Playing Catch-Up

How can a conversation be hard to follow? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As I talked to my therapist, I had been wondering what I would be writing about in my next blog also. I am trying to think of more and more aspects of autism that I can share. Part of the problem is that this world seems so normal to me nowadays that it takes me awhile to figure out exactly what to say.

“I feel like in a lot of conversations when I don’t know the person I’m playing catch-up.”

Well, there you go.

A few weeks ago, I’m working my job at the seminary post office sorting packages at a back counter that have come in. Not seeing what is going on at the main desk, I hear a voice say “Are you Nick Peters?”

Immediately, I have a number of thoughts go through my head.

“Who is this person?”

“How do they know my name?”

“If they know my name, why do they not know me by appearance?”

“What do they want?”

“Is this a friend or not?”

I am sure there were more, but those were some of the thoughts I was having. Unfortunately for me, I start on the side of distrust usually when I don’t know someone and suspicion. Why? I suspect it’s because of the way I have seen a lot of people behave over the years and seeing much of society that I think is fake.

Fortunately, this turned out to be a lovely meeting as the person was a mother who was thinking me for my autism talk I gave at Defend this year. She said that the information I gave on multitasking really helped her in her work with her daughter. As I have said before, get a person on the spectrum talking about something they feel safe talking about and the conversation goes much smoother.

Without this, I am instead left playing catch-up as I put it. I am trying to decode the body signals and the tone of language and everything else that I am being told or even think I am being told. I am trying to figure out all the silent signals, and some of them might not even be signals, while trying to understand what the person is saying.

One obvious difficult area for me with this is women. Ladies. You have to understand this. We men have an extremely difficult time knowing when you are flirting with us. My own therapist told me there have been times his fiance thought she could obviously know he was flirting with him and he totally missed it.

If neurotypical guys miss it, I guarantee you that people on the spectrum miss it far more. Please keep this in mind ladies. Men are not as perceptive in this area as you think we are.

So what does this mean for dealing with autistic people? Slow down some. Let them get familiar with you. If you have to and they’re not annoyed by it, ask if they understood what you just said or if they want to have anything explained or clarified. Otherwise, you could be talking about point L in your presentation and they’re still trying to interpret what you said at A.

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

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