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  • Cynthia Coupe

TMI

Ah, TMI.

Too. Much. Information.


It looks different for many of us neurodivergents, yet there is commonality. Namely, we all do it to some degree or another because we're missing a critical filter. Neurotypicals seem to have this filter in place, but we don't...sometimes its for the better, and sometimes...not so much...


It's a constant struggle between my daughter and myself, and difficult to know if it’s neurodiversity, age or maturity levels that keep us on our toes. Lena loves to repeat things she hears, often at the risk of having it be TMI outside of context. Either that or she will replay the same scene (“remember when you____”) enough times that I have to give it a hard stop. “Really, I’m DONE, I don’t want to hear that again. Like, ever…”


It’s gotten now that I tell her when she shouldn’t repeat something, or when she should be discreet. Now that she’s tweening it’s often met with an eye roll and “Yes Mamma, I know,” but honestly, I’m not sure she does.


So we had a discussion about it the other day.


She actually opened up and said “You know, I don’t really know when I’m not supposed to say stuff, but sometimes I catch myself after I’ve over shared.” Ok…so that’s a start.


But the thing is…there are no hard and fast rules for this social nuance, so how can I teach it?


Here’s what’s worked for us:


Think about if you’d want someone else saying that about you…think about your motivation for saying it…are you spreading rumors or helping someone understand something? Would you want Johnny to be saying the same thing about you, or would you rather he not do that?


Empathy is a huge bridge to understanding, and most of the highly capable neurodivergent kids I know have empathy tenfold. They just don’t always know how to turn a situation into an empathetic one.


So…if we teach them the ability to think of what they would want shared about their own self, this could help…it won’t solve all of the TMI but it will be a giant step forward.


Also…sometimes TMI is disarming and endearing. One of my best friends is neurodivergent too, just like I am, but our flavor of neurodiversity is a bit different. Neither one of us likes small talk, but where I shut down, she goes all out. She’s TMI left and right, but in that disarming and endearing way where she walks out of a shop with 6 new friends and free products…she overshares in ways we don’t usually do…she talks about real things (“Oh God, i’m here today because I needed to get away from my kids. No really, they were driving me nuts, and my husband is just outside working the garden totally oblivious, so I had to get out. I think I’ll have some wine next. You should come! I bet you need wine too!”). And it WORKS.


I’m not like that; I’d rather die.


My oversharing is not disarming, but alarming, and I’m never really sure when it will happen or what it will look like. It's like there is no filter between my quick thinking brain and my very loose lips.. I try to control it around others which sometimes is why I'm quiet...but then sometimes something will just pop out...it's usually considered funny, but sometimes at the risk of the "OMG, did she just say that?!?!" kind of funny. Around my close friends...watch out. I take things a notch over the top. Fortunately, my besties find me hilarious and genuine, and it allows them to loosen up a bit too…so that’s good. Frank used to always say “oh no, there you go! No wonder we’re such a good match, I take it far, and then you take it way too far.”


Lena says I’m good at disseminating a lot of big information into very manageable chunks, like really simplifying things. And of course the only possible story I can think of is super inappropriate, but since this post is all about TMI, here I go…


Frank and Lena used to have this game where they threw insults at one another. The last round they ever had was just a few days before he died…it usually was things like “fart head” or “dog breath” or cute juvenile insults like that…but then he threw out “smegma.”


Oh dear God, I thought…he did not! I don’t really think he meant to…the moment he said it, his face went into shock, mouth agape, eyes wide open. “Mamma…what’s smegma?” Lena asks, knowing it was a step beyond her now innocent ‘fart head’ slanders.


So I said it the only way I knew how at the moment.


“Dick cheese,” I replied.


WHAAAT?!

Frank’s eyes grew wider, and his ever loving grin popped up on his face. On all our faces. It was just way too wrong not to be hilarious. Deeply, disturbingly hilarious.


…Oh momma, you are so good at making things simple…


And that’s the way I TMI.


It’s different for all of us, I guess.


And you’re welcome.

And I’m sorry.


How do you TMI?




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