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marshall
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17 Dec 2009, 6:00 pm

Throughout my whole life I've noticed that I have trouble with tasks that require spontaneous thought/action. Things such as brainstorming, telling stories, answering open-ended questions, or coming up with clever examples to illustrate a point. Those are a few specific examples but I feel the deficit is more general than this. It effects all areas of my life. I find myself having to think through things more carefully and deliberately than other people. I can't just "do" things without planning them out ahead of time in my mind.

I guess the part that has me confused is how exactly this ties in with ASDs. When I read about the social difficulties that people on the spectrum, at least in the literature, everything is tied into deficits in the ability to empathize and/or intuitively understand social situations. If I analyze my own difficulties it's really hard to pin it down to anything specific like that. Instead I just experience a general inability to perform in social situations that is tied in with lack of ability to improvise. I simply cannot think of words to say quickly enough.

Now I've been wondering how much this ties in to being on the autism spectrum as it clearly isn't the case that all people on the spectrum have the same type of difficulties that I have. I feel that I might have something unique that is related to autism but that doesn't necessarily fit within the "core-characteristics" that are generally attributed to autism. I also don't know how much of my problems can be attributed to neurological differences verses social anxiety or simple lack of confidence/practice due to my introverted personality.

I have more thoughts on this but right now I'm running out of time... have to drive home from work. Hopefully I'll add some more to this later as I don't feel like I've completely articulated the thing I want to discuss here.



wigglyspider
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17 Dec 2009, 6:24 pm

I think that's exactly the kind of thing people mean when they talk about an inability to communicate or be social. I mean, MOST social interaction relies strongly upon the ability to spontaneously improvise in conversations and generate new information instead of just respond to it. (Like adding detail to your answers and offering new ideas and topics instead of just saying yes or no.)

But you said it's the same in other aspects of your life? Like, do you mean things other than communicating or interacting? Like if you're working on a project and you don't have a certain tool, can you rig a tool out of something that's not meant for the job, or are you stuck? That's the kind of thing I thought you meant from the title.


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Maggiedoll
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17 Dec 2009, 7:14 pm

I definitely have that problem. That's why I generally prefer forums to real-time chat.. there are so many times I don't know what to say, and I like to be able to re-phrase things.. and it just takes me a long time to say anything. Coming up with something immediate never works for me.



millie
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17 Dec 2009, 7:33 pm

I have learned how to say and do the right thing (to some degree) in social situations. I learned this later in life than earlier.
However, I am on dvd doing so, and my responses appear scripted and my voice is forced and pitched in a kind of over-compensatory way. I appear forced.
My voice is also too loud, compared to others in the vid.

there is also a scene where I am doing a play acting thing with my son- and I am loud, forced and a bit strange. THen i turn away from him and my face goes completely blank and stony. My ex said it is a perfect example of how it is to live with me and interact with me face to face.

there is a kind of tapestry of forced and scripted responses, and then a sudden dissociative and more real cut-off that is the real me, who doesn't really process interaction and the concurrent emotionial exchanges between people, in the same way others do.

UNFORTUNATELY...my extreme meltdown responses are very real!



marshall
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17 Dec 2009, 11:15 pm

wigglyspider wrote:
I think that's exactly the kind of thing people mean when they talk about an inability to communicate or be social. I mean, MOST social interaction relies strongly upon the ability to spontaneously improvise in conversations and generate new information instead of just respond to it. (Like adding detail to your answers and offering new ideas and topics instead of just saying yes or no.)

Yes. This is my problem socially. I usually can't add anything to a conversation. I can't come up with jokes or clever responses on the spot. I come across as being all wooden even though that's not how I view myself. I have plenty going on in my head but very little that I'm able to communicate easily. Most other people seem to communicate more easily but their actual ideas are rather superficial. It's a perception I have that's tough to describe.

Quote:
But you said it's the same in other aspects of your life? Like, do you mean things other than communicating or interacting? Like if you're working on a project and you don't have a certain tool, can you rig a tool out of something that's not meant for the job, or are you stuck? That's the kind of thing I thought you meant from the title.

I have trouble with open-endedness in general. I have trouble making arbitrary choices or just spontaneously trying new things. I do better when I have other people to guide me. I wouldn't say I'm necessarily uncreative though. I have creativity in certain areas.



nansnick
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18 Dec 2009, 10:53 am

marshall wrote:
I have trouble with open-endedness in general. I have trouble making arbitrary choices or just spontaneously trying new things. I do better when I have other people to guide me. I wouldn't say I'm necessarily uncreative though. I have creativity in certain areas.


Someone once told me I was NOT creative. It about broke my heart. After some contemplation I think they were saying I wasn't spontaneously creative in real-time activities, having little knowledge of me outside of the social sphere. My thought patterns are very conceptually creative I just have difficulty expression them affectively.

Another thing is I'm different in Real Life than in an interview setting. I've learnt to rock some interviews, really hold my own. This makes it difficult in a Doctors office because the tests and questions they ask are often ones I've pre-meditated or am familiar with - they are not spontaneous, or in the work place after the interview. People often thus assume I have abilities that I don't really have, its a 'performance' in a way, I've learned over time certain things are acceptable and apply those things relevantly, more or less.

It is rarely that I'll publicly operate in a mental state capable of spontaneous and relevant thought. In these situations I'm almost always odd in physical presence: I'll be looking away from the person I'm talking with, doing some sort of peripheral stim, slight rocking or leg shaking, or alternate activity...

Its strange: I can talk with a passenger while driving but not talk to a driver when I'm a passenger. Or can talk with a group if we're playing a game but not if we're drinking coffee. Directed conversation is also essential if people expect me to operate successfully.


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RampionRampage
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18 Dec 2009, 12:38 pm

Socially, I don't improvise much at all. I am a chronic scripter and waste a great deal of mental energy on it.

Once, I flunked an English class due to it being too open-ended during the final project.

But, in most writing classes, I got straight As becuase I talked stuff out with much better profs.

When I'm working on jewelry, and I have a certain set of tools and supplies, I can rig things pretty easily --- as long as my parameters/options are clear, I can be very creative. I just need a context to work in.


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leschevalsroses
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18 Dec 2009, 12:43 pm

I have one friend whom I talk with on the phone, and I thought I was doing so well and being spontaneous with conversation and everything, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that what I thought was spontaneous conversation was really just getting more comfortable saying the things that I would rehearse in my head. Our conversation has a very strict schedule where I always know what's going to come next and always have a variation of the same general thing that I say. I have a few phrases that I got really good at saying, like with the tone of my voice and pitch and everything, but it's really just because I've rehearsed it so much. If our conversation takes an unfamiliar turn, I'm lost again even though I feel very comfortable and safe around him.



Odin
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19 Dec 2009, 5:57 pm

I am horrible at improvisation. I need routine and/or clear directions or instructions or enough time to make a plan in my head else my brain freezes up and my anxiety goes through the roof.


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rmgh
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19 Dec 2009, 6:13 pm

That is a recognised symptom, I believe. I'm always stumbling in conversation because I can't think of a metaphor to use or thinking up scenarios to explain things. And I'm terrible at summarising stories of events! I can't quickly think up how to tell how something has happened in a way that's brief but includes the main important parts.



leejosepho
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19 Dec 2009, 6:25 pm

RampionRampage wrote:
When I'm working ... and I have a certain set of tools and supplies ...[and] as long as my parameters/options are clear ...


... I used to do really well, but now I seem to be losing even that ability (for want of confidence, I believe). Aside from that, however, I am exactly as you describe, Marshall. If I cannot plan well ahead of time or just do something by rote, I am lost in just about any kind of situation. I usually have to be shown something only once, but I never discover or truly "originate" anything significant on my own.


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Morgana
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19 Dec 2009, 7:08 pm

I used to have this problem too, and though I still have it in some situations, it´s generally much better than it was. I think nowadays, I have so many conversations with myself in my head, that often when I´m talking to people, I´m really just spouting off something that I´ve already thought before. This seems to happen surprisingly often.

This question about improvising fascinates me though, because being a professional choreographer, I find I am able to make up combinations and think up dance steps in the privacy of my own home, but I am very stressed when I have to do something "on call", quickly, when other people are there in a professional situation. Unfortunately, this ability to improvise and choreograph on call is often part of the job and expected by many people, so I have always known I am limited in this way. I get very worried when I have to work with another theater director, and do much better when I´m in complete control and am working on something alone; my creativity just works better.

I don´t know if that too is something that ties in with AS. I only mention it because I´ve had trouble with all kinds of improvising, all my life. Some of it gets better with practice, but if I get better at improvising in one area, that does not automatically carry over into another area, I have to practice each new thing. And having been a performer all my life, I found I had no problem playing a dramatic part, but when people wanted to see "me" onstage, expressing my own personality, I didn´t really know what they meant, or how to do that. It seemed too "wide open", whereas a set part seemed more specific. I was also confused when singing teachers often told me to "sing in my own voice"; if that was the voice coming out of my own mouth while singing, then wasn´t it my voice? If not, who´s voice was it??? :huh:


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Maggiedoll
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19 Dec 2009, 8:03 pm

RampionRampage wrote:
Once, I flunked an English class due to it being too open-ended during the final project.

That sooo sounds like me.. They want you do do some whole big project, but they don't tell you what they want you to do! Urgh, I hate that! How do you ever know if you're doing the right thing?



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19 Dec 2009, 9:13 pm

Morgana wrote:
I used to have this problem too, and though I still have it in some situations, it´s generally much better than it was. I think nowadays, I have so many conversations with myself in my head, that often when I´m talking to people, I´m really just spouting off something that I´ve already thought before. This seems to happen surprisingly often.


With a freakishly intense enthusiasm. Yup, that's me.


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20 Dec 2009, 3:29 am

I do it all the time


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idiocratik
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20 Dec 2009, 9:33 am

I suck horribly at improvisation, but I think that's part of the AS wiring.


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