The Autistic Struggle Of Associating With Neurotypical People


Note: Sorry I’ve been absent for a while.  Its been a very busy and hectic time for me.  Thank you all for your patience!

Imagine me sitting alone in a room playing the piano.  If you can imagine that, I’m afraid that’s as far as you’re ever going to get seeing me play the piano, because I don’t know how to play it. The point is, imagine me sitting alone in a room playing the piano while everyone else is outside.  I’m playing it and becoming immersed in the sound.  It resonates with me, it makes sense to me, and I feel good as I’m in the moment.  Though I don’t know how to play the piano, I believe the piano has a beautiful sound that really resonates with me.  I can think of a few music tracks or songs that makes excellent use of the piano and makes me feel good.  I’m playing a song with piano music on a loop right now as I type this actually.  To me, this best describes my feelings towards my interaction with other people on the autism spectrum versus people who are labeled as neurotypicals.  I’m able to latch onto a sound that I tend to understand the most, which is normally my own inner voice or the voices of other people on the spectrum while everyone else is left out.

The term ‘neurotypical’ actually originated from the autistic community to label people who are not on the autism spectrum.  Whether or not you think that’s a justifiable thing is entirely up to you, but there are people who are not on the spectrum regardless, and they are some of the hardest people for me to talk to.  It’s even harder to be friends with them too.  Here are three reasons why this can be the case:

1. It’s hard for an autistic and a ‘normal’ person to understand each other.

Unless the ‘normal’ person has a lot of personal experience communicating with autistic people under his belt, he has a hard time understanding people like me, which can lead to me feeling really frustrated with him for not understanding me, and it can lead to frustration on the other person’s part because he doesn’t know what to do or say to get me to understand.  Confusion and frustration play large roles in this, which I think can sometimes jeopardize relationships.  A lot of times, I have a very difficult time understanding people who are not on the spectrum and it makes me feel bad because I feel like I’m doing something wrong.  I don’t understand the person’s motives, emotions, goals, and sometimes the person’s personality.  It almost feels like we’re completely incompatible.

2. Autistics and ‘normal’ people generally speak a different language.

When I say ‘different language’, I’m not referring to different languages like Spanish and French, I’m simply referring to the way we talk, how we express our words and structure our sentences. What makes sense to us individually when we talk may not make any sense to others, and that’s a lot like a conversation between an autistic and a ‘normal’ person.  I’ve been asked a lot to repeat what I just said or rephrase my words differently.  I don’t believe that this is unfixable, but it takes a long time to finally learn how to communicate properly with other people who don’t think or talk like I do or like a lot of other people in the autism community.

3. Typically, autistic people can have a difficult time caring about another person’s interests unless it’s the same as theirs.

I’m not not listening because I don’t care about other people.  I just have a difficult time taking interest in other people’s interests unless they’re very well aligned with my own.  I believe I speak for a lot of people on the spectrum when I say that we’re so swamped and knee-deep in our own interests that it’s difficult for us to be very open to anything new.  We love our own interests and if they’re not being talked about on a consistent basis, then we leave very little room for anything else.  This is one thing that causes one of the hardest and most painful wedges between an autistic person and a neurotypical.  We feel as though we need things in common in order to have a legitimate relationship.

I’m not writing this list to defend the way I act or treat other people who are different.  It’s not easy operating the way I do, in fact, sometimes it’s painful.  It hurts even more when someone I know and even love knows next to nothing about my place on the spectrum and doesn’t act like he or she wants to know.  I love people, but I’ve tended to feel alienated from them because I can’t connect with them and they can’t connect with me.  I long for that connection, and I long to learn how to make them.

Living With Autism Part 4: Dwelling Amongst Them

autism awareness


I recently had the privilege of becoming part of a group intended for young adults who are on the autism spectrum to come together and play games, talk, form friendships, and go places together.  It’s simply a community comprised of people who go through some of the same things in life, therefore, they can relate to each other.  It is honestly the most relatable community I’ve ever been a part of, and it’s a real joy to be a part of it too.

I’ll be honest, after the second time attending, I felt a bit confused afterwards, because I was realizing how quickly I had moved from being someone that was trying so desperately hard to fit in in other places and identify myself as a ‘typical’ human being to becoming someone who has the knowledge and has to accept that I’m not ‘normal’ per se.  I realized how fast the transition had become, and how quickly my life turned around.  In the group, I’ve been able to communicate and connect with other people in ways that are so much more relatable, even more so than in my own church.  This isn’t to say that I can’t relate to or make connections with other people outside the group, I have.  It’s just that there’s something about the connections I’ve made with people in the group that feels more at home and more significant.  It’s like we can speak each other’s language, and our own personal experiences sometimes hit home perfectly.  It’s an experience that almost feels too good to be true.

I find out through talking to certain people at the group that I’m certainly not alone.  That I wasn’t the only one to feel somewhat devastated when I heard my diagnosis, and that I wasn’t the only one to feel my self-esteem run low or feel like I couldn’t possibly accept the flaws that I have right now for the time being.

Being a part of this group and meeting the people there allows me to take more steps down a road to accepting the person that I am, mental and social flaws and all, but it also provides me with the hope that I can improve, not so that I can be like everyone else, but so that I can mature into the person that God intends for me to be.  I want to be an encouragement to others who are on the spectrum, and let them know that they’re not alone if they’re feeling unsure or confused about themselves.  I know that I and anyone else on the spectrum have so much to offer, regardless of what kind of a place we’re on on the spectrum.  In fact, I think people on the spectrum can be a beautiful key to changing the world, one step at a time.

To conclude this particular series, I’d like to share a brief story.  About two weeks ago, on a Saturday afternoon, I felt like taking my brother Cole (who also has ASD but, unlike me, has an extremely difficult time in social situations and can barely connect with people) on a walk to the 7-Eleven right outside our neighborhood to grab some snacks and drinks, then bring him back home to play video games.  On the walk I talked with him and let him tell me everything that he was willing to share about what was on his mind.  He obsesses over some of the strangest things, but I let him keep going and I worked on listening to him as much as I could, including some of my own input whenever it felt necessary.  I honestly think he got more attention in that one afternoon then he typically gets in a month’s time outside of his family, and it makes me very sad that this is the case.  I want people to be more aware of the things that people with ASD go through, and do something about it.  People need to stop looking at people with ASD and think they’re ‘weird’ and ‘immature’ and ‘selfish’.  Don’t they deserve the same amount of special attention that we give everyone else?

It was difficult to put words to the posts in this series because this is the first time I’ve written about my ASD for the public.  It’s not an easy truth to spill but this wasn’t tormenting for me write about in any way.  I want to get this out there and I feel no shame in it.  I’ve caught myself playing with my ear at times when I get my head back in the real world for the short time my head will let me and I smile at my own odd habit, as a way of expressing my self-acceptance, which I’m working towards consistently every week.  I will continue posting new blog articles surrounding the theme of autism, because I think it’s something I’ve become very passionate about writing.  I’d like to personally thank my parents for sharing these articles on their Facebook pages, which has led to more people reading my articles and more feedback, all of which has been very encouraging.  Thank you.


Living With Autism Part 3: What Is Empathy?



According to our best frenemy Google, empathy is ‘the ability to understand and share the feelings of another’.  Despite this very clear and straightforward definition, I can’t say that I really grasp this concept fully.

Why do I say this?  Because empathy never comes to me naturally when it’s supposed to.  If someone has something on his mind and is going through something difficult, I’m pretty much all ears (at least about 80% of the time, but it’s not because I don’t care).  I may not be able to understand or share the person’s feelings, but I’m willing to listen.  The funny thing too is, I analyze a person’s feelings but I don’t actually feel them.  Also, if the problem that the person is facing doesn’t directly affect me at all, I don’t really feel much.  At least not at the moment.  It’s normally a moment of realization while I’m analyzing a person’s feelings, and even that takes a long time to come to.

The Art Of Forgetting – I’ve been told by people before that talking to me or trying to reason with me is like trying to negotiate with a brick wall.  There would be no emotion or any hint on my face that indicated I was listening when someone like my Dad or a family friend I lived with for a while tried to tell me what I was doing wrong.  I heard what they were saying and was able to process a lot of what they were telling me, but I would just beat myself up most of the time for my own failure to understand the weight of my actions or sometimes my lack of taking action when I needed to or when it would be considerate.  Most of the time the people I lived with would tell me how to do things a certain way such as how to get the dishwasher started up, what was supposed to be recycled and what was supposed to be thrown away, and collecting my laundry from the dryer (I still suck at staying on top of that), but I would almost never remember the instructions or I thought I did and I still screwed up in some way.

I know what you’re thinking.  Why not write the instructions down?  Yeah, that was talked about.  I even did it at one point when it became brutally obvious that it had to be done or tensions would rise.  Even after I wrote the instructions down in a little notepad I bought, I neglected the notepad but the instructions became ingrained in my head because I was able to remember instructions better once they were written down.  After the diagnosis, I thought about the fact that one of my greatest strengths was remembering things that were written.  Considering that and the fact that I have such a deep passion for writing, it made me tear up at the thought that the written word has such a powerful impact on my life.  It seems like the written word is here for me to have the ability to remember, and when I read it, it’s hard for me to forget.

Lack Of Motivation And Understanding – When I forget something like simply taking my laundry out of the dryer and I’m confronted for it, my mind doesn’t try and think up any solutions to possibly prevent something like that from happening again.  When I was younger and in school, I never understood the effects my grades would have on my transcript, I only thought about the fact that my parents were angry at me for my lack of motivation and lack of good grades and how it upset me that they were mad at me, but I didn’t understand the actual significance of the situation and how it affects me.  The only time I ever felt truly motivated to do better and improve was if my parents threatened to take something that I really loved away from me, and if that thing was taken away, I worked hard to get it back, but once I got it back my performance levels dropped back down to the way I normally worked.

Not Funny – To address an additional thing regarding my lack of empathy, I had trouble as a kid understanding why it wasn’t a good time to be laughing at something funny that crossed my mind while my mother is crying about something at the dinner table, and I had trouble understanding what was meant to be funny and what wasn’t.  I remember laughing at a few serious moments in serious movies, and it wasn’t like they were cheesy movies in the first place.  I love laughing, but laughter is something that’s gotten me in trouble on multiple occasions.  Even today, once in a while, I still have this problem, though I’m better at holding it back now than I used to be because I’ve gained a better understanding now regarding when the right time is to laugh and when it’s not.

Before I finish this one though, I have to say that it doesn’t matter how much I’ve accepted my position on the spectrum and how much I’ve accepted who I am, I think there will always be a small part of me that feels sad that I can’t feel the same level of empathy that other people can.  I feel a little, but not what would be considered the ‘correct’ or ‘typical’ amount.  It makes me nervous because of the thought that others will think that I don’t care because I don’t show it most of the time, or because I can’t conjure up the ‘others-minded’ feelings often enough.  I want people to understand that I care for others a lot, I just can’t always display that when it’s expected of me.

By the way, if you guys want to shoot me an email for any questions or comments, my email address is


Living With Autism: My Typical Worship Service Experience

This is a short post in between Part 2 and 3 of my Living With Autism series to give you a glimpse of what my experience is like with my mind in a particular setting, told in a narrative form.  Hopefully this is informative enough.

My mother tells the congregation to stand, which includes myself.  I stand, feeling rather jittery as the words to the first song pops up on the two flatscreen TVs on both sides of the front.  I concentrate on the worship team, my eyes bouncing from each individual team member to the next.  I look up at the screen on my left, which makes sense because I’m left-handed.  I barely look at the screen on my right.  One part of my mind knows that it’s time for worship, and transmits some vague thoughts about God and Jesus.  My lips are moving and I’m (kind of) singing, but there’s no passion or emotion in my voice.  My thoughts of God can’t completely dominate my thoughts.  My mind is scrolling through too many other thoughts and pictures.  I can see glimpses of one of my favorite web shows playing themselves in my head, and many individual thoughts from many different sources play out in my head, and my mind will sometimes go back to previous ones obsessively.  All of them are thoughts of fiction and sometimes made-up scenarios involving myself and other people in my life.  I look around at the other people singing.  I look over my shoulder at the people singing behind me and I glance at the clock on the wall.

The tone of the music shifts, and the worship team has moved on to slower songs.  My mind processes the change of tone in the music and my thoughts slow down at will, but they are still not fully concentrated on the purpose of the moment.  My mind forms images that reflects my imagination for certain stories I’m currently working on.  My mind decides it’s time to continue brainstorming, but because of everything else going on around me, it can’t make any progress.  So I’m basically too distracted to worship but I’m also too distracted to think clearly.  I shoot a look (sometimes a long one) at the people walking up to the front to take communion.  I look every person up and down and my thoughts continue wandering on their random parade.  I shut my eyes to try and concentrate on what’s happening presently.  It’s worship after all.  But when I shut my eyes, it doesn’t shut out my long string of thoughts.  In fact, they can be seen clearer now, causing me to submit to them and cut myself off from reality.  The only thing that’s noticed is the tone of the music, which determines the pacing and the mood of my thoughts, which run rampant, each visual lasting about one second before moving onto the next one and the next one and so forth.  There’s too much noise.  Everyone around me is singing and I can’t concentrate on my own singing.

Worship ends and I think back on it later feeling disappointed and somewhat sad.  I take a walk or sit in my room listening to worship and singing again.  I can sing with passion then.  I can feel a greater connection with my Creator at these times than I ever do in a worship service.  In a worship service, I can’t concentrate and I want it all to end.  I want the worship to stop so that I can sit down and not have to wrestle anymore.  I’ve tried, believe me.  This is a struggle I face every Sunday when I’m in ‘big church’, and has been the case for years.  I consider myself to be a private worshipper because I feel like I get more done that way.  If that’s the way it’s meant to be for me, if that’s how my mind works, then I can’t continue to feel sad or feel disappointed with myself.  I’m grateful that there is at least some way I can connect with God, even if it isn’t in a public worship service.

Living With Autism Part 2: Overcrowded Mind And Obsessions

I'm complicated I know


Quick Note: I finished the rough draft of my short novel, which is called At The End Of The Day. I’m so excited to get into the editing process and make sure the book gets just the right treatment so that other people can read it.

Here’s the problem with trying to explain my own autistic habits.  It actually takes a long time to figure out exactly the right way to explain them.  Having been given an official diagnosis only almost two months ago, I’m still trying to figure it all out.  I plan on writing a book on my experiences some time in the near future.  So, given that this is a blog post, I have to summarize.  For this post, I’d like to talk about my overcrowded mind and my obsessive behavior, and how the two are connected.

I spend so much time in my head whether I like it or not that I lose focus of my real surroundings and it becomes difficult to pay attention and listen when I have to.  One of the most common phrases I say is ‘I forgot’, because it’s very common for me to forget things.

There are two different ways my mind can run.  My mind will either have the same image playing itself over and over and over again while I’m actually thinking about something else entirely or something similar, or my mind will race through dozens of different images like rapidly flipping through TV channels while I’m talking to myself or someone else about something entirely different.  Most of these images are photographic memories of my absolute favorite movies and TV/web shows.  So for the future, know that when I’m talking to you about something, I’m actually visualizing something completely different or perhaps similar only in the slightest, which runs the risk of me becoming distracted or zoning out to sink back into my thoughts again.  When I sink into my thoughts and zone out, my hand normally automatically goes to my ear and plays with it.  It’s an obsessive habit I’ve had for as long as I can remember, and today I relate it as an obsessive habit I have when I’m lost in my own head.

And the crazy part about the constant visual loops?  I never get tired of them.  I have some of the exact same images play themselves over and over in my head for a week and I never start to feel hostile or sick and tired of those images.  It’s possible that I get used to it.  Another thing about my visual thoughts I’ve noticed is that when I’m recalling a memory of a past event, I also end up thinking about the visuals that were running through my head at that time that the event or time was occurring.

For instance, when I think back to July of 2013, a time when my family was doing a complete media fast, I remember the visual thoughts about the first Hobbit movie that were running through my head at the time.  I had just recently seen that movie several times and had fallen in love with it, so the memory of it was flying around in my head a lot in the ‘repeated-visuals’ phase.  Here are a few things to add regarding my overcrowded mind that I feel are very important to mention:

Obsessive Tendencies – I’m also obsessive.  I go back and rewatch favorite scenes in movies, show episodes, and favorite YouTube videos and still feel the same level of excitement each time.  I either go back to analyze certain aspects of the scenes, or sometimes just rewatch funny YouTube video clips to laugh again.  I also have the tendency to listen to the same song over and over again (heck, I’m doing that right now!).

Overthinking It – A lot of times when people tell me to not overthink something, I respond by saying ‘too late’, because it really is too late.  My mind may be overcrowded to the point that it’s suffocating, but it collects information instantly if I’m listening and it goes through the endless cycle of being thought about and analyzed and pulled apart, and when there’s nothing else about it to analyze, it just thinks about what’s already been analyzed.

So, with all that being said, despite my simple outward appearance, if you were to open my head and take a look inside my mind, it might be more than enough to make you pass out.  It’s complicated, and it’s even messy at times, but its the mind I was created to have, with a certain level of depth that even can’t understand, even though it’s mine.

Final Note: I will be posting an example of a scenario on either Thursday or Friday regarding what goes on in my mind in a particular setting at a particular time to give a clear picture.

Living With Autism Part 1: Journey To Acceptance



As I said a few blog posts ago, I was diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum.  I have high-functioning autism (so basically Aspergers, a word that’s not used anymore in diagnosis procedures).  I spent some time after reading the report feeling sort of devastated.  My parents already suspected I was on the Spectrum long before I got the diagnosis, so they thought I would be relieved to finally get clarification on what I had, what was a part of me.  Imagine their surprise when they found out I spent long periods of time thinking it over and rereading it as if I couldn’t believe what was actually written.

I learned later that the problem wasn’t actually the report itself, it was the way I chose to take in its information.  The truth is, that report was probably one of the greatest things ever given to me, but I was too absorbed in a negative perspective to see it that way.  I saw it as an obstacle, a hindrance, and a reason for depression when I should’ve seen it as a new opportunity to better understand what to do moving forward in my life, and obtain a better understanding of myself. I don’t mean for the report to define me as a whole, but I choose to embrace it as a part of myself like I should.

I feel that an intro to Autism would benefit greatly if I give the definition.  Autism is a developmental disorder or mental condition that’s characterized by difficulty with social interaction, obsessive interests, and repetitive behaviors, among other things.  This is something that has affected one in sixty-eight children in America today according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  It’s a part of a lot of people that is unfortunately disregarded and not given as much attention as it should be getting.  What may appear to be a serious hindrance in the lives of the people that have Autism can actually be a great advantage for that person.

Sometimes I envy people that have accepted themselves for who they are earlier than I have. I’ll confess I’m behind on certain bits of knowledge or information or ways of thinking and talking that many people younger than me already know, but you know what, I’m honestly okay with that.  Over the course of the next few weeks, I will be doing a series regarding Autism and the ups and downs involved in it that has made an impact on my life, with the final part being an article about God’s role in my life regarding my Autism, and what His role may be in the lives of others who are Autistic.  Now, given that I tend to start a lot of things and never actually finish them, I’m hoping this series makes it through.  Sorry this one’s so short, but it’s the intro.