Normal social skills, autistic social skills and stress.

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Daftwrist
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14 Aug 2010, 11:06 pm

Do any of you find your social skills are normal and you can pass for normal when you are anxiety free and relaxed? Or are you always seen as odd?

I know I can often look as though I lack social skills, but a lot of the time I know it's because I'm anxious and I can't loosen up. I end up usually not saying anything even when I know I should because my voice gets stuck and I freeze up from anxiety.

I know what I should do, and how I should do it but i just do it wrong.

But isn't that what lots of people with high functioning AS are like? They have insight about what they are supposed to do, but it's like their social skills deteriorate drastically when they are stressed.

Normal people are more robust. They may still get nervous but they vent it in socially acceptable ways, they don't do weird things like acting awkward and freezing up or saying dumb things (not nearly as much and the ones who do probably have AS traits i.e. not totally NT). They may be nervous, but that's it, their social skills are still intact.

Your thoughts?



buryuntime
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14 Aug 2010, 11:30 pm

No. When I'm not stressed just to talk I still move around really weird, and sometimes I'll speak it comes out too loud or soft or robotic. When not at home I get into a zombie-like state and don't really talk to people.

By zombie-like state I mean I feel really stupid, because I can't say the things I want to say and things make no sense but when I get home and think about them they do.



Sea_of_Saiyan
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14 Aug 2010, 11:59 pm

I'm a lot like you described also, and I used to think I had Asperger's for that reason. I'm able to have normal conversations with family members and friends who I'm comfortable around with no problem, but with larger groups or strangers, I tend to listen a lot more than speak, and I usually stay silent even when I think of great things to say.

The way I understand it, if it's anxiety that's holding you back from being "normal", so to speak, it's not the same thing as autism. Anxiety can be corrected, however difficult it may be to do so, but autism is there forever. If you (or I for that matter) can pass as normal when we are free from anxiety, then autism might not be the problem at hand.

Also,

Quote:
Normal people are more robust. They may still get nervous but they vent it in socially acceptable ways, they don't do weird things like acting awkward and freezing up or saying dumb things (not nearly as much and the ones who do probably have AS traits i.e. not totally NT). They may be nervous, but that's it, their social skills are still intact.


I'd say this depends on your definition of "normal". Having social anxiety to the point where one is socially impaired isn't exactly normal, but it's not exclusive of being neurotypical. If you want my advice, I'd recommend seeing a therapist to work through whatever issues you may have.



SmallFruitSong
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15 Aug 2010, 12:00 am

My perception of my social skills [which could be wrong, hard to say] is that the more comfortable I am around company, the more relaxed I become. The more relaxed I become, the odder I might seem to others. Not sure why but I've had comments from friends that I can be a bit strange at times. I might do some odd gesticulations for a situation, or I might start lecturing people [unintentionally, I don't realise until I play back scenes in my head and/or unless someone points it out to me] on a special interest of mine.

If I'm uncomfortable, I can be uptight, or I can be anxious and distracted to the point where I can barely hold a conversation and therefore look like a startled nincompoop. So I normally abstain from conversation until I can either calm down or find a way to make a dignified exit. In those situations I normally let my friends carry the conversation with people I don't know.

Either way, I think I do come across as odd to people - but I guess with the former, I just seem like a harmless eccentric, while with the latter I'm the creepy person in the corner who's trying to avoid other people.


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conundrum
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15 Aug 2010, 12:10 am

Daftwrist wrote:
Do any of you find your social skills are normal and you can pass for normal when you are anxiety free and relaxed? Or are you always seen as odd?

I know I can often look as though I lack social skills, but a lot of the time I know it's because I'm anxious and I can't loosen up. I end up usually not saying anything even when I know I should because my voice gets stuck and I freeze up from anxiety.


SmallFruitSong wrote:
My perception of my social skills [which could be wrong, hard to say] is that the more comfortable I am around company, the more relaxed I become. The more relaxed I become, the odder I might seem to others. Not sure why but I've had comments from friends that I can be a bit strange at times. I might do some odd gesticulations for a situation, or I might start lecturing people [unintentionally, I don't realise until I play back scenes in my head and/or unless someone points it out to me] on a special interest of mine.


I can go either way, and which way it goes isn't always predictable. 8O


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Claradoon
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15 Aug 2010, 12:29 am

I can "pass for normal" but it's exhausting. The worst is that people think that's the real me and invite me to other things, where I can get exhausted passing for normal again. I never know what to say to that. I try to get out of there before they invite me - it's a very fine balance.

I can't think of any people or situations I'd be relaxed with.



Daftwrist
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15 Aug 2010, 12:31 am

Sea_of_Saiyan wrote:
I'm a lot like you described also, and I used to think I had Asperger's for that reason. I'm able to have normal conversations with family members and friends who I'm comfortable around with no problem, but with larger groups or strangers, I tend to listen a lot more than speak, and I usually stay silent even when I think of great things to say.

The way I understand it, if it's anxiety that's holding you back from being "normal", so to speak, it's not the same thing as autism. Anxiety can be corrected, however difficult it may be to do so, but autism is there forever. If you (or I for that matter) can pass as normal when we are free from anxiety, then autism might not be the problem at hand.

Also,

Quote:
Normal people are more robust. They may still get nervous but they vent it in socially acceptable ways, they don't do weird things like acting awkward and freezing up or saying dumb things (not nearly as much and the ones who do probably have AS traits i.e. not totally NT). They may be nervous, but that's it, their social skills are still intact.


I'd say this depends on your definition of "normal". Having social anxiety to the point where one is socially impaired isn't exactly normal, but it's not exclusive of being neurotypical. If you want my advice, I'd recommend seeing a therapist to work through whatever issues you may have.


Yeah I definitely have social anxiety and yes I've sought treatment for it, but it's one of those things that is really hard to treat.

Also, even without the anxiety I am in no way normal. I am not an NT with anxiety issues. I have ADHD, and I come from a family loaded with mainly ADHD but also Asperger traits, so I can only wonder if I have AS myself. It's just hard to know whether my core issue is anxiety or a social deficit.

The reason why I'm not normal is, obviously I have almost all ADD symptoms, but I also do some AS things, like sometimes I'll laugh when i shoudn't (like when something sad happens), I'm clumsy, I've been told I have weird facial expressions sometimes, and I'm not very social. I'm also pretty sure I stimmed as a kid. But I also pass for 'normal' quite often (according to the feedback I've gotten from others, so I'm not imagining this). So ...I'm confused basically.



bee33
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15 Aug 2010, 12:46 am

Daftwrist wrote:
Do any of you find your social skills are normal and you can pass for normal when you are anxiety free and relaxed? Or are you always seen as odd?

I don't think that I'm seen as odd, but I never know what to say, relaxed or not. I can only have a pleasant conversation if the other person is doing nearly all of the talking, and I just have to react to what they are saying (assuming they're not saying anything hard to figure out, that has some kind of subtext that I'm not clued into).

I don't do anything that appears outwardly odd, and I usually know enough not to say anything completely weird, but I just feel stuck with nothing to say most of the time.



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15 Aug 2010, 2:10 am

I can often pass under certain circumstances. I pass quite well in structured interactions with some fluidity which make use of my strengths, are one-on-one and are with people who don't know what to look for.

When you say NTs are more robust because they vent nervousness in socially acceptable ways, I think you've got it backwards; those ways are socially acceptable because they're the ways NTs vent nervousness. (Of course, you might also be more nervous than they are-- and why not? Social interaction has been more difficult for you and caused you more trouble.)


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devey
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15 Aug 2010, 6:43 am

So what would be an example of being nervous in a socially acceptable way? I think honesty can work-for example if you're nervous or embarrased just say you're nerous or embarrased. This way you're being more open and people will have less reason to think you're being weird.

Even when I'm less anxious it can be difficult to know what to say. I need to know the person fairly well before I can be more open. In fluid conversation there can be moments of silence as I try to find the right thing to say. The main challenge for me is finding a way to fill the silence.



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15 Aug 2010, 7:44 am

Sometimes I can be in a great "social mood" and I'll not be afraid to go talk to random people. Also, if I'm buying something at the store, I'll talk to the check-out person and say something typical like "Have a nice day!" When I'm in a not-so-great social mood, I'll tell my mom to buy my stuff for me.



Daftwrist
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15 Aug 2010, 10:18 am

devey wrote:
So what would be an example of being nervous in a socially acceptable way? I think honesty can work-for example if you're nervous or embarrased just say you're nerous or embarrased. This way you're being more open and people will have less reason to think you're being weird.


What I mean by nervous in a socially acceptable way is, 'normal' people when nervous still keep their social skills. They will simply become more chatty as a way of venting their nervousness, or they may become a bit more quiet, but don't seem awkward, rude or stilted when they do so. They still keep their manners and know how to be polite, and fluid when talking, greeting saying farewells ect. Even though they're nervous, everything flows better for them. When I'm nervous I lose my social skills and come across as flustered or awkward.

And you can't always announce you're nervous. There are many occasions, where it just isn't the time or place to do so. Maybe with close friends I would mention it, but with most people...no they'd just give me odd looks.

But thanks for the feedback everyone I appreciate it.



DandelionFireworks
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15 Aug 2010, 3:26 pm

http://ballastexistenz.autistics.org/?p=496

That's what your elaboration on the matter of social skills made me think of. I think it explains it.


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frag
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15 Aug 2010, 3:53 pm

When I was a kid I wondered why I could talk to my family so freely, yet was so shy among others...

These days I'm not at all shy and I do come with quite "good" social skills, especially in some moods (some moods leave me quite crippled). However I think I do come through as quite odd, not that it bothers me.



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15 Aug 2010, 3:54 pm

My problems with social reciprocity is noticable on a non-verbal level. On a verbal level, it's fairly convincing, yet most of the time an illusion. It's learned behaviour - I do not take much interest in whomever I talk to, and asking questions does not actually mean I care. I can make long conversation that doesen't involve facts or interests, yet chit-chat I can't/won't do. Anxiety on my part is most easily observed by my lack of eye contact (yet I can look away and yet be perfectly calm), my facial expression and posture. People have told me that I appear very calm, assuring and confident - if one looks past the obvious non verbal cues. I'm not a skilled conversationist, but I rarely make a fool out of myself or stumble on words (granted that I speak in my native language, lol).