When I Say 'Too Much' as Someone With Asperger's Syndrome and Social Anxiety

I think everyone experiences this. I know I sure have. Being someone who is deeply invested in my thoughts and feelings about things, I have a tendency to get a little carried away. As I’ve seen to be a common experience among many people with Asperger’s syndrome, I tend to have no idea when I’ve said too much.

This usually means I’ve talked on and on about something and people stopped listening, or more often, I’ve said something to get myself into trouble.

While this experience of… well, shooting my mouth off has been stressful, frustrating and even embarrassing, at times I find myself proud. Of course, that may sound odd. But as someone who stuttered and was nearly mute in public for almost 10 years, these situations are an accomplishment to me. I don’t remember when I first started to become socially anxious rather than just shy, but it took me years to overcome it. To this day, I whisper and stutter when I order food, my voice goes up an octave when I’m on the phone, I stutter during presentations and mumble when I’m talking to a group. But to have a voice, even a small one, is a huge step.

So yes, that lack of a “You said your piece” switch can be exhausting. But I believe it is also that lack of said switch that has helped me grow. Had I not been born with Asperger’s, maybe I wouldn’t feel as strongly about things as I do. Maybe I wouldn’t be the young woman I am. And maybe if I didn’t get so overwhelmed with people forcing their emotions on my shoulders, I wouldn’t be able to speak even now.

I think, to an extent, Asperger’s and social anxiety can go hand in hand. They can clash, most definitely, in some ways. But I think that’s what make can people who experience both so utterly fascinating. I think when these people find a strength in their voice, we need to encourage them. Not dismiss or scold the behavior. That won’t help or change a thing. It has never done me any favors to be told, “Rachel! You can’t do that! It’s not socially acceptable!” or to be told, “Rachel, no one’s listening, no one cares.”

What I’m trying to say is this: If someone you know is like this, quietly encourage them to say “too much.” I think it can be good for everyone. Those new voices could quite possibly change a lot of things. We’ve got to wait and see.

Image via Thinkstock.

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