Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day 11: The Potential Downside to Sunglasses

On my way to TouchPoint's city office today for the C.I.T. tour of our building I stopped at Steak n' Shake. The place was really busy so I sat on the bar stool expecting a nice quiet lunch. I was wrong.

As I have said, I believe people are more friendly when eye contact is made. When I have my normal glasses on and am looking to the ground people generally avoid me. With the sunglasses on people won't know if I am doing this or not.

That being so my normal defense to avoid conversation is negated. Sometimes I don't want to be noticed and eye contact is the #1 way to stay hidden. If I look to the ground and not at you I hope you will not take notice of me. Sometimes I want to be social, but most the time I prefer to stay hidden and by avoiding eye contact I can achieve this.

Today I was in the not talking mood, but when I sat down my normal defenses were not there and the person to my left started talking to me.

Normally I can just give a nod and look away and the conversation ends, but today I could not do this.

I truly was not interested in what this person was saying and at times the language was vulgar. I kept nodding as to not make him mad, but I could not, with my eyes, convey the message that I did not care about his car troubles or relationship issues.

Even while I was eating I still had a sign that said ,"talk to me, please!" because the one-sided conversation continued. What could I have done? This has never happened to me before and I believe the sunglasses played a part.

I may have an odd usage with eye contact, but I know how to use it to my advantage. I know how to make it look like I am not listening (I am) or how to make a person feel like I want to be alone. I found today that with the sunglasses I use eye contact a lot more than I knew, but it is a defense and without the ability to look away I may get stuck like I was today.

Tomorrow I will be heading to Shawano Wisconsin for the SKUSA Summer Nationals to flag. I don't know if I will have internet so my next update may come on Monday, but if I have internet I will provide updates.


  1. Just a thought Aaron: I wonder if you might be a good counselor to other autistic people? You said in your post that you weren't interested in the man's conversation, but then you named two things that he told you about (his car and his relationship troubles). He may have interpreted your unresponsiveness as good listening skills on your part. And, apparently, you actually WERE "actively listening" to him! I'd be willing to bet that that man felt more hopeful after unloading his burdens on you.
    You appear to have inborn talents that you're unaware of. I hope you test it out on some other people!
    Thank you for your interesting stories.

  2. Hey Aaron :) First of all, it's hard for me to catch up with your blog since I've been on a holiday for two weeks and will be for two weeks again. Thus the late response.

    As for what I wanted to say. I agree with simplybill and so I won't comment on that part anymore, but when I was reading this 'story' my first thought was 'well if the sunglasses took away your defenses when you needed them, then why didn't you take them off? Nobody's forcing you to keep wearing them and you already found out what you needed to find out...'
    Is this a too easy thought, or is the solution really this easy? Use the sunglasses when you want to be social and take them off when you don't.

  3. As I said in earlier comments, go talk to the professionals that TouchPoint hires. An occupational therapist may have some experiences in that. When I have my own OT sessions as a client in outpatient mental health, I mostly dominate the conversations because the therapist there is supposed to actively listen to me.

    Nods and "uh huh" are good starts. A higher level thing is ask questions when that person seems to stop for a few seconds AND is not trying to get a drink of water, sneeze, or catch his/her breath... even when the topic doesn't seem interesting to you. I have to know this as a job survival skill!

  4. Some people talk for the sake of talking too.