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aspartame
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04 May 2010, 11:48 pm

...that makes it apparent to others that I'm not quite typical.

I used to think that my differences weren't obvious unless someone interacted with me at length. However, I've come to realize recently that there's some nonverbal cue that marks me as "weird", and I'm curious to know what it is.

Last night, I was stuck at the airport after missing a connecting flight. I was waiting in line with a group of other passengers, all of whom were in a similar predicament. They were joking and laughing with one another, but no one tried to include me in the conversation. The relevant comments I made about the situation were acknowledged, but I still felt as though I was outside of some social group.

After we'd all been processed through customer service, we were instructed to go outise the airport to wait for the shuttle to our hotel. Again, all of the other passengers engaged in lighthearted conversation, but no one spoke to me. I had tried all evening to seem friendly and approachable. At first, I suspected that people are hesitant to speak to strangers, but that doesn't seem to be the case since they were all speaking to one another. I know that I don't appear physically threatening, as I am quite small and young-looking. My neutral facial expression is a frown, but I did attempt to joke and chat with the other passengers, so it was clear that I wasn't unfriendly.

All of this has led me to the conclusion that there is some way that strangers are able to guess that I'm neurologically unusual. What could it be?



anxiety25
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04 May 2010, 11:54 pm

Any idea how the timing of your comments was? I've noticed, this seems to be my problem... I say things in a plenty friendly manner, yet, something is awkward in just how it's responded to, and I've been told my timing is just "odd" about things, or seems more like random fact stating rather than actual back and forth conversation. In other words, I say plenty of things that could easily develop into full fledged convo for me... but just aren't typical for friendly chit chat/small talk for others. Or that I just state it so matter of factly from the start that people don't know how to say much in response to it.


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harlequinsenor
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05 May 2010, 12:09 am

I get that too... totally...

Like I was at a training session just last week with a group of about 15 people in a small room... I tried to be talkative and friendly... I thought I was... but they all went to lunch without even so much as asking me... I felt excluded from everything despite the fact that we were all tightly packed at a table together... even the quiet girl at the end somehow got included and I didn't even hear her say a word the entire time...

Half the time when I did say something it seemed like nobody even heard me... I got talked over, which really upset me... to the point where I raised my voice at the girl who interrupted me... she acted so shocked and surprised as though she hadn't even heard me talking in the first place... even though the instructor was clearly listening to my comment at the time.



aspartame
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05 May 2010, 1:22 am

anxiety25 wrote:
Any idea how the timing of your comments was? I've noticed, this seems to be my problem... I say things in a plenty friendly manner, yet, something is awkward in just how it's responded to, and I've been told my timing is just "odd" about things, or seems more like random fact stating rather than actual back and forth conversation. In other words, I say plenty of things that could easily develop into full fledged convo for me... but just aren't typical for friendly chit chat/small talk for others. Or that I just state it so matter of factly from the start that people don't know how to say much in response to it.


Hmm. You might be on to something here. In the past, I've suspected that there's something slightly off about the delivery of my small-talk "routine". I'm a pretty poor judge of conversational timing. Sometimes I'm surprised by the things that others find important as far as social interactions are concerned. I certainly don't mind if someone just spews random facts at me in a poorly timed fashion. It's the substance of the conversation, rather than the style, that matters, and straightforward facts are an ideal means of conveying worthwhile information.

I also think there's something about my body language that gives me away. Even before I open my mouth, people seem to either avoid or ignore me. Last night, while I was standing in line waiting to speak with an airline customer service representative, some [email protected] jerkwad totally cut in front of me as though I wasn't there. Afterward, I decided that there might have been doing something to indicate vulnerability or lack of awareness, and she simply took advantage.

I wish I knew what was spoiling my NT disguise! :)



anxiety25
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05 May 2010, 1:35 am

aspartame wrote:
I also think there's something about my body language that gives me away. Even before I open my mouth, people seem to either avoid or ignore me. Last night, while I was standing in line waiting to speak with an airline customer service representative, some [email protected] jerkwad totally cut in front of me as though I wasn't there. Afterward, I decided that there might have been doing something to indicate vulnerability or lack of awareness, and she simply took advantage.


I have learned to not be looking at anything else if I'm in line for something. Stare straight forward at the person in front of me, as if I have a very important goal, lol. People get in line in front of me all of the time in the grocery store, as I'm usually chasing my kids around and don't move my cart quite fast enough for them to realize that I am, in fact, in line... that gets really frustrating.

Hmmm... I would ask my boyfriend about this type of stuff, but he doesn't really do much better, despite being NT, haha. He talks very loudly about things, things I find inappropriate a lot of the time to be in a social setting... mainly the stuff that boils down to just plain manners, lol. He'll talk about bladder problems in restaurants, or once pointed out the psoriasis (very loudly) on the back of my scalp for like, 1/2 an hour and then threw a fit when I finally told him "I know it's there. There is nothing I can do about it... now leave it alone!" lol. It doesn't embarrass me itself, but I don't want everyone in the store staring at the back of my head, either, lol.

I'm assuming that body language alone has a lot to do with standing in line and being noticed... can't be looking at the floor-I think that is a sign of passiveness/low self-esteem/not wanting to be acknowledged type stuff... learned that in a book thingie my therapist gave me a while back. Gotta be head up, looking forward... or at least head up.

As far as the rest goes... no clue, haha.


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05 May 2010, 2:02 am

As I'm not in a position to actually meet you, I think you are going to have to play a game of "contrast and compare"

This is generally what I do when trying to figure one of these situations out.

What do I do that other people usually don't? What do they do that I usually don't?

Start with the physical stuff. Ask how you usually dress, and try to find way it might differ from ways most other people might dress. This is probably the easiest part because it's the most concrete.

It's a little more difficult to figure out how your mannerism and body language might differ from others. A lot of people studying psychology to figure this out, but personally, I believe acting theory that focuses on character development and form might be more conductive.



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05 May 2010, 3:09 am

I once read on this forum that the more we try to act 'normal' the weirder we seem, because others can see what we're doing is an act and can misinterpret our behaviour as being shifty or suspicious, I've thought a lot about that comment since I read it months ago, and I think it's actually true....I've tried to act more like 'me' since I read that, besides I find that trying to fit into a group in such as way as the OP mentions becomes utterly exhausting after a while, all the awareness and work it takes just to be able to figure out some kind of conversational interjection (which, by the time you've worked out what to say the conversation has moved on!!)

It is horrible being left on the outside of the social amalgam in that way, that wonderful sense of trepidation and confusion is oh-so fun! (sarcasm)



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05 May 2010, 5:19 am

There's kind of a look of confusion in the eyes of anyone normal I ever talk to, it's subtle but there. It's like they know I'm doing something abnormal but they don't know what it is, but it definitely registers.


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05 May 2010, 6:15 am

Too be honest I really don't know. I wonder the same thing about myself. As far as I can tell I talk within the spectrum of what's considered normal, I know not to mention things such as politics, religion, bodily functions and to keep all subjects that I find interesting to myself because I now know that most people really just don't care. If in a group situation I laugh at people's jokes even if I don't understand them just to try to appear typical and I don't isolate myself in the corner of rooms. People just seem to form groups around me and leave me out and I know it's not intentional, but it's like I'm the boy in the bubble - I have this one difference that's so clear yet so easy to miss (in my case) if you don't know it's there (for example when people aren't paying attention and they run into glass sliding doors).

Sometimes I stare at myself in the mirror trying to figure out what it is but I always end up doing the same thing - asking others what makes me different and it seems that they don't even know! Either that or they just don't want to tell me. I wont be offended, I just want to know.


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05 May 2010, 8:03 am

Eye contact and what's conveyed by it...
NTs look at each other in the eye and convey welcome non-verbally.

We don't do that... either giving or receiving. I know I flinch away when someone actually manages to catch my eye and smile at me with their eyes. My neurology automatically responds to it as intrusive.

I think it conveys to them the message that we want to be left alone... so that's what they consciously or unconsciously do.

I cannot tell you the number of times I've been excluded from a group just like you... I want to be included, but it's as if I don't even exist to them.



aspartame
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05 May 2010, 2:29 pm

I didn't remember this until just now, but my significant other has mentioned in the past that there is something abnormal about my general posture when in social situations. Specifically, he notes that I'm never looking in the right place while in a group of strangers. I always appear to be looking at the ground or staring at people inappropriately, even when I'm trying to look normal. When in an elevator, for example, I never know quite where to direct my eyes, and I think others become uncomfortable as a result.



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05 May 2010, 5:33 pm

anxiety25 wrote:
Any idea how the timing of your comments was? I've noticed, this seems to be my problem... I say things in a plenty friendly manner, yet, something is awkward in just how it's responded to, and I've been told my timing is just "odd" about things, or seems more like random fact stating rather than actual back and forth conversation. In other words, I say plenty of things that could easily develop into full fledged convo for me... but just aren't typical for friendly chit chat/small talk for others. Or that I just state it so matter of factly from the start that people don't know how to say much in response to it.


I'm pretty sure that's the exact same problem I have with group conversations.


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05 May 2010, 5:43 pm

DonkeyBuster wrote:
Eye contact and what's conveyed by it...
NTs look at each other in the eye and convey welcome non-verbally.

We don't do that... either giving or receiving. I know I flinch away when someone actually manages to catch my eye and smile at me with their eyes. My neurology automatically responds to it as intrusive.

I think it conveys to them the message that we want to be left alone... so that's what they consciously or unconsciously do.

I cannot tell you the number of times I've been excluded from a group just like you... I want to be included, but it's as if I don't even exist to them.


I have to suppress all my natural hostile tells... it's hard work. One day I hope it just happens habitually.


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Leander
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05 May 2010, 5:51 pm

Moog wrote:
There's kind of a look of confusion in the eyes of anyone normal I ever talk to, it's subtle but there. It's like they know I'm doing something abnormal but they don't know what it is, but it definitely registers.

I see that very frequently when interacting with new people, too. Something seems to catch them off-guard.

I tend to generalise all this stuff as just being on a different wavelength to everyone else. When NTs interact it seems like they quickly sync up with one another and send all kinds of non-verbal messages back and forth (which I pick up on, but don't know how to react to), and conversation flows naturally as a result. On the very rare occasions when I attempt to join in, my comments seem unexpected, or come just as someone else starts speaking and go completely unheard. Being out of sync like this sometimes even seems to turn off other people's hearing to an extent, as if I'm filtered out along with the background noise.



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05 May 2010, 6:02 pm

I would love to see this posted as a poll, as in 'how long does it take people to 'clock' you as different. For me it is usually the second interaction. That's when I can see the wheels turning in their minds.



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05 May 2010, 6:15 pm

I find as soon as I open my mouth and speak I get 'the reaction'. :?


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