A mom recently asked me why is her Asperger's son is so cold? His error-- not sending her a card for her birthday.
"I told him that all I wanted was a little card from him, just something to show he cares, but he completely ignores what I need."
Is her son really a cold-hearted user who just takes and takes without giving anything back?
THE REAL DEAL: Asperger's doesn't make people cold-hearted or even uncaring. But they DO have a HARD TIME with seeing the world from another's perspective. WHY? Because people with Asperger’s see the world from their own, mostly different, point of view.
Here are some of the ways they see things differently,
- A Neurotypical person walks in a meeting room and scans the people sitting around the table, maybe checking for whose the most attractive, or the most powerful, or the best dressed. They are using the moment to get a layout of what is going on in that moment and considering what is expected of them as they walk in. Maybe even coming up with strategies for how they can meet those expectations.
- An Aspie walks in the same meeting room and sees the details -- the bright lighting above him, the sound of a woman's pen tapping on the table... he looks down and sees trip hazards from computer cords crisscrossing the floor.
A Neurotypical person meets a new contact and looks them in the eyes while saying, "Hi. Nice to meet you."
An Aspie meets a new contact and does not look them in the eye because it feels "too intense". And they may mumble, "Hi." But don't ask them what that person looked like five minutes after its over. Most of the time, they will have trouble giving you a useful description.
So now that we know there's a difference. What about the son's indifference?
People with Aspergers typically care about how others feel, especially people they are connected to like a mother or father or a close friend, but they are more likely to consider their own way of looking at things first and then they get stuck there. So, in this case of a mom wanting a birthday card from her son, the son might think, "I have to go out and pick something out. Then I have to get myself to a post office... I hate going to places with long lines...
Before he knows it, the task has morphed into a horror show and he tells himself, he'll do it later.
Oh, also PROCRASTINATION can be a b-tch for people with Asperger's.
So now, his mother's birthday comes around and her son has failed to honor his mother's "simple" request for a card because it's not really that simple for him. Also, because he has difficulty taking on his mother's point of view, he wonder's, "Why is a card such a big deal?"
If you ask him, "How would you feel if someone you loved didn't acknowledge your birthday?" He'd probably say, "Fine with me. I don't like a lot of attention on my birthday."
SO YOU SEE: Ignoring the birthday card has very little to do with his mom, and EVERYTHING to do with how her son sees the world. If you asked him, "Do you love your mom?" He'd probably say, "Yeah. I do." But the difference between what he feels and what he THINKS and DOES can be really different.
If you think you might have Asperger's and that it was missed when you were a child, I can help. Just give us a call, and we can get you scheduled for an evaluation.