Here is my autistic brain at work:
“Hunter, it’s cold in this house.”
I’ve just been given someone else’s perception of the temperature. For me, it’s only cold when someone else is freezing. Then I might put on a fleece.
“Hunter, it’s too cold in this house.”
So that’s a little different. I’m getting more of someone’s judgment on the ambient temperature. That’s an opinion of degree, literally. When it comes to opinions, either I have none, will agree, or will disagree. Not too hard. In this case, my opinion differs, but not too much. It is cold, but not too cold. I put on a fleece.
“Hunter, it’s too cold in this house. What’s the thermostat set at?”
Still dealing with an opinion here, so I’m processing that, seeing whether it’s something that checks out or relates more to subjectivity or objectivity. I peek around the corner at the thermostat. It’s at 65º. I relay that fact and answer the question — it’s at 65 degrees — and I walk away.
“Hunter, it’s too cold in this house. What’s the thermostat set at? If it’s any lower than 65º, can you turn it up a little?”
Opinion, check. Need to get a fact about the thermostat, check. Oh, it’s at 65º. So if — she said if — it’s lower than 65º, then I need to turn it up. A little. But it’s 65º on the º — and I don’t feel too cold; I’m in a fleece. Maybe I can just turn it up. A little. Like 66º.
So if I turn it up a little, it might not be enough. If it’s too much, them I’m going to get uncomfortable and break my own flow. What if it gets turned up to 70º because I didn’t turn it up enough beforehand. Then it’s going to be hot. Too hot. When I heat up, I can’t cool down. I like the way this fleece looks. I should just do 68º and say I turned it up to 68º – but she asked what the temp was, so I need to start with that. But because of anchoring she might want it way higher. No, that’s not how it works. Then she’ll wonder why it was at 65º — I don’t remember. It was comfortable. Maybe I just agree with the assessment, people like when you validate their belief. But then, what if—
People on the autism spectrum can have a difficult time translating facts, observations, hints, and opinions into requests.
We’re not insensitive.
We’re not unintuitive.
We’re not dismissive.
Help us out.
If you want to share your opinion, observation, statements, feel free.
If you want us to do something in relation to that, don’t be afraid to ask.
One thought on “We Don’t Always Take ‘Statements’ as ‘Requests’”
It took me so many years to get over that hump. These days I tend to solicit change to cover my basis, but sometimes I go overboard – it’s such a difficult (and nearly impossible) challenge for us.