“Your superpower is honesty.” Those words from a colleague of mine stopped me in my tracks. We were wrapping up a conversation where I had done something that sounds simple – I had shared my thoughts. I know from experience that to some people my way of doing that is considered overly direct, blunt, sometimes even rude, and without the nuance of tailoring my messaging depending on the specific person I’m speaking to. It was quite late in the day, so my executive functioning points were gone and my flat affect (monotone voice, unsmiling face) was out in full force. My limited ability to regulate the volume of my voice was spent. I don’t have the ability to read facial expressions and vocal inflections the way neurotypicals do, so I could only craft my responses based on what my colleague actually stated out loud. I have learned that most people expect empathy to be displayed by “hearing what isn’t said,” so I had no idea if the words of support I gave (and meant) were enough to match what she was hoping to receive.
These conversations have gotten in my way so often in my career that ultimately this is what sent me on my crusade to get a diagnosis. Funnily enough, when autistic people speak to each other these “communication problems” disappear, but as someone adrift in a sea of neurotypicals, I have found myself frequently underwater. Hearing that my honesty was actually sought out and appreciated was a shock. I had never seen the good this particular trait could add, only the havoc it had wreaked on my life to this point. Now, I have a spin that makes me proud – in a world of confusion, honesty is my superpower.
#autism #actuallyautistic #neurodiversity #diversity #communication