8 Things Not To Say To a Female With Asperger’s

People are always looking for the single magic bullet that will totally change everything. There is no single magic bullet.

~Dr. Temple Grandin

Well, P&Q Rangers, I can’t say I’ve really enjoyed this week…in between family crises and getting a “no” on the promotion I really wanted, it’s been a tough go. However, I’ve decided to try and put a positive spin on all of it and get back to the drawing board. Which is to say, a blog post about AS. It’s been too long and I feel like it’s helpful not just to myself, but the AS community.

I’ve seen plenty of “what to say” lists around in AS Land. Aspies like me sometimes need scripts in face-to-face social situations to feel at ease. But what about what not to say? That’s the hard part. So I came up with this helpful list based on my own experiences. Keep in mind that it’s not a one-size-fits-all list, but rather one I find helpful. No two Aspie females are alike just as no two people in general are alike. Much as we’d try to tell you otherwise regarding NTs…

#1. “Why aren’t you married/seeing anyone?”

Many single women get this question in spades. To an Aspie woman it can be the ultimate insult: she may be perfectly comfortable on her own, and it is often hard for her to share her personal space or become intimate with another person. Some (myself included) are also hyposexual or even asexual. We may not need a partner to feel complete or whole. What to say instead: “It’s cool that you are so self-reliant and independent. If you ever need anything (yard work, etc.), give me a call.”
#2: “You’re too attached to (the Aspie’s special interest) and it’s freaking me out.”
Many Aspie women, myself included, have intense special interests. These can be anything from sci-fi and fantasy to more esoteric stuff like collectible yo-yos or the history of medieval France. We love it and cherish it. To NTs it may make us seem strange. To us it is a grounding device and a way, however different, to connect to reality. Go to any geek con and you’ll see people, both AS and NT, indulging in these special interests. What to say instead: “I’m glad to see you’re a fan of Star Trek. Have you ever been to Comic Con/Dragoncon?”
#3: Any cheesy pickup line.
“Did you fall from heaven?” “I lost my number, can I borrow yours?” Besides being creepy and silly, Aspie women are much less likely to get the subtlety of NT advances, being the logical and literal-minded creatures we are. We might even interpret these pathetic attempts as harassment. Many of us will be intimidated. So, cut the goofy one-liners and impress us in other ways. What to say instead: Make comments on current movies, edgy musicians, or, best yet, books. Aspie women are largely intellectuals and will appreciate the fact that you are too.
#4: “You care more about your pet than you do about me.”
And we just might, in our own way. Aspies are notorious animal lovers and may connect better to their four-legged friends than the two-legged kind. We love animals because they are non-judgmental and accept us for who we are. It doesn’t mean we necessarily love them more than you; we love them in a different way. What to say instead: “Do you think I might have the chance to spend some time with you and your pet and get to know him/her better?”
#5. “You’re so smart. What are you doing wasting your talents in this job?”
This is one I’ve heard many times over the years. We Aspies may be smart, but sometimes the social stuff (meetings, networking, office politics) are the missing parts of the puzzle for us. In fact, sometimes they’re downright scary. We are usually passed over for promotions and raises because the “game” does not come easy to us. With some studies showing Aspie unemployment at 70-80 percent, it is enough just to have a job for some of us. What to say instead: “You are great at what you do and you’re a valued part of this business. Keep up the good work.”
#6. “Why don’t you ever wear pretty clothes and makeup like other women?”
This is tough, because to get ahead in life, women are usually expected to maintain a certain standard of beauty. Things like tight clothing, makeup, and high heels can be outright torture for an Aspie. Even something as simple as a ring or necklace can hurt. I hope the unrealistic standards improve over time (and they have) but this is still a Catch-22 for women. What to say instead: “You really have a cool sense of style/natural beauty. I wish I had that.”
#7. “You should come to parties more often.”
Would you tell a cancer patient she needed to get more sunlight, or an arachnophobic to get more exposure to spiders? That’s pretty much how many Aspies view parties and social gatherings. Let us show as much or as little interest as we like. We can be social when the mood strikes us, but after a long day of work we may need to recharge and refresh instead. What to say instead: “We’re having a party this weekend, and we’d love to have you, but if you’re doing something else that’s fine too.”
#8: “Remember to smile.”
I’m not sure why American society gives girls this advice and not boys. Is there anything more vapid than a false smile? Personally I will smile when I have good reason to. Many Aspies have limited facial expression or a “poker face.” It doesn’t mean we’re angry or pissed off. It usually means we’re thinking. So don’t take offense. What to say instead: “You seem happy/angry today. If you want to talk, I’m here.”
If you are an Aspie, or know an Aspie, do you have any other “no-nos” you’d like to see added to the list?
Don’t forget to enter the Hunger Games Fictional Character Challenge! As of right now we have 6 “tributes” entered and I’m hoping to get at least 12 by the start of next week so we can kick things off. Any fictional character is welcome.

~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on July 26, 2012.

16 Responses to “8 Things Not To Say To a Female With Asperger’s”

  1. Interesting list…that smile thing….it is odd…I do look so different when I smile. I keep practicing…beginning to feel more natural. Also, go very often with no makeup and so out of fashion….thanks for the post. Sam 🙂

  2. There is an Aspie boy in our family who has never been officially diagnosed as Aspie. His parents didn’t want him limited by labels. His mother recognized symptoms when he was an infant and worked with him based on her own experience and research. She could see he was smart, but she was worried he would not develop the social skills he would need. Kids usually liked him, but he didn’t make friends very often.

    At 16, some folks might notice his voice is monotone and he doesn’t smile or look people in the eye much, but he finally has a group of friends. Dating may come later, but it may not. He has learned to shake hands with adults he meets and look at their cheekbones to say hello. He’s obsessed with all things military. Has been since a small child. His goal is to be an engineer, and he’s got the grades for it. For his senior engineering design project he’s creating a new kind of body armor. His mom doesn’t worry anymore.

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience. It helps me understand this young man.

  3. You don’t know how many times I have been told that I do not smile enough when I am working in a warehouse environment (as if the customers can see us, or because the supervisors need to be cunts and try to push the fact that they can fire us at a whim) or in the middle of moving equipment when I worked for a medical equipment rental company. You know, because it isn’t strenuous trying to push a one-ton, electronic, cluster-fuck bed from one level of a hospital, maneuver it on and off an elevator and get it into a room, or trying to install one of those air-mattresses that turn patients over onto a bed, and then making sure it works, or having to sweat it when it doesn’t work properly and having some idiot, half-educated nurse screaming at me while I trying to get things to work properly, plus when I would get a page from another facility I would have to make sure to answer the text back, call the next facility, and then try to be out the door within a certain time-frame so as not be late, therefore rushing to get whatever I was trying to get setup done and working correctly. So the smile thing actually does get pushed on to guys as well, just not so much in a social setting.

    As for anything else, I prefer people to be themselves which I noticed is kind of hard in this day and age of pushing as much superficiality as you can possibly can on the general populace. From politicians, their idiot wives, pop-stars,, Hollywood, etc.

    As lyrics for the M.O.D. song of the same name say; Come as you are.

  4. As someone who knows next to nothing about Asperbergers, I found this to be a great, informative post.
    Thanks, Heather!

  5. I am so glad you posted this. I have noticed that in our society, it is considered “normal” to be outgoing and social. I don’t believe this is true of many people. I was born very gregarious and extroverted, but am very aware that even I get uncomfortable in some situations. Small talk and subtle humor can be exhausting. I have to be in the mood. You rock sista! Love your list!

  6. Thanks for liking my Dark Knight Rises post.

  7. Very interesting. I am an aspie male and I never would have thought to even ask such questions in the first place to a woman.

  8. *ask such questions or say such statements for the statements on this list, that is.

    Maybe I should try to date an aspie girl.

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