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ImNotHere's avatar

May I have a touch of Aspergers?

Asked by ImNotHere (441 points ) July 28th, 2011

I understand what sarcasm is (duh) and have even have been known to use it effectively myself. But lately I’ve been noticing that I’ve been getting myself into slightly awkward situations because I don’t always realized that someone is joking or being sarcastic until it’s too late and I’ve already embarrassed myself. Usually it happens with my boyfriend when he says something and I get annoyed with him only to have him tell me he was kidding and didn’t mean it all.

Today it really made things awkward with my boss. I got upset with him over something I didn’t realize he was just being sarcastic about and was really embarrassed when he realized that I didn’t recognize the joking tone of his voice… Just great! I also notice people have to say “I was a joke, Julie.” or “I was just kidding” more often to me than others I think.

My father is very much the same way except much worse. He has autism spectrum tendencies plus aggression. I get by much better than he does and have never had a diagnosis but sometimes I worry that I inherited some of what he has. At the same time I’m a successful college student, have a great internship in NYC and lots of friends so it must be very mild if I have it at all…

Anyone else here ever have difficulty recognizing sarcasm? Do you have Autism/Aspergers? How do you cope with it?

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15 Answers

Judi's avatar

I am the same way, but I don’t think it has anything to do with any illness. Some of us are just trusting and take things at face value. We don’t read between the lines as well as others.

Blackberry's avatar

Yes, anyone who is a little serious and/or may see things at face value like sarcasm has Aspergers, or Autism….....

ImNotHere's avatar

@Blackberry. Definitely picked on your sarcasm.

The ironic thing is, I work in public relations and have even been complimented on my pithy wit by both clients and my boss. I just find it weird that sometimes I don’t pick up on sarcasm to the point where it’s kind of embarrassed me.

JLeslie's avatar

If your dad is much the same way, it could just be that you have not grown up with sarcasm so you are bad at desiphering it or enjoying it. Many people are offended by sarcasm, and don’t think it is cute or funny. It is not just your job in a group or conversation to read the other people, they have the same responsibility to see you are uncomfortable. I guess they do realize if they say, “it’s just a joke,” but over time they should also realize they should not be so sarcastic with you.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Sarcasm is an extremely interesting phenomenon in language. The further it moves away from face to face spoken word, the harder it is to recognize. We see it best when accompanied with facial expressions, inflection, and body language. Even written words are sometimes difficult to express and recognize it for what it is. Imagine trying to relate sarcasm with smoke signals or drum beats. It has its place. Languages such as mathematics have no place for sarcasm.

I’ve also noticed in my older years, that my ability to recognize and accept sarcasm is directly relevant to my age, maturity level, and degree of tolerance I’ve learned over the decades. The older I get, the more equipped I am to see it for what it is.

This is somewhat related to how entrenched in certain belief systems I am. The stronger I feel about something, the more likely I am to rush to defending it. Sometime sarcasm is taken the wrong way, being perceived as an attack on my beliefs, or personally towards myself. Realizing this, moves me to loosening my grip on many long held dogmas. I don’t take it so personally any more, and am more inclined to look for the humor first.

Sarcasm can hold many truths. If used properly, it can open entirely different doorways for one’s thinking process. These days, I’m trying to walk through some of those doors, whereas before, I may have passed them by, rushing to judge them as inappropriate.

If Aspergers is related somehow to an inability to recognize sarcasm, I must have been a textbook example as a teen. Who knew that life lessons could cure it?

ninjacolin's avatar

Sure, you can have some aspergers.
Just kidding, you can’t.

Also, what happens if you just take everything as a joke for a while and see how that plays out? People always diagnose themselves too harshly in my opinion. Maybe you’re just a little gullible and need practice.

SpatzieLover's avatar

My husband and son have Asperger’s. Are you able to empathize? Do you have friends? Are you anxious?

There’s a lot more to the spectrum than being literal.

Aethelflaed's avatar

You might, but it could also be that you’re just bad at reading sarcasm (or, equally likely, you occasionally encounter people who aren’t very good at communicating effectively that they’re being sarcastic/sardonic/satiracal/hyperbolic/ironic/etc). I definitely don’t have Asperger’s, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t times where I had no idea someone was joking, and it becomes a whole thing.

Jeruba's avatar

And sometimes other people are just poor at making jokes, or claiming it after the fact when they see their remark struck a nerve. Or maybe they really were being hostile (and you recognized it) and thinking they’ve covered it neatly with sarcasm, which, in my opinion, is in fact an expression of hostility. To me sarcasm and humor are different things.

In other words, maybe you’re being too literal, and maybe their delivery isn’t giving you necessary and sufficient cues, and maybe they really meant it. None of which adds up to your having a disorder.

Nullo's avatar

No, you may not. :P

Really, though, you sound alright.

funkdaddy's avatar

I’m at the opposite end of the spectrum. I’m always joking face to face and don’t think much is serious enough to get truly upset about. I’ve had to reel it in and become conscious of when I’m using it so others won’t get the wrong impression.

As a consequence I tend to think everyone else is joking and sometimes get the opposite effect where someone is actually upset about something and I think they’re making a joke. It can be just as akward.

I was meeting with a client and someone mentioned that schools were holding makeup classes on Memorial Day this year. His face got very serious and he started literally huffing and puffing before dropping a few explicatives and wondering what this country is coming to.

I’m a few seats over smiling and laughing when I figure out he’s staring at me. Turns out the gentleman is an ex-Marine and takes the holiday very seriously. I can respect that, but my first impression of his comments was that they must be an act. It wasn’t.

My wife is the opposite and when I tell her I see squirrels sleeping in the street she thinks they are actually sleeping.

Which is a long way to say we all interpret the world a little differently and interactions are complicated.

You’re fine and should adjust however you see fit. Don’t be embarrassed, just be genuine.

tranquilsea's avatar

I’m sure my father has some form of Asperger’s and he gets sarcasm most of the time but he completely doesn’t get relationships of any sort beyond what he needs from you.

FluffyChicken's avatar

No, you may not. It’s mine and you can’t have it!

I seriously doubt if you do. Unless you have REAL difficulty making friends, understanding people, reading faces, or socializing in general, you are not an Aspie.

Carol's avatar

“May I have a touch of Aspergers?” Well of course you may. Be my guest. Who would have the balls to stop you anyhow?

_zen_'s avatar

If you had it, you wouldn’t compare it to having a touch of the flu.

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