Oh, I confess that is not true at all! I am not short on any words…typing them or writing them that is. Speaking them is a different story. I get so flustered when in direct contact with a human who is being verbal – having letters spill — forming into words all over my existence. I can be very knowledgeable on a topic, one that I have researched extensively — yet fail to be able to say one single word to a person in real life. Online I can type away and spill it all. I lose my words as well when I am consumed by anxiety or too much sensory/social. This happened at the symposium the other day. I was trying to get my words out and they got stuck in my throat. My hands started moving, I could feel the heat rush to my face, my eyes were looking in all different directions, — and I was not facing anyone though. I do not know what I was looking at it was all blurry.
When I was in the workforce this happened often.
Many times people took my inability to get my words out as me not understanding. It made me feel terribly stupid, and question my own ability to understand. I would doubt I knew anything at all because I couldn’t even talk about it! In the right circumstances, I can speak without a hindrance. If there is distracting background noise, visual distractions, words that I am unclear to the meaning (not by definition by intent or context), social confusion, or a phone, you can guarantee to see my face start to fluster. My hands will start waving, I then acknowledge my hands waving, and grip them tightly, or put them in my pockets. My eyes start darting, my mouth opens, and closes, and sometimes if you look closely at me, you can see the tears starting to form. My face is blushed and my words are fumbling. I end up giving up, and just let people think I am dumb, or dingy. I have no choice the words will not form a sentence. My questions/comments that are rushing around are mixed up and bouncing in my head.
I desperately want to get them out, but they do not come.
I get confused by the other person(s), and shutdown, and my own inability to talk. My mind does not shutdown — it continues to play this repeatedly. I think of ways to try to let them know that I am not ignorant, that I do understand or that I don’t know and I would like for them to explain it to me. Many times by their response, I have assumed they already slotted me in the ignorant or dingy girl category. Their response can feel like they are condescending, frustrated, or annoyed with me. Those responses cause me to give up completely and feel like a failure. In the past, I convinced myself that possibly their attitude toward me was correct. Maybe I am too ignorant, and unable to comprehend. I must be lacking the skills to learn about things. Funny though I never stopped learning, I just hid it from everyone. I didn’t talk about it…ever! I kept my science mind, my love of numbers, and many other interests hidden. I pushed all of my interests down, and convinced myself I did not know anything (Though they never left me.).
I hid any challenging knowledge I had gained.
I realized at some point, maybe six months ago (I can’t remember) that I had put caps on what I would allow myself to learn. I had a faulty thinking system. My irrational perception of thinking other people thought I was too dumb meant that I was not allowed to delve into anything I felt was too intellectual or academic. At the symposium, they touched a little bit on the topic of how Aspie’s can form irrational beliefs. The need for answers can cause reasoning skills to go into hyper drive and force illogical conclusions. An example was an Aspie teenage boy who loved math. He had applied letters to numbers and would create math formulas for fun. He came in severely depressed, finally, the doctor got to the conclusion of what was going on. The teenager had created a math formula determining that he would never get a girlfriend.
The actual solution to his mathematical formula was X. Y כ Z.
X = I found out there is no God.
Y = I found out that I can’t get a girlfriend.
Z = I kill myself.
I was struck with empathy and overwhelmed with emotion when I saw this.
Not only could I see his faulty, though completely rational conclusion, I could see several of mine as well. This solution seemed completely logical, but it had serious problems. The doctor was able to help the boy filter through his formula and things turned out fine. It helped me a great deal to see this and to apply it to my specific thoughts about learning and feeling unintelligent. I have found in this past year that my attitude has changed a great deal in this area. I am not overly confident in my abilities believe me I know that I always have plenty to learn. However, I am becoming less timid or nervous about speaking on topics that I have researched or studied. I have allowed myself to learn everything I want to in the past five months or more.
I no longer think that I am incapable or unworthy of learning things.
The thing that has helped me most is realizing how much I was hindering myself. I shut myself up in a box and was so terrified of what others thought of me or how they would respond that I limited all of my joys. The things that make me who I am two of which are music and learning about many different subjects because for my mind they all somehow connect. They also briefly talked about people who are gifted. Celine Saulnier, Ph.D spoke about how people who are gifted can also share in many of the social devastations as people on the Autism Spectrum. She stated that gifted people are also outcasts and can have issues relating with their peers. This got me researching gifted people. The stigma behind the title alone has kept me away. I did not have any knowledge of what being labeled gifted actually meant. I found some great resources and saw many parallels with Aspergers.
One in particular gave details about women who are gifted.
There were so many things in each one that I will have to dissect it later, after I finish dissecting the symposium. I will share something that released me from certain words and feelings that I have had trapped in my head since I was a child. It is about questions. At some point I adopted the faulty thinking that if I ask a lot of questions, I am seen as dumb. It is irrational because I do not think that others are perceived in the same way. I didn’t even realize I was thinking this way until I started reading these articles. I asked a lot of questions as a child and I still do. The questions never stop. My curiosity is insatiable. I cannot gather enough information in my brain to ever satisfy me. My brain never stops — thanks to children, out of pure exhaustion I have gotten sleep over the years! Hee hee (I am by no means claiming to be a genius — I am only sharing what related to me personally and helped me. No insecurity in that statement, just clarifying.) I pulled this from Gifted People and their Problems by by Francis Heylighen I found a lot of great information in it. I did not intend to make this post this long. I am leaving with some excerpts from the article. I have to get us ready to go to Grammy’s!
Happy St. Patrick’s day!
“Another problem for the highly gifted is they grow up with and are often socialized by significant others who do not understand them well enough to guide their ideas and actions with valid feedback.”
Peers, especially children, are often confused by the highly gifted person because it is difficult to identify with their superior cognitive abilities. They may downplay the degree of superiority of the highly gifted by invalidating feedback. If this feedback is internalized, a self-conception may be constructed based on underrating the self.
Clark (1979) reported on a young female student who had spent 18 years believing she was not intelligent because she asked more questions than the others in class. Later, in Clark’s university class, when the characteristics of the gifted were discussed, the woman was so moved that she decided to say that she identified with the gifted even though she knew she was not gifted. She was so stirred by the class that later that evening she called her parents. During a conversation with them, the woman student found out that she has a measured IQ of 165. School personnel had advised her parents not to discuss her extraordinary IQ with her. This resulted in a low level of academic self-esteem and the ridiculous self-conception of being stupid! [...]
As a highly gifted 12 year old described it: “A real friend is a place you go when you need to take off the masks. You can say what you want to your friend because you know that your friend will really listen and even if he doesn’t like what you say, he will still like you. You can take off your camouflage with a real friend and still feel safe.” [...]
The starting point, Dr. Noble declares, “is always self-awareness, which is not narcissism.And for gifted women, that absolutely includes the recognition of giftedness, because most women who are gifted, as you well know, think they’re freaks, and feel horribly different — isolated, alienated, ostracized, ‘What’s wrong with me?’ [...]
“Change has to come in terms of both social evolution and individual. Most of the women I work with who are gifted deny that they are, or are totally embarrassed to admit it. It seems I am always teaching women about the characteristics of giftedness, and asking them to look at themselves: ‘Even if you don’t want to admit this out loud because you think it’s immodest or because you’re embarrassed, at least in your own heart of hearts admit what you’re dealing with.’ [...]
Isolation seems to be a common issue for gifted women, Dr. Noble feels. “And part of the isolation has to do with introversion. Not all, certainly, but I’d say the majority of gifted women are introverted. And introversion by itself leads one to isolate. When you’re introverted in an introverted culture, there’s more acceptance; but America is a very extroverted culture. To be introverted in an extroverted culture is to sort of give you a double whammy.
“So along with understanding what giftedness is all about, it’s important to understand what introversion is all about, and that it’s a normal temperament, and they really get their energy from solitude. So they need that solitude. That’s healthy. In fact, to not make space for solitude really puts gifted women at grave risk for developing everything from depression to eating disorders, as a way of trying to create enough personal space, maybe totally unconsciously.”
“Another thing is that part of giftedness involves an affective awareness. Not a hundred percent of the time, but a lot of gifted women have intense radar; they’re very psychic, and that can intensify introversion, if you withdraw from crowds because you always feel raw, or pick up too much energy. So if you do have that kind of sensitivity, you really have to honor it, and respect it, and learn how to choose those energies that nourish you and avoid those that drain you. That’s hard. We’re learning all the time.”
“In terms of finding peers, you have to realize it is hard, and you have to work at it. [...]
The internet is providing the means to find and explore relationships. “That’s particularly important for rural women,” notes Dr. Noble. “It’s a little bit easier to find kindred spirits if you’re in a city, or if you’re connected with a university or some kind of idea factory. It’s much harder if you’re in the corporate world or the retail world, or at home with small children.” [...]
There are a number of qualities that gifted women possess that can easily get mislabeled and misdiagnosed. For instance, those gifted women who are very verbal are often told they talk too much. Now, it is true that many gifted women talk a lot.
~Kathleen Noble , interview by Douglas Eby