How Are You?

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Right now, it’s Autism Awareness Month and I’ve been focusing on giving us an insider’s look at what it means to have Asperger’s as my wife and I are both diagnosed with the condition. Tonight, I’d like to look at the question that I can’t stand the most to be asked.

When we participate in small talk in public, one of the first questions someone gets asked is “How are you?” Now I do know it’s not just an aspie thing to not like this question, but I believe it’s particularly grating for someone who is on the spectrum. It has always been a question I’ve had difficulty with and when I’m out in the social arena, one I have to deal with the most. I’d rather be asked one of those questions Christians supposedly hate to be asked rather than have to be asked this question.

First off, when I’m asked this question, I feel like I’m under an obligation by the person asking the question to disclose myself in a way that I do not want to. That can be the case even if the person is a trusted friend. If I do not spill my guts on what is immediately on my heart, I can have a feeling that I am being less than honest in what I am stating. On the other hand, there are times that if I did state such a feeling, I am certain it would not be well-received.

Second, the question is vague. When someone asks me the question, I really do not know how to answer because my brain tends to think in only specifics. I do not accept vague generalities for answers. I need to know the connecting reason for something and if I can be able to quantify something, then all the better for that.

When I lived with my folks, I used to have this kind of problem. If I was sick, my parents would ask me the next day if I felt better and found it quite odd that I couldn’t answer that question. The problem for me was that I had no idea how I would quantify such a feeling. I can understand feeling good and feeling bad but I could not really compare feeling better and feeling worse. That’s still a difficulty.

My advice to the person in this case then wanting to reach the aspie is to not ask the question. The aspie could feel under an immediate social obligation. Instead, go and find out something that the aspie is interested in and talk about that instead.

Of course, I do realize that people mean well when asking the question, but it is still a difficult one to answer. In my case, I typically make some sound in reply that is really hard to understand, and most likely because I don’t even know what it really is. I just want the conversation to move on past that question to something that I believe can actually be talked about.

It might sound strange but hey, it’s the world of the Aspie.

We shall continue next time.


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