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magz
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29 Aug 2017, 4:30 am

As I read texts about ASD, there is often a lot about eye contact. I can relate to many aspects but not to this - nobody ever pressured me to make eye contact. I seldom do and it's not considered a problem.

I believe the eye contact issue is specyfic to the US culture. Well, it must be really hard to be an aspie in a culture where psychological journals need to explain that being an introvert is not an ilness.

In my culture (Eastern Europe), when I don't make eye contact, people seem to assume I'm just shy and go on with the topic.
What I find a challenge in my culture is a custom of prynuka. Not everyone here even know the word but it is a custom of exchanging a lot of offers and refusals to show your affection. You shouldn't simply ask for what you need, you need to wait until it is offered, then refuse, then wait for another time it's offered, then, after several cycles, finally agree... or something, it's so confusing for me that I never really figured it out. If I don't do it, I'm considered egoistic and I can't do it because it's too confusing and includes a lot of exhausting pointless interaction.

I wonder what it is like to be an Aspie in other cultures, like Middle East or East Asia. What are the main challenges there? What is easier? It would be great to read about it!


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AuntieMatter
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29 Aug 2017, 9:20 am

Prynuka sounds horrendous. I wouldn't even know where to begin.

In globalised/internationalised situations (meetings, businesses, academia to an extent, urban-social) I notice the expectation for eye contact. I try to look at people's foreheads or somewhere near their face, but usually end up staring. I've previously been very aware of people being offended or just confused if you don't look at them at all, so I usually try. Study groups, conferences, and meetings are where I notice it most; the way other people use their faces and bodies when they talk, and what happens when you don't.

But, in rural (maybe more traditional) areas, like where I live, it's much easier. It's perfectly ok to look into the distance, or at the floor or at your hands, while having a conversation. Maybe there are just more weirdos in the countryside. :wink: People don't expect hugs when they see you, they don't touch your arm when they're talking, and they don't expect that constant facial language either.



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29 Aug 2017, 10:00 am

The Role of Eye Contact in Different Cultures

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The UK, USA, Australia and Western Europe all have fairly similar social expectations of when and where eye contact is appropriate… which is most of the time!

Eye contact is expected in Western culture, it is a basic essential to a social interaction which shows a person’s interest and engagement with your conversation.

In Western cultures eyes are considered to show the central point of a person’s focus. So if somebody doesn’t give any eye contact during a conversation, it may be considered insulting. Many people would take this to mean that they weren’t interested, and take their wandering eyes as a sign of their distraction.

In other, more formal, circumstances in Western cultures a lack of eye contact can be seen in another way. For example, in an interview situation, strong eye contact by the interviewee is seen as a sign of self-belief, whereas a lack of eye contact is seen as a lack of confidence.

In countries such as China and Japan, eye contact is not considered an essential to social interaction, instead it is often considered inappropriate. In such an authoritarian culture, it is believed that subordinates shouldn’t make steady eye contact with their superiors.

Many African and Latin American cultures, while unique in many ways, remain strong hierarchical societies. In many circumstances intense eye contact is seen as aggressive, confrontational and extremely disrespectful.


In the U.S.A. extensive small talk is expected. In some social situations, you are not expected to go beyond small talk. Small talk is expected before getting down to business. In a high level setting like meeting a new client, a whole bunch of social interactions such as a meal or a game of golf is expected before a business is discussed.

America is an extroverted culture. Aggressive people are seen as "go getters", "doers" . People who think before doing are considered weak and indecisive. I do not think a personality like Donald Trump's would be elected leader in most if not any other country. Although the American DSM manual is not used everywhere in the world the ISD pretty much follows it. It was called Aspergers DISORDER, and now Autism Spectrum DISORDER for a number of reasons. How lack of eye contact and lack of small talk skills are viewed plays a large role.


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29 Aug 2017, 10:08 am

I would say Americans "get down to business" somewhat quicker than in European countries, and tend to be more blunt and less polite. "Small-talk" is expected--but not to the extent that is found in Europe.



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29 Aug 2017, 10:48 am

I do wish I wanna know the standard aspies' standard of quality of life from where I live.
And I hope such data exists -- and even more hopefully said data isn't from the capital's or the like's sub/culture -- because they kept mimicking other cultures, especially the Americans and Europeans, and are terrible representative sample.

... Somehow, I'd imagine if I were born in the US instead, it could have been worse even if they have all the technical and socioeconomic progress compare from where I'm...


I live in a poor country where divorce is illegal -- figure it out. :twisted:
People here are too social and too emotional. They are not 'extraverted-aggressive'. They're, like, 'extraverted', 'inclusive' in a certain way, and are generally optimistic. They avoid confrontation, and are likely resort to humor.
People here are more talkative, more casual, and those with enough intelligence have this insane social networking skills. They like to party so loud, that usage of karaokes had been legally banned any later than 10pm until 8 or 10 morning. Also, they are less punctual and organized :lol: that jaywalking is more or less a must have skill.

People around me assumes I'm shy and moody. :lol: And often mistakes me for someone from a different ethnic and socioeconomic class despite that I almost never had left my birth city -- which is why I got away with minor things about body language, slang, accent... :twisted:
"Foreign" stuff here is more of a plus than a minus. Let's just say discrimination is rampant here in a less usual way most would've thought, but not any different from the usual.
Milestones here are also very different. People here don't usually expect their child to move out of the house after the legal age -- they are expected to take care of their elderly parents instead. Majority here are bi/trilingual, so they expect a little bit of a delay with language. Premarital sex isn't encouraged here, yet teen pregnancy is ridiculously common... And so on.
LGBT is taking steps somehow...
And, depending on which region and set of parents or relatives you end up with, they'd treat their born non-NT and/or non-able bodied child better because they thought they bring luck to their families. :lol: And believe they have a role in this damned world.

I'm sure I haven't explored all of it.

And.. Eye contact??.. Depends which region, who are you facing with, what were you doing, which is your gender, why or how or where, and etc.
At least eye contact makes (actual practical) sense to me when it comes to faring tricycles and crossing/jaywalking a street. :twisted:


In a psychology book somewhere I read, as long as said 'traits' or 'symptoms' do not seem to be socially or culturally inappropriate are not considered a 'problem'. I'm sure that's not the exact thing, but that's the gist of it... :skull:


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elf_wizard
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29 Aug 2017, 2:58 pm

It's an interesting topic. I have a small flood of thoughts in response.

In my case certain aspects of "Aspiehood" that can be troublesome are diminished by the expectations & behaviors of other people, and others are not. For example, I don't know how the issue of attention shifting would improve in a another culture, but those related to eye-contact and explicit/direct/literal speech might.

I'd guess there is a limit on the potential benefit of living in a different culture. With my somewhat limited experience of living in other cultures, I'm inclined to believe that the mysteries that changing cultures at my age would present would greatly outweigh any potential benefit. Even in the US, going between regions and states, culture varies enough to feel foreign to someone that has lived in another region/state (or even city, in some cases) of the US for most of their lives. At 38, there are some things I only just learned (by being told directly) that NTs have been taking for granted for most of their lives. Some of that would vary by culture & some would not. Maybe it would be easier to be a foreigner in the sense that people might be more inclined to verbalize expectations.

It's possible that the "individualistic" nature of the West has benefited me as someone that has trouble thinking about what other people are thinking.

It's very interesting to hear an Asian perspective Edna3362, thanks for that.

AuntieMatter, as your profile says you're in Ireland I'm surprised & interested to hear you say that prynuka would be hard to live with. Experience varies of course, but I've lived in Ireland, my father was born & raised in Dublin. We very much had the expectation that we were not to ask for anything and that, if offered, to refuse, at least a little, before accepting. Maybe this has changed in Ireland (my father was born in 1932).



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31 Aug 2017, 8:16 am

AuntieMatter wrote:
But, in rural (maybe more traditional) areas, like where I live, it's much easier. It's perfectly ok to look into the distance, or at the floor or at your hands, while having a conversation. Maybe there are just more weirdos in the countryside. :wink: People don't expect hugs when they see you, they don't touch your arm when they're talking, and they don't expect that constant facial language either.


My experience is the exact opposite. I come from a small town, from a farm on top of that, and back when I was child and young everyone were really strict about all kind of social norms and such. Here where I live now, a town much bigger, they don't seem to be that strict. I mean even here there are kids and teens that yell things if you don't dress in a way they think someone your age should, walk weirdly in their opinion or always happen to take a walk around the same time of they day on the same route, but I suppose as long as there are people around there are also idiots. I think that the amount of people helps here; when you live in a bigger place the chance of running in to the same people all the time gets lower. Also, when I visit the neighboring city I get odd looks or comments next to never. Or if I do they're just so subtle that I don't notice.

I think that with small communities there are two options: if people see you as weird then they either accept you the way you are or try very hard to either smoke you out or make you act like everyone else. Fortunately, you seem to have been in the former situation. Wish I could say the same.



AuntieMatter
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31 Aug 2017, 2:13 pm

Are you in the US, Fireblossom? I agree, really, in terms of either being accepted or targeted for being different. I've had both experiences. I found that once I stopped caring what people thought of me, and became more independently minded, that changed. Maybe now I take the comments and snide looks less seriously, they don't seem so obvious because they don't bother me. And as cheesy as it sounds, people are more likely to accept your eccentricities if you accept them yourself.

Elf-wizard, you're right about that too (the Mrs. Doyle routine from Father Ted is hilarious because it's accurate). I've often had a drink put in front of me having insisted three times I didn't want one. I guess prynuka sounded different, as I read it. And there's also a limit on ascribing cultural norms when people's individual experiences vary so much, depending on your family, your environment, your supports. ASPartOfMe and kraftiekortie have opposite opinions on American small talk, for example. Where I live, most casual conversations revolve around people (good-naturedly) making fun of each other, and most people are pretty straight to the point. But, someone in the same location as me could see things differently depending on their own experience.



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31 Aug 2017, 3:46 pm

AuntieMatter wrote:
... people are more likely to accept your eccentricities if you accept them yourself.


I've never heard that before but I'm glad you said it :) & thanks for the rest of your response also.



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01 Sep 2017, 11:40 am

AuntieMatter wrote:
Are you in the US, Fireblossom?


No, I'm from Northern Europe, Finland to be exact.



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01 Sep 2017, 12:56 pm

magz wrote:
I wonder what it is like to be an Aspie in other cultures, like Middle East or East Asia. What are the main challenges there? What is easier? It would be great to read about it!


it is very variable. Autism as an example did not exist in Kuwait until 1991. It was only when Iraq invaded and rich Kuwaiti families ran to the US to escape that their children were diagnosed. A friend of mine goes to Kuwait in a professional capacity (Autism consultancy) and hosts a radio show from time to time discussing autism with the listeners. There is all kind of issues which culturally would not crop up in the west, like men holding hands which are not at all unusual in the middle east. There is also a different concept disability. An autistic child is seen as a blessing from Allah, almost as a sign of divine approval, that God would never have trusted a child so vulnerable with a family who he did not trust.


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01 Sep 2017, 1:10 pm

AuntieMatter wrote:
Elf-wizard, you're right about that too (the Mrs. Doyle routine from Father Ted is hilarious because it's accurate).


That is so true. I lived in North Co Leitrim for 13 years. The whole ah would you have a cup of tea thing, ah go on, go on, go on, go on is dead right. Almost always with ham on white bread, which sticks to the roof of your mouth with the first bite. You have to do the ritual or you will be considered rude, you have to refuse the tea and ham sandwich at least twice... life is really funny up on the bog, god good the stories I could tell.


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01 Sep 2017, 1:19 pm

English culture + aspie: you win some, you lose some. (The rest of the UK has major differences in this, I suspect.) A lot of the time, most people here are quite reserved: don't express emotions strongly, don't talk to strangers much, speak quietly (unless drunk), keep a lot of things private. Compared to that, typical aspie behaviour doesn't stand out as much as in a more extrovert culture. But neurotypicals usually know how and when to break out of that reserve- I don't! When I actually need to express something to someone, it often goes wrong because I haven't seen how to do it often enough to learn.

Plus, it must be an awful place if you don't "get" sarcasm and irony well- Brits use sarcastic figures of speech so habitually that about one sentence in 4 means the opposite of what it says. I grew up in a very sarcastic household in a very sarcastic town, so I learned to deal with it. On the other hand, I was 26 before I could understand compliments that /aren't/ sarcastic.


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01 Sep 2017, 1:21 pm

Voxish wrote:
magz wrote:
I wonder what it is like to be an Aspie in other cultures, like Middle East or East Asia. What are the main challenges there? What is easier? It would be great to read about it!


it is very variable. Autism as an example did not exist in Kuwait until 1991. It was only when Iraq invaded and rich Kuwaiti families ran to the US to escape that their children were diagnosed. A friend of mine goes to Kuwait in a professional capacity (Autism consultancy) and hosts a radio show from time to time discussing autism with the listeners. There is all kind of issues which culturally would not crop up in the west, like men holding hands which are not at all unusual in the middle east. There is also a different concept disability. An autistic child is seen as a blessing from Allah, almost as a sign of divine approval, that God would never have trusted a child so vulnerable with a family who he did not trust.


Interesting! The extent to which perception governs reality. Really what else is reality I suppose besides perception. Well go on and have a cup of tea! Go on!



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01 Sep 2017, 1:46 pm

PhosphorusDecree wrote:
English culture + aspie: you win some, you lose some. (The rest of the UK has major differences in this, I suspect.) A lot of the time, most people here are quite reserved: don't express emotions strongly, don't talk to strangers much, speak quietly (unless drunk), keep a lot of things private. Compared to that, typical aspie behaviour doesn't stand out as much as in a more extrovert culture. But neurotypicals usually know how and when to break out of that reserve- I don't! When I actually need to express something to someone, it often goes wrong because I haven't seen how to do it often enough to learn.

Plus, it must be an awful place if you don't "get" sarcasm and irony well- Brits use sarcastic figures of speech so habitually that about one sentence in 4 means the opposite of what it says. I grew up in a very sarcastic household in a very sarcastic town, so I learned to deal with it. On the other hand, I was 26 before I could understand compliments that /aren't/ sarcastic.


I live very close to you I expect. The thing I struggled with is the blokey Northern banter which goes on, I don't like it. I can't tell when people are joking, I can't give back as good as I am given. If I try I mess it up (I have got myself into trouble in the past) I don't know how to handle it.

My idea of a nightmare night out is a night in a Northern pub. I would never do such a thing.


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05 Sep 2017, 12:52 pm

Voxish wrote:
PhosphorusDecree wrote:
English culture + aspie: you win some, you lose some...


I live very close to you I expect. The thing I struggled with is the blokey Northern banter which goes on, I don't like it. I can't tell when people are joking, I can't give back as good as I am given. If I try I mess it up (I have got myself into trouble in the past) I don't know how to handle it.

My idea of a nightmare night out is a night in a Northern pub. I would never do such a thing.


I'm a transplant from East Anglia, which is even worse for sarcasm. But I know the kind of Northern banter you mean- really heavy-handed, and it's hard to tell whether it's friendly or menacing. I like pubs, but I'm careful which ones I go to and avoid Saturday and Friday nights like the plague.


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