Once again, I know this wasn’t the subject I said I was going to post about but please no one sue me for false advertising because I thought the subject I am posting now is more relevant. We’ve all done it, we’ve all offended someone when we had no intention of doing so. I know that I have done it. In fact, I have done it so much in my younger life that it has become a constant worry for me and it has made me fearful of saying anything at all because I believe I am going to say the wrong thing and end up offending someone I clearly had no intention of offending.
I am not the only one in this boat, it is a common thread among people who have Asperger’s Syndrome. However, most people see those with Asperger’s who go the other extreme. Those who lack regard for what they say and speak what is on their mind fair or foul. They lack the social skills to understand why what they said was offensive and why the person they have offended now wants to kick their ass. It is these Asperger’s sufferers who come to the minds of most people in this situation.
There is another camp which many others and I fall into. We’re the ones who, in the past, said something that has offended someone without intending to do and now we worry that we have or are going to say something unintentionally offensive again. This is why when you meet someone like me, they’re not so outgoing and why they might not be so talkative. We’re afraid we are going to offend you.
For me, it went well beyond the normal. When interacting with persons of other races I feared saying something that might be construed as racist. It was even worse when interacting with women. One of my big fears was saying something complimentary to a woman I didn’t know or hardly knew was going to be seen as a chat up line or even sexist. I was once called that by a man because I complimented a woman for having nice legs. The result of all of this is it left me thinking that whatever I said was going to be wrong and there was a good chance I was going to offend somebody. Therefore, I concluded that it would be best if I kept my big mouth shut.
For all my fears, I now realise that it’s not always the fault of the speaker in these situations. Over my half century of existence, I have met many a person of all races, backgrounds and both genders who will take offense at anything. Many of these have Asperger’s too and it’s the tendency of people with it to take everything said literally. On the other hand, there are a few who are just jerks and want to make an issue out of anything. That only further fuels the fires of my anxieties and left me not wanting to interact with such people. My belief that I was always in the wrong didn’t help with such people either. It took me a long time to realise that it wasn’t always me.
Like many things with my life, it has taken years of painful trial and error to help me cope with this. Still, it will never go away as just last week I thought I might have offended someone I was actually meaning to compliment. That fear will never totally go away and I wish there was some magic formula I could pass onto others so they won’t have to go through what I had to. Unfortunately there isn’t. My way of coping is whenever I am going to say something, I ask myself, “Is what I am about to say really going to offend anyone and how would I react if it was said to me?” That might not work for everyone but it’s my best way of coping with it.
Next post: Teachers and Bullying (Unless another worthy subject comes to mind)
To buy He Was Weird, go to: http://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1410178354&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird