“Uhhh…”

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Don’t you just hate it when you have something really important to say, but your mind just goes blank? With Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) this seems to happen, to me at least, all the time. But it seems to happen most often when I am trying to describe a social situation. When I meet with my disability mentor and try to describe social situations that have gone wrong for me as an example of my problems the words don’t come very easily. This is particularly frustrating as I am reasonably articulate with an adequately voluminous vocabulary.

It is most likely tied up with my shortcomings in terms of my social imagination, which is a common part of AS and autism generally. Basically it means that whilst I have a perfectly average conventional imagination, e.g. imagining stories and original thinking, I do not know how to understand and sometimes even explain the actions, thoughts and motivations of others. This diminished empathy is sometimes called mind blindness.

It’s hard to give an example of this as trying to makes my mind go blank, but the specialist who diagnosed me has a test for this. He asked me to picture myself in a happy place. Most people can do this, whether it is under a waterfall, at the beach or in a leafy forest. I could only remember a happy place I had been to before; I couldn’t imagine a place out of thin air, whereas most people can think of a new place on the spot.

This also makes predicting social situations that are new to me, with new people or in new places very difficult indeed. I cannot put myself into someone else’s frame of mind, I’d give you an example, but what I’d come up with would probably be of little help.

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