This is what happens. We meet. I don’t talk much. For a long time, I say hardly anything and when I do it’s cryptic or odd to you. After a period of time, probably months, I start to say more things, but the things sometimes are even more strange, and now there is chirping and trilling and repeating. Here and there you may recognize a line from a very old movie or TV show. Then comes a period of time where I seem much more “normal” to you with less chirping, less repeating. Even my jokes make sense during this time. And then it’s over, and back to Gilligan’s Island and the birdhouse.
Let me break that down:
Phase 1. Quiet. Phase 2. Less quiet, more odd. Phase 3. Less odd with variable quietness. Phase 4: Less quiet, more odd.
This is how some people interpret that:
1. You are shy. 2. You are shy, but getting used to talking to me. You are nervous due to the shyness, so you behave oddly. 3. You are over the nervousness. You are finally okay and we can relate like regular people. 4. You don’t like me anymore. You are being as annoying as possible to push me away. Why don’t you just tell me it’s over?
Or it can be seen this way:
1. You are shy 2. You are really weird, but that’s okay with me. 3. You understand it’s not okay to be weird all of the time. You are making the expected efforts to fit into society and this is good. This is what a person of good character does. 4. You have “decided” you are autistic, even gone so far as to get a diagnosis. Now you don’t care about fitting in anymore. You are using this as an excuse for bad behavior. Why don’t you just grow up?
This is how it looks from the inside:
1. I don’t know why it is, but I’ ve never been comfortable talking. Some days it takes all my energy just to say a little. I am almost never able to communicate what I actually mean by speaking. I am surprised you are even still trying to have this relationship with me. Most people give up after one conversation.
2. This is part of the way I relate to the world. Sometimes the repetition is a means of communication, sometimes the chirping is my way of expressing happiness. If I am doing these things around you, I am starting to get comfortable with you. If you accept me at this stage, you may have a friend for life, but if you get angry or ask me to stop, I will know that I will never be able to truly relax and be myself around you. It’s okay either way. I am not so invested in this friendship yet that rejection will hurt very much.
3. You are still here? That’s great. I appreciate that you like me for who I am. You know what? I can sometimes have what appears to be a normal conversation. If I am well rested and not stressed, I am more likely to be able to do this. There are lots of factors that play into this. The medicine I take for depression made a difference for a long time. Not so much now, but that’s fine with me, that’s not what it’s for anyway.
4. It has been a while, I understand so much more about myself and my communication style than I did when we first met. I have found that there are other people like me, too. I am autistic. Don’t worry, though. I am exactly the same person I have always been. I can take care of myself better now that I understand I am not a defective person. I have to play the “normal” game a lot at work, but when we are just hanging out, I can be myself and relax, right? Right? Hello?