If there was one thing I wish people understood about Asperger syndrome it is that there are peaks and valleys. There are going to be things I excel at, and then there will be things that I fail at. The thing about this is there may not be that big of a difference between the two.
Yesterday I had to go buy some cough medicine at Walgreen's here in Springfield and the sales clerk commented that I had to smile to get service. I said that I am usually unemotional so she too said she would become "flat".
Stores are a difficult place for me because of the possibility of a verbal exchange like that. If she could have seen me an hour later when I was at the podium giving a presentation that saw me full of emotions and full of facial expressions I am sure she would have been confused.
My chapter in Finding Kansas about Kansas is all about this, but I don't know if someone that isn't on the spectrum can understand what this feels like. At Walgreen's I was virtually paralyzed conversationally speaking, but at the presentation I came alive.
I perceive our society as believing that if a person can do something great at a given topic, they can do everything great. This is not so, but being on the spectrum makes this worse. This leads to confusion.
For younger kids, say school years, this may be impossible to understand. "How can my fellow student do math so easily, yet they don't talk to anyone else?" may be a question a student thinks if they see a person on the spectrum.
Parents too may become frustrated with this. I can write about it, I can talk about it, and I can come up with metaphor after metaphor but unless you live it and experience it I don't know if you can understand it.
My coworkers at the videogame store thought I was stand-offish or a snob because I was unable to communicate to them yet I was the smoothest talker when it came to talking to the customers. I can 100% see why they would be confused, but even so I was unable to do anything about it.
As frustrating as it may be for those around us that are on the spectrum, it can be much worse at times for us. I don't really realize just how big of a gap there may be unless someone comments. A racer asked me, "Are you sure you are that same person as the flagman who was flagging earlier?" when he saw the big gap between me in my comfort zone and not. This was an honest question and he wasn't trying to say that, "Wow, you sure are weird, why aren't you talking now?" but that was how the question was taken. I couldn't help it! The race day was over and all the rules that I was the enforcer of was gone. There was no "alias" and I was simply me, and I fell into the positional warfare and the end result was him asking me that question.
What I am trying to get at is we may know that we may be a little off in certain areas. Unless I am reminded of this short-coming I am fine with it. Others may not have this level of acceptance, but becoming frustrated with my lack of ability in certain areas is not going to help. I know when people are trying to help me, and those reminders aren't as bad, but becoming frustrated and being in a state where one is not trying to understand where I am coming from is not a good thing.
I've always had this and it started out by me being able to do math far beyond my years in 2nd grade, but I couldn't tie my shoes. In 5th grade I could do fractions had a speed that was on the verge of impossible, but yet I couldn't understand what a prepositional phrase was (still don't!). When I worked at the retail store I could talk to the customers with ease, yet I ignored my co-workers. And even now, I can write out my emotions and come up with concepts that let's you into the inner working of life on this side of the wall, yet I was unable to express anything to that sales clerk at Walgreen's. If anyone saw me do the great things I did how could I expect them to understand? We, of course, live in a society where one great deed means greatness throughout the board and that is, sadly, what makes this the most difficult thing to understand.