... maybe never to be quite finished? ...
The heart of the matter...
After "outing" myself to friends, and as their exposure to other information grows, I do get questions. Many of a quite personal nature. Same at the occasional public presentation. Here are a few of the common ones:
Q and A (some are real!) ...in no particular order:
Q: Do you "stim"? What does it look like?
A: Yes, often. When I'm standing, thinking, I rock gently back-and-forth on the balls of my feet, or sway slightly from side-to-side.
Sitting in tedious conferences, I might indulge in a little fancy hand-wringing, maybe finger-steepling, usually under the table. Lecturing, pacing back and forth is good. Mostly nobody notices what I do since it's not too obviously out-of-line.
Sometimes though, at home and among friends, while standing I'll lean my upper forehead against a wall for awhile. It's restful and helps me concentrate. That gets noticed.
Q: How do you handle "cocktail parties"? Business parties? All that sometimes fake socializing?
A: With people I know, no problem. If they're mostly strangers, I tend to hang out near the punch bowl, with hors d'oeuvres - watching, ...listening.
The overly jovial folk usually ignore me. Quiet ones often introduce themselves (I don't need to). It's a little like singles seeking partners at a laundromat. I've met some very interesting people around the punch bowl.
Q: What about sex? "People say" that AS shy away from sex. Do you?
A: Hardly. I love it. Possibly too much. Remember: I've married twice and have children. The details, the juicy parts? Remember too: "Gentlemen don't tell"!
Q: What about empathy? Can you empathize with others' pain? Happiness?
A: Easily. But I'm sure I don't show it in conventional ways. My outward expresions of anything are pretty unrevealing. With good friends I've learned to put on an appropriate face and use "correct" body language. I'm not able easily to do that with strangers. They're liable as not to misinterpret my feelings, sometimes requiring post-hoc (and awkward) explanations. As I've aged, and learned, the awkward moments are more and more rare.
Q: Have you ever had a "meltdown"?
A: Oh my yes. When I was very young they were frequent. As I grew and both understood my changing environments and became more comfortable in them, the events slowly diminished in frequency.
As a young adult they were rare, ...though sometimes spectacular. Later, fully adult, post-army and well into my working years, there was a single occurence.
That one, to me very disturbing, taught me I could never, ever again lose myself to that extent. In over forty years since, I have not.
Q: How do you manage that? What's the secret?
A: In a word: Control. OK, two words: Awareness and control. Of the two, 'awareness' is prime; only with awareness is any real control possible. I'm always aware of my environment, and my place in it. Always aware of who I am, what I'm doing; and (importantly) why I'm doing it.
Given all that, 'control' is simple: I take that whole situation - antecedents, actions, consequences - and put it all into a place in my mind where it's just ...GONE.
By no means is it forgotten; nor does it become a "repressed memory". It is unavailable; as in common parlance: "it's simply unthinkable!!" Yet I can remember it all, easily - if and when needed - as in discussing it with others.
'Normal' people can't do this, at least not easily. For me it's second nature. This might be easier to understand after learning how I think: "Autism" » "Myself" » "My Cognition", above left.
Advice, ...unsolicited but often useful:
Q: On arguing with your spouse:
A: Some in my circle have called these "Loughman's Laws":
Rule 1. Never fire the first shot.
Rule 2. Don't fire the second one either!
Rule 3. Always count to ten before you say anything!
To be continued...