The best post I've read on rules was by Musings of an Aspie. It is far more eloquent than what I am going to say here. (But it isn't completely how my rules work, since, after all, I didn't write it.) But you should definitely read hers first if you haven't, because it is absolutely brilliant.
I like rules.
I stick to rules.
I have them for a lot of situations.
For things I do everyday, all the time, not as much.
When I talk to my family, I don't worry as much about the rules. (Only a few rules then apply.) The rules for talking to my family are so everyday normal ones (when I am home regularly) that I don't have to think about them.
Mostly they are manners.
Eat with your mouth closed.
Don't put your elbows on the table.
(My mother is very into that.)
Shoulders back, head up.
Walk with purpose.
(Learning to walk with purpose is useful. People seldom ask you where you are going when you walk with purpose.)
I assume most people are taught a lot of these rules.
When I talk to a stranger, there are a lot of rules.
Eye contact. Maintain eye contact. But not consistently. About 80% of the time. (I have a lot of practice in this so I usually only have to remind myself a couple of times. Although, I generally just stare at their face in general.)
Be polite (what a lovely, vague rule).
Shake hands when you first meet.
Don't talk about controversial topics.
Say hello and stand up when someone new walks into a room.
Direct the conversation back to them.
(People like talking about themselves. Conversations are a game.)
(This rule is impossible. Well, not quite, but I can never remember the faces that go along with the names.)
I was asked if I ran my life by rules, principles, or understanding. And to me this seemed an incomplete question.
My understanding of you is built up of ... well, not quite rules. But of things very similar to rules.
More like observations.
It would be more accurate, maybe, to say that for me, life is more like science.
I look at all my observations.
I make them into hypotheses and observe some more to test them.
I gather up observations.
After staying up until 4 am, your voice is lower than normal.
When you tell me you worked all night and only got two hours of sleep, your voice is lower than normal.
When you are talking to me before you fall asleep in the middle of a sentence, your voice is lower.
Eventually, I gather a hypothesis. When you are tired, your voice is lower than normal.
I test it out over time.
It seems to hold consistent.
Sometimes they are things I can generalize to people in general.
Raised voice means angry.
Laughter is good.
Maybe this is why I took to science so well. I've been using the scientific method my whole life.
In orientation for my Ph.D program, we discussed the scientific method.
It seems simple.
And that's very true.
It is simple.
It's just not easy.
My parents seemed to know that this is how my mind works (generally). They gave me rules for things to do, but most importantly, they explained the WHY of the rule. Knowing the WHY of the rule helped apply it to the situations it was relevant. And most importantly, the situations where the rule WAS NOT relevant.
When the why WASN'T explained, things happened that weren't supposed to. Or were just utterly useless.
Look behind you before you change lanes. (So I looked directly behind to the back of the car. Not to the blind spot. Because they said look behind you. And I thought it was silly, but it was a RULE of driving, and I certainly didn't know everything.)
But once the WHY was explained, then I actually checked for oncoming cars. It didn't just give me situations to apply the rules, it made them work better.
Knowing the whys of rules makes the world a less confusing place. Knowing the whys makes rules easier to remember. But knowing the whys is usually something I can't figure out myself (especially social-wise). And this is where parents come in, where friends come in, where cousins come in, where boyfriend comes in. Because sometimes they can explain the whys.
Labels: autism, cousins, faceblind, faces, fitting in, me, my brain, organization, poetry, rules, science