[Guest blogger, Thomas Clement's contribution]
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not the always the easiest person in the world to get along with. The very Aspergian traits of abrasiveness and brutal honesty, which can be difficult for some to tolerate, are very pronounced in me. In my day-to-day interactions, I always try to be friendly but am instinctively averse to feigning politeness. A reluctance on my part to engage in any small-talk is often interpreted as rudeness and this often ends up creating a very negative perception of me as a person in the minds of others. This saddens me deeply because I know that deep-down I am not the mere persona I appear to be within the limited constraints of neurotypical interaction. Underneath this brash exterior is a reservoir of emotion, experience, wonder, awe, ideas and, above all, love, that I wish to share with the world around me. Those few who do persevere with me and scratch beyond the surface know this about me and it saddens them, too, that I have difficulty getting on in the world and forging new connections with others.
Admittedly, I do have a tendency to be one-sided in a conversation and this is something I’m working on even if it doesn’t come naturally to me to think to engage in a topic that I find slightly less interesting for the sake of the person I’m talking to. Many dismiss me as boring, too eccentric and for want of a better word, annoying, which probably explains why I’ve found it hard to get on in polite society and have never truly been accepted into peer groups whether at school or at work. If ever I were invited to a dinner party, say, I imagine I would be an appalling guest. For one thing, I hate dressing up to impress others and would probably turn up in scruffy gear. The idea of being obsequious is something I generally abhor, too, so I would openly criticise the food if it were sub-standard and end up offending the host. And as for small-talk? Forget it. It’s unnecessary, extraneous and, from what I’ve observed in other autistic people, extraneous things are generally discarded in favour of pursuing things that we feel really matter to us.
Although my social life is limited mainly to family members, I prefer to be this way. I’m not bitter about the way other people view me, but I would dearly love it they were able to see beyond the quirks, the eccentricities and the ineptness when it comes to politeness. I can be kind, generous and caring, even if the way I show it is, much like my personality, unorthodox.