In honor of yesterday being World Autism Awareness Day, it has been suggested to me that I take some time and dispel some common myths surrounding people with Asperger’s or some other variation of the Autism Spectrum. For one, a very common and unfortunate misconception about people on the Spectrum that is that they don’t show affection. While it is true that Aspies and others on the Spectrum have difficulty getting in touch with their emotions and expressing them appropriately (if at all), it is not impossible in any capacity for us to show emotion or affection towards another person. I myself am very affectionate towards those I love, my wife most of all (just look at the above picture). I crave affection as well, despite my tendency to seek out solitude or to isolate; I want to be alone when I need it, but I don’t want to remain alone.
Yet, all over the place, we see personal accounts of people who have spouses or are friends with someone on the Spectrum and they constantly say how that person doesn’t show any affection nor do they act like they care. I can say that I understand why someone who isn’t on the Spectrum might think that, yet it is still largely untrue. Aspies et al. feel very deeply, contrary to how we might act. I must reiterate that we simply have difficulty in expressing our emotions or affections in an appropriate manner and require aid in doing so. What else can be said about this? Uh, how about, stop fueling the fire that is this myth of Aspies not being affectionate! Take a second and ask yourself, “Maybe he/she just doesn’t know how to express themselves?”, or, “Maybe he/she just doesn’t like being touched without warning?” I realize that I may be getting a bit harsh or mean, and that is not my purpose. My purpose is to make the reader aware of what might actually be going on rather than giving in to the misconception and stigma.
At any rate, I hope that this little bit here can be a teachable moment for those who have friends or family on the Spectrum who don’t often show affection, Put simply, it’s not true that we don’t care! We might actually feel more deeply or care more than you do, but might not know how best to express those feelings and thus choose not to; social waters are quite difficult to navigate, after all. So, in conclusion, I hope that the next time you notice your Aspie spouse or friend not showing affection or being especially solitary, you take a second and try to see the situation from their point of view and not criticize or judge the person for not being affectionate.