I've been interpreting things much more literally recently.
Nothing... I said confused. Maybe he was talking about the microwave. But my food was on the table in front of me and the microwave is loud, so surely it would be pretty clear that there wasn't anything in there.
"What's the arrowhead?" was asked in discussion by a TA.
I explained what an arrowhead was. It's when they don't put the line, and just have a triangle.
Luckily, I am friends with the TA, so when he told me after that he thought I was making fun of him* (although not in a mean way, more teasing, etc. stuff) I explained that no, that was exactly what I thought the questions were.
(The other two girls in my class who are in the same program also confirmed that that was just the way I act in class.)
It all worked out fine, and no one was upset at any point, but I felt bad.
And what about professors and classes where I don't know the teachers or the TAs well?
My voice goes flat a lot when I speak in class.
Do they think I am making fun of them, or bored, or being who knows something bad?
*[I also would read the conclusions or points from the paper word for word, if the questions could be directly answered by them, because the authors knew the material much better than I did. The wording gone into a paper is (at least a good paper) concise and accurate. Paraphrasing it would likely only serve to decrease the quality of the words.]
For the first time, I told someone I was autistic... well sort of. (The first time I told someone who wasn't a parent, boyfriend, or a super close friend.) The first time I told anyone else at school. This happens to be the TA from above, who is also a graduate student in the lab I am rotating in.
We were chatting about clothes and why I don't like buying new ones (he is generally dressed better than I am) and various other stuffs.
I don't like buying new clothes for a variety of reasons largely because it requires going and talking to people in the store.
So he asked if I had ever heard of Asperger's because it sort of sounded like me.
So, I decided, why not. It's not really a secret. I'm up for telling people. (Also, I am not particularly great at making up misleading answers.)
"Yes, yes I have. Actually I have it."
"Oh that's so interesting. That makes sense."
I was pleased by the response.* It was a general, oh that makes sense, followed by a bit of science-y autism-related stuff and a bit of confusing stuff about terminology and diagnosis
and DSM V
that I stopped once I realized that not everyone has quite the same level of familiarity with those terms as all my lovely internet autism peeps and eventually devolved into a conversation about brains and colorblindedness. (He's colorblind).
*He also asked if it was a secret or if other people knew about it, which I thought was a very considerate thing to ask.
Colorblindness is also pretty interesting. You literally see the world differently.
|My friend can see the NO in this clearly. It jumps out at him. I can get faint hints of it if I squint. Also, there are a lot of fun pictures here. |
I mean, seeing color is already such a strange thing. Because think about it! It isn't a direct physical sensation. It's seeing these crazy beams of light bouncing off of objects who knows how far away (ok, probably a rough estimation is valid, for instance my computer is somewhere between one and two feet away from face right now, so that is where the light is coming from, although that is sort of an unusual example, because it is emitting light, and most things that we see just reflect light.) And then we see all the different wavelengths that aren't absorbed.
Also, colorblind people are usually better at picking out things in camouflage. Which makes sense, if they have more rods than cones, they should be able to pick out dark-light differences a lot better.
It's crazy to think about how people are literally seeing things differently. That things so basic as green and red that are so obviously different to me can be utterly invisible to other people. And that some people see things that are barely noticeable and have them jump out right away at them.
Today I gave a presentation in class. It was a journal club style presentation, or similar, where I had to present a paper and the logic behind it. Afterwards, I talked with my professor about the presentation, and strengths and weaknesses and ways to improve. Overall, the comments were good.
It was a long conversation.
It was difficult in many ways. I was confused with a lot of what he was saying. I asked for clarification. I asked if he could say things a different way. (That is one of the most useful tools I have developed after my autism diagnosis.)
The main point was that I needed to structure my presentations in a logical order. That I need to provide the WHYS of each experiment. That I need to give more direction. That I need more transitions and implications.
This is a struggle for me.
It took a long time for me to find what he was seeing as the lack of explicit logical progression in the presentation. Because I saw it clearly. I saw the structure and the strings and the way everything was connected and I just put that on my presentation. But apparently they were not completely clear.
I think I need to be more explicit with transitions for presentations. Oh, let's be honest. I am horrible at transitions.
Or at least the way other people see transitions. I see the connections, the logical flows, and I just cannot see how other people cannot see the same things that I see.
Because I have a very different mind, in a lot of ways. I see patterns that other people don't. I don't see some things that they do.
So I am glad this professor spent the time to sit down with me after class, to explain three or four times until I understood it, to explain what the differences are that I need. That I need to learn to explain things in a different way.
I am not quite positive that I got it completely, but I think I am headed in the right direction.
This is something I need to learn. If I am to be a scientist, I need to be able to structure my data in a way that others will find logical. I need to be able to tell the story in a clear, orderly way, that will convince others that what I am saying is INTERESTING and CORRECT and WORTH FUNDING.
I think differently, and that's okay.
I am in a place where it is okay to think differently.
I am in a place where it is okay to see the world differently.