Friday, April 12, 2013

Aspie Negativity

This is a stir the pot kinda post.  You've been warned now. If you're not in the mood for thinking about broad issues, then you might not want to keep reading. If you think you can keep an open mind, then keep reading. If comments get out of hand I will have to moderate them.  Please, don't make me do that by leaving nasty comments. Thank You!

There is this thing that I see happen often among autistic people. As with everything, it's not black, and white.  Not every autistic person does this, and NTs can do it, too, but I find it to be a very, very common trait among autistic people.

Basically, it's not seeing the forest for the trees type of thinking. It's the idea that if one tiny thing is wrong (in their eyes) in a vast quantity of right, the wrong is still worth bringing up, and making a big deal about it.
  A whole post, or project can be executed well, but if one sentence is worded incorrectly, or information is presented in a way that rubs a certain aspie wrong, then said person just has to bring it to the everyone's attention.  Sometimes, the 'wrong' is just a matter of opinion, other times it's a matter of spelling, or misinformation. 

I have seen autistic people lose jobs, friends, and more due to this type of negative behavior. No one likes to have their faults constantly pointed out to them.  There a couple aspies on my page that only show up to comment when they have a complaint about something I have posted.  I post on average 6 posts a day on my page.  That means they have about 180 chances a month to say something, yet they choose to show up only about 1 of those 180 times to complain about an article I posted, or the fact that I addressed parents, and not adults on the spectrum.  They don't add anything positive.  They take away.

I am not exempt from being one of these aspies. However, I was brought up by one, and the effects are certainly still with me today.  It didn't matter what I had done, or how well I had done there was always something that was not perfect, and my father never neglected to point it out to me.  There was no hesitation in letting me know my mistakes.  No sugarcoating, either.  I think in his mind, he thought that it was a nice thing to let others know their mistakes, so they could do better.  He didn't take into consideration that no one likes to be criticized all the time.

It's very much all or nothing, black and white thinking that often characterizes those on the spectrum as being inflexible. It's hard to not let these things get to us when we see something that we don't like.  We want to tell the person it's wrong, or how to fix it.  Even if the person has done us a favor, or is 99% correct in what they're saying. It's hard to not find the negative, and run with it.

I usually use this example.

Say, you and your aspie friend are going to go out to lunch.  You ask your friend where they'd like to go.  There's so many options here.  They could say they don't know, don't care, or what they're in the mood for. The behavior I'm talking about in this if exhibited will choose none of those options. They will begin by saying they don't want to go to this place, and definitely not that place, and by the way, they don't like ______, and last time they went to ________ it was awful, and before you know it you're listening to 15 minutes of negative complaints about what this person doesn't like when the question was asking for a positive affirmation, rather than a negative commentary.

They did not add anything positive to the conversation.  If this person does this very often their friend will not invite them to lunch anymore. People don't always need friends to be super happy, and fun.  However, no one wants to be around someone who either complains all the time, or looks for the smallest thing to start a debate about.

I think I find the latter of that paragraph to be the one that irritates me the most.  The aspies who require everyone that they speak to to use disability-friendly language, and the slight mention of something offensive (to them) gets them going on how you're all over their rights as a person, and how wrong that you are for saying such things. The people that insist you use *trigger warning* in anything that even might be anywhere near offensive to anyone.  The ones that scream discrimination every time someone disagrees with them about anything. The autistics that insist others don't have a right to hurt their feelings by saying anything that rubs them the wrong way.  They need the world to be this sterile environment where they can feel "safe" and by safe I mean agreed with all the time. It's a control tactic that I am not fond of.  It also waters down the true meaning of discrimination, and what it means to really have your rights trampled all over.

Sometimes, it's best to take a pause before responding to others, and really ask yourself if what you're about to say is adding anything to the world, or is it taking away? Are you trying to push your idea of right onto others?  Are you zeroing in on the wrong, while neglecting the big picture of what is right?  Is there a nicer way to phrase what you're about to say?  Is the thing you're about to correct going to matter tomorrow, or next week?  Is it worth the negativity you will leave with this person? 


15 comments:

  1. I think many of us are guilty of this. I think that for me - it is because I may perceive the question differently. If I were listing what I don't like about restaurants,it would not be because I want to be negative but because I think you honestly wanted my opinion and I want to let you know that I feel I have a valid reason for not wanting to eat at Bob's Diner, Jim's Grill, or Susie's Drive Thru.

    I see what you are saying about a positive spin. I could say (and I do try to say) positive things. Instead of "I don't like" it would be better to say "I like Rob's Steakhouse or Mike's Burgers" Please know though - that while my list of what I don't like may be perceived as being negative - in my mind I think of it as being truthful and presenting facts. :) Thanks for the reminder.

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    1. I totally get what you're saying. I should have probably added to the post that this is a relatively new skill that I have gotten (not perfected mind you) in my 30's. I know for a fact that I have lost friends due to 'being negative', but I had no idea what they meant. I thought they were picking on me, and being mean to me. I am just trying to possibly help explain to younger aspies out there what I wished someone had explained so clearly to me when I was younger.

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    2. I'm chuckling because it has taken me until now (almost 40) to know what most NTs instinctively knew at 20! :) Life lessons... always the hard way.

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  2. I'm an NLD'er, and I kind of cringe whenever I see other Autistics turn differences of opinion or minor annoyances into an issue of ableism. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of people on the spectrum who are seriously being discriminated against-- but there comes a point where you need to pick your battles.

    Just think, "Which is more important-- getting really angry at someone for calling me a 'person with Autism,' or getting really angry at the people who run places like the Judge Rotenburg Center?" Because to me, the first option strikes me as an honest mistake that I make a lot-- I go back and forth between calling myself an "Autistic," "NLD'er," "Aspie," and "A person with Autism/NLD." The other option strikes me as a very heart-wrenching cause worth fighting against-- nothing makes me angrier than thinking about those kids being abused by people who are supposed to be caring for them. It isn't that there aren't any wrong-doings happening to Autistics, it's just that we're picking the wrong battles a lot of days. Great post!

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    1. Exactly. Those people waste a lot time being angry at the wrong things. I think your point about with autism vs autistic was spot on. I think the same goes for NTs that make the same argument, but usually the other way around. They're both missing a bigger picture here. Kids are being hurt, in more places than just the JRC, and they're worried about their world feeling 'safe' because someone used a term they don't like? Ridiculous.

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  3. I'm not an aspie, but I can see this trait in me at times. I've tried to refrain from commenting in lots of situations, and see the positive aspects of things.

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    1. It takes patience, and skill for some of us! It's hard to do.

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  4. Something I only noticed recently, at almost 39 years old, is that I simple ONLY SEE WHAT IS WRONG, usually. If things seem right, in place etc, they simple do not stand out and therefore have no reason to be commented on. They completely escape my notice. But, let one tiny detail be out of place, one thing in the corner not stacked neatly, one sentence phrased wrong and it jumps out at me waving its arms and screaming up and down..."look at me, look at me!" It does cause me to be very very critical at times, but I don't mean to be. I simply notice the "out of place" and completely miss everything that is in place. Does that make any sense?

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    1. That's pretty much how I am. Or, I would never see any reason to comment if nothing was wrong. That used to be my logic. Kinda like the if it's not broken, then don't fix it way of thinking. I would not see why I would bring up things that are right, but I didn't realize people like positive feedback sometimes, too!

      Also, I think there is a difference in seeing something that isn't quite right, and informing someone, rather than being rude about it, which I've never seen you do. Like, the other day, on an autism charity page an aspie left a comment about how the page owner was not using the term Pay it Forward correctly, which was a difference in opinion, not a fact. They left a scathing long post on the page describing all the reasons why they didn't like the way term was used, and why they wouldn't be liking that page any longer. It was a total overreaction. It was an awful thing to say on a page that only serves as a charity for ASD people, yet that aspie couldn't let go that the grammar was not used properly, so she can't abide the page. That's the kinda negativity I am talking about when I wrote this post.

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  5. Yes, this. Very much this. I recently had someone attack a post of mine just this exact same way. It is also the same reason I don't get into rhetoric about the disability rights movement... I do think that many people do a horrible job of picking their battles, as The Colonel above said, and it feels to me like a giant shut-down of the rest of the world. I too, am guilty of finding the "one tiny wrong thing", but after having been screamed at repeatedly growing up for pointing out other people's faults, I learned that you don't say things like that. And if it's so bad that it's causing big issues, you say it very quietly if you have to say it at all... and chances are, someone who is "better" at social will say it first if it is "really a problem".

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    1. Disability rights is a passion of mine, but I also find the politics too demanding. Sometimes, it's not aspies that are the loudest in these areas, but autism parents who like to call themselves advocates, but they are definitely not advocating for anything I would like for them to, or in a way I find remotely comfortable. This is a big reason I have disengaged from some groups recently.

      Being married has helped shape my views a little bit into being a little more compassionate of how my criticism might sound on the other end. I am not good at knowing what to say when, but I am better then I used to be, and learning to keep quiet if I'm in doubt.

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  6. I feel like you just pegged me. A few minor errors can ruin a whole book for me. It is very distracting to the story line. I love word puzzles, but I don't like the ones that are optional answers. I much prefer a solution, a definite right answer.

    I've only come to realize recently (in my 50's) that I may be a person with Asperger's. It gives me a lot of insight into my childhood and my reactions to people and events.

    Thanks for your blog. I've learned a lot from what I've seen so far.

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    1. Thank for reading, and commenting! It helps me to know that my blog is being read, which encourages me to write more.

      I feel like I learned about AS early compared to you. I was diagnosed when I was 30 (or 31, can't quite remember). Learning about it has helped my my life be 1,000% better. I hope you're having the same experience!

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  7. I have Asperger's and I most of the times am positive, although I had been negative allot when in primary and high school, probably because of bullies. But I have changed because I saw I would not be able to make any friends with that kind of attitude, much less a positive and happy fulfilling life. I am not fan of many ASD communities or even live Aspie meetings and groups, because most of the times there is lots of NT bashing (I'm against stereotyping groups of people), overall negativity of how disabled one is or what one can not do (I believe anything is possible if we all try hard enough), seeing only mistakes of others and not their own, feeling of superiority because one has AS, so much negativity towards life and many topics turn into criticizing one another for having different opinion on a thing. I totally detest that kind of attitude. It often times reminds me of some Depression groups when everyone is just talking about what bad happened to them, how they can't go on, how everyone's wrong and they are right, how it's life's fault that they are depressed (while not doing anything for themselves), and they criticize many things. but even some Depression groups are better than what I see on many Aspie sites like WrongPlanet. When I am searching to share some positives or talk about anything openly, you can rarely find a group like this. Not a good place for an open-minded optimist at all or anyone that wants to be encouraged. Often times I feel much more understanding in open-minded empathetic NT groups than within Aspie ones, even though I have AS. Sometimes I can really feel negative vibes when reading posts in many Aspie sites. And I totally agree with what you said.

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    1. I totally agree with everything you said. I get pretty ragey when I am going through my Google news alert emails and come across some of the WP forum threads that sometimes appear in them. I know being angry isn't a positive mindset, either, but the sheer ignorance, and superiority complex of some of those people get under my skin.

      There are plenty of us out there, You just have to look. Many I find our parents of ASD kids, and that is what the page/blog name tends to be about, even though we're on the spectrum, too. I am guessing this is due to being older, and more mature, and let's face it- like you said in your post you're not going to get very far socially if you behave negatively all the time. In order to obtain a long term partner, and have kids one has to be able to see past themselves, and some of us have an easier time doing that than others. Of course, this isn't always the case, but it often is. I have a page you can join on FB that is usually positive, or at least not overwhelmingly negative all the time.

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