On being different

although you might look at me and assume that I am perfectly normal and look in my eyes and get a proper response, I’ve lived my life being made aware that other people find me strange and difficult to get along with. I’ve often had a tough time making friends and even though I’m rarely shy, I still find it hard to interact with people and really struggle to understand exactly what someone is saying. I have to make an effort to read between the lines when someone tells me something that’s not meant to be interpreted at face value.

10 years ago I was diagnosed with adult ADHD and moderate Aspergers syndrome. The label meant that I now had a handy category to put myself in. All the behaviours that were considered so hard to understand could now be put down to being autistic – not perhaps in the classic sense, but certainly with a lot of the traits of the condition. Still, even with a diagnosis, I was left with the realisation that I still had to work hard for myself to live with the condition. Autism never goes away, but you can learn how to deal with it to a degree that your life is easier.

If you have autism or any kind of spectrum disorder, does it make a difference where you live?

If there are certain jobs that autistic people are more suited towards, it makes sense that there would be countries that are more appropriate for me, since autism can make life in ENGLAND very difficult for me sometimes.

When you have a kind of disorder that no one can see, it can make life difficult in all kinds of ways. From making friends and interacting with others, to simply following instructions at work; these are things I have definitely had problems with to some degree. Like most people with conditins like mine, I don’t always tell people, employers included.

But for me the possibility is that Japan will be a lot easier to live in than trying to struggle in England. Whilst many people consioder the style of humour known as banter to be one of the defining features of English culture, it can be damned hard to fit in if you don’t quite understand the subtleties of it. that’s not to say that I don’t enjoy making fun of someone in a light-hearted way, but its hard to judge how much is innocent joking and whne it becomes more malicious.

I can see that for those of other countries, they also struggle to understand just how much of banter is innocent and when it is more mocking.

Thankfully, it’s less of a problem in Japan. Sarcasm isn’t particularly common. Jokes tend to be more wacky, and there is a love of puns, similar to what we would call ‘dad jokes.’ On the whole, Japanese culture is more accomodating to those on the spectrum. you can take people at their word, everyone is friendly to each other and there is less of the back-biting and talking at cross purposes. it’s a country where people are quick to follow the rules of the roles they have been given.

The japanese are said to be very eager to please; sentences are usually designed to facilitate smooth communication, and most conversations end in agreement.

Whether people are more tolerant of those on the spectrum or not, there’s no doubt that life is hard for people with unseen disabilities. A world of greater tolerance and understanding is something we should all push for.

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