Autism Awareness Greetings

How do I respond when you approach? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last time, I wrote about not knowing people so when they come up to talk to me, I don’t really know what to expect. Immediately, my mind starts racing with all kinds of social rules as I try to figure out what I should or shouldn’t do. I can relate to Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory as he tries to follow rules of social protocol. “I ask you how you are every morning even though I don’t really care.”

Being somewhat in the public eye, it can be concerning if someone knows me and I don’t know them. I have reached the point where I now can manage to ask someone to refresh my memory. If I have to wear a name tag, that makes it even more difficult on me as I am thinking, “Do you know my name because you can read or because you really know me?”

One of the worst parts of a greeting in my world is when someone asks the question that I hate so much and dread getting every time. “How are you?” Let’s suppose I’m not doing good that time. Do I want a question to remind me of that? Perhaps I had been getting in a better mood and someone asks something that I naturally will look internally with and return to a depressive state.

This question is so bad to me that nowadays, I choose to remain absolutely silent to it. I also think it’s really a fake question because I suspect the majority of people who ask it don’t even really care. I remember being at my job one day and bending down to put stuff in my locker when a manager walked by and asked “How are you?” and just kept walking before I could say anything. My mind is immediately thinking, “If you don’t really care, don’t really ask.”

The exception to this is if I know the question is about a specific situation. Some of my friends know I’m going through a rather strange period of my life right now and when one of them calls and asks “How are you doing?” I know exactly what they’re talking about and I tell them.

What greeting would I prefer? A simple “Hi” or “Hello” works just fine. Now keep in mind being on the spectrum, I might not say hi back. I might smile or nod or something nonverbal. I plan on getting into nonverbal communication before too long, but it is one way I do respond to communication, especially if I am nervous to some extent around the person.

If someone doesn’t respond to your greeting as you respect, sure, there’s a chance they’re rude, but maybe they’re not. Maybe they’re on the spectrum and don’t know what to say and could be intimidated to some extent. Please keep this in mind. Also, if you’re a church greeter and you know someone is on the spectrum, it could be good to find out how they would prefer you interact with them in that capacity if at all.

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