAndOverAndOverAndOver, enjoying myself to no end, only to be called “weird” about it? How many times have I attempted to share my facination with the mint marks on pennies… my delight in the veins in different types of tree leaves… my really twisted sense of humor that can find a bunch of different ways to exit a life made intolerable by the loss of everything that matters most to me (no judgment on anyone else for what they consider acceptable levels of quality of life)… not to mention my sudden spikes of interest in This Or That — inventing a new gadget that has never been seen before in that exact iteration, and figuring out how to file my own provisional patent (which I did, and got, without expensive lawyer costs) — or a sudden all-consuming interst in Bohmian physics… Only to be “shot down” by people who “felt like their heads were going to explode” from me telling them about all the things that mean the most to me?
It’s always been this way. I’ve always been surrounded by people who were in a parallel universe from me, who had no interest in the things I loved, who metaphorically spat on my interests (and so spat on me), who insisted that I be interested in THEIR vacuous obsessions with some pop star or piece of clothing or jewelry or athlete or whatever. And if I didn’t share their devotion, then what good was I?
I’ve been trying to share my interests all my life. The problem is, I get so deep into my specialties, that I become something of an expert in those things, and I connect the dots with other fascinations I’ve had along the way, so I have this complex, associational relationship with all that information – which even the official experts don’t have, because they’ve been so specialized in Their Field And Their Field Only, that they’ve usually never looked up from their own little corner, to see how it connects with any of the other corners of the world.
So, I am doubly isolated. On the one hand, isolated from the non-specialists, the people who (for example) couldn’t give a rat’s ass what Eleanor of Aquitaine was up to on St. John’s Day, back in whatever year, once upon a time. And I’m isolated from the ultra-specialists, who similarly dismiss Eleanor outright, because they can’t see the sweeping challenge she posed to the prevailing order, and they don’t get the socioicultural connection between the relatively new English rule of law, and the rules of Courtly Love running the show down in Poitiers.
Plus, I have no college degree, so who am I, anyway? And who cares why I couldn’t finish my degree? Who cares that I wasn’t able to return to a college campus becuase it literally wasn’t safe for me to do so, and by the time it was safe, I was crippled from chronic health conditions that nobody could properly diagnose and treat? All people know is that I “couldn’t finish”. So, the blocks me, as well.
I’d love to share, but I have no standing. So, who would listen, anyway?
And then there’s the problems that arise, if I DO share, and others want to talk to me about things. Sorry… no. I don’t want to discuss. It’s too much work. I just can’t. Just can’t. Not that I don’t want to. I do. I really do. But I get turned around. I get confused. I get frustrated. I forget that everybody doesn’t read what I read. I lose track of what they DO read. And I have a hard time following what they’re saying, anyway. Because I can’t hear as well as I’d like. Everything sounds like people talking with marbles in their mouths, at times. It’s a lot of work to listen so I can hear. And I usually don’t have the energy for that, unless it has to do with making a living or avoiding some sort of disaster.
So, the thing about being socially stunted, or delayed communication-wise… that’s only part of the overall story. And it’s not actually part of my story. It’s not that I want to block people out All The Time. Sometimes I do, but not All The Time. It’s about the logistics of listening. And not feeling up to haviog people roll their eyes at me.
I have a wonderfully rich and varied life.
I have a number of all-consuming interests, that I can spend all day, every day, exploring. Nobody else seems much interested in those things — or if they are (or want to be) interested, they generally don’t have the depth or the perspective that makes talking to them into a productive experience. I’d rather be alone. I’d rather not share at all, under those circumstances.
So, there you go.
That’s enough said. Enough for now.