Like a lot of people who know they have Asperger’s Syndrome (as far as I’ve seen) I have to put a lot of effort into appearing normal. I have to shake peoples hands when they are offered, and not try to wipe the feeling of their hand off while they are watching. I even trained myself to offer a handshake whenever I’m introduced to people even if I don’t want to, because that’s meant to be the social rule. It’s about remembering how you say something is sometimes more important than what you say and then figuring out how you are ‘meant’ to say it. It takes a lot of thinking to do and sometimes it’s more annoying than helpful, especially when you get it wrong.
So what is it that helps me with this? It’s actually my friends (You may have guessed that already, I mean, it was in the title and I feel kinda silly for having to point that out). After a while people will notice I’m odd. An obsession with numbers, a long stream of useless facts. Laughing at things that other don’t find funny and no laughing at things that are funny. Some people question it and I tell them why I’m that way. Once someone asks I’m fairly open about it. Then slowly over time they will get to know other parts of my personality that are generally strange. I guess this is probably how it works for normal people, the difference being that if I don’t look people in the eye and shake their hand then I seem like I’m a weirdo.
However it’s around close friends when I don’t have as many filters up, or any at all if I’m lucky, that I can just be myself. If I make a fuss about how the mug someone else has used must be cleaned and not just rinsed before I use it then they understand. The weekend just past I spent the entire time with two of my closest friends. So it game me room to relax for a while. It does help that gamers tend to be a bit more accepting of oddities than most people. But it isn’t just that, I know if I’m put off by something I can say it. Like when we finished with a boardgame and they were jokingly handing me things that I wasn’t ready to put away which threw me off and started to have me panic. I could stop and say “Look please stop before I start panicking”. After that there is no judgement, they just now know that when I’m tidying something away don’t mess with me.
Granted it swings both ways. If I’m doing something that I see as perfectly normal that upsets people then I want to be told. It’s less likely to happen around people I don’t know as I usually put on a mask (more on those later) around them so as not to do anything too abnormal. There have been dozens of times, if not more, that I have done something or said something that hurt someone without realizing it, or even after an explanation understanding it. But once I’m told I try not to do it again, though I will admit I’m not always the best at it.
I’m not quite sure if I covered what I really wanted to cover here, it’s a strange topic and I might at one stage revisit it. I guess I’m trying to say that even though being around normal people is hard, once you being to understand them and them you it is nice to have friends that don’t question why you do things. Granted not all my friends are exactly neurotypical or normal, but I do have a few that are. Just remember other people will find you are weird as you find them. We are all still human and sometimes it’s nice to be yourself.