Tag Archives: analytical

Why are scripts so bad?

Ok first, let’s talk terms. In the autism world “scripting” generally refers to the practice of taking chunks of dialogue from places like tv shows or movies, and replaying them out (often over and over and over again) in real life. Sometimes it involves wanting other people to play a role in the script, to make a dialogue.

Frequently when I see people (particularly therapist types) talking about scripts, it is in terms of how you shouldn’t engage, shouldn’t participate, because that just encourages the behavior. Which, of course, carries the implicit assumption that there is something wrong with the behavior and we should ignore it until it goes away.

To which I ask – WHY??? What is so awful about scripts that we should just ignore them, regardless of the reason a person may be engaging in them, regardless of what may be communicated by them? It is because it looks autistic and we gotta look normal? Is it because neurotypicals get exasperated by lots of repetition? Seriously, what?

Luckily, there are also lots of people out there explaining about how scripts are communication. When we can’t put together words on our own, scripts provide words that are already put together. Now, I was not a scripter in that way, so I do not feel qualified to explain extensively about how scripting is communication. Instead, I will refer you to other sources who have explained it all excellently.

https://adiaryofamom.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/she-gets-it/
http://emmashopebook.com/2014/10/09/scripts-a-communication-bridge/
http://www.thinkingautismguide.com/2012/03/scripted-language-and-authenticity.html

That said, I AM someone who was verbally precocious (I started speaking at 6 months) but who also finds that the connections between words, sentences, and conversations to be tenuous at best.

See, I like words. Words are pretty cool. I knew words at a *very* young age. Go me. However, putting words together into sentences is challenging. My mom, well before we figured out what was going on with me, would sometimes tell me about how, as an infant, I would “practice” talking. My mom and I would also practice conversations before I could talk. She would say something, I would babble, she would reply as though I had said something that made sense, I would babble more, and so on and so forth. I practiced a lot.

Now let’s talk about when I was older. I can remember as a child, needing to spend time before I was going to talk to someone making sentences. I needed to figure out what I was going to say and how I was going to say it, because figuring that stuff out on the fly is incredibly hard. I also tried to predict what they would say in reply and formulate my responses ahead of time, so that I could do the conversation thing. That one tended to not go very well because people did not follow my scripts, and then I would flounder around trying to think of what I want to say, why I want to say it, how I should say it as fast as possible, all while they looked at me funny for taking so long. If I explained that it was because they didn’t follow the script, they would laugh at me for trying to script out my conversations. You’re just supposed to “go with the flow” don’t ya know.

As I’m sure I’ve expressed before, it still can take me a long time (up to months, sometimes) to put together my words into a way that conveys what I want it to convey. I have to think really hard about what I want to say, why I want to say it, what words to use and what order to put them in. And then if someone asks a question I’m not prepared for or responds in a surprising way? I have to do it all over again, and it takes time.

Most people don’t want to give that time. ESPECIALLY to someone who can pass for normal on the surface. What I do now is usually stumble around with a few of my rote responses, trying to pick one that sort of applies to the conversation so that they’ll stop looking at me expectantly and I can work through my words later.

This is not actually a fabulous solution. My rote responses are limited and people can usually tell that there is something a little … off … about my reply to them. It can also mean that I sometimes unintentionally give people the wrong impression about what I actually think or feel, which can make things really awkward later. Then, when I do finally have my words, they’ll be all “but we had that conversation days/weeks/months ago! And you said [something else]! Why are you only now telling me this, and why did you not tell me then?” And trying to explain all this, about how long it takes me to find words, about how much I think through before I can put my words together, is not an easy thing to do. I have not found many people want to listen, or understand at all. I’m “high functioning” so people can get really surprised when they learn I have very real challenges. Sometimes they get angry. People are strange.

I’m trying to find a better solution, but it’s tricky. Sometimes, when I think I won’t need more than a few minutes, I’ll just say “processing.” I got that one from Data on Star Trek:TNG. But when I need more time then that I just don’t know. (any ideas? I could use them)

So getting back to what started all this exploration – let’s imagine someone who has much more trouble that I do with making sentences. Who *really* struggles to make sentences fast enough to have conversations, or maybe just can’t make sentences that fast. Scripts provide pre-made sentences and conversations that make communication possible. *Talking* communication, which so many people value so highly.

It does not make sense to me to insist on talking, on sentences and conversation, and then reject an incredibly useful tool for having those sentences and conversations. If you want conversations, maybe let us have our stepping stones. You are asking something very challenging of us; yeah, it’s cool to be able to converse, but I can’t do it as easily as you do.
So I gotta ask – what is so bad about scripts? I just don’t see it.

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Is everything intentional?

This is a topic that comes from my “Have an Idea?” feedback page. Bob wants to know my take on being intentional vs. being frivolous. It pulls somewhat from other posts I’ve written about how not much I do is super casual or careless, whether it’s showing platonic affection or being analytical in social situations. This is really not a topic that I am comfortable speaking on in broad terms – I can really only talk about myself, and how I approach my life.

First of all, I do not actually view being intentional as somehow being the opposite of frivolous. Since we’re dealing with words here (and words really are awesome), I think it’s worthwhile to get into the meanings of these words before going further. The dictionary defines intentional as “done with intention or on purpose; intended: an intentional insult.” We can probably sum that up as “on purpose” or “deliberately.” Intentional implies a deliberate choice in one’s actions.

Frivolous is defined as “characterized by lack of seriousness or sense: frivolous conduct.” This is not the only definition, but it is the primary definition and the one I want to focus on.  I would probably put it as “for fun.” Frivolity is silly, light-hearted, and fun.

Given their meanings I am inclined to say they lie orthogonally to each other. Being intentional can mean being serious, but it does not have to mean that. I can be silly on purpose and frequently am, because fun!

Personally, I find I do better when I plan and structure my daily life. Without routines to rely on I tend to wind up incredibly stressed. Far too much of my energy winds up going to just coping with uncertainty and very little is left over for actually doing things. I prefer to plan things out an go about my life with intent.

On the other hand, I can easily take this too far. I am far more comfortable with known, set plans than with figuring out what to do on the fly (at least partly because sometimes I don’t process so very quickly), but if I take it too far I can become rigid and unable to adapt to changing circumstances.

So I try to find a middle road that works for me. I am definitely not particularly spontaneous and I likely never will be. I don’t even particularly want to be. But I try put enough routine and schedule into my life that I can function comfortably, and then deliberately leave space open for other things. For me, those other things are almost always low-key. I can decide, in the moment, if I want to crochet vs. write vs. do paper crafts or whatever else. Bigger things, like actually spending social time with friends, almost always require advance notice. It works for me.

It does mean that I do not mesh well with people who are very spontaneous and prefer their social time to be spontaneous as well. However, I don’t really worry about that. I’m not going to mesh with everyone anyway and trying to do so would probably crush me. So instead I find my own happy medium, and I find friends who like my happy medium as well.

As for being intentional – yes, very nearly everything I do is intentional. Even my fun, frivolous times tend to have intent behind them, though the intent in those cases tends to simply be “have fun.” I don’t think I need to do away with being intentional in order to be frivolous. I can make a conscious and deliberate choice to let go of myself for a while (if I am in a situation where it is safe for me to do so, which usually involves being alone). My therapist once described it as planning my spontaneity, which is probably not an entirely accurate description but it is an interesting way to put it.

Much the way I am ok with the fact that I tend to be analytical at times when people think I shouldn’t, I am also ok with the fact that I tend to plan everything out more than some people would choose to do so. It’s more important for me to find a way to relax and enjoy myself, and if, for me, that involves planning and analyzing and knowing what’s going on in advance so I have time to prepare, then that is exactly what I should do.

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On being analytical

This can be great, but maybe only if you know you’re doing it and it’s on purpose.

Story time!

So once in a while I travel, most recently by train. One of the things I enjoy about travelling is that it very nearly guarantees conversation with a complete stranger, while stuck inside some form of metal tube that is going fast. Oddly enough I tend to really like this sort of thing (or maybe it’s not so odd. I do crave connection with people and get it only rarely). On my last train trip I wound up sitting next to a Lutheran pastor and having a most enjoyable conversation. One thing that we wound up talking about more than a little bit was autism and Asperger’s. What also came up was my tendency to be analytical. Apparently it shows through, even to a complete stranger in the middle of the night whilst in a metal tube that was going fast.

He commented on this fact. A type of comment I have gotten from many people throughout my life, who typically mean well but don’t get it.

That is, he said that maybe sometimes I’m too analytical. That there are times when it’s best to just go with the flow and stop analyzing for a while.

Now, this can be true for me if I’m doing a solo thing. If I’m doodling or making yarn or crocheting, it can help to relax my brain and let my hands do what they do. Of course, I am able to relax and let my hands do the work because I’ve already put time into making sure my hands know what to do, and my brain is still always sitting ready to jump in if my hands get confused. And sometimes, like when I’m writing, my hands seem to know what’s going on better than the talking part of my brain, but in a way that’s just thinking with a different part of my brain. Still, I can stop being analytical in those types of situations.

However, people don’t tend to mean it that way. They mean it in social situations. Even worse, they mean it in group social situations. People really believe that my constant analysis must get in my way, and I’d be better off if I would stop and just “go with it.” The problem is, while this might be true for them, and might even be true for most people (I wouldn’t know), it most definitely is not true for me.

Telling me to go with the flow assumes that I can somehow naturally detect the flow, the same way a person detects the flow of water while standing in a stream. I can’t. It does not work that way for me. Telling me to go with the flow assumes that I already know what to do and how to respond to that flow that I’m supposed to detect, the same way my hands know how to hold a hook or spin my spindle. Except I don’t know what to do or how to respond to that flow that people keep insisting is there.

So instead I engage my brain. I watch what people are doing and saying, I watch what I am doing and saying, I watch how people respond to what I do and say, and how they respond to each other, and how I respond to them. I analyze. I work it out as best I can, and I do it all very consciously. It’s not intuitive at all.

This does mean that I respond and adapt more slowly than other people. So they see that I’m doing all of this analysis and assume it must be slowing me down and tell me to stop. What they don’t see is that if I were not analyzing the way I do, I would simply be at a standstill. Or maybe I’d be going off in some other direction entirely, unaware of this “flow” that’s supposed to be taking me along with everyone else. Or I’d just go in circles, or flail, or whatever else.

I do this in most social situations. It’s one reason (of oh-so-many) why groups are so much more difficult than one-on-one. Groups have far more variables and the social dance is far more complex than one-on-one socializing. Even in groups, I strongly prefer to find one or two people who are sufficiently similar to me to just sit in a corner with and talk to. I really dislike the social butterfly dance and have no desire to participate in it. It’s stressful and even my analytical self can’t keep up with all the cues and subtle shifts and changes that keep happening.

So yes, I’m analytical, and I’m not going to apologize for it. In fact, I’m proud of it. My ability to analyze and logically work my way through things has carried me further than I’d have gotten without it. Even in this post while I was using metaphors, I was thinking about the metaphors and both visualizing their literal meaning along with thinking about the figurative interpretation that I was intending and seeing how well they matched up. Because that’s what I do.

I very much doubt I’m the only one.

And to people who want to tell me to stop being so analytical and just go with the flow – you’re not helping. Please listen to me when I say I don’t work like that. Don’t try to tell me that I must be wrong because surely I work the same way you do. Recognize that I’m different. And to the Lutheran Pastor whose name I don’t remember who conversed with me in the metal tube that was going fast, thank you for listening. You were awesome.

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