I really am listening to you!
My eyes are looking elsewhere. I’m playing with something. I’m rocking. Humming. Giving an unpleasant facial expression. Fill in the blank!
“Normal” people look right at you and respond.
Sorry! I can’t!
But I can listen!
I AM listening! You are very important to me. Your thoughts are interesting. They are taking over my mind. I am using a lot of brain power. Your thoughts are not just heard. My mind takes your thoughts and turns them into a complicated math problem, with many possible solutions. Each of your thoughts gives me a million possible replies, all of which must be worked through before I respond, if I do respond. I get lost in a Choose Your Own Adventure book, all in my head.
Repeating your comment helps me. Giving me time to work out your comment helps me.
So much brain power is taken to process your thought, that there is little to no power left to control my body language.
Teach me to look at you while talking, and I can, but I may not hear what you are saying. I may show stress. It is okay. I appreciate the help. I want to make other people comfortable and behave in a way that is socially acceptable. Just please understand that it is a little harder for me to respond in a timely fashion.
Ask me something. Anything. I’ll get back to you. I promise. It might be next week.
Mary Janca works as an educator for individuals with autism and their families. She is on the autism spectrum and uses her own insight to connect with others and guide them to understanding autism in ways that trainings and literature may not reach.
She has been teaching college, high school, and middle school for over 20 years to students of all types of learning styles. She holds a Master’s degree in Special Education: Emotional and Behavioral Disorders and has state certifications in multiple high school and middle school subjects. She has also been involved in many agencies as either a helper or receiver, including: ASNC, TEACCH, Vocational Rehabilitation, and specialized school environments. Her goal is to be able to help in as many settings as possible, because there is such a high need for educators.
Mary enjoys the quirks of having autism but appreciates being able to connect with others. She goes through many of the trials that most individuals on the spectrum face, including trouble with taking the perspective of others, following expected behaviors, and managing emotions. She hopes to keep learning about the field of autism, so that she can continue to reach out and help others.
Tags: ASNC, Asperger Syndrome, Asperger's Syndrome, autism, autism acceptance, autism advocacy, autism awareness, autism behavior, autism communication, autism nc, autism north carolina, autism society north carolina, autism society of NC, Autism Society of North Carolina, Autism spectrum, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorders, autism support, Developmental disability