I don’t have Asperger’s myself

“Are you listening to me?”

People with Asperger syndrome can find it harder to read the signals that most of us take for granted. This means they find it more difficult to communicate and interact with others which can lead to high levels of anxiety and confusion.

“I don’t know if you know I have Asperger’s. You probably don’t know what that is.”

We do and we do.

What came out of that conversation was a need for safe space. A space in the middle of – but safe from – the jokes and banter of others. A safe space to talk and be heard. A safe space to slow down. Slow down enough to hear each other – really hear each other. Others who know what Asperger’s is, who see the different behaviours it encourages, and who so want each of us not to define ourselves with any label.

I discovered that we can make a safe space in the middle of all the noise and movement of others. Right in the middle of all the activity. I discovered that others will allow a safe place in the middle of their space if it is requested honestly and without fanfare. I also discovered that listening is not enough – being seen to listen is what is needed in that moment.

And I discovered in that moment – even one label gets in the way.

Labels are like that – we throw them about so readily – assuming it saves a bunch of time – a bunch of words – a bunch of misunderstanding – and expecting our expected response: “Oh, poor you!” (in this case)

And yet they just get in the way – from every direction – they just get in the way of everybody.

“Don’t let Asperger’s define who you are.”

All of us struggle with what we see as “not our fault” – weaknesses, bad things, stuff that worries us and others we love. All of us. Most of us don’t have a label for that – we just struggle – we tell ourselves we are not good enough and never will be.  We smile brightly on the outside, but so often have that “we are not good enough” repeating-loop running inside.

“You have just been talking about all the good stuff you have and do.”

All of us have that as well. We just need others to allow us to know that. We need to hear others – just as we want others to hear us. We all need that quiet safe space. We all need to get a balance in what we are, who we are, where we are, and how we are. We all need someone to invite us into a safe space.

You are more than “Asperger’s” – you are loads more than “just” that.”

All of us are more than just that.  Whatever label(s) we make our own.  Whatever neat “universal word” we believe says it all about us (and usually says so little of what we really mean).

That conversation in that safe space allowed one real person to look at their label from a distance.  A very small distance.  And for a very short moment in that safe space they looked at their label – and saw more. We all saw more.  They saw the good stuff as well.  They saw a real person looking back …

And then the moment/space was gone again.

And this morning I wonder again why “we” are so keen to be defined by our label.  The “I am a Christian” label.

“Are you listening to me? “

People with Christian syndrome can find it harder to read the signals that most of us take for granted. This means they find it more difficult to communicate and interact with others which can lead to high levels of anxiety and confusion.

“I don’t know if you know I am a Christian. You probably don’t know what that is.“

We do and we do.

In that precious moment last night, Asperger’s was one label too many. That label had defined their own expectations of how they and others will behave.  It’s like we encourage each other to hard-wire our own brains to believe “I am that  label”. And then have to ask others:

“Are you listening to me? “

I don’t have Asperger’s myself – I don’t have Christian either.  I don’t want anyone to encourage me to hard-wire my brain with any label.

My Lord and Father never has.


15 thoughts on “I don’t have Asperger’s myself

    • Mark – from almost anyone else – I would try and think of some cute answer. You are not anyone else – and your comment touches me deeply. Thank you ((hugs))

  1. How wonderful, Paul. Wow. I’m gobsmacked. So many times I’ve wanted to say, “But we’re not all like that!” How, indeed, can we listen without labels, and see without pigeonholes? How can I?

    • Thank you Susan – and even if this family we call church: so many labels, so many “but we’re not like” that protestations, so many we don’t speak to them nor them us. Designer labels for the spirit! 🙂

  2. My Lord and Father just says, “child!” This really made me think because one of our best friends has a grandson with Asperger’s and because we were such great friends we did some background study of it. He was actually a great kid and he really related to his grandma, but we saw something you pointed out. When he could SEE you were listening to him, he seemed more focused.
    As to the label, Christian, I am probably guiltier than any because I use it so much in my writing. Not so much to identify myself other than when I am putting myself in the learning process with everyone else. In life, in relationships and communication it hardly ever comes up and in fact I have had acquaintances and others ASK if I was a Christian of which I usually reply, “I try to be.”
    I have a couple of reasons for that and one is because if they can’t see it, then I need to be on my knees in prayer a bit more, I am more interested in others seeing love or kindness.
    The second reason is that so many who have a label of Christian, don’t necessarily know what that means. Did you know Paul, that 84% of Americans believe they are Christians because they believe in “God” or a supreme being. Also, due to self-promotion and to draw crowds, to get rich, (you know the whole Father’s a Wealthy King and such) the label “Christian” doesn’t have such a positive connotation today. I think people who have questions of a spiritual nature, ask of those they see something different in action.
    You always bring about a perspective that causes me to consider my relationship with the Lord and with others! That truly is a gift from the Lord! God bless my brother!

    • I have to admit going with the second one here. I never knew the percentages – and I guess it is similar over in the UK. And it is that gap between label and reality that causes me to use the word “Love or Unconditional Love or whatever your name for your God” more than Christian. The stereotype is a stereotype for a reason. One I used to fulfil really well “back then”. And now the opposite – I am not conventional enough to fulfil the stereotype.

      The conversation noted in this post was pure God-speaking. And what a privilege to hear Him through/in others.

      As always thank you for your comments – they bring me closer to Him each time.

      And speaking of closer – I am thinking of May/June 2017, flying into Montrose, hiring some wheels, checking into a room in Delta for 2-3 days, and spending some face time with you and Susie – and not a webcam in sight! Which is likely to be the best month/part of those two months for both of you? 🙂

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