Friday, June 15, 2012

Oh, Affect...Why are You So Revealing?

The other day, Marcy was out and about doing something social.  ((eep!))  I was at home, doing my own thing.  We were texting here and there, and I thought it would be fun to send her a photo, so I started trying to take a picture of myself with my phone.

At first, I was like, "WhAT!?"  Then I kept upping the "pleasant" quotient each time I snapped.

Or at least I thought so.

Every photo was the same, no matter what I though about, no matter the face I thought I was presenting.

I finally gave up.

Every photo looked a bit like the one above...though truth be told, I took a bunch before I came to this one that I thought was representative without being totally, embarrassingly, beyond acceptably revealing.

This photo, I look a little blank.

In the others, I looked a lot grouchier.

Even when I was trying to think about happy things, trying to LOOK happy.

Here's something funny:  I know I have the capacity to create affect.  I went to college as a theatre major, for goodness sake, and I am a gifted actor.

When I teach, I use this acting ability and it's something people definitely respond to.

I turn it ON.

Then it just turns OFF, apparently.

When I am not "on stage," my face is a blank slate.

A couple of things: Firstly, girls with Asperger's are often invisible, because as females, we are better at mimicking acceptable social behavior.  This is obviously a case of that to the extreme.  I learned to mimic but only for the stage, only for a purpose.

Which is funny, because a basic aspect of my Asperger's is that ALL THINGS MUST SERVE A PURPOSE.

Secondly, whenever I was first learning about my brain and I would come to the parts about autistics having less affect, I would think, "OH! THAT is ONE thing I do NOT present with!"



Thirdly, I think back to my younger life and how many times I would get so PISSED off, because people were always telling me I should smile more.

The young feminist in me would rant about women being expected to be PLEASANT all the time, and my face is none of your damn business (both of these points happen to also be correct...).

BUT...I see now what some of those people were talking about.

My blank could easily be mistaken for not just grouchy but downright SAD.

Which I'm not anymore.

I'm rather happy, actually.

But as Marcy would say, I am also a Very Serious Animal, and that is okay.


  1. Even with "no affect" this is a very revealing picture and post!

  2. How perfect that I looked in the mirror today and though gee, I really look like I want to hurt someone, when I was just feeling indifferent. I;ve been told I am blank often, a lot of people always take that as unhappy and tell me to smile or cheer up. So damn annoying! Thank you for another great post christine!

  3. I have experienced exactly the same! And I, too, can turn it on (whatever "it" is) when I needed to; when I didn't, I was accused of being a bitch. Sigh.

    I love reading about other women's experiences with Asperger's. I have subscribed to your blog in my reader, so will be keeping up with your posts. Love it so far!


  4. I had a student who I thought was purposely shooting me very angry looks. I was even worried that I was saying something wrong in my teaching. But then I realized that it was her normal paying-attention face. I am so glad I put effort into getting to know her and learned how nice a person she is.

    1. Christine, you have hit the nail on the head with your comment "I'm so glad I put effort into getting to know her and learned how nice a person she is" Because you are a teacher you have such a big influence in so many lives. How many times do people not even try to get to know a person before they have their judgements about them. I've always tried to understand what a person is all about, what they are going through, so that I can really get to know them because I've had people tell me they had the wrong idea about me based solely on the look I have on my face. And I always ask them, "why would you think that?" I have yet to hear an answer, but what I am really trying to do is make them think before they base a judgement on nothing more than a look.


  5. I use to find it baffeling how when I was waitressing/bartending I could, over the top turn on the personality because it was so against my normal nature...I mean, I could totally work a crowd & it seemed to just come on (and turn off) of its own accord. When out in social situations I would dig so deep trying to find that on switch telling myself I KNEW it was there somewhere, if I can do it at work then I can do it here, right? Wrong...finally it dawned on me one day...when I am at work I am "on stage", I am playing to the crowd! Ah-ha! As long as I don't have to be me, I can be anybody I want to be....
    I laughed at that thought popping in my head when you said you were a gifted actress because it totally made sense to me...thank you :)

  6. My fifth-grade teacher was in the library a few years ago and he remembered me from school. He said "you were always so serious and it looked like you knew a secret but were not going to tell anyone."

    I share your view that All things must serve a purpose. This has been a very trying past couple of weeks.