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kattoo13
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09 Dec 2008, 3:42 pm

Sunday my son and I were at a museum. We were sitting on a bench and there were these people sitting across the hall from us. 2 of them were sitting down and 2 of them (their friends) were standing up. I could tell they were friends just by watching how they interacted. So my son says to me "why are those people just standing there? why are they so close?" I explained to him that they were all friends having a conversation.

It just kind of fascinated me, since I think a lot of people take reading body language for granted. Do you have difficulty reading nonverbal cues and body language?



Last edited by kattoo13 on 09 Dec 2008, 3:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

09 Dec 2008, 3:44 pm

Yes and no.



lionesss
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09 Dec 2008, 3:44 pm

I used to not understand body language at all. I had to learn it over the years. My son who is under the spectrum as well is good at reading facial expressions.


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Zornhau
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09 Dec 2008, 4:00 pm

I just read a book that really helped me with better catching the non-facial body language, "The Definitive Book of Body Language". The only annoying part was they mention a couple times in the book how they aren't going to cover facial expressions because "everyone" agrees and sees those, even across cultures. That doesn't help me though as I still miss the correct meaning sometimes! :?



kattoo13
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09 Dec 2008, 4:16 pm

I figured I'd post up this link:

http://www.modelmekids.com/aspergers-videos.html

This place offers a variety of videos for kids on the spectrum to help with cues and social skills. I ordered the conversation cues one for my son who is 9. The links are at the top of the page.



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09 Dec 2008, 4:37 pm

This is what I don't understand. How do you know if you understand or don't understand nonverbal cues?

I have never been specifically told that I've misunderstood a nonverbal cue, but I can look back at countless situations where I now go, "OH!! ! That didn't mean what I thought it meant!" Perhaps I was misreading nonverbal cues, or perhaps something different was going on. There are certain things that I interpreted a certain way, because I was naive or gullible. But is that misunderstanding nonverbal cues? I'm just not sure.

I've always thought that I could tell whether a person was bored, irritated, amused, or whatever, and sometimes I'm sure I can, ...but it seems like some people are simply dishonest in their nonverbal communication, and will purposefully deceive you for their own amusement. I've had that happen several times, including one guy who seemed to spend a lot of energy acting like he was interested in me, when really I was more like some kind of strange anomaly for him to study. Where did the communication go awry? Did I misread his nonverbal cues? Or did he deceive me? Both? Neither?

It's all very strange.



Nan
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09 Dec 2008, 4:41 pm

I'm pretty good with it, in my own culture, from having studied it extensively for decades. It's NOT instinctive. Or at least, it doesn't seem that way.



Bea
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09 Dec 2008, 4:48 pm

I think I can read body language and facial expressions pretty well, sometimes even better than the NTs I'm with. My main problem is in trying to reflect back the appropriate expression or body language. Did I smile at the right time? Should I cross my arms? How many times must I move away before they understand I don't like it when they stand so close?

Where I really get into trouble is in the use of ordinary conversation. There are so many words and phrases that can have a sexual innuendo, and over the years I've come to understand this, and have filed many of these meanings under "connotation 4 or 5." However, when I'm in a conversation with someone, and the main dictionary definition of a word is for me "Meaning #1," frequently the people I'm speaking with hear the words I use and it turns out that for them the sexual connotation is "Meaning #1." They just assume it's the same for me. Sometimes it gets to the point that I'm afraid to say anything at all, for fear of being misunderstood, and then people get the impression that I'm aloof, unfriendly, and "stuck-up."

Sometimes I wish I had a button to wear that says: "Excuse me if I seem aloof or unfriendly. I'm just trying to avoid any misunderstandings that could be caused by YOUR obsession with sex."

That's too much to put on one button, though.



lelia
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09 Dec 2008, 5:00 pm

My oldest son has often had to educate me when I said something that had a sexual connotation that I never knew about.



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09 Dec 2008, 5:13 pm

I'm pretty sure that in addition to not being able to read non-verbal cues, I'm just plain not interested in them. They're too indirect and open to misinterpretation. I've always wished that people would just say what they have to say, and not leave so much unspoken.

I suppose it's possible that I'm not interested in non-verbal cues because I can't read them anyway, but it's also possible that I can't read them because they don't interest me.

Hmmm....

Anyway notice that in Genesis, the character known as G-d creates the world with *words*--and NOT with non-verbal gestures and body language?

I rest my case.



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09 Dec 2008, 5:49 pm

I have always wondered why NT people can't just say what they mean? Or why must they read between lines that I never drew? And one of the weirdest, is their need to greet everyone they see, whether they are acquainted with them, or not. This always startles and irritates me, when I am out in public. Today, I was passing a bus stop bench, and I was vaguely aware that someone had said something. Half a block away, it registered, and I turned to look back, in time to see some guy staring after me, with his hat raised above his head, as if he had taken it off and greeted me.


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09 Dec 2008, 6:03 pm

Decoding body language is a challenge, especially when the body and the words seem to be saying two different things.


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09 Dec 2008, 6:57 pm

I have been slowly getting better at it, but I'm still kind of blind. The little bit I do know is from slowly learning and filing away certain actions (ie. Action 1 = Meaning 1, etc.). I'm also supposedly faceblind and cannot pick up sarcasm over the phone. *Sigh* More things to work on.


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09 Dec 2008, 7:28 pm

neshamaruach wrote:
I suppose it's possible that I'm not interested in non-verbal cues because I can't read them anyway, but it's also possible that I can't read them because they don't interest me.

The latter is not plausible. The learning entailed in normal acquisition of normal human non-verbal communication is not voluntary, and one's interest or not is irrelevant to the learning process.

Consider someone who cannot speak any language. Is it likely that this is because their personality does not include an interest in language? Do people need to be interested in language to learn one? No. All human children in the course of normal development acquire language and other communication skills. A failure to do so is an instance of atypical development that requires explanations beyond personality and interest.

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I have always wondered why NT people can't just say what they mean?

It would not be evolutionarily stable.



neshamaruach
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09 Dec 2008, 7:44 pm

pandd wrote:
neshamaruach wrote:
I suppose it's possible that I'm not interested in non-verbal cues because I can't read them anyway, but it's also possible that I can't read them because they don't interest me.

The latter is not plausible. The learning entailed in normal acquisition of normal human non-verbal communication is not voluntary, and one's interest or not is irrelevant to the learning process.

Consider someone who cannot speak any language. Is it likely that this is because their personality does not include an interest in language? Do people need to be interested in language to learn one? No. All human children in the course of normal development acquire language and other communication skills. A failure to do so is an instance of atypical development that requires explanations beyond personality and interest.


I'm not convinced that the acquisition of non-verbal communications skills is a universally normal human developmental feat. How much study has there been on this across cultures? (I'm not arguing. I'm asking. I tend to be suspicious of anything posing as "universal" when we're talking about billions of human beings across innumerable cultures for thousands of years.)

pandd wrote:
neshamaruach wrote:
I have always wondered why NT people can't just say what they mean?

It would not be evolutionarily stable.


What do you mean by this? I can think of a few interpretations, but I'd rather not guess.