It is my understanding that a “hallmark” characteristic of autism and Asperger’s is insecurity. I know I have these issues. Sometimes people get upset with me because I ask the same questions again and again.
I have talked to some people and they have expressed many of the same feelings I have (or have agreed with me when I expressed them) regarding why we are like this.
These are my words about why the insecurity is so strong in me.
I am always (and I do mean always, even with my husband) unsure of how a person feels about me. They may like me one day, but the next day I am not certain if they still like me – or why. My husband can’t even escape this. One day I know that he loves me and the next day I am asking him if he still loves me.
I have people I call friends and I like them a lot. However, I am never really certain if they still like me.
I have given this a great deal of consideration and this is how I understand it.
I don’t understand emotions, especially the ones beyond happy, sad, angry and love (as I understand and experience these emotions). I know that I am stable. I will be the same today, tomorrow, next year (I may change in appearance or learn something new, but my very basic character will remain the same) unless there is an event that changes something like my opinion or who I feel close to.
I am completely unable to imagine what it is like to be someone else. Therefore, I cannot imagine how someone else can maintain these emotions or opinions. It is like there is a missing thing there. They liked me yesterday, they like me today, but I don’t know how that continuity works.
And I don’t know if they will like me tomorrow.
I don’t know because I have watched NTs my entire life. I have watched them change emotions at lightning speed (very fast). I have watched them like someone and suddenly decide they don’t like the person (for no apparent reason at all).
In addition to that, they will pretend to still like the person or pretend to still be the way that they are. They won’t say anything, just talk to them less or not talk to them at all. They hardly ever give a reason for not liking the person anymore. They don’t go to the person and tell them. It is like they don’t care about repairing the relationship.
If they have to be around them because they work with them or they go to church with them, the NT will often just pretend to like the person.
And that is a lie. I HATE lying!
So, let’s say that you are nice to me. Let’s say that you are my friend today. I have no idea if I am your friend tomorrow. I have no idea if you woke up this morning and decided that you don’t want to be my friend anymore (and if not, why). If you change the way you associate with me (stop talking to me or talk to me less), I tend to automatically assume that you don’t want to be my friend any longer. I don’t approach you because I am afraid I will irritate you (because it already seems that you don’t like me) and you will like me even less (I do much better when you talk openly and honestly with me if I did something to offend you – I am not easily offended). Plus, I don’t want to bother people.
That makes me sad because I don’t like losing friends. I don’t have that many to begin with.
I also don’t like it when people change the rules and don’t tell me what the new rules are. That is what it is like when people suddenly stop liking you. They have changed the rules and that is distressing.
I ask my husband often if he still loves me. He used to get frustrated. He understands better now. Somewhere in my I know he still loves me, but I need to make sure.
I think God is changing that part of me, though. I feel more secure with my husband than I used to. I don’t ask as much. He is the one human I think I can probably rely on more than anyone else.
I just don’t know how NTs do it!
But God has placed some good, solid people in my path. I am trying to build a relationship with them. I really want friends. I just have no idea how to make that happen. God is working on me, though. And Jesus is always my friend!
An important message here is if you are ministering to someone with Asperger’s or autism, please keep this in your mind. Reassurance is very encouraging. Many of us feel “outside the group” like we don’t quite fit in. We may appear aloof and standoffish, but that is mainly due to a feeling of social awkwardness. We don’t feel like we fit in so we shy away from social interactions.
It may seem like extra work, but the additional effort you put into reaching out to one of us is very much worth it.