A couple of things stood out to me in my latest reading of The Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships, by Temple Grandin and Sean Barron.
1. On the issue of emotion, Temple and Sean are different in how they manifest their autism. Temple is logical and believes that emotion distorts reality. Sean, on the other hand, was angry as a child and as a teen because people were not accepting him and living up to his expectations.
I’ve come across both kinds of Aspergian people. The first kind strike me as Mr. Spock-like, and they do not seem to have a great deal of compassion for people who struggle. Rather, they believe that the people who struggle socially are at fault somehow and need to change (as if the people struggling even know what they need to do to change); as for their own social struggles, these Aspergians casually dismiss others as emotional rather than logical. The second kind whine and complain because of their struggles—-because they don’t have a significant other, for example. I’m not saying that Temple is totally like people in the first category, or that Sean is completely like those in the second category. I’m just giving my impression of different kinds of Aspergian people whom I have met. And, while I identify more with the second category, I have difficulty being around both kinds of Aspergian people.
2. The book goes into social skills, as it talks about the importance of recognizing other people as individuals with their own interests, personal histories, and desires, and of expressing an interest in those things. In my opinion, that’s a key aspect of socializing: honoring and expressing interest in other people. There may be a right way and a wrong way to do this. Deb Fine wrote a book on small talk, and she said that we should not come across like an FBI agent, shooting people one question after another. Moreover, one thing that I fear is that I’ll ask a person a question, and that person will give me a long lecture in response on something that does not particularly interest me. It’s happened before! But a key part of socializing is expressing interest in others. And, if a friendship develops and it ends up being one-sided, as one is sharing with you but has no interest in what you have to share, then perhaps you can tell him or her that you would like a relationship that is more mutual.