My name is Englebert, and I have a mild case of Asperger’s Syndrome. I made the comics below to help explain how someone with Asperger’s Syndrome might think differently compared to a neurotypical person. I’d like to share my some of my personal coping mechanisms for Asperger’s Syndrome.
When I went to high school, I had a classmate named Aaron who always asked me: “shouldn’t you do your homework at home?” I wanted to slap Aaron every time he said that to me, as I felt his question was extremely annoying.
In high school, I had a crush on a girl named Michelle. Before class started in the morning, when possible, I would make an effort to chat with Michelle for a few minutes.
The dumbest thing I ever said to Michelle was “shouldn’t you do your homework at home?” Michelle didn’t say anything and looked at me with an angry glare. I apologized to Michelle immediately and never repeated that sentence again.
I realize now that I said something very stupid to Michelle because I was nervous and panicked. I said the first thing that popped into my head just to fill an awkward silence. I eventually learned after many years of practice that if you talk to a hundred girls, you stop being nervous and no longer panic. It’s obviously better to keep your mouth shut then to say something stupid to fill an awkward silence.
Surprisingly, when I said this to a girl, it actually made her laugh. I had to force myself to continue practicing my small talk, even when the small talk was occasionally painful due to awkward moments like the one above. After years of practice, small talk eventually became easier for me. I gradually had less awkward moments as my small talk slowly improved, one conversation at a time.
My best friend told me one of his co-workers actually asked him this question in the kitchen at work. I found this story encouraging, as I realized my friends have also had their share of awkward small talk moments. When someone asks a question like this, there is nowhere for the conversation to go. It’s obviously better to ask people questions about topics they enjoy talking about (i.e. such as the weekend, vacations, or their favorite interest).
This was an actual conversation I had with a co-worker. I don’t know anything about gardening. When I talked to a friend about this scenario afterwards, she suggested that a follow up question could have been “do you have a favorite plant”, or “do you have a plant that you’d recommend for someone new to gardening?” When I first started making small talk, I had many awkward silences with other people. It took a lot of practice for me to learn how to ask logical follow up questions.
I was generally single for about 35 years. Many of my friends and family would constantly ask why I was single. They would continually ask me the same questions (for example: “are you using online dating websites?”). Dating takes a lot of time and effort. In my case, I asked out many girls before I met my wife. Online dating also takes a lot of patience. In my experience, I messaged a large volume of girls, and received a very low percentage of responses. Unfortunately, your friends and family will always ask you about what you don’t have. When you’re single, people will ask if you’re dating anyone. If you’re dating someone, people will ask when you’ll get married. When you get married, people will ask when you’re going to have children.
Englebert Lau was diagnosed with a mild case of Asperger’s Syndrome. The majority of Englebert’s professional career has been working in Information Technology as a Business Analyst. Englebert created http://www.hitchhikeraspie.com. The purpose of this website is to share a light-hearted perspective on Asperger’s Syndrome. Englebert would like to increase exposure about Asperger’s Syndrome for a wide range of people, by providing examples of how it affects his everyday life. Englebert loves TV and sports, especially the Calgary Flames.