Apparently, a major feature of Asperger’s Syndrome is saying inappropriate things at the worst possible time. This is something I have a long and less than noble history of. I am not going to go through loads of examples as there simply isn’t enough time but it is the symptom that I recognise the most in myself. This is because I can be sociable and I can talk to strangers. I can understand people’s feelings to an extent. I may not always get that last one right, though.
Some of the things I have said have been comic, for instance telling the birthday girl, in the middle of her party, that she “looked nice” before adding, cheerfully, “for once”. I meant to say that normally she wore casual clothing this time she had dressed up. But there is no going back from that. I was looking up from the hole that I had dug and my only instinct was to keep digging.
Other times I have been told that they are just… odd. For example, a very close friend has told me that I spent quite a long time talking to his in laws. A lovely, elderly American couple about pornography. I have no memory of this and I do not know why I would have said it. How did it come up in conversation? Why? Why? Why?
I work in education and I have been told by students “oh, you said this” and so forth. It is a fear that I will say something, unintentionally, and get myself blacklisted.
I remember saying to a friend that I say things and I don’t know why I have said them. His theory was that I was bored in my workplace and this was a result. That my mind was running faster than the tasks required. It seemed reasonable to me. It would make me feel that I needed to be doing more with my time and more with my life, which inevitably lead me to being too hard on myself. However, most things caused me to be hard on myself so that wasn’t particularly gruelling.
It is an odd thing to think about because, normally, I would consider my answers to questions or I would like to think about what I need to say. When I do this, it is like a flash of lightening across my mind. It just comes out. I can’t control and most of the times I do not know why I have said what I have done. It is not an attempt to be liked, or funny or anything reasonable like that. It is simply my mouth opens and I have said something. Some people have classified it as the benefits of a quick wit. However, for a remark to be witty it needs to be linked to the topic of discussion. In A Level English we would talk about a theorist called Grice. He classified a certain amount of Maxims in order for a conversation to be productive. One of the main ones was his maxim of relevancy. If one person is talking about shoe shopping then another cannot start talking about the moon landings. I would be the one banging on about Neil bloody Armstrong.
It is also the same when I tried to join in with “bants” and normally kill the conversation stone dead. One of the questionnaires I have completed asked about understanding jokes and I always thought I did but, maybe, it was not understanding how to join in.
Trying to figure how to avoid such conversational bombs, maybe tough. I could always just get a t-shirt that says, “is likely to cause offense… but doesn’t mean it”.