Around the age of 25, the mental health professionals and adults in my life started casually saying “Oh, sure you’re on the spectrum. We’ve always known.” It didn’t much bother me then. So what? It explained a lot about my behaviors, things I thought were normal that made people raise eyebrows. At that point my life was starting its upward trajectory, so what did it matter? There were a lot of things I could–and did–beat myself up about, but that wasn’t one of them. It wasn’t a character defect, it was just the way I was. It wasn’t something I felt, and it wasn’t something I could change.

Somewhere in my mid 20s I went on a date with a woman who said in her profile that she had Aspergers. About halfway through the date, my fight and flight instincts started going off. I didn’t know if I wanted to bolt or start screaming at her. She reminded me a lot of myself, and I didn’t like having that reflected back at me. The reflection was an awkward and unwieldy disposition with conversational skills that, while decent, were obviously practiced behavior. The conversation was one other people might politely enter and at some point possibly be engaged in, but probably one they’d be relieved to be done with. There was no second date. I’d seen myself in her the way I believed other people saw me, and I felt ugly and burdensome.

Fast forward a lifetime, on Saturday my wife and I were celebrating our second anniversary (!!!). We were at the restaurant where we had our first date, riffing and cracking jokes like we do. I said something ridiculous, an observation loosely tangential to something else around, and said something like “aren’t I hilarious?” She responded “You are neurodivergent, and I love you.” We have always acknowledged the fact that I may be somewhere on the spectrum. I knew she accepted me the way I am long before we got engaged, and I felt like her comment was more of an acknowledgment than a jab; but in that moment, a lifetime of social failings suddenly clicked, and I felt like I’d been hit in the gut by a sack of flour.

My academic peers all said I was weird (even the weird ones), or else just went out of their way to avoid me. I didn’t see it, but figured they couldn’t all be wrong, so maybe it was true. My mom would tell me things like “maybe if you didn’t read while you walk between classes” or “maybe if you weren’t so literal all the time” or “maybe if you just listened instead of trying to force yourself into the conversation,” that people might accept me more. I try to find ways to relate to the people I’m talking to, often with anecdotes. This is typical of people on the spectrum–something I knew, and something my wife unhelpfully pointed out at the restaurant to try to re-engage me. If I can’t strike up a relatable conversation, my social anxiety sets in. My and my wife’s friends like to say “oh you’d get along with him great” about other friends or SOs, which I find encouraging, but which also comes off like making matches between two single people. I get the impression that my family, while appreciating my presence at gatherings, gets tired of me talking pretty quickly. Coming to Heart Support was a relief because my anecdotes actually matter and I’ll probably never meet anyone here anyhow; but with an abundance of learned self-awareness, sometimes I think I try too hard and too often to relate, and insert myself into threads I should just leave alone. One thing I am pretty sure of: Taking an hour or more to craft a cohesive response seems excessive.

Is listening to me talk like hearing the adults in Charlie Brown cartoons? Are people well-intentioned or patronizing and pitying when they try to help me along in social situations? Are casual acquaintances just being polite when they converse with me? Are related anecdotes really more annoying than poignant and topical? Does anyone give a shit about me trying to convey abstract ideas with metaphors? Have I learned and practiced social skills enough to pass for normal or even charming in casual environments? Do I lack the self-awareness to see myself as other people see me, or am I overly self-conscious? Does any of it matter?


First off I will not pretend to know or relate to what you are going through. I can tell that you have had to deal with a lot of crap in your life and being different sucks sometimes. I do know though that almost always if ppl have a problem with someone its usually their problem not the “different” person. Am I making sense? People fear, avoid, and judge what they dont understand. That does not mean there is anything at all wrong with you just that they are ignorant at how to understand your mysterious amazing self.
I have seen some of you comments on HeartSupport topics though and, from what I can see, You are very kind and amazing to take the time out of your day to encourage and help a stranger who you will never even meet. You dont always understand what they are going through but you try your best to help anyways. I caa tell you right now that that alone is enough to turn around someones entire day.
I’d like to end with Just Be Yourself! This may seem redundant but if ppl dont understand you or avoid you thats their problem Not yours. Talking and acting different is cool and you shouldnt change yourself for ignorant ppl who cant comprehend how amazing and valuable you are. You matter, you are loved, you are valuable, and if something matters to You then it matters.
Hope this helps a little.
Best wishes Friend <3

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I know you’ve been around here for some time and so I know you know my story. The way I help my husband understand social things and whatnot, especially earlier in our marriage. I would never dream of patronizing him and I certainly don’t pity him. I genuinely want to help him because he has reached out and he is my husband.

I know I can’t be the only person in the world who feels like this, so I would be confident saying that there are people out there that won’t patronize or pity you.

I would add one thing though - just being real here. It is hard sometimes as someone who isn’t on the Autism spectrum to hear things said and know that it is not meant in the way that it can come out. It took a lot of patience and discipline for me to understand and discern the things my husband says as being the Autism talking as opposed to him. By that I mean, I have learned that when he says certain things, I don’t need to take them to heart because he doesn’t mean it the way I heard it. And to someone who isn’t attentive to the situation or somewhat knowledgeable about Autism, it can be easy to mistake the lack of social skills for abuse. I understand that this is hard for you, but its not easy for anyone, so if they are going out of their way to help you, I think it’s a safe assumption that they aren’t doing it to patronize or pity.

I would say no to this, because casual acquaintances have no motivation to be polite generally speaking. If I don’t like somebody I don’t talk to them, it’s a waste of time as bad as that sounds.

No. People show they relate to one another using anecdotes. There is a time and a place for it though and sometimes it can be annoying if people constantly interject with their stories. There was a time when I was in Job Corps when I was trying to have a discussion with someone and a girl I knew there kept interrupting me with her anecdotes, at which point it was not wanted because I was trying to have a conversation with someone and she kept interrupting me. I ended up stopping and asking her if she had anything else to say, and she kept going. And I asked her again if she had anything else to say, she said no, and I continued my original conversation.

I know that stuff like that can be hard to judge on the spectrum. For the most part anecdotes are perfectly fine, just try not to overdo it. I feel like it would be hard to overdo here on HS because people want to know that they are not alone and we do that by sharing our experiences.

No? I don’t know that it is absolutely necessary to use metaphors but if they help get the point across, go for it. If it helps you express yourself more effectively, go for it. But don’t feel pressured or anything. Most people wouldn’t notice either way I don’t think.


Well, if what you’re getting at is that it must be super obvious that you are on the spectrum and everyone thinks you’re some super weird guy, then I think you’re overthinking this. A lot of people might think you’re a little different but it never is a thought in the forefront of my mind when we talk that you are on the spectrum. Same with my husband. I know good and well he has Aspergers and it can be painfully obvious sometimes, but 99% of the time I forget he’s even on the spectrum because I don’t see people as their disorders. I see you as you and I see my husband as my husband, not Aspergers. I hope that made sense.

Does anything matter at the end of the day? Lol. The easy answer is no, it doesn’t matter. Do you and be happy, worry about everything else when you have to.

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Thank you. I’m really glad to get your perspective on this.

To be clear, I don’t think my wife patronizes me. If anything, I’m the patronizing one in our marriage. I do ask her to evaluate how I did in stressful social situations. She’s the first one I’ve done that with, and I really appreciate her (mostly) judgment-free feedback. I just feel like a social review shouldn’t be necessary in the first place; but then, there are a lot of things I wish weren’t necessary (like taking meds indefinitely) that my therapist tells me to come to terms with.

My problem is with people saying (in general terms, not necessarily about me) that autism is like a superpower. Or my mom gushing about how brilliant my nonverbal cousin is, when he exhibits normal intelligence at best. Calm down. Autism doesn’t make people better or smarter, nor does it make the ordinary things they do any more remarkable.

I wouldn’t change who I am intrinsically (though I’d nix the chronic depression and sleep problems in a heartbeat). I think I’m pretty good the way I am, I just wish that way was socially normative. I don’t want to be special or different. I do have a group where I can be unapologetically me, and for that I’m grateful, but life and interactions continue outside those gatherings.

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I understand. But honestly, I feel like we all have something like this in our lives. I wish I didn’t have to take blood pressure medicine for the rest of my life. I wish I didn’t have to take anti depressants to stop my panic attacks. But hey, we can’t all be lucky and have our shit together or choose our disorders.

I mess around with my husband sometimes and talk about hus superpowers but I don’t talk about savant syndrome. Moreso the fact that he’s very emotionally resilient compared to myself, who is the exact opposite- I feel way too much, even when the feelings aren’t even mine. To be honest, my husband is the first person who has never been overwhelming to my hyper-empathy and I think that’s amazing. He has other empath friends who say the same. If he did have a super power, that would probably be it. But I’m sorry if that is offensive. It doesn’t bother my husband, otherwise I wouldn’t say it, but thank you for sharing your point of view with me.

I felt this way for a long time. A lot of my behaviors are similar to ASD but they are the product of abuse, ie not being able to make eye contact, not liking to be touched, having things in their place, etc. I am tired of trying to belong though. I would rather just continue working on myself and being happy.

We can wish for things all day, but the sad truth is that we don’t live in a perfect world and probably never will. The best we can do is learn to accept ourselves, flaws and all, and move on.

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Offensive is a strong word. I don’t mind teasing and riffing, my wife and I tease each other all the time over that sort of stuff. However, I’ve encountered people who equate autism with the abilities to focus in, analyze, and find patterns or solutions that aren’t immediately obvious. While those are all great abilities, I find it irksome that autism is the attribute people laud, even though it’s not something they want.

I may be oversensitive though. I haven’t been sleeping well for awhile, and life seems really loud right now.

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