March 31, 2011

Dear Abby

Well, there's always something new to try. Today I wrote to Dear Abby in response to this letter:

DEAR ABBY: Can common sense be learned or taught? Some people seem to be born with it. Others have "book smarts" but struggle with everyday common sense.

I fail to grasp simple connections, and I sometimes ask questions that have obvious answers -- for someone else. I know other people who share the same problem, and I admire those who simply seem to "get" what's happening around them.

Is there any way to improve? I'm 38 and married to a man who has strengths in both areas.


DEAR ABBY: This is in response to "Bookworm in Montana," who can't grasp simple connections and obvious answers in spite of her high intelligence. I'm a kindred spirit, and I may have the answer.

I'm pretty smart—people comment about it sometimes—but I miss "obvious" clues all the time. It drives me crazy, and I used to wonder what was wrong with me. I have learned that, really, nothing is wrong with me. I think differently because I have Asperger Syndrome.

I can't remember names, including my own mother's once, for the life of me. It is not just a matter of not having the right system or not trying hard enough; it is a synapse misfire. Given enough time, I can do it—but that might be minutes to hours. I read fiction and with rare exception I am unmoved. Give me a book about astrophysics and I am over the moon with excitement about what I've learned.

I've learned to tell colleagues and friends to be direct with me; I will not pick up on subtleties at all. Hinting around will not lead me to act, because I need a concrete "do this, please." My friends grin at my uniqueness, but I have to explain sometimes to those I must work with anew.

"Bookworm" wants to improve. I want her to know she's just fine as she is. We all have strengths, and she can use her intelligence to learn about this different kind of thinking. I love who I am and try to help people understand me. "Different" doesn't mean "less than equal."



Anonymous said...

Birdie, it is so interesting to know this about you, and I don't think that "Abby" could have given "Bookworm" a better answer. Makes me think we should all be so blessed to have Aspergers.


rox said...

OMG I had no idea! Or did I? I all of a sudden have deja vu. Hm. Anyhow...

You're one of the smartest people I know! You always give the best advice, thoughtful and insightful. And you're right, different doesn't mean less than.

Cubby said...

Excellent post Birdie, and what a good response to "Bookworm". I love that you said you have to tell colleagues and friends to be direct with you. I hope they do it. It's frustrating when don't.

I have to do likewise. I say things like, "I'm not good at catching hints, please just spell it out for me". Most of the time they think it's a joke :-(

Birdie said...

I know the feeling, Cubbie. People dismiss my comments because I'm "too smart" or because "everyone is like that to some degree." When they spend enough time with me, they begin to believe me. I've had to train SIX bosses and four new colleagues in the past 13 years. I'm getting practice!

Ur-spo said...

I liked it too !

THIS IS ME....ONLINE said...

That is an amazing post! Just like you to see the underlying need of someone else and to say just the right thing. (I guess that contradicts what you said though.) Personally, I'm glad that we finally have proof that you do have human frailities like the rest of us. You are still one of the smartest, bravest and compassionate people I know of. Proud to call you Friend.

tornwordo said...

I wonder if I have some form of that as well. I'm exceptionally bad at "reading" people. I take everything at face value. My friend em is always decoding things for me, and even though you'd think I'd learn, I still don't get it. Why can't people say what they mean?