Posted by: E (The Third Glance) | April 26, 2014

The Social Barometer

I learned yesterday that one of my colleagues (fellow grad students), judges whether people are worth his time, based on whether or not they like me. I am the only TA for one of the undergrad required courses, so I have worked with nearly every undergraduate in the major at my school, and a number of the grad students, so a lot of people know me, at least in passing. This person noticed that people who didn’t like me, he didn’t get along with, and people who liked me, he also liked. So now he uses me as a barometer of whether people are worth his while to get to know. “Do you know E?” “Oh yeah, I don’t like her.” “Thanks for your time, I’m leaving now.”

I’m not sure how I feel about this. Kind of amused, I think, because, well, I do think that whether someone likes me or not on “first glance” is kind of a pretty good judge of character. I think I’m a pretty benign sort of person. I’m pleasant. I go out of my way to be helpful and nice to people, but I’m also no-nonsense, especially when I’m teaching. And of course, I’m the first to admit, I’m a little bit peculiar. I move and dress and talk a little bit differently than most people. While I’m not openly autistic, it is pretty obvious that there is something a bit different about me. This means that most people who meet me once don’t quite know what to make of me. It’s those who take the time to get to know me before judging me that recognize my personhood and my kindness. Those who judge immediately and never think past it are the ones who dislike me.

So to me, it is very interesting that my colleague has determined this pattern. I suppose it makes sense, and I think, in a strange sense, I’m flattered, because this colleague is a really thoughtful, mature person, and I respect his opinion quite a bit. And thinking about it, well, obviously I’m a biased judge, because I don’t like it when people dislike me without getting to know me first, so I tend to judge those people a little bit more harshly, it is kind of nice to know that other people recognize that I am a good person, and that those who don’t like me probably aren’t worth their while either. It is somewhat validating, to be quite honest.

Has anyone else experienced this sort of thing?


Also a note to my regular readers – this month started off strong, but unfortunately, between health issues and life issues (I’m moved!!!!!!!!! into a safe house, with a roommate who is utterly amazing, and let me tell you it is awesome), I haven’t been up to continuing the autism acceptance in action posts. Hopefully I’ll pull something together for the flash blog on April 30th. Hope everyone is surviving April better than I have. (It is getting so much better already, though.) I’ll probably write something about my awesome new roommate at some point, just not entirely sure when.



  1. In my own professional world, I have a similar phenomenon… except it is whether people follow me back or not on social media… as I use Twitter and Facebook as the barometers.

    My name is more and more well known in my profession, as more and more big boys and girls in OT know who I am in addition to getting my name mentioned from time to time on OT social media. So, I indirectly use my Twitter as my barometer. If they know who I am directly or through their peers (as I am pretty involved in OT), most likely they will follow back. However, if they are just focused on being practitioners or students, they most likely won’t.

    Twitter and Facebook allowed me to plan out my meet up schedules in terms of professional conferences… as I most likely would spend time with people who follow me on social media than those who don’t. They are also the folks who realize I am doing great work while being down to earth at the same time!

  2. “not openly autistic” – an interesting phrase. When people meet my daughter for the first time, they sometimes think that she speaks English as a second language, because she has a slight impairment, and it takes her a moment or two longer to respond to their questions. She is also autistic.

    • Well I don’t usually tell people the name for why I’m different – it has such a nasty connotation, and people tend to make assumptions… it is a sad thing, but right now its not safe for my professional colleagues to know the name of the thing that makes me different if I ever want a job.

      • My son, who works for a large technology company does the same.

      • Sometimes you got to have guts and be the champions of change. Before I opened up about my own autism to the OT world, negative stories were out there and the positive stories were non-existent. The notable one was a Roger guy spoke about his experiences on NPR a little over 2 years ago. I told myself, “I can change the situation for the better. I will live out a positive image so that other autistics who come after me can see that they can achieve great things in OT too.”

        Because of how open I am about my autism and the progresses I have made, it really helped to provide hope to a now 1st year OT student who is also autistic.

        That said, opening up is not for everybody. Also, opening up also have risks. The thing is- what are the pros and cons, and do you have the support to play your cards right?

        In my situation, I did for the most part. I did it at a time when I was beginning to become popular in the OT world (though not as popular as now). I also happened to have supportive faculty members and peers who motivated me to use my lived experiences to do something constructive in OT. I did that and more! 3.5 years later, one well known OT professor dubbed me as OT’s version of Temple Grandin (although I am more than that).

  3. In one of your recent posts you asked  us readers about how you have been emerging or eveloping into someone more and more aware of others´ opinions about your own self. I am almost 50, neurotypical if you ask my personal opinion I believe one has to be authentic, unique as long as we respect each other. We must go ahead and live our lives being ourselves, following our dreams, no matter what other people think about us. If we worry too much, we lose passion in pursing our dreams.

    By the way a few weeks ago during an autism conference in my hometown, some parents asked about how to stop stimming, and Itold them about your post, and about how we relax and disconnect from our duties doing whatever we like, and how our kids also have the right to stim themselves to calm down after school. They were shocked! Probably think I am nuts. I really don{t care. My boy is doing great and at 12 still likes me and respects me a lot.

    El Sábado, 26 de abril, 2014 18:50:14, The Third Glance escribió: E (The Third Glance) posted: “I learned yesterday that one of my colleagues (fellow grad students), judges whether people are worth his time, based on whether or not they like me. I am the only TA for one of the undergrad required courses, so I have worked with nearly every undergradu”

  4. Yes, I have seen this phenomenon too. I think it is definitely related to my Asperger’s. I am attracted to people with Aspie qualities and I have had friends tell me “I knew I would like her because you do.” I think people with Asperger’s can definitely see similar traits in their friends – even their undiagnosed/NT friends. Most of my true friends are pretty vocal, straight forward,black and white thinkers. I can see why we all get along 🙂

    • Nice 🙂 glad I’m not the only one. Also thanks for the comment, I look forward to reading more of your blog!

    • I am a little bit biased in terms of peer relationship goes. Majority of my friends now are in the OT profession. I am attracted by peers who have accomplished great things but also have great respect for the things that I am doing. I have to pass as a social butterfly because that’s the occasion I find them a lot of times nowadays. For me, social media (which many autistics love) has helped a lot because I got to know them a lot better than they have been with me for the same amount of time in person.

      The reason why I got along with them so well is that not only because OT folks are more accepting than other groups in terms of people, but also that I give back to the profession whenever I could. This combination makes me an appealing person to get to know.

      In conclusion, I think the people who we surround ourselves with has a lot to do with how we mesh with others. I mash with students well because I not only guest lecture often, but also that I experienced struggles along the way in their positions… yet I am coming on top of them. This kind of stuff brings hope and optimism in students because- the struggling students can know that they still can make great impact, and the overachieving students can be motivated that they need to challenge themselves more.

  5. people either really like me or they find find me obnoxious and rude. it’s very rare that someone feels indifferent about me. this has it’s pro’s and con’s, of course. but, i know when i try too hard to be accepted by othersi am constantly anxious.

    • In previous years before I started OT school, I felt the same way. I tried too hard to find perfect friends. Now I don’t try as hard. I have learned how to package myself better and my peers have generally liked me once they realize who I am and the positive things I do. Of course, there are still peers who blocked me on social media- but now I view it as their losses because they will view it years later that they were immature to block me as students/new professionals. But I also realize that I have so many friends than I can count… as a few lost friends here and there doesn’t matter so much.

  6. Glad to hear the update that things as far as home life are looking up at least.

  7. There are a number of people that have pointed out that civilization can be measured on how well they treat their weakest members, and the same is true on a personal level, so your friends proxy method to judge people, based on how they behave towards you, probably works quite well in weeding out the bad seeds.

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