User:Eighty5cacao/misc/Aspie notes/version 2

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If you're pleading "Asperger syndrome" as an excuse for trolling, you're probably not a real Aspie, and this essay is not for you.
This page is based entirely on my personal experience. It is not supported by reliable sources, and it is not endorsed by Tepples. I have never been officially diagnosed with any mental health condition. Don't forget to read the general disclaimer.
I do not mean to deny that "full-blown" autism is a serious condition.


Most Aspies try too hard to maintain a lifestyle comparable to Lawful Goodness or one of its immediate neighbors on the Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition alignment grid, forgetting that:

  • Other people may not share their moral views
  • Chaotic Good is still Good, and many Aspies forget that being Lawful can sometimes get in the way
  • Moral and geopolitical neutrality are different from the type of "neutrality" characterized by a lack of social communication. In other words, Aspies often forget that remaining silent is rarely a neutral action: people will feel unhappy if they sense that they are being deliberately ignored (#5).

TODO: Is it reasonable to say that "true* Aspies" are rarely/never Evil?

TODO: What I meant by "neutral" originally was my habit of using, "If you really were neutral about the issue, you wouldn't be mentioning it at all," as an excuse for arguing/talking back. Figure out what to say about this

Quantity and quality of interaction

Aspies differ from neurotypicals in failing to prefer social interaction to non-social activity. More generally, Aspies fail to prefer talking (especially in person) to less personal forms of communication. Compare the joke about the eight-year-old boy who speaks for the first time in his life to tell his mother that the soup is cold. (TODO: wording - Mention something about how I prefer sending email to talking in person [for academic matters] or a telephone call [for tech support], even when this creates inefficiencies)

Most Aspies would do well to remember the "Hey Jude" lyrics, "For well you know that it's a fool who plays it cool / By making his world a little colder." The point is that first impressions count, and one can't make a good first impression by being unwilling to interact. (This is one case in which there is no true Neutral.)

Aspies often have more difficulty communicating with neurotypicals than with other Aspies. They may thus underestimate the prevalence of neurotypicals in certain technically-oriented environments. This contributes to a vicious cycle in which unwillingness to seek out neurotypicals for social activity diminishes the opportunities to practice social skills, causing one to withdraw further "out of the loop."

Many Aspies seem unapproachable because they do not display the right nonverbal cues and because their behavior/speech patterns are overly logical. (TODO: Regarding the nonverbal cues: Aspies may actively deny communication without knowing it because they're not clear on what nonverbal cues they're presenting and/or what they mean.)

TODO: "Relationship bank account" analogy; among other things, like any real-world bank there are transaction fees, and one must make regular deposits to maintain the relationship in good standing (which means most interactions must be unambiguously positive) (cn)

Many Aspies respond poorly to bullying/trolling because they don't know when to stop assuming good faith: their minds seize upon the part of the trolling that is based in truth and get defensive[?] as a result. In comparison, a good neurotypical knows how to filter out trolling from legitimate conversation[...] Furthermore, may Aspies don't know how to politely express an assumption of bad faith[...]

TODO: There is no such thing as an atomic action in social activity; that is, one must be prepared to listen attentively even while one is speaking or performing another task. (The same principle applies while driving or in any other activity that is challenging for sensory integration.)

TODO: Mention the historical use of the term "autistic psychopathy" to refer to Asperger syndrome. (brainstorming: Aspies don't really know how to "internalize" behaviors, so they end up "intellectualizing" instead, with a lot of possibility for error...)

TODO: Mention my tendency to reply to every "thank you" with "you're welcome" regardless of why the other person said "thank you." (TODO: Clarify with an example of when "thank you for X" needs to be responded to with "well, thank you.") When I correct myself, I often end up saying a total of three phrases in quick succession while I search for the best wording (i.e. "you're welcome, thank you, you're welcome" or "thank you, you're welcome, thank you").

TODO: Mention my failure to internalize an understanding of how rude being even "a little bit" defensive is perceived ... the problem is that it doesn't fit into any of my mind's preconceived notions of rudeness

TODO: neurotypicals sometimes interpret an Aspie's lack of engagement as arrogance

Works of Malcolm Gladwell

First, some preliminaries: The correlation between introversion–extraversion and neurotypicality–Asperger syndrome is obviously incomplete. There are highly extroverted Aspies, just as there are highly introverted neurotypicals.

With that said, if I were to sum up the moral of each of Malcolm Gladwell's books in a short sentence, here's what I'd say:

In other words, modern Western society has stacked the cards against introverted Aspies, at least in terms of "business success"/"résumé success." Recall that introverted Aspies tend to make poor first impressions...

The Tipping Point

Neurotypical society defines success in terms of the ability to personally bring about a tipping point...

Aspies tend(?) to overemphasize the intrinsic merit of their ideas; i.e. they rely too much on the Stickiness Factor and neglect the Law of the Few.

(TODO: mention other definitions of success and the book Toxic Success)


"Slow and steady wins the race" doesn't cut it when dealing with important business face to face. Aspies tend to think in "email time" (or at least "IM time") as opposed to neurotypical "phone time" or "face-to-face time"... In other words, chat messages have a backspace key, but face-to-face conversation doesn't.

The vicious cycle in this case is that I mistakenly burn bridges with the shortcomings in my verbal and nonverbal communication. That leaves me with fewer opportunities to practice my social skills, since many people would never give me the time to remedy the poor first impression I made.


As a result of one's social failures (and resulting academic and professional failures), one might create the impression that s/he is not succeeding because s/he is "not smart." However, this concept isn't meaningful...

(TODO: a lot more to say about the connections between the three books)

(TODO: mention what all this has to do with Susan Cain's Quiet - see talk. Possibly related: There is a positive correlation between high-school popularity and job success, according to Cracked [see #3].)

(TODO: mention what Outliers says about assertiveness or lack thereof as a cultural trait?)

(TODO: In The Autistic Brain, Temple Grandin complains that the original formulation of the "10,000-hour rule" overemphasizes nurture over nature. Still, this is no excuse for me to get lazy. The other problem is that our society expects its bright minds to master so many skills that they can't possibly put 10,000 hours into any one of them.)

(TODO: Also mention something about Thinking, Fast and Slow (I don't personally own this book): NTs prefer System 1, while Aspies prefer System 2)

Motor coordination and sensory integration

My parents insist on "playing" Just Dance without actually holding the Wii Remote. My mind refuses to accept this. When I try to play for score, my parents complain that my movements look unnatural. I need practice, but I won't be getting much because the Wii is at home and my educational institution is one state away.

When I play DDR*, my parents complain that I look dorky because my mouth hangs open and my arms are unnaturally rigid. This is a result of sensory integration issues[...] In other words, I'm concentrating so hard that I can't look natural. (As suggested in the previous paragraph, my mind rejects the idea of freestyling to the extent that it conflicts with playing for score — even though there are health reasons I'll never compare with the real experts...)

Then again, any neurotypical who is unfamiliar with DDR would react similarly upon observing me.

*(actually, StepMania using a dance pad as input, with copyright-infringing songs from both the DDR and ITG franchises)

Sensory integration is also the reason I have difficulty with social dining events: I strain to schedule my mental CPU time between savoring the taste of the food, making eye contact, and executing other conversational niceties. Speaking of eye contact...

Eye contact

Early in my life, I used to give inadequate eye contact; not anymore. One of my parents has noticed that in situations where the other person and I are seated at a table, my eye contact tends to turn into a fixed stare, triggering nervousness on both sides. The other thinks my eye contact is still inadequate.

When they talk with me about this issue, it usually goes like this (heavily paraphrased):

Parent 1 (to me): Remember to maximize your eye contact all the time. Look straight at the other person.
Parent 2 (to parent 1): But if xe tries too hard, it won't look natural. Haven't you heard xem say that xe has to consciously think about how to move xyr eyes to prevent xyr stare from getting too fixed?
Parent 1 (to both of us) There's no excuse for less-than-100% eye contact; that's how it is in the business world. (to me) Just look straight at the other person's eyes...their whole face. Try as hard as you can.
Parent 2 (to parent 1): But xe's not like normal people; optimal eye contact doesn't come easily to xem... (to me) Take it easy, just do what comes naturally.
(repeat last two lines several times)

(Maint. note: Gender-neutral pronouns refer to me.)

The important point is not the disagreement between my parents; rather, it is the fact that I have difficulty mentally taking in the other person's entire face as my conscious mind tries to override normal eye movements[disambiguation needed]. Instead, I have to think, "bridge of the left the tip of the nose...right eye...and back to the bridge." (That's why I've classified this as a motor coordination issue.)

TODO: Explain that my tendency to mindlessly stare at one thing (or person) might be "good" for an interview but is usually "bad" for giving presentations