People with Asperger’s syndrome (Aspies) process information a little differently than most other people. Some of us (well, OK, ‘we the Aspies’) would say that we process information much more logically!
This is a gift – but is also is a curse: very often, we will arrive at a completely logical (and rather obvious) conclusion which is not only obvious to ‘us’, but somehow completely inaccessible to ‘others’. Perhaps this is due to their social programming – I do not know: I’m still trying to figure out the unpredictable reactions of ‘neurotypicals’ (NTs).
Let me give an example which demonstrates this most clearly and understandably.
Please, consider the way we (as a society) ‘forbid’ things.
We have a list of behaviours which are socially forbidden: from horrible things like murder to little things like ‘talking in class’. Oh, we do not treat each transgression equally (though SOME Aspies thing that might have made more sense) – our society considers some much more serious than others. Yet, the fact remains, these various behaviours are all ‘forbidden’.
Aspies can deal with that: IF, that is, we are given a very accurate explanation as to which behaviours are forbidden (often, explaining ‘why’ will help us figure out ‘what’ these prohibited behaviours are), and IF we are willing to accept the prohibition (which is most of the time), we WILL respect it absolutely.
KNOWING that respecting the prohibition is part of the social contract we have with our fellow humans is enough.
However, our society does NOT stop at the prohibition itself! Perhaps this is some misguided attempt at ‘labeling’ different ‘seriousness’ of transgressions, but the fact remains: our society ascribes very specific ‘punishments’ to particular transgressions.
Of course, once a ‘punishment’ is assigned to a specific ‘transgression’, it removes that ‘transgression’ from the list of ‘forbidden’ behaviours: it has become a ‘permitted behaviour with a price’!
I am not sure if I am doing a good job of explaining this to non-Aspies. I have a hard time putting myself into their position with regard to this and seeing it the way I (and many, many Aspies do). Perhaps an example would be useful:
This is a true story: starring none other than my husband!
When my husband was in grade 7, he had a Math teacher who had a rule: if you got caught talking in class, you had to ‘write lines’ (a full page of: ‘I will not talk during class.’).
Of course, this made ‘not talking in class’ a thing which was not forbidden – rather, it was a thing which was ‘purchased’ with a page of ‘lines’. And, liking to talk in class, he knew he would have to pay the price for it at one point or another. Therefore, being the intelligent and foresightful person that he is, he would not indulge in an ‘expensive’ behaviour without having the ‘means to pay for it’, so to speak…
Thus, when the teacher ‘caught him’ talking in class and ordered him to write a page of ‘lines’, my husband (well, he was not my husband then, he was in grade 7 – but, you know what I mean) pulled a page of ‘lines’ from his knapsack and handed it over to the teacher!
For some weird reason, many teachers think this type of a thing is a ‘provocation’ of some type: the reason for this escapes me (after all, the price was pre-set by the teacher), but I have come to understand that many NTs think that many very straigt-forward and logical reactions are somehow ‘provocations’. Perhaps it is that they do not like to be reminded of the fact that they skipped a logical step along the way…
Whatever the reason, the teacher said something to the effects: ‘Ah, so you think you are so clever, having your ‘lines’ all pre-done! Well, in this instance, the punishment is TWO pages of ‘lines’!’
To which my husband responded – logically, I think – by producing a second sheet of ‘lines’ and handing them in to the teacher!
THAT seemed to end things…
Again, I am not sure if I am explaining things in an ‘understandable’ way: what I am trying to say is that, once an action has a specifically defined punishment associated with it, it is not really forbidden any longer: to the contrary! It is permitted, provided YOU are WILLING to PAY the pre-efined PRICE!
Therefore, it is not ‘advisable’ to have a ‘specific’ penalty assigned to a ‘misbehaviour’, when it comes to Aspies!
Now, I DO understand that for most NTs, knowing the ‘punishment’ is a part of the whole ‘consequences of actions’ bit – and therefore, it is a ‘good’ thing to define the exact punishment for various ‘forbidden’ behaviours. Yet, I ALSO expect NTs to take a look at the logical conclusion: once you put a ‘price’ on something, it is no longer ‘prohibited’, just ‘expensive’…
The moral of this post…
If something is ‘prohibited’, keep it ‘prohibited’ and do NOT make it merely ‘expensive’ by putting a ‘price’ on it!!!