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People With Asperger’s Can Learn To Read People

7672d50a70832e8b_150People hear “Asperger’s” and they automatically think “knows nothing about other people.” Which isn’t always true. If you’re on the spectrum, there’s a good chance you’ve learned a lot.

First off, you’re probably a very good listener. That’s how you make friends. People aren’t scared that you’ll judge them. There’s also a good chance you spend time with different types of people one-on-one instead of a fixed group of the same people over and over. You hear different perspectives. You’re not stuck in groupthink.

I write character sketches. People tell me I’m pretty good at it. A few people have even told me I’m emotionally mature. I don’t think I am though. But my boyfriend is. He has Asperger’s too. He spent years reading and reflecting and listening to older people and he’s amassed an incredible amount of wisdom.

Wisdom comes from experience. Especially painful experiences. And we have plenty of those.

Wisdom comes from having to be hypervigilant about who’s our friend and who just wants to laugh at us.

It comes from having to discern quickly if our dates are an insensitive waste of our time.

It comes from having to find a mentor everywhere we go who is both tolerant and socially savvy.

It comes from survival instincts. Because we know damn well we’re targets.

It’s patterns. All patterns. I started off at a disadvantage, yes. And I still have enormous blind spots. But I worked very hard to build up the knowledge I have. And I worked even harder to put it together.

I’ve had people not believe things I’ve said once they knew I have Asperger’s. They don’t take my insights seriously. Insights they’d take for granted as true if they came from someone else. We can make some completely on-point observation, the type of observation we’ve learned how to make through decades of trial, error, and pain.

Then someone tells us “oh, you’re just saying that because you have ASPERGER’S.”

There’s a lot of people out there like me. And we’re terrified to tell you what we have.

Would one word discredit everything we’ve learned in your eyes?

People With Asperger’s Can Learn To Read People

Gwendolyn Kansen

Gwen Kansen is a mental health writer in New York. She likes food, karaoke, and smart-but-campy books & TV. She's hoping to capture a little sliver of life on here that might not be the first thing you'd see.

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APA Reference
Kansen, G. (2015). People With Asperger’s Can Learn To Read People. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 14, 2020, from


Last updated: 1 Sep 2015
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