There is myth floating around that people with Asperger’s Syndrome lack the capacity to miss people, whether in a family or relationship capacity. It’s an odd myth, and I’m not quite sure where it came from. I’m guessing a complex mixing pot, comprised of a dysfunction of theory of mind and lack of empathy, led to the belief that people with Asperger’s Syndrome somehow disregard the laws of physics and write a person out of existence once they leave the room. Maybe someone took the diagnostic criteria a little too literally.
This is, absolutely and categorically, not true… Apart from when it is. This sounds unhelpful, and it is, but the very notion that people with Asperger’s don’t miss people isn’t just discrediting the person on the spectrum, but the other person, too. (If the person with Asperger’s is the ‘misser’, I suppose we could call this person the ‘missee’? That’s awful. Let’s call them the ‘missed’.)
One of the key things to bring into question, is whether the other party is allowing themselves to be missed. If absence makes the heart grow fonder, then surely constant presence should do the opposite. This isn’t always true, but when someone is never away, it makes them very difficult to miss, and any person with AS will tell you this. Other than this, people’s infatuations with people are not uniform, feelings change and grow or diminish, sometimes in fits and starts.
Rather than pontificating on whether people on the spectrum miss people (which they do, variables aside,) the question is whether they are able to make sense of or vocalise that feeling sufficiently, and herein, I think, lies the problem. Missing someone can be a powerful feeling; when I properly missed someone for the first time, the sensation was palpable, and almost tangible. I thought I was ill, it felt like I’d swallowed a boulder covered in spikes. There seemed to be no way to deal with it – in general, people with AS are practical folk; if something is broken I’ll try and fix it. With this, there was no fix, and there was no way to properly describe this affliction I felt.
If you know someone on the Autism Spectrum and you’re questioning whether they miss you or not, focus your attention instead on helping them make sense of the feelings that accompany it first. Oftentimes the smallest things can be a signifier that you’re on their mind – watch out for them.