I’ve reached an unexpected stage in my development with Asperger’s Syndrome. It’s proving to be a painful challenge, so I feel obligated to let other Aspies know about it in case others are close to where I am in development, or in case they’re already going through the same thing and haven’t identified it yet.
Back when my Autism was more evident to the people around me, folks tended to accept any of my unusual behaviour as a part of my condition. People didn’t expect the same things from me as they would from the average person, and were mostly accommodating to my quirks. People didn’t think I was strange – they just thought I was different. Indeed I was different, and still am, but there’s been a shift in people’s reactions to me lately, and it took me a while to pinpoint what it was.
As my long-time friends will attest, I’ve made significant development over the past few years, and am able to interact with people now on a much more neurotypical level. My autism is still there, but it’s much less evident.
“Uncanny Valley” is a term used by filmmakers to describe the point at which a non-human character or image stops being relatable and starts being creepy. For example: when a robot looks like a robot, but has a few human qualities like eyes and a mouth and a sense of humour, people will focus on those humanizing aspects and find the robot cute and familiar. On the other hand, if a robot has almost all of the qualities of a human being, such as skin, hair, dilating pupils and whatnot, but lacks something as simple as fluid motor function, then people tend to ignore all the stuff that looks human and just focus on the stuff that isn’t right. I believe that’s where I am right now.
I come across today as a mostly normal guy, but there is still something there that doesn’t quite fit people’s perception of “normal.” They can’t put their finger on it, and might not even realize on a conscious level that they are sensing something, but on a sub-conscious level they are detecting that something is just slightly “off.” And when you sense that something is off, but your brain isn’t telling you what it is, that is a very uncomfortable feeling. I have become a mostly-but-not-quite-human robot.
Now, those of you who have known me for a while may know that my development over the past few years has been an answer to prayer. There is a story behind that, which is told in my book on autism that’s coming out next year (Woot!). I have been blessed in many ways through that journey and am not bashing it, nor am I saying that everyone with autism should have the same journey that I did. I’m just being honest about a struggle that I’m finding myself in at the moment, and that other Aspies might have to face as well. But I’m taking this as one stage in the journey, and am trusting God to carry me through this stage just as he has carried me through every stage thus far.
(And yes, stay tuned for news about my upcoming book on growing up with autism as the publication process develops.) 🙂