You Don’t Know Me

How do we react around strangers? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Often times, those of us on the Autism spectrum are considered to be rude. Of course, we can be rude, but sometimes when we are called rude, we are not at all intending to be rude. It is just a case of how we don’t know for sure how to act.

Have you ever seen a scene from The Good Doctor where the autistic surgeon on there has all these drawings and images going on in his head? For myself personally, I can have the same kind of phenomenon. When a stranger comes up to me and tries to talk to me, my mind immediately goes to the question of what kind of social protocol is it that I am supposed to follow here.

Usually, that means staying quiet as much as possible. I will have more to say on being quiet in another blog post. You can expect that in many cases, I will communicate non-verbally when possible.

This can also happen online. Generally as a rule, if you message me on Facebook and I don’t know you and you’re just asking the general questions like “How are you?” (I hate that question with a passion as a casual greeting and I plan on writing on that later) I will not answer you. If I go somewhere and someone is extraverted around me, it is frightening. If you are the same way online, that is also frightening.

So if that’s the case, how do you get to know someone on the spectrum?

Usually, you have to know what really gets us excited and talk about that. You could come up to me and talk about apologetics, video games, certain TV shows, etc. If you can demonstrate we have a common interest, I am much more likely to communicate.

In a way, picture it like if you were in a situation where someone came up to you who you thought could be a threat. You could have a multiplicity of scenarios going on in your head. It could include a physical response, running, playing casual, grabbing an item nearby to use as a weapon, pressing an emergency alert button on your phone, etc.

For me, this is similar to what I go through every time I meet someone I don’t know. Now in some situations, it could be more controlled. If I have been at a church and just given a talk and people come up to me after with questions, it is an environment where I know what I can expect and it is much easier. The casual conversation setting is the one that I dread.

Keep this in mind when you encounter someone on the spectrum. If someone starts acting in a similar way around you you don’t know, they could be on the spectrum. Again, I also want to stress that this might not be the same with everyone, but it is certainly my experience.

Next week, we will hopefully look at more of the world of Autism.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)
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