Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Trouble With Understanding Asperger's

My motto for the past six years has been “understanding is the foundation for hope.” Is this true? Absolutely, but as I’ve thought about last week’s post on the contradictory nature of Asperger’s and I thought yesterday’s post of Let it… NO! I’ve been beginning to realize the real value in concepts to describe the mechanics of Asperger’s.

If one were to look at the pure medical side and the explanation one would not be given the true form of understanding that will lead to, well, understanding. It’s one thing to say that, “people with Asperger’s have difficulty in social interactions.” If left alone to that statement the true challenges that a person with Asperger’s may live with aren’t stated. It’s in the left out contradictions that need to be stated because a person on the spectrum may have challenges but want to socialize yet knowing that they will be uncomfortable in doing so. Was that a confusing sentence? Try living with it! And that right there is the focal point on the need for understanding.

As I continue looking at the medical website it said that those on the autism spectrum may have excellent auditory abilities. Okay, yes, this may be true in some but there’s no ability to understand what this means without further stating that, for some, there is no ability to turn it off. Also, while the ability to hear an airplane many seconds before anyone else hears it in the air may exist also too is the potential processing delay in hearing words when spoken to. Can you see the potential disconnect here on why a person not affiliated with the autism spectrum would be confused? On one hand here’s a person that has an amazing sense of hearing yet at the same time it may seem as if they aren’t able to understand the words when spoken to because of processing delay. Of course, if processing delay isn’t understood the ability to adapt, empathize, and allow the individual time to process won’t be there.

Understanding, as important as it is, is very difficult in being in a two way street. Just how I try and describe the mechanics on why I do and why I feel the things I do I have zero ability to understand where others come from. Before I started writing I couldn’t express things because I thought everyone thought exactly the same way I did and it was inconceivable that others would have different thought processes or different ways in doing things. This, right here, furthers the need for my words, and the words of other speakers and writers in this field, to get out there to as many people as possible.

I feel we are on the right track, but it isn’t going to be as easy as I first made it out to be. When I started out on this wonderful journey as an Autism Ambassador for Easter Seals Midwest six years ago I thought understanding would just come naturally, but just how I can’t fathom how others aren’t the same as myself those not on the spectrum will have the same difficulty in attempting to understand a person on the autism spectrum. For someone that understand idioms and slang it is probably incomprehensible that a person could misconstrue the phrase, “it’s time to hit the road” but for the person on the autism spectrum they may be sorely confused as to why one would want to break their hand hitting the road. Same goes for sensory issues, and this is probably the most difficult to understand because, to a person that doesn’t have it, how could they possible conceive that sound, even low level sounds, could create pain? Discomfort, maybe, but pain? “Come on, get serious!” is a response many parents have probably heard when trying to describe it, but it’s there and it’s a challenge and so too is the path to understanding.

We can do this. I was a bit of a dreamer when I began and I may have even become lackadaisical in my writings because to me understanding is easy, but of course this is because I live it. When explaining things now I need to word it and come up with concepts that put in a visible image in a person’s brain to understand it. Concepts are how I began and I need to go back to creating these because understanding is the foundation for hope and we can have awareness all day and all night long. In fact, we do, with things like medical websites, but with just saying that there may be trouble with social interactions, or one might have a heightened sense of awareness, or one may perseverate on a topic and possibly excel, well, with all that we may either sound like a description of a leading character on a television show, a super hero, or just an average everyday person when lost in this all is the true struggles, the true inner battles of wanting something and yet knowing that we’d be uncomfortable, and through this all the art of understanding won’t be painted.


  1. Aaron, as a mother I know and understand my son better than anyone else, educators and physicians included. But even for a parent it can sometimes be difficult translating certain behaviors or reactions. Reading your words gives me a deeper understanding. Thank you from the very depths of my heart.

  2. Aaron, thank you for your wisdom and insight. Although I know my son better than anyone, he can still be a mystery sometimes. Its difficult translating certain reactions and behaviors, particularly when new triggers arise. Your words help me see the contradictions that sometimes create confusion. Thank you from the very depths of my heart. I look forward to reading more.