Friday, October 31, 2008

A Case for Full Disclosure


Roia Rafieyan made some interesting points about social sheets in a previous comment here.

My firm belief is that people, whether employers, friends, lovers or others, are generally much more understanding and accommodating of Aspie behaviors, including bluntness, if they know about them in advance and know what they mean and don't mean coming from an Aspie.

That's because people tend to judge behaviors - and especially judge people based on the behaviors - at least partly according to the perceived intent behind those behaviors. NTs operate from NT perspectives, which generally attach feelings to facts. In other words, for example, NTs interpret critical remarks about food served as an attack on the host, since NTs generally think of their own feelings about - not to mention the feelings of - their hosts before remarking on the food.

Aspies, due to our one-thing-at-a-time perspective, may think about the food, about their feelings about the host and about the host's feelings...but not all at the same time and likely not even two at a time.

Also, due to our verbal emphases, we tend to put into words what we are feeling, and have a difficult time saying one thing while feeling another.

Someone who understands that about us is likely to receive our blunt remarks very differently, because s/he will hopefully attach a different meaning to them.

Love relationships obviously vary widely, but I don't think it's too much different for lovers as opposed to friends and others, to say nothing of the fact that hopefully love relationships should have substantial friendship elements.

Also, I would think that writing out a social sheet in advance would show that the Aspie is gracious enough to work to understand the possible effects of his/her behaviors on others and also to try to mitigate them (both by attaching a different meaning to them and also by minimizing the behaviors themselves wherever possible).

Meanwhile, Roia has an interesting point. We do indeed evolve as people, especially in the course of a love relationship. Companies' financial situations change too and therefore they revise their prospectuses. That's an important example to follow.

I do believe that AS and autism, being permanent conditions (barring unexpected medical breakthroughs), shape our personalities permanently. We may fall in love, but despite perhaps the fond wishes of our NT (or even opposite-sex Aspie) mates, certain things about us - like our bluntness - aren't going to change very much.

Putting aside AS and autism, here's a bit of relationship advice. People do evolve in some ways, especially in a love relationship or marriage. But the person you start a relationship with is going to be basically the same kind of person you end it with. I know darned well that there are certain things about me that Emily would like to see change that aren't going to - and vice versa.

What do you think?


StatMom said...

Knowing there is a reason (aside from ill intent) behind bluntness and other aspie behaviors that others may find disappointing or objectionable, really does a lot to help. I agree fully that friends and relationship partners should be told, for the sake of all involved. It will ease stress, foster understanding, and avoid potential damage.

Roia said...

Agreed, Jeff. It is definitely helpful to know there is no ill intent. It can stave off some hurt feelings for sure.

Ultimately, we all have our- hmm, let's go with issues- whether we're somewhere on the autism spectrum or not. To me, relationships of all sorts are our opportunities to learn about ourselves through our connection with an other.

It was, by the way, very helpful to read your comments about how we NTs link facts to feelings. This is quite true, and it has certainly contributed to my downfall in connections on numerous occasions.

Jeff Deutsch said...

Hello StatMom and Roia,

In fact, I know at least one marriage which was saved by just such disclosure. The wife - an NT - was already separating from her husband when he was diagnosed with AS. He quickly told his wife, and she finally understood much of his behavior that had been driving her up the proverbial wall.

They're now back together and intend to stay that way.

I should add that they're both in their 40s, and she'd been married before.

Roia, thank you very much. I know the fact-feeling link - or disconnect - can cause serious misunderstandings, especially when one person associates facts much more (or less) closely with feelings than the other.

Jeff Deutsch