I have written in the past about my social and mental impairments and my struggle growing up and trying to fit in to society (see post An Autistic’s Personal Perspective). I think I have autistic spectrum disorder but am very high functioning so most people cannot tell I have a problem. I simply seem shy and somewhat withdrawn. But there are far too many symptoms to simply conclude that shyness is my only problem. I also have a number of learning deficiencies such poor comprehension, dyslexia, and an exceptionally poor memory. But fortunately my cognitive abilities are not impaired.
Life has been a struggle of understanding others and being understood. It wasn’t until very late in life that I was unofficially diagnosed by a knowledgeable family member as being a high functioning autistic. This certainly explains a lot to me why I am so different from others. For much of my life I thought I was mentally retarded with all my learning difficulties. But in my career as an engineer I was quite accomplished with a number of patents under my belt so I knew this was not true. It must be an input/output problem as we engineers would say.
I’ve always wanted to Feel better understood by others and have tried, often totally unsuccessfully, to communicate. I obviously suck at it. No one seems interested to understand me from my perspective. People have said I am a one way street. Perhaps it is true because I am trying so hard at being understood while others are only interested in a conversation. The problem with me is that I am so isolated within my shell that on those rare occasions when I do venture out into the unfamiliar world of communications it is always about myself. But that is my NEED and no one seems to understand that. Others fill their lives with dialogue all the time but I so rarely venture out into that unfamiliar world that on those rare occasions when I do it sometimes all comes out like an exploding water balloon filled to the point of rupture. No one cares to listen to an exploding water balloon.
I am far more sensitive than I let on. I am easily brought to tears when watching a sentimental movie and try desperately to cover it up. But people have said I’m not sensitive enough to the feelings of other, perhaps a symptom of being autistic? Even autistic people have needs to communicate. They simply do not know how so they become frustrated and vent out. My problem is that I am so high functioning that people expects me to be more normal than I am capable. So I get frustrated and depressed when attempts at communications fail. I retreat into my shell vowing not to repeat such frustrating attempts at communicating again. Maybe there are some out there in cyberspace reading this that truly understand my frustrations. Perhaps that is why I tend to post articles that are sometimes slightly on the dark side.
Is it asking too much to simply have someone interested in letting me vent or talk to fill my emotional Need to be heard and understood? I sometimes need to feel like I am someone who counts. I feel so belittled when people are turned off by my feeble attempts to communicate. Who says communications must be a two-way street? People get paid big bucks to communicate in one way lectures or teach in one way classrooms. Books and blogs such as this are a means of one way communications such as I am doing now. I don’t Need dialog. That is for normal people. I simply Need to make an emotional connection and say what I need to say. Religious people say they communicate with God. But is their communications a dialog? I doubt it.
Communication is more about making connections and the feeling of being understood than about the exchange of information. It is a validation that you indeed count and that someone other than yourself cares about what you think.
I wish people were far better and more caring listeners. Perhaps in the process they may learn a little more about me, but certainly I will feel better knowing they care. This is all about making that emotional connection with someone who has a communications problem and letting them feel that they do count and what they think and feel does matter. That is all I really Need… that simple connection that gives me the feeling that I am at that moment someone special. But perhaps it is simply being too selfish and asking too much to be understood and validated as is so natural for more normal people.