No matter what I say or do, I am truly just always asking questions about what I do not understand to people who are capable of helping me understand what I need to know about that topic, and no one seems to be willing to answer me, and normally treat me like I'm an idiot... I am autistic with Asperger syndrome, but I’m not stupid by any means. What could I do to finally get people to help me understand what I need to understand, in a lot of different areas and situations?

  • 3
    Please give some examples of conversations where you had issues.
    – AsheraH
    Oct 1 '20 at 8:40
  • Where do I begin... There are questions that are relevant/pertinent in my life/to my existence… And I ask these questions to the people who could answer those questions or at least point me in the right direction of the answer, and just get treated like I’m stupid… What am I doing wrong? Oct 1 '20 at 8:43
  • 5
    Could these questions be labeled as "sooo obvious" (in their opinion) by others that they think you're kidding / fooling them? Can you please give a couple of examples?
    – OldPadawan
    Oct 1 '20 at 10:51
  • 5
    This is really hard to judge without specifics, it could be interpreted as "Why don't people drop everything they are doing and give me long involved explanations every time I ask something?" Or "Why don't people drop everything they are doing to answer my easy-to-google questions?" Or "Why don't people want to spoonfeed me detailed answers when they figure out that I haven't lifted a finger to try and help myself?"
    – swbarnes2
    Oct 1 '20 at 23:00
  • 1
    @robbiepope You really need to give a specific answer to AsheraH's question. To be honest, I think the way you answered his question ("Where do I begin...") might indicate what the problem is. You were asked a question about what help you needed, and you gave an answer that really doesn't say anything.
    – DaveG
    May 17 at 13:32

Everyone has a different expectation of what constitutes a satisfactory answer to any given question he asks, even that question is as straightforward and simple as what 1 + 1 equals. That is due to the fact that there are certain subjective presumptions of prior knowledge inherent in both the question and in any attempted answer that are by no means obvious other than to the questioner and the answerer themselves. To bridge such gap between the two, the questioner should try to state such “prior knowledge” as far as possible, such as by stating:

  • your educational attainment and relevant experience,
  • your previous attempts as in what you have done in solving the question yourself,
  • your difficulties with following the logic from progressing from one step to the next among the bits of information that you have gathered, or
  • at the very least, describe how the question came across your mind in the first place, which gives context to the question that most people might have been in a similar situation some time in their lives and would then spot what you have missed in your search for the answer. (This is why many support desks for software bugs asks you to “reproduce” the issue that you faced.)

Another piece of advice is: do not treat an unsatisfactory answer as not an answer at all, but bits of breadcrumb for you to trace the eventual satisfactory answer. The fact that you felt others treat you as an idiot, is probably because others got no information from you about your “prior knowledge” and therefore would make no such presumption on you and start their explanation from a clean slate. That does not mean they are not trying to guide you to approach the question from the right perspective.

For instance, for 1 + 1 = ?,

  • someone might start with introducing the Arabic numeral system and counting (1, 2, 3, ...). This is perfectly valid for societies that operate more on a non-Arabic numeral systems.

  • Someone might start with introducing the arithmetic operators “+” to mean joining and extending the counting from the left-hand-side operand to the right-hand-side operand. This is when one wishes the questioner to understand the method, rather than only the direct answer to the specific question asked, with an aim to also helping solve similar addition questions e.g. 1 + 2, 2 + 2, etc.

  • Someone might brush the question off by saying “For goodness sake get a calculator”. This may be rude, but in fact the most direct answer that would enable anyone with any level of prior knowledge to get the answer because what it takes is just to recognise these three buttons “1”, “+”, “=“ and enter them sequentially as how the question reads, and would open the door to a plethora of solutions that a calculator could give to millions of arithmetic problems.

The mindset that requires you in order to bridge the “prior knowledge” gap as soon as possible is to be humble and giving the “benefit of doubt” to those who do spend the time and effort to give you an answer (albeit appearing unsatisfactory or condescending to you), and try to seriously consider how different those answers are from the previous attempts that you have tried in solving the question yourself. If you really cannot glean anything from the answers given, try to stand in the answerer’s shoes and tell people what you would do were you the answerer, such that that could more effectively enable the questioner to arrive at the answer (e.g. Questioner: I would hope someone could kindly point to a reference in an academic journal, or point to a wiki entry, or suggest some Google search keywords, to enlighten me on the answer to the question.). In fact, for most of the cases online, if the answers are solely just to mock you and not trying to get you anywhere, they probably would not have survived the downvotes from moderators and peers before you read them and realised they contain no merits.

This is the most I can suggest you without any examples given like what the comments above suggested. Cheers.

  • I appreciate your input, thank you very much Oct 1 '20 at 21:10

I am impressed with your ability to conceptualize on the abstract level of theory. You appear to be quite capable of asking questions; it is getting the answers you are having serious difficulty with, if I correctly understand. I identify completely, having myself had this self same problem for much of my life. I struggled for decades to understand the psychology behind it and will share my findings here.

In a nutshell:

Not everyone is able to conceptualize theoretically like you and I do; many people feel intimidated by a person who can. To offset this feeling of intimidation, they may reflect their insecurities back onto you and imply that you are stupid even to have such questions. This is the conclusion I have arrived at in my own desperate search to understand why people react to me exactly as you describe.

My further solution is not to pressure these people. They appear to have the answers but they don't. For my own mental well-being I have had to distance myself from people who imply that I am stupid for asking these questions. They imply that you/I are stupid in order to "make you/me go away."

You say you are autistic with Aspergers syndrome. I am not familiar with that; I can only go by what I see in your post and I see a highly skilled thinker and writer. Also, you have access to the internet. Are you capable of doing your own research and finding your own answers? I think you are and that writing this question was only the first step in that direction.

Via the internet I have been able to find people with similar interests as myself. This allows me to get answers and information on topics that interest me. I have also had the opportunity to go back to school and get a few university degrees. Is this an option for you? Another option I have made much use of is the public library. I have written to authors from all over and thereby made contacts locally with similar interests. This was before the internet and changed my life.

Long story short, to get answers you will most likely have to move outside your current social network and contact people in special interest groups, libraries, and/or higher education. Let the others be who they are, stay in contact for the company if you enjoy being with them, but don't expect more than they can deliver. Learn to read the signs that you are pushing too hard and back off.

Some signs that you are pushing too hard are statements along these lines:

  • Why would anyone ask that?
  • Where have you been all your life--under a rock?
  • Anything implying you are stupid for asking.
  • Any statement implying they know the answer but can't condescend giving it to you.

All of those are signs that they don't know the answer but they can't admit it for fear of looking stupid themselves. I don't understand people like that but I'm learning that there are a great many of them in this world and that we have to respect their vulnerabilities and let them be. Then we have to find answers where we can.

  • There’s a strange poetic irony in that very last sentence. This is a question that I’ve kind of been trying to get answered to understand purchase any insight on for about six years now. And just randomly I logged into an account and got redirected to another account and I was like “what would it hurt?“ I’ve literally asked everybody I know, and then some… So why not just roll the dice?! I thank you for your input, and good luck to you as well on finding those answers. Thank you for pointing me in the right direction I couple of things also, I definitely appreciate that. You have a good’n Oct 1 '20 at 21:15

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