I Can’t Run, But My Mouth Is An Olympic Champion
Ever have one of those days where your mouth just runs of its own accord all day long and refuses to even consider the possibility of listening to you?
Yeah, well, enter the world of the aspie.
When I was in my junior year of college, oh about 2004, I started to develop this kind of filter for my brain. My mouth, like always, was getting me in trouble, but particularly in the world of music history. Music history, unless you’re just really into it, is a horrible class; especially for people on the spectrum (or so I think). You’re required to know lots of facts, and that’s okay, because my rote memory skills kick asp (typo is on purpose). That’s not the bad part though; the bad part is that you have to connect these facts to other parts of the history, which in theory, is supposed to allow you to draw conclusions and come up with a better understanding of the whole thing as it connects together.
Yeah. Well. My teacher wouldn’t just tell me what she wanted me to know. She was stuck on the whole “drawing conclusions from the text” bullspit. I’d argue with her: “Yeah, but you say that everything’s negotiable by way of the right facts, but then you only count one thing right on the tests!!! Just tell me what you want me to know and I’ll be happy.” But no, we’re supposed to be functioning at a higher level and be able to analyze and all of that. If you know anything about Aspergers/HFA, you should know that our cognitive skills, while good, work much better in the world of concrete things. This is not across the board true, but then again, that’s the way the spectrum works. It also doesn’t mean that we can’t learn things that are more abstract; it just means that on occasion, it takes us longer to get our brains around it. If I can touch something, if I can do it, if I can see it, my chances of understanding a subject go up by about 90%.
Anyway, I had a filter that started to develop during music history that caught some of the crazier comments and questions before they made it out of my head and out into the real world. That had never happened before. I was 20 years old and that was the first time in my life that I had ever started to consciously think to myself, “Maybe I shouldn’t say that.” It made the class go a lot easier when I wasn’t throwing out every oddball thing that came into my head, and I suddenly found myself getting along a lot better with my classmates. Huh, fancy that.
Since then, the filter has gotten better and more adapt at catching strange stuff. Unfortunately, when I’m tired, stressed, have a lot on my mind, whatever, the filter’s ability to work lessens. Suddenly I find myself saying stuff that I really wish I could take back. Either, I’m giving too much personal information, or the teacher is getting really pissed at me, or I can tell that people think I’m being stupid and should just shut up, but I can’t!
I’m in my first semester of grad school, after taking a year off to reconnoiter my brain with my body, and my mouth is still running like an Olympic champion, leaving my efforts to stifle or control it, far behind in the dust. Most days aren’t too bad. I’ve started counting how many social faux pas I’m making per day, and the average during the week is about 4 or 5 times a day. That’s really not too bad. When I was a kid, it was more like 4 or 5 times every couple of hours. Therefore, I’m growing more mature; I’m still developing emotionally and all that.
It’s just that when you’re behind your whole life, in whatever category–emotional, social, physical, whatever–it kind of gets old after a while to always be behind all of the people around you. People look at me like they do people who are hard of hearing. They think that when someone asks you to repeat what they’ve just said, they think it’s because the person wasn’t paying attention, wasn’t trying, when in reality, the person just can’t hear very well and is in no way doing it on purpose. It’s so rough when people blame you for the way your body works. Blame me for having stupid thoughts; don’t blame me for my inability to keep them in my head. I have stupid thoughts because I have a stupid sense of humor. Everything is funny to me, until it’s not and then it’s very much so not. Aspies see a lot of stuff in black and white with very few shades in-between.
It’s not my fault. It doesn’t mean that I’m not trying to improve myself; it just means that I haven’t gotten all the way there yet. Probably in that sense, those of us on the autistic spectrum work harder than a lot of so-called normal folks at keeping it together, making things better. Normal folks just are. Sure they have problems, but they’re socially accepted problems. Me, I just can’t keep my mouth shut; so how bad is that? Hmmm.