Monday, June 28, 2010

Positional Warfare

There are times that I may be at war. The enemy may not be visible, but its influence can easily be seen. It's influence may start out small, but if left unchecked I will succumb to it and be, as I have read many times as a symptom of the autism spectrum, "uncomfortable in my own skin".

I talked about this one month ago when I was at the USAC race in Terre Haute, but I have been thinking about it even more so. As I gave a presentation last week and I was fluid and animated as I gave my presentation I felt as if all my moves with without thought. It felt natural to move my hands in certain ways depending on what I was saying. When the presentation was over though the war began and I struggled.

It is amazing, absolutely amazing the difference between knowing what I am doing, and being uncomfortable in my own skin. When I know what I am doing, or rather if I have direction, I am free. My posture is not thought about and my arms are free. By free I mean I am not thinking about how I should be standing. You see, while in the positional warfare, I don't know what to do with myself.

Not knowing what one should be doing sounds like a vague comment, I know, but if you have felt this, if you know what it is like to have full thought on every part of one's body, then you might understand.

What causes the positional warfare? Usually a lack of direction will instantly set it off. If I am unsure of what I should be doing then I will fall into the sad abyss of this annoying trait. I love having Asperger Syndrome for the positive traits, but if I could drop just one then it might be this one.

When I say lack of direction I am referring to any time that has me unsure of what task I should be doing. When I worked at a video game store and I had no task and the manage assigned nothing and there was nothing to be done I was lost. However, if a customer came in, I knew what to do and the positional battle vanished.

If you see me in this battle I may appear anxious or tense. I will appear this way because I am. Do you know that feeling when you just have to stretch, or have an itch that needs to be scratched? That's what it feels like across my entire body, but nothing I do ease it. I can try and place my arms on my side, or cross my arms, or hold my arms, or fold my hands, or pace, or any of a thousand different tactics, but if I am in the positional warfare there is little that I can do.

I have never experienced this positional warfare when I am alone. If I am alone I have control. I will always know what to do and what's next when I am alone. I can't let anyone down, and I can't misinterpret social cues or what may be expected of me. Because of this I must fight the urge to stay alone.

What are some ways to prevent a positional warfare? It would be easy on my part if I could just speak up and ask what is expected of me or what I should be doing. Once my mind starts to wonder what I should be doing the amount of processing that goes on in my brain is overwhelming and it starts to slow my system down. Also, because of this, I have always been told I have a "lack of initiative". It's not that I have a lack, but it's simply that I get drowned out trying to comprehend what I should be doing now.

The jobs I have had have been the places where most positional warfares occur. I know my coworkers at the video game store saw this and asked me why I looked so uncomfortable. I didn't give much of an answer, but for my manager then he could have simply given me a task and if I have direction I know what to do.

Anxiety is the "man behind the current" pulling the strings in this positional warfare. I want to do the right things, but it seems that any time I am left to decide what I should be doing I usually choose the wrong thing. This leads to an uncomfortable conversation and the vicious cycles continues onward.

What I hope I got across in this entry is that direction is critical. If I know what the task is then I can concentrate on that. If I am left in an open ended situation I will be thinking about what I should be doing, and then I will start to think about how I should be standing. "Is this posture okay? Folded arms? Crossed arms? Folded hands?"

I see people in public and in conversations look fully free. They don't look like they struggle with there outwardly appearance, and I must say I envy that. If I am in those situations it may lead to a war of position that I don't know how to win, but I still try. While I don't know how to vanquish this enemy I will not quit.


  1. I have Asperger's as well. I'm 19 years old, and I'm trying to figure the world out too. I've read back several pages in your blog, and everything, I mean EVERYTHING, seems really familiar.

  2. Once upon a time I struggled with this, too. But, if you read my comment to you earlier about what I did this afternoon... you will be wondering how I can do it with such ease.

    1. Practice with someone you trust. When I was initially diagnosed, I was fortunate to practice with many understanding classmates. Since you work in Touchpoint, practice there AND ask people to not be shy to give you feedback. While practice may not make perfect, but it can definitely make respectable.

    2. Be intentional in setting up sit down meals with someone. These sit down meals should have a purpose, NOT you two just sit there and stare at each other.

    3. If you have to "cheat", do some research on the person you are talking with if you can. Like today, the girl I was with told me that she was from Hong Kong (knew that from her emails prior). I also know that she is a first year OT student (since I lectured in her class before). Adding that to the information I already know about OT, I was ready for whatever questions she fired at me.

    You CAN do this and you WILL! If there is a will, there is a way, right?

  3. I have really good friends who are pretty good at asking me to do things. I just don't even think to help out otherwise. And it's not because I'm lazy (as I've been told)