The Seven Dirty Words

Let’s talk about another dirty topic – Cursing.

Unlike the last post, this one isn’t as deep, but I think it touches on something that many Aspie’s face and not so many neurotypicals. By “cursing”, I’m not only including actually saying what George Carlin called the famous “7 Dirty Words” that you can’t say in media, but also the thoughts behind them. This story is going to involve a lot of the personal experiences that I felt as I was growing up, so your experience may vary.

As I have said before, I grew up somewhat sheltered, even though I did not know what I was at the time. This sheltering kept me away from most of the normal media and the only music my parents allowed me to listen to was 60s and 70s country music. So I was not very exposed in the vanality of society. I don’t think I actually said even a mild curse until high school and that was only in the context of a sexual discussion. Whenever I was angry or upset at myself or something else, I never verbalized it. When I got older (in my 20’s), I adopted using “crap” or “crud” and started saying that things “suck”. I could never say any of those words at home or I would get my butt whipped (which was funny because when I was working with my dad, he constantly told me to get my “shit” together). I did not think this was too weird, but the other kids and adults around me definitely thought I was weird for this. I attribute this more to my autism and sheltering because there were four or five other kids I knew who were more like me (they would probably be diagnosed on the spectrum today – they might have been back then, but in that world, saying that you were autistic was the quickest way to getting beat up by bullies – more on this on my next posting). These kids also never swore in any fashion in my presence and I hung out with two of them pretty consistently. However, I never noted anyone else avoiding the use of swearing – most swore like a sailor even when they were pre-teens.

As I grew into my later 20’s and early 30’s, I started using some of the 7 dirty words in order to fit in at the office (lots of fieldwork in the construction industry), but it was easy to tell that I was “faking” it. I never said any at home (I might add that I also was not allowed to say “yeah”, which separated me from my fellow classmates.) and pretty much had to make it a concious thought to even make one of the “crap” swears. Now I’m getting into my late 30’s and my last parent passes away. It was about this time that I finally got diagnosed and one of the comments was that I used “formal” language and it was odd that I didn’t use colloquialisms or many contractions. That made me research and then I started trying to change. This helped with my sociability because I was finally able to talk like most of the other people around me.

Did I have slipups before that time? The major one occurred when I was 32 and my boss came up to my office, slammed my door, and started cursing me out because I didn’t do something the way he wanted. Well, ala-Clark Griswold from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, I let him have it back in response. But I don’t think that was me consciously doing it, but a subconscious outporing of everything. I think before 30, I probably said a total of about 10 swear words (even the mild “crap” ones). Since I addressed this around the time I turned 40, I have become much more liberal in my usage. Am I proud or happy about it? No. But it has helped me to better fit in.

Now why is this an Aspie topic? The experiences above were mine, but they also mirror some experiences of other people who are on the spectrum. I have an activity partner who I will go to visit and hangout with from time to time. He is exactly the same way, though he will use the minor words a bit more casually than I would. He is definitely on the spectrum. Three others are similar.

So I will say this may be a sign that someone is on the spectrum. I will admit that it is much harder to avoid exposure to cursing because it is common on television (even the news), much of the music on the radio has the Explicit tag, and the easy access to debaucherous materials (this was not a problem when I was a kid). But be prepared that if your son or daughter always speaks formally that they may be subject to bullying (like I said, my next topic).