This is the third in an occasional series of introspective posts exploring whether or not I belong ‘on the spectrum’.

The first explained why I consider myself a borderline case, while the second described the traits that have led one family member to out me as a bona fide Aspie.

The latter painted such a negative picture that it left me feeling rather bruised.

It felt as if I was condoning a deficit model, so often entertained by the neurotypical majority. I need to redress the balance before we go any further.

So this post records mostly what the same family member volunteered when I asked them to accentuate the positive – by describing the many strengths that this Aspie-elect can bring to the party (if you can persuade him to turn up, that is).

I’ve added one or two personal insights, notably the paradoxical final section.

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WYSIWYG

What you see is what you get. I’m genuinely genuine. I don’t dissemble or dissimulate and I’m constitutionally incapable of emotional manipulation.

I’m inherently suspicious of people with questionable motives and, over the years, have developed a tolerably reliable feel for who is trustworthy and who is not. Conversely, I’m totally trusting of people I’ve learned to trust.

I get on swimmingly with small children, probably because most have not yet learned to be devious. We share a keen sense of the ridiculous and a delight in imaginative nonsense. Occasional adults are also won over by what my interlocutor describes as a ‘charming naivety’.

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Intelligent and driven

I am suspected of being stonkingly clever, though I rarely boast about it because, for me, human competitiveness of that type is tedious and smacks of insecurity.

My speciality is logical analysis, but I’m a long-time student of literature and can even write poetry (of a sort), so I’m charged with creative intelligence too.

I’m an expert in my chosen field(s), committed to mastering the detail and understanding the bigger picture. I’m passionate about the topics that interest me, ferociously industrious and driven to produce material of the highest standard of which I am capable.

Come to me if you have a problem. I’m typically a good listener in a 1:1 setting. I can see to the heart of an issue, discern the wood from the trees and help to generate a wealth of viable solutions.

I will worry away persistently at a knotty problem until the tangle is undone.

I don’t practise self-deceit. I’m well-endowed with self-knowledge and dedicated to its pursuit. No-one knows me better than I know myself.

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Honest

I’m honest and trustworthy, poorly equipped for untruthfulness. If you want an honest answer I’ll certainly give you one. I have oodles of integrity and will doggedly stand by my principles, even when it might be in my own best interest to dissimulate or compromise.

I’m not fazed by authority, charmed by celebrity or cowed by self-importance. I treat everyone equally, regardless of their rank or station, and I’m not afraid to speak truth unto power.

I don’t try to create a positive impression and I won’t jump through hoops for the sake of it – I expect people to judge me entirely on the value of the contribution I make, just as I judge them.

You won’t find me toeing the line unless I’ve convinced myself that it’s the right line to toe. I don’t follow the crowd or feel pressure to do something just because everyone else is doing it. Rather the opposite!

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Learned impersonation

My family know me as guilelessly transparent, but success in a working environment often demands an impervious veneer – a convincing mask of neurotypical behaviour.

This I have mostly managed to assume (with the sole exception of ‘working a room’, always my worst nightmare).

As long as I am master of my lines I can otherwise act the part with some conviction, leading large teams, chairing large meetings, presenting at international conferences and holding forth to the high and mighty.

Like others of my ilk, I have learned to ape their behaviour and to mirror it back to them (the high and mighty), so they can see in me a reflection of themselves. That is invariably the path to power and glory.

It’s tricky and exhausting to live a lie, but this I have accomplished, mostly. It demanded immense energy, consistently applied, intense concentration and a huge effort of will.

I am probably the better for it.

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Next time: Is the spectrum really a spectrum?

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TD

July 2016

 

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