Challenges with Aspies’ hardwired moral code and ethics

Diablogue #15: 

Christina and Ken teaming up to prepare the garden for planting.
Christina and Ken teaming up to prepare the garden for planting.

 

Helpful Hint:  Aspies should use discretion in taking things at face value.

 

So, let’s diablogue: 

Ken: I would like to talk about how I often fall victim to intentional or unintentional breaches of morals and ethics.

Christina: Ok.

Ken: I have gradually found out that my brain is hardwired with an inviolable moral code and set of ethics that others do not have to the same degree. That discovery was a sequence of real shocks and a harsh awakening. Because I am biologically predisposed to follow the code, I still have a hard time following my own helpful hint at the top of this post.

Christina: For example?

Ken: Intent. When a person tells me something, I take that at face value and believe that it is true.

Christina: But sometimes it’s not.

Ken: Correct. And it can be unintentional or intentional. For example, an incident occured during my employment as a journeyman electrician. My boss indicated that I would be moving to a foreman position. I took his word for it. After several months of not advancing, I approached him to enquire about the position. He denied that he ever made the offer and eventually they moved someone else into the position.

Christina: Rotten. But lots of people get jilted out of jobs like that.

Ken: Yes. However, they can pick up on some indicators about whether the person making the offer is genuine, or they will ask more questions immediately that will clarify the situation.

Christina: Got it. You believe the first things somebody says…

Ken: …because I cannot think in any duplicitous or hidden agenda or falsifying manners. I cannot imagine saying something to somebody and not meaning it, not following through. I cannot process that. Literally I do not understand. That is why it is extremely difficult in day-to-day interactions—in all interactions—to follow the helpful hint of using discretion in taking things at face value.

Christina: I see. Can you give another example?

Ken: Once while working at a computer and high tech shop, a customer came in with her child to have her personal laptop repaired. During the appointment, my observations indicated that it had likely been opened or repaired by an unauthorized person, so I asked her if that was the case. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “No, it has never been repaired by anyone else.” For the sake of brevity, her claim turned out to be untrue, yet to avoid being charged for repairs, she vehemently denied it—despite clear physical evidence to the contrary, and she escalated her claim three different times during the appointment to ever-increasing levels of management.

Christina: Wow. Brutal for you.

Ken: I was deeply shocked at how a young mother—who is supposed to be setting examples for her child—could make an initial false claim and then staunchly defend it. I could not process how she could state an untruth in the first place, and then found it even more impossible to process that she did it repeatedly in front of her child.

Christina: What happened to you—at that moment?

Ken: It made me nauseous and lightheaded. I got a headache.

Christina: And the thought of this incident still bothers you?

Ken: An accurate assessment. Because I cannot resolve it. I am still trying to figure it out. I am caught in a ‘do-while’ loop attempting—in vain— to process it because my brain does not allow me to think like that. I am completely unable to perform a moral or ethical violation similar to hers, especially in front of a child. On some occasions, if something like that happens and I have nothing else to distract me in the minutes or hours following, I cannot stop that do-while loop. My headaches will escalate into full blown, incapacitating migraines. At that point, the only exit, my only sanctuary, is to sleep.

Christina: Binge sleep. To process.

Ken: Affirmative. In some instances, the binge can persist for days.

Christina: Those can be strange social times for me, you know, suddenly alone and explaining to others that you are sleeping, yes, still sleeping! Most people don’t get it when I say you are in bed because of an upsetting incident at work or after a stressful but ordinary life event like…say… a major change in plans because stuff happens. But sudden shifts, especially in quick succession, rock your world; I know that now. And actually I have learned to relish most of those surprise alone times in the house. To enjoy them… sometimes I’ll watch a highly emotional film that I know you’d prefer not to watch, or I’ll go out and read at a cafe at suppertime. Adapting is critical. But back to most other people….Just like you can’t understand other peoples’ blasé reactions to life’s rocky moments, they can’t understand your extreme ones.

Ken: True.

Christina: I know it took years and a lot of reading and talking about autism for me to be OK with that aspect of your cognitive difference— your quickness to cognitive overload under certain stresses and your frequent need for extraordinary amounts of pass-out-dead-to-the-world sleep. And I think it’s taken years for you to fathom how I just go with the flow; water off a duck’s back when it comes to big or sudden shifts.

Ken: Affirmative. I am grateful that you understand. Many do not, I agree. I have gradually learned to accept your very different reactions and stresses, and I endeavour to adapt and adopt to your reasoning and methodologies.

Christina: We balance each other out, I think, on that score. Your two situation examples really illustrated the Theory of Mind issue we talked about last post. The challenges Aspies have with grasping—and accepting— that other people have very different thoughts, ideas, and beliefs.

Ken: That is correct. However, being with you has given me extremely valuable resources and insights to work around that which help me decrease the number of incidents and reduce their impact.

Christina: I think I urge you to be a little more aware of complexities. To ask more questions about things, right?

Ken: Indeed. And you and I develop scripts on how to do that and we practice them before certain situations, such as important meetings. The only way I can absorb these behaviours—to not take things at face value and to instead, question—is to repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat until they become part of my programming, part of my go-to self diagnostics and subroutines for my sanctuary and survival.

Christina: So sometimes, on your own, maybe using those scripts, you actually start asking questions instead of just accepting?

Ken: That is a correct assessment.

Christina: I’m curious… does that feel weird or unnatural for you? Doing it by script instead of, as I do, by impulse or intuition?

Ken: Just as with actual technology, I am always tweaking and making my programs more secure and safe.

Christina: Striking allusion! Secure and safe programs. It really fits how I believe you think.

Ken: That being said, much like in the actual tech world, I am always, as it were, one step behind the hackers.

Christina: So you mean that even with new automatic scripts….

Ken (interrupting) … people continue to find ways to hack morals and ethics, correct…

Christina (interrupting) …and you get hurt again. Taken advantage of.

Ken: Affirmative.

Christina: Seriously unfortunate. Ummm, we’ve run out of space. Gone over, really. Time to think about the next post.

Ken: How about we deal with multitasking?

Christina: A great topic. A particular area of strength—or vice?!— for me, I think! You, on the other hand, are free of its tyranny—though not from the problems of not being able to do it well.

Next post #16 ~ Executive functioning or prioritised multitasking

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