Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Article: How to Prevent the Aspie Ramble

I just thought I'd draw your attention to this article which appeared on the aspie teacher blog a couple of days ago.

How to Prevent the Aspie Ramble

I can really relate to this. It's awful how great conversations turn sour quickly because you discover (in hindsight), that you've been hogging the conversation.

The article is really interesting and has some great tips. The only thing I have against it is ... well, why should we prevent the aspie ramble? Why do we have to shut up and go away?

Nobody ever wants to play Trivial Pursuit with me - not since I was a teenager, because although I suck at the sports questions, I know enough about everything else to win every time. Even worse, I've got a set of Star Wars questions for Trivial Pursuit which have never been used.

Why... because people don't like to talk/play with an expert.

So my question is this. If someone comes up out of the blue and offers to play - am I supposed to let them win? Why can't I enjoy a moment of fun?

The same goes for these good conversations. I'm an aspie. I get almost no conversation. I feel uncomfortable 90% of the time in conversations so on the odd occasion that I feel relaxed and enjoy a conversation - why should I hold back. After all, I'm sure that the people discussing the weather never hold back on me.


Anonymous said...

The strange thing is that nobody understands why we don't want to play sports against people who are experts in body control, movement and the practical application of the rules of the game in real time.

Saja said...

Gavin, excellent points.

I am also against the idea of letting someone else win - even my kids. (I do let toddlers and preschoolers win occasionally, but I do that by playing games that are mostly luck-of-the-draw, like Candyland.) I am against it on principle: I want my kids to know how to lose gracefully, AND to understand that they are not god's gift to the universe because they miraculously win the game all the time. It'll be a lot easier for them later if they've learned as children that the point of a game is the playing, and winning is nice, but the reason you play is because you like playing.

Though I suppose maybe NTs play for the social aspects, and then balanced winning is more sociable? That's a very odd idea.

aspieteach said...

Certainly you shouldn't have to let them win! That's insulting for everyone and they can figure it out anyways. But when you beat them handily you can offer to teach them some tricks...I guess that would keep some interaction.

I suppose the caution with the "ramble" is to make sure you're not losing the other person, so if you involve them somehow it might go over better. And they might be able to talk to you about it, too. Sorry I gave you the impression we just had to "go away"!

Rachel said...

Well said, Gavin.

One of the reasons I wear my noise-reduction headset everywhere is that I cannot listen to people talking about absolutely nothing anymore. I hear all the social chatter, and because I'm completely incapable of prioritizing what I hear, I pay attention to EVERYTHING. Then, I try to follow it. Good luck. I have to work hard just to follow and comprehend *any* speech. Following and comprehending speech that's essentially meaningless just kills off grey matter I could use for something more pleasant.

I understand, of course (because I've read books), that oftentimes, the unspoken subtext of all the chatter is "Hi, I recognize your existence and mean you no harm," but why can't people just SAY THAT? I mean, it would be SO MUCH EASIER for us Aspies if people would just SAY WHAT THEY MEAN.

But they don't. In fact, in all of my Internet travels over the course of my adulthood, I haven't seen a single article entitled "How to Avoid Meaningless Neuro-typical Yacking," or "How to Speak in Such a Way that Autistic People Will Find You Pleasant." Until I do, I'm going to ramble on a bit. Fair is fair.

CelticRose said...

I personally don't like to play games that I win all the time, such as Trivial Pursuit or Scrabble -- there's no challenge.

As for the "Aspie Ramble", I tend to warn people that they don't want to get me started on certain subjects. I usually don't have to warn them more than once. ;-)

Hartley said...

I love this post! I have to comment because recently we were at an event with *mostly* children on the spectrum, and this one father, who I am *assuming* had Aspergers was playing Air Hockey against my 7 year old.

My husband, not Aspie, was offended that this other man was just kicking our son's ass in Air Hockey. This man was so intent on winning, regardless of my son's age, that we were put off by it. It seemed that the winning was the only part that mattered to him.

My husband's concern was simply that winning agianst someone that is not your equal (in this case, physically being able to hit the puck MUCH harder than my son was an advantage) is different than playing someone that would be your peer. That apparently is the "social norm" for guys and sports--beating someone smaller/younger/less experienced as you is not seen as a big deal. It would almost be as if it is expected and hence the adult in this case should "act" as if it is no big thing--not act all excited that he won. I hope that makes sense. (I often laugh at myself explaining these things to my son because really, they don't make sense at all!)

That said, the game was interesting, especially watching my son who had never seen an *adult* act the SAME way he does while playing a game--overall it was a great lesson.

And although I hate to say it, you are welcome to bring your Star Wars cards and play Trivial Pursuit with us any day! My husband would be THRILLED to have someone as knowledgable he is and my boys would revere you as a god. LOL

As always, thanks for sharing!

Becca said...

In my husband and my relationship we are lucky that he has the Aspie ramble, but I have the just talks too much ramble. I figure I just don't shut up enough, so his rambling doesn't get to me since I know I have my own issues.

As far as the playing a quiz game thing, I'm not sure. It makes sense to show off your smartness and win, although it does annoy me how much my Aspie spouse and son know every fact known to mankind and so I have no choice, but I know it's important to them to be able to show off their talents and so I don't mind so much. Should you let others win? I don't think you should go that far, but maybe help them answer a few questions or give them some hints? Hard to say.

I also agree about the sports comment. It makes a lot of sense to me how upset my son gets when asked to play sports.

My husband and I do have little cues we give each other when we have talked a little too much for any social setting outside our own home. I say still talk and go for it. I'm not an Aspie, but I don't get out much, so when I have a chance to talk I go overboard in the same sense that my husband doesn't feel comfortable talking, but when he does, let him go for it too. Just be yourself. If the world doesn't like it then they have something to lose. Not you.

Gavin Bollard said...

My main point was really that we shouldn't feel the need to change ourselves simply to reduce the degree we annoy our neurotypical partners and friends - not without it working both ways in any case.

(ie: They could change many of their behaviours to annoy us less too).

I think the whole gaming aspect bears a closer look though.

If I'm playing a sports game (which I generally hate), I'll usually play properly unless it's against very small children. This is mainly because my ball skills and co-ordination are about the same as the average twelve year old.

If I'm playing quiz games, I'll often play dumb on some questions, and it frequently costs me the game. I've done that for years in many aspects of game or life. I reduce my individual satisfaction in order to keep the other party interested.

Occasionally, I'll be allowed to play again but usually, the NT is bored enough by playing a game that any chance I get is a "one-shot" anyway.

I'm just not sure that I'm doing anyone any favours when I play "dumb".

These 4 parts of me said...

Well Rachel, trouble with "if people would just SAY WHAT THEY MEAN." is that they would then have to mean what they say.

I came from a family that played lots of board and card games, too poor to do much else! We did discover you don't want to play against me and my mother on the same side at Pictionary - when playing on opposite sides we drew Identical pictures during All Play!

Last city wife and I lived in I played historical miniatures games with a group ranging from grandparents to grandkids - don't underestimate the grade schoolers.

damo74 said...

A nice topic. To talk whilst not talking. Upon reading more of my books, the conversation shifts. When it does and I haven't got to make my point or corrected the misnomer I whither inside. But ikonw the conversation has moved on and such are the laws of life.

You're playing in the world of grey.

Paul said...

Hi Gavin:

I've just started reading your Blog and quite enjoy it. I was wondering though - has anyone else mentioned that they find the light text on dark background a little hard to read, or is it just me?


Eponine said...

I have to agree with this post. Not everybody thinks our ramblings are an annoyance, though - just today an hour-long ramble was solicited from me by another person, and I was prompted to continue every time I thought I should stop. So just because some people think it's something we need to fix, I think it's an important part of who I am, and some people do find value in it.The difference in me from trying to socialize "normally" to getting to talk about a special interest is like night and day - why take that away from us?

I hope you don't mind, I linked to your post in my most recent post because it just fits in so well with what I was saying

Gavin Bollard said...

Hi Paul,
My apologies for the light text on a dark background. It looked cool when I first built the site but I do understand.

My problem at the moment is that if I change it, a whole lot of other sections of the blog will need fixing. I need to save that bit of maintenance for a week when I've got plenty of time.

Sue-Anne said...

Hi Gavin,

I'm an NT. My husband showed me your site.

I find it thoroughly satisfying (in a good way) when I can beat my husband at word games. He's brilliant at it. He works hard to win... and I like that, because it pushes me to try my best.

When he talks about his special interest, I let him ramble. It makes him happy... which makes me happy.

And, I hate talk without a purpose, too. I LOVE Aspies!! It's a privilege knowing that my husband wants to work with me (even though it hurts on many levels for both of us).

Thank you for such a great site. My husband likes reading your posts... and it helps me to understand Aspies.

Anonymous said...

The more I read here, the more I think my friend has Aspergers. He won't let children win games if he can. He's so competetive. He does other things that tip me off as well, but when I read this, I thought wow that's him. We all think it's quite endearing though.

Anonymous said...

...I thought the article was very good, but I don't have aspergers, so I can't really relate on that level.

However my cousin does, and it's things like this that are really helping, she hasn't told me about purses for an hour in a couple years now.

Which is great, especially since when aspie's are on a ramble it's difficult for someone else to end it without coming off as rude, in particular when you already have to worry about whether or not they'll get your jokes.

I've inadvertently offended a few aspies because I didn't realize they had aspergers and I am an extremely, sarcastic, teasing, joking, sort of person. I can't count the amount of times I've had to explain that I am very rarely if at all literal about things.

Anonymous said...

My 15 year-old son is the Aspie in the family, and his special interest is animals and all things related to nature and conservation.
In order to limit his Aspie rambling, I've told him that as a general rule when the subject of animals arises in conversations, he should limit himself to 2 sentences regarding the subject. If the other person wishes to know more, he/she will ask for more information or make a reciprocal comment indicating an interest in continuing the topic. After that, another 2 sentences is permitted, and it goes on. I've told him that when he gets older and goes to university, he will meet more people with similar interests because they would be choosing to study courses relating to ecology and the like, so things will become better for him.
So far, this seems to have worked for him, so all's good :-)

alcinoe said...

I'm not Aspie. I believe my husband is.

I never play to lose. Even with young children. But I tone down my competitiveness. I'm a bit of a trivia master so I just play down my knowledge, but I give the right answer if I have it. I don't gloat. I agree with another commenter that games of luck are great to play with little kids because it's all pretty even. But they are a bit dull.

But onto the RAMBLE.

OMG.... OMG.

As aspies, I get why you say you shouldn't have to change. But at the same time, I shouldn't have to be an unwilling and uncomfortable audience for your monologue. My husband does this and doesn't understand when I've had enough. I try to be subtle (well, you can guess how that goes) and I try to be direct (he gets angry that I'm not paying attention to this VERY IMPORTANT subject.)

For a while his mania was race differences in IQ. In his relentless search for more info, he started reading some very disturbing and racist sources. I BEGGED him to stop talking to me about it because it made me so uncomfortable, but he seemed to feel it was my duty to listen. Any attempt to move away from the conversation and I was accused of succumbing to PC forces or undermining him and not wanting to hear 'the truth'.

From my perspective the monologue is also rude because you're not valuing the contribution of the other member of the 'conversation' equally. I'm a smart and learned woman, so it makes me feel like crap when I'm treated as if I have nothing to contribute to a topic.

Anonymous said...

Preventing the Aspie Ramble is out of politeness and consideration to other people. Many aspies that I've encountered get upset if someone tries to interrupt, change the subject, or leave.

So basically, the aspie is holding the other person hostage about something they don't care about. It's rude af and not cool.

Besides, rambling is very one-sided. Talking about it WITH someone is cool because then the other person is engaged, too. But do you want to sit and listen to someone talk about some random thing you hate for 45 minutes? Of course not, it's boring and terrible. But having a two-way conversation is engaging and socially stimulating.