One of my favourite mind games is to try to discover unifications of human behaviour. My current thinking has focussed upon my potential aspergers syndrome.
Aspergers/Autism is seen by some researchers as an ‘Intense world’ syndrome – the senses and emotions are regularly overloaded by situations that would not normally do so in neuro-typicals. This is much like an amplification of introversion, which is itself a condition that probably lies on the autism spectrum. By contrast, extroverts are often thrill seeking to avoid sensory and emotional under-load.
One consequence of an intense world for introverts and autistic people is that they necessarily seek ways to avoid overload. One aspect to that avoidance is to try to maintain a sense of order in their life experiences.
I theorise that from that one behaviour comes at least three autistic characteristics.
- A need for routine. Loss of routine, by corollary, can therefore become intensely uncomfortable
- A heightened sense of expectation that life will be pan out as hoped. It hurts too much that when someone does not do what they say they will do as the world loses order again.
- By the same token, this expectation can create a strong sense of justice in autistic people. That rules should be followed – that a double yellow line should never be parked on. The sense of justice so strong here that it can blind to exceptions where unloading is indeed permitted on double yellow lines.
One of my own recurring difficulties is where expectation is not met. If I walk along the pavement towards a a group of 3 who straddle the whole pavement, I expect them to yield – I do not expect to have to walk into the road. But life is messy, people get engrossed in conversation and this does not always happen. But the sense of injustice that results is enormous, even unreasonably so, and therefore hard to reason away, although I do manage to do so.
A better example is maybe where I was supported by a diagnosed autistic man to proof-read one of my books. He had assumed that it was reasonable to expect me to go through the points he raised in his review, one by one, in their entirety. He did not voice this expectation before undertaking the work, for which I thanked him appropriately. But when I disagreed – that I did not need to painstakingly go through each point – he became enormously agitated. He was really angry and very frustrated, threatening to smear my name across the internet.
This is understandable if your emotions are heavily linked to expectations. We all do that. It is just that autistic people do it more intensely as they feel the world more intensely.