Asperger Syndrome – Grappling and Grasping

Artwork by Linzi Lynn

Something I’ve often noticed about the way Asperger’s Syndrome impacts on my life is the disparity that it creates between my inability to speak or talk smoothly and freely to people in real life, compared with my ability to express myself clearly in writing.

Believe it or not I regularly forget the words I want to use when I’m talking to people face to face.

They simply seem to just escape me.

Like birds that have flown their coop and no amount of trying can retrieve them.

In moments like these I find myself gasping for breath and completely lost, as my inner panic at not being able to find the right words, envelopes me.

More often than not I end up stuttering or just stopping, awkwardly, half way through a sentence.

Trapped in a suspended silence, gazing solemnly at the floor, while my mind continues grasping for that which can no longer be found.

I’m sure at such times I must come across as being an absolutely dim-witted ‘weirdo’.

I guess this is also the reason why most people are surprised to discover that I have two degree’s.

I bet they wonder exactly which cereal box I found my degree’s in.

It’s also why my family insist that I “could be doing so much more with my life….if only I wanted to”.

Hmmm…. Yes…. Right…. Because of course I want to be completely tongue-tied and empty-headed whenever I’m speaking to another person.

I can never seem to make my family understand that I don’t want my words to escape me when I need them most.

Or that the loss of verbal ability I experience when trying to talk to someone, isn’t ‘just a matter of choice’ or ‘obstinacy’.

It’s a genuinely, real, experience.

Yet give me a keyboard and I’m perfectly fine.

I can write for hours and when I do, words just seem to flow out of me.

There’s no grasping or grappling furiously for a language that is no longer there.

There’s no effort, no strain, no awkward silences.

There is only the freedom of expression.

The freedom of being me.

Does anyone else experience this level of disparity between the things you can do in one medium, yet not in another?

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17 thoughts on “Asperger Syndrome – Grappling and Grasping

  1. I KNOW THIS FEELING! I can sit at a computer and type quickly enough that I don’t lose what I want to say. If I cannot type fast enough, it’s gone and I have to wait. In that respect, I guess we differ a little. But with Lyme’s disease, my memory has changed. A vacuum cleaner became the thing that you push which eats stuff off the floor, etc. If I am as much as interrupted by a cough or sneeze, not even words by others, I completely lose where I am. Sometimes, even with prompting and reminders, I simply cannot retrieve what I was thinking about. Initially, my voice was impaired, not unlike someone that had a stroke; people feared misunderstanding me – so often talked around me. That was rather discomforting, though I understood why they did it. But once that part came back, the ability to vocalize in a manner to which I am accustomed, I kept getting stuck. In my mind I am aware of what’s happening, but lack the ability to control it. Knowing you aren’t alone is helpful, even if the illnesses aren’t the same. Warm embrace. Belinda

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story Belinda. And you are right, though we may not share the same causality, we definitely share the same sense of “stuckness” with our words when talking to others. Sending you a big warm embrace right back 🙂

  2. I do. I seem to write in a way I can never experience when communicating directly with another. It just feels easier to write and connect.

    You are not alone-I needed this post tonite-thank you.

    JC

  3. Yes. I have experienced this all my life . I have found written communication to be easier than verbal communication . Some people throughout my life have been understanding enough not to freak out when I do the stopping mid sentence thing and they are people I consider friends others tend to give me looks like I am green and have antenas out of my head and think I am weird too .
    Thank you for sharing this post it helps a lot to know it is not just me that experiences this stuff.

    1. Ah yes….. the being looked at as if you’re “green and have antenas” coming out of your head, is a feeling I know all too well. Thank you for that wonderful description Bob. So glad that you have true friends who don’t freak out whenever the word vacuum steals your words from you. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your solidarity with me 🙂

  4. Oh yes, on a regular basis! More so lately since I have been doing more writing. And as far as I know I have no form of Asperger’s Syndrome. I wouldn’t describe myself as awkward in social encounters and I can generally get my point across very well in conversation but I would certainly describe conversational communication much more work for me than written communication. When I am writing I have the time to really work out exactly what I want to say, how I want to say it, and the exact impact I want it to make. There is also something freeing about the blank page. It holds no judgement or bias, no criticism or expectation. That and I have a lot of words in my head, the blank page never tires of my ramblings 🙂 .

    1. You are so right… “the blank page holds no judgement or bias, no criticism or expectations”. For me the blank page is always the adventure waiting to happen, the point wanting to made or the hidden perspective seeking exposure. Though writing for me is more like a pure and uncensored stream of consciousness. From thought to form. Thank you so much for sharing your words purple pin cushion.

  5. Are you writing about me? I can completely relate. My way of coping with it is to try to describe what word I am trying to say but can’t. In a foreign language you can get away with it easier, but in your own native language it doesn’t come across as smoothly. It is so frustrating at times. The stupid thing is I can visualise it in my mind what I want to say but the word gets lost on the way to the mouth. I was planning on writing a post on this very topic.

  6. Me too. I’m unsure if I am autistic and am presently being an advocate for my daughter at CAMHS meetings because she often cannot attend. She doesn’t go to school, socialise or leave the house anymore foowinv a breakdown; I’ve been told she simply to have Aspergers and so been told she has PDA. The assessment waiting list is long so tbe meetings have been taking information. I have found the verb communication to be very difficult and stressful. My daughter has had new and worrying behaviours since meltdown that have deteriorated to her being withdrawn. Trying to find the right words to describe my concerns and factual occurrences has realtime a test. To ensure they had the correct information I wrote to them in advance of the meeting. They did not take mi day to this. I have been told several times .it to communicate in this way because they don’t have the time to read it or respond. I suggested they read it in the meeting and they said meetings are for talking. It strikes me that the system is discriminatory against those who aren’t the best at communicating verbally. How do you find the experience in these situations?

    Equally when my daughter can attend they do not make provision for a girl who they believe has Aspergers, who school believes has PDA (but they will not acknowledge PDA). The room is set up the same = chairs facing each other, and they ask direct questions expecting verbal communication back, despite her stopping speaking for a few weeks after breakdown and feeling unable to talk to people never mind about her feelings.

    The autism assessment itself I hope will be better adjusted to accommodate conveyance of information. PDA often doesn’t have a yes / no answer to questionnaires because the answer can be both which means a lot more verbal communication is required (with examples) – it’s a nightmare !!!!

  7. Me too. I’m unsure if I am autistic and am presently being an advocate for my daughter at CAMHS meetings because she often cannot attend. She doesn’t go to school, socialise or leave the house anymore following a breakdown; I’ve been told she is likely to have Aspergers, and also been told (by school) she has PDA. The assessment waiting list is long so I’ve been to meetings and giving them information. I have found the verbal communication to be very difficult and stressful. My daughter has had new and worrying behaviours since meltdown that have deteriorated to her being withdrawn. Trying to find the right words to describe my concerns and factual occurrences has been a real test. They focused on my chosen words and queried them. To ensure they had the correct information I wrote to them in advance of the meeting my written communication could provide a more measured and accurate account. They did not take kindly to this. I have been told several times NOT to communicate in this way because they don’t have the time to read it or respond. I suggested they read it in the meeting and they said meetings are for talking. It strikes me that the system is discriminatory against those who aren’t the best at communicating verbally. How do you find the experience in these situations?

    Equally when my daughter can attend they do not make provision for a girl who they believe has Aspergers, who school believes has PDA (Camhs will not acknowledge PDA). The room is set up the same = chairs facing each other, and they ask direct questions expecting verbal communication back from her, despite her having stopped speaking for a few weeks after breakdown and feeling unable to talk to people, never mind about her feelings. The anxiety is too much for her and she can’t last long in that situation before fleeing, thereby giving her such a negative experience that it is harder for her to go the next time.

    The autism assessment itself I hope will be better adjusted to accommodate the conveyance of information. PDA often doesn’t have a yes / no answer to questionnaires because the answer can be both which means a lot more verbal communication is required (with examples) – it’s a nightmare !!!!

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