If there’s one thing I’ll bet many of my fellow folks on the spectrum have learned — we have gotten to be careful with our opinions.
Not everyone, and not always, but for many of us who share the same hyper-analytical and super-introspective capacity, it feels like there’s a reinforced behavior: don’t be too divergent; it only makes life more difficult.
We already deal with our difference 100% of the time just by being different.
It gets exhausting.
And people know I’m definitely not a normal dude.
So when it comes time to debating and deciding ideas, I let out a sigh inside. I know most people embrace different kinds of thoughts and will value diversity, but it’s hard when you are the different one volunteering one different opinion.
It calls attention. Exposure. Brings the focus to you. I can’t always take that. I don’t always enjoy that.
And then when we’re wrong, oh look out — see, it’s not just “oh, Hunter had kind of a lame idea,” no, it ties back with the perception — “he’s an odd duck and odd ducks lay odd eggs.”
Am I being too harsh on myself?
When you already know you don’t fit in, and you’re being asked to contribute ideas, do you really think we want to lean a lot harder into not fitting in with our ideas too?
Difference is good. But it’s not easy.
So how do you make it easy? Here’s what helps me (and might help some of us too):
—Ask for something very different by design. I love when someone opens up the floor to where “wild ideas” are sought; we feel better about contributing to something that can be off-the-wall, if that’s the game.
—Ask us directly, and appeal to what you value about our opinion. The ones who know me get a good response out of me. “Hunter, you usually see a different side of this. I’m curious what your gut is telling you.”
—Ask for something other than absolutes. Sometimes it’s hard for us to volunteer a radical thought if we feel it’s definitive. We’re always debating how to act and how to interact – invite us to give both sides of our opinions and build out a wiggle room.