Persons with Asperger’s syndrome or high functioning autism could list a long list of challenges in their relationships. They often would tell you about their fear and anxieties of not fitting in, of feeling estranged and even unlovable. Likewise, Neurotypicals complain of their relationships with Aspies, often reporting feelings of rejection and being uncared for.
In this article the two mindset are examined. What is highlighted is the way things are Lost in Translation. Through two scenarios I describe what each mindset hears or interprets. I will refer to Asperger mindset as (Aspie) and the Neurotypical mindset as (NT).
Scenario1: It’s the day after a heated argument between a NT and an Aspie.
Typical thoughts of the NT: “I’ll just be cold and dismissive so that s/he can see how much they’ve hurt my feelings, and will come and want to talk about it. S/he will apologize to me.”
Typical thoughts of the Aspie: “By looking at the way s/he is gazing away and pouting, it is obvious they need some alone time. I will just stay out of the way. Besides, I wouldn’t know how to engage them, so might as well wait till they talk.”
Scenario 1: Revisited:
Aspies mindset forgives easily, is free of prejudices, less likely to engage in social manipulations, takes things as they are.
NT mindset needs time to forgive and sometimes cannot forgive without the support of the other person. Is more likely persuaded by prejudices like gender roles, and ageism. More likely to think of social situations in a creative way, therefore more likely to make up scenarios that might not be true, but hurtful to them.
Scenario 2: On a long road trip together.
Typical thoughts of the NT: “We can talk about things, sing songs and choose music together, we can pull over whenever we want and spend time wherever we like.”
Typical thoughts of the Aspie: “I’ll plan the route ahead of time, make sure we make it through our destination with specific number of stops and I’ll be sure we won’t run out of gas or food or get fatigued by carefully arranging our stops and rests.”
Scenario 2 Revisited:
Aspie’s mindset is excellent in planning ahead and taking specific precautions against mishaps. Therefore safety and reliability are Aspie’s forte.
NT mindset calls for spontaneity and readiness to deal with the unexpected. What is considered safety and precision for the Aspie can be translated to overly stuffiness for the NT.
So the take home message here is that the two mindsets have advantages and disadvantages. Those who are struggling with depression and anxiety in their relationships with an Aspie or a neurotypical might benefit from learning about each other’s mindsets. This learning could alleviate many misunderstandings and therefore bring Aspie’s and NT’s closer to one another.
Dr. Dashtban, Psy.D. can be visited on www.medicalpsychologyservice.com with offices in SC, Mt View, Fremont.