Whilst trying to think of a simple analogy for my life as an Aspie, with sufficient explanatory power to get through to a frenemy with a distinct agenda, I thought about boats. I thought about how my little Aspie row-boat is quite happy on a calm, flat, predictable body of water. It does its job and makes quiet progress, with enough room for me and, should I choose, one other selected person. However, if more than one other person should try to get into my boat, it cannot manage and may sink. If the invited person decides to do something unexpected like stand up, move too much or get emotional, it can capsize. If I have to venture out onto unknown waters, uncontrollable environmental factors such as waves can overwhelm my little boat.
Now think of a Neurotypical (non-aspie) boat, a large, sturdy, capable vessel like a cruise-liner. It doesn’t fit into the small details of the ponds and canals that my boat suits, but it doesn’t know this because it has never been there. It is built for many passengers, it can handle constant, multiple arrivals and departures, of friends and virtual strangers who need no invitation to embark. It handles waves like a pro too. People can stand up, run around and jump on the NT liner, the only thing that can upset it is a large unseen iceberg, which every passenger onboard will agree was a justified reason for sinking. There is no whispering that the iceberg is trivial and that the NT liner should just deal with it. People who travel on NT liners assume that everybody else travels on them too, and has access to the same speed, efficiency and capability, but they are mistaken. Perhaps what they should consider is that after an NT liner has had a collision, its passengers are forced into small row-boats, a little like mine, where they too wish for no-one to make demands of them.
If it’s any consolation, the same big icebergs that capsize NT liners might not be the things that capsize my little Aspie row-boat. This is because I do a lot of careful route-planning to avoid them, and because my attention to detail means I may see them lurking under the surface before it is too late, and plan a strategic and novel solution (like freezing all the surrounding water so that I can just sledge over the top of the ‘berg). Besides, you don’t have time to deal with icebergs when you have to cope with constant waves and idiots jumping in your row-boat. Much like I don’t have time to deal with insensitive, unreliable, lying frenemies, when I have to cope with constant sensory issues and social interactions. I really don’t use the phrase ‘rocking my world’ in a positive way.
I’m satisfied that this summaries my point well, but somehow I still don’t think she’ll hear it… After all, when you’re not neurologically endowed with the ability to ’empathise’*, you strive to learn explicit, word-based methods of communicating caring and understanding for others. But if you are allegedly born with the power to ’empathise’, it apparently must also come with the choice of whether or not to use it.
(* ‘Empathise’ is in quotes because I have issue with its use in relation to Asperger’s, but that’s another story for another time.)
© Catastraspie, 2012.
Such a wonderful analogy. It makes perfect sense. I, too, hate it when too many people try to jump into my boat. I can handle two or three, but more than that is just too much. Good luck with navigating the waters. We do have the ability to empathize. “Experts” don’t know what they’re talking about.
Hi Allie, really great to hear that you relate to my analogy 🙂 I totally agree with you about empathy, I think it’s about being able to express it non-verbally and people confusing a lack of expression with a lack of feeling maybe?
Exactly. My mom says that my face contorts or does something strange when I don’t know what to express or how to express what I’m feeling. I can say how I feel, but my face says otherwise. It is often confused with feeling something different or not feeling at all. We should correct this misconception of unfeeling.
My friend says that particularly women with AS have a ‘concentrating’ face, which might be what your mom means, like we’re thinking really hard to figure something out! I often can’t say how I feel or don’t know how I feel, it can take me a while to identify the feeling but it’s definitely there.
Yes. Yes. Yes. 🙂 I understand exactly what you mean. You know, if you’re on Facebook, you should add me. Yes?
Cool! Let the Facebook stalking begin 😉
Yay! I love Facebook stalking! ;D Lol.
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Reblogged this on Under Your Radar and commented:
This is a very insightful post. It’s a great read!