balancing AS symptoms while functioning in the real world

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Dots
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27 Apr 2011, 10:22 pm

I am going out for coffee with a couple of friends tomorrow. I am happy about this. I enjoy spending time with these people, they seem to be largely unaffected by my awkwardness. I went to a party one of them had (a very small party, less than 10 people) and I retreated a lot into myself and didn't interact much with the other people. These two friends were at the party, and even though I was declared to be "unfun" at one point (which I took seriously even though the declarant was joking), these people still want to hang out with me.

I have not been diagnosed with an ASD. I suspect I might be on the spectrum, but I've never seen a specialist. I've been diagnosed with social anxiety, through a psychologist who knows nothing about ASDs.

This is how I intend to balance what I suspect could be AS symptoms and still function while out for coffee.

This is what I will not change:
I will take the usual bus, sit in the usual seat, walk the usual route. Luckily, we're going to the usual place, and I will order the usual thing. I will keep things as same as possible.

I will not be late. As much as it grates me that the time we're meeting is "around" 7 (just give me a set time, argh) I will arrive on time.

I will not force eye contact. I am getting better at it, but if I force myself to make eye contact a lot of times I find myself unable to carry on a conversation.

I will wear something comfortable.

I will hope that the conversation can at some point turn to music (not pop music) or musical theatre, as I can talk about this for a long time.

And what I will make an attempt to change:
I will practice small talk and go into the social outing with a few topics in mind in case I need to keep the conversation going. (I long for the ability to just go with the conversational flow, but I've had some social skills training by an occupational therapist and will put that to use.)

I can save the obvious stims for when I get home.

What I cannot control:
How bright the lights are in the shop.

How noisy and crowded the shop is.

What time the other two will show up.

Does this sound like a reasonable plan to have a functional social outing while not going crazy?


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27 Apr 2011, 10:45 pm

I think it's great!

It hardly ever occurs to me to think through what I might encounter before a potentially stressful event--even fun things. When I remind myself of all of my triggers--and plan accordingly-- I enjoy myself much more. Now if I make a list like yours and keep it in my datebook or something, then I will have it to fall back on whenever I need it. Thanks :)


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Acacia
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27 Apr 2011, 11:52 pm

Dots wrote:
I have not been diagnosed with an ASD. I suspect I might be on the spectrum, but I've never seen a specialist. I've been diagnosed with social anxiety, through a psychologist who knows nothing about ASDs.
..........................
Does this sound like a reasonable plan to have a functional social outing while not going crazy?

Well first of all, to my momentary astonishment you just described my life with striking accuracy.

Now, to answer your question, yes that sounds like a reasonable plan. I think you've covered all your bases.
The interesting thing to me is that you consciously planned it out to such a degree. I say that because I could see myself doing just that. I've found that when I invest this level of planning in my daily encounters with the "real world", things seem to go a lot smoother.

One time the exact same thing happened to me: I was randomly invited out for drinks by a couple old friends from school.
I was, of course, terribly anxious, and probably broke 30 different social rules during the outing. But it was unexpected, with people I had not seen in years, in a totally new place, with all sorts of unpredictable environmental factors. I stayed optimistic, but after about 30 minutes of being in that situation, I felt panicked and trapped, and had to fabricate some reason to leave. They didn't talk to me again. And I was actually glad about it.

I guess NT people happily look forward to such things, and don't give a ton of overt thought to planning the sequence of events, or how to manage fine details to prevent meltdowns. More power to you for getting out there and doing stuff. Hope things go well :)


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Dots
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28 Apr 2011, 9:02 pm

I almost got thrown for a loop when the two friends brought someone else I don't know very well with them. I probably seemed kind of quiet again, but I'm also transgendered (female to male), and these friends actually liked talking about it, and that's one subject I can talk about, so I did talk some. One girl mentioned that I had no facial expressions so she couldn't tell how I was reacting to the things she said, but I'm going to start a separate thread about that.

It was mostly a success, I don't think I seemed too weird or awkward. Did a bit of finger flicking under the table, but even the noise in the restaurant wasn't too bad, except there was a bell that dinged every so often. But I enjoyed myself, so it was successful.


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Transgender. Call me 'he' please. I'm a guy.
Diagnosed Bipolar and Aspergers (questioning the ASD diagnosis).

Free speech means the right to shout 'theatre' in a crowded fire.
--Abbie Hoffman