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If (like me) you’ve ever hated just about everyone in the entire world indiscriminately you may have read the title with a snort of derision. Even though I’ve given up on using hate and distrust as default reactions to other people I still enjoy spending time alone. A quiet room and a good book, or a busy coffee shop and a good book, are my idea of relaxation and bliss. I also enjoy swimming alone, daydreaming and taking long walks in quiet, leafy areas.

However, giving up the automatic hatred of all company has brought many benefits as well as a good deal of personal pain.

How we learn

When I was growing up my main source of information about the world was books. I read novels voraciously, absorbing the adventures but also observing the human interactions and the thoughts behind them. Authors are very helpful in this way; they present a complete picture so you can follow both sides of a conversation and see inside the protagonists’ minds at the same time.

You don’t get this type of assistance in real life. People don’t explain things because they don’t realise what needs to be explained. That’s precisely why people with Asperger’s feel cut off from everyone else – because we have a hole in our understanding and this makes it harder to make connections. Books, especially novels, autobiographies and epistolary texts are one way people like us can be exposed to new perspectives and experiences with ease. We can connect with authors and their characters because they are accessible.

Blogs, vlogs and online forums also allow us to make connections and interact with people in a way that would be much harder to do in real life.

And when it’s so easy to benefit from other people’s experiences and thoughts, why wouldn’t you? Allowing external influences in has made a wonderful difference to my life. Reading Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet made me realise I wasn’t a solitary freak. Making friends as a post graduate made me realise I could have fun with people and that I could trust some of them. Watching the Injured Minds vlogs was enlightening (and sometimes just entertaining). Reading Stieg Larsson, Donna Leon and Yrsa Sigurdardottir inspired me. The blogs and social media posts of Thomas Baekdal made me think about my career in a whole new way.

If you have a problem or something you’d like to know more about (or you just feel disconnected and fed up) look for sources. Get a library card and check out some interesting books. Search online for blogs and articles that you can learn from. Being allergic to parties or anathema to the ‘cool kids’ at school is no reason to cut yourself off from the wealth of humanity. Read, absorb and find good connections.

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