Difference between Social Anxiety and AS...

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bumble
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28 Dec 2011, 3:35 pm

When it comes to socialising etc, what is the difference between social anxiety and AS in terms of how they present themselves (I am aware they have different causes).



kfisherx
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28 Dec 2011, 3:39 pm

I am so autistic (socially unaware) that I have ZERO social anxiety. I have no fear to go out in public places and actually enjoy it. I do not do it too often though because of the hard work it is to process all the information that happens in social events.

Many people with ASD are more nuanced socially unaware and therefore suffer social anxiety because they KNOW they are screwing up in social situations. This makes them actually fear going into social situations because they worry about how they will present themselves or if they are doing things wrong.



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28 Dec 2011, 3:43 pm

I'm the same as kfisherx. I couldn't care less about people's opinions of me. I hate being around people because of all the annoyances associated with neurotypicals. I'm very glad I'm the type of Aspie who has zero social anxiety. I relish in giving presentations and doing public speaking in general. I have a talent for public speaking, and since I have no fear whatsoever of getting up in front of people, I've been able to develop this skill.


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btbnnyr
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28 Dec 2011, 3:45 pm

ASD involves being clueless during social interactions. Lack of picking up on social cues to shut up or speak up or do ABC bizarre social expression or do XYZ fake social expression, lack of getting hints and jokes, lack of knowing what people around you are thinking and feeling, lack of knowing that people around you are thinking and feeling anything except the stuff coming out of their mouths which you assume is equivalent to their real thoughts and feelings oops, lack of noticing any social power play going on amongst the others who engage in it, lack of social filtering of what you say and do because you have no clue what is socially appropriate and what is not everything seems fine to you, lack of ability to socialize in a group due to not being able to process the back-and-forths fast enough and/or generate any of your own, lack of subtle vibes to guide your future socializations like who wants to be your friend and who is romantically interested in you, lack of basic processing like being able to hear people talk and understand what they say, BSoDing from sensory overload in social settings, I'm going to stop here.

Even lack of ability to have social anxiety in real-time. If you are clueless and not having thoughts about people judging you, then you will not feel any social anxiety in real-time. By "you", I mean "me", of course.



bumble
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28 Dec 2011, 4:06 pm

What if there is a mixture of things going on? Such as anxiety due to having been bullied and ridiculed along with things like not knowing how to make friends, not knowing why people are talking to you when they approach you (unless they ask a direct question such as for directions, in which case it is obvious why they are talking to you), not knowing where you stand with people because you cannot tell, not knowing what you are supposed to do next in a social situation but along side a basic understanding of manners because they were drummed into you as a kid. On the surface when it comes to being polite you know what to do because you use scripts but when you have to veer away from those scripts or go deeper confusion sets in...

How can one tell what might be one or the other? Which set of symptoms belongs to which?



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28 Dec 2011, 4:09 pm

^ This is exactly my issue. It seems like all of my social issues could be characterized as social anxiety but what do I know.



btbnnyr
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28 Dec 2011, 4:21 pm

I don't know much about social anxiety, so I could be wrong in what I am going to say. But I always thought that social anxiety involved a lot of thoughts about being judged negatively by other people and being afraid that you will say or do something wrong and be judged and these things putting a blockade on your ability to have normal social interactions, which leads you to avoid them altogether. Plus you feel extremely anxious and in some cases, there can be physical symptoms, like sweaty palms and blushing.



Joe90
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28 Dec 2011, 4:39 pm

I have both AS and social anxiety/phobia, but I'm not sure where the AS ends and where the social anxiety begins, it's like they overlap eachother.

Not all Aspies are socially unaware, because I'm not socially unaware. I constantly worry of what others think of me, and I'm scared of social failure, and I am too socially self-aware for my own good, which means I think of appropriate things in my head to say but am too afraid to verbalize them in case something goes wrong (ie, not getting a word in edgeways, being unsure about the difference between joining in and butting in, somebody interrupting me, fear of looking silly, etc).

This is also another common trait of people with social phobia and social anxiety what I definately have:-

I want to go to parties and other social events, but I never go anywhere like that because I'm very nervous about meeting new people. Too many people will be there and crowds only makes things worse for me. The thought of meeting new people scares me - will I know what to say? Will they stare at me and make me feel even more insignificant? Will they reject me outright? Even if they seem nice, they're sure to notice my frozen look and my inability to fully smile and make true sociable body language. They'll sense my discomfort and tenseness and they won't like me, they might even laugh at me or judge me, there's just no way to win. "I'm always going to be an outcast," I predict. And then I spend another night alone, at home, in my ''comfort zone''. I feel comfortable at home, where I can be myself. In fact, home is the only place I do feel 100 percent comfortable. I have never been to a party with a crowd of mates in my whole life! :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops:

In public places, such as shopping centres, I feel that everybody is watching, staring, and judging me (even though rationally I know this isn't true, but still believe it because it just seems so real). I can't relax anywhere, "take it easy", or enjoy myself in public places. In fact, I can never fully relax when other people are around. It always feels like others are evaluating me, being critical of me, or "judging" me in some way, noticing something odd about my body language, and although I make an effort to go out looking presentable and acting ordinary, it still disturbs me that there will always be something ''off'' about me what people seem to recognise, and the thought of having strangers (especially women) notice who I am just by looking at me makes me feel very insecure. I know that people don't do this openly, of course, but I still feel the self-consciousness and judgment while I am in public places. It's sometimes impossible to let go, relax, and focus on anything else except the anxiety and fear. Because the anxiety is so very painful, it's much easier just to stay away from social situations and avoid other people altogether. Then I know that people can't pick on me, and I especially fear my peers picking on me (whom I don't know). I get chronic backache when out in public, simply because I'm holding myself stiffly because I'm scared to look awkward or geeky.


It's just so difficult to handle that it's unexplainable to people who don't experience these feelings.


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MindWithoutWalls
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28 Dec 2011, 4:50 pm

I can be anxious because of specific things going on in a social context or because of what kfisherx said about being "nuanced socially aware". I can get uptight if I don't feel like I understand something, if I feel misunderstood, or if I think I may have embarrassed myself out of cluelessness or something. I can feel hurt if it seems that someone has taken advantage of my poor understanding or otherwise been mean. I can be anxious because of past experiences similar to one in which I find myself currently. I can also have anxiety after the fact, as a delayed reaction or as a reaction to a later evaluation of my social interaction. I can tend towards greater and/or more likely anxiety if I'm tired, in pain, or otherwise stressed in general. I can be uneasy in situations that are unfamiliar or in which I might be startled by unexpected things, which is what might bother me about new groups/places or larger crowds. I can also function smoothly in certain situations that are limited, when I'm having a good day, or when I'm around people who clue in well that I'm having difficulty (such as when a friend realizes I'm confused about something and kindly clues me in or reassures me).

I don't think I have inherent social anxiety. I think I have occasional AS related social anxiety. Otherwise, I think I'd be much more anxious much more of the time, and I don't think certain types of anxious moments could be resolved so easily for me (such as when a friend helps me). I'm not generally afraid of people or of crowds just for being what they are. I've even spoken in public forums, feeling nervous but not unable to cope, which I think is a pretty ordinary reaction for a person to have in such a moment. So, I think calling my difficulties with people "social anxiety", as in a diagnosis of its own, would be very inappropriate.

I think my girlfriend, however, has suffered from social anxiety. She's gotten better, but for different reasons than the ones that have made me do better in social situations. She's simply gotten more brave as she's met more people with me and as she's challenged herself to get out there on her own a bit more.


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Last edited by MindWithoutWalls on 28 Dec 2011, 4:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.

dianthus
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28 Dec 2011, 4:51 pm

I am really keen to know the difference here. I dread interacting with people mostly because I fear the inevitable misunderstandings that occur. I worry that I will be manipulated or coerced into situations where I don't fully understand what is going on. I also fear people getting angry at me for no apparent reason, and on account of that I think tend to be excessively accomodating to people, to an extent that probably exacerbates my capability for being manipulated.



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28 Dec 2011, 4:54 pm

It's probably quite common for people with aspergers to suffer from social anxiety as well, since we often experience rejection or bullying due to our difficulties in social situations. My social anxiety developed because I was aware enough of other people's reactions to me to realise they perceived me as different in some way, but not self-aware enough to understand what I was doing to give them that impression.

I think my social anxiety probably disguised my aspergers to some extent, as the less you say, the less likely you are to say something inappropriate. Also other people would assume that my lack of conversation was due to shyness, rather than not being able to think of anything relevant to say. However, my aspergers causes me to miss the subtle nuances of conversations, leading me to misread social situations in a way that someone with social anxiety alone would not. For me, that is the difference between aspergers and social anxiety.

Joe90 wrote:

In public places, such as shopping centres, I feel that everybody is watching, staring, and judging me (even though rationally I know this isn't true, but still believe it because it just seems so real). I can't relax anywhere, "take it easy", or enjoy myself in public places. In fact, I can never fully relax when other people are around. It always feels like others are evaluating me, being critical of me, or "judging" me in some way, noticing something odd about my body language, and although I make an effort to go out looking presentable and acting ordinary, it still disturbs me that there will always be something ''off'' about me what people seem to recognise, and the thought of having strangers (especially women) notice who I am just by looking at me makes me feel very insecure. I know that people don't do this openly, of course, but I still feel the self-consciousness and judgment while I am in public places. It's sometimes impossible to let go, relax, and focus on anything else except the anxiety and fear.

I have exactly the same problem. I'm convinced that I look weird and that everyone is looking at me. It stems back to when I was a child, I used to get people calling me names in the street, I think because I had an odd walking style or facial expression. I've been told I don't look unusual when I'm out in public, but I still feel tense and walk quickly with my head down to avoid looking at people.



btbnnyr
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28 Dec 2011, 4:59 pm

I think that a way to tell the difference to think about what is going on inside your mind during interactions. If you are having a conversation with someone about one topic, are you able to pick up on social signals automatically? Basic signals like if they are annoyed by something you said or if they agree or disagree with what you said without them telling you directly. Or would you have to maintain a whole seperate and conscious train of thought parallel to your train of thought about the topic in order to access this analytical social cognition? When I am having this kind of interaction, there is nothing in my mind except the topic. The automatic processing is not there, and I cannot maintain two separate trains of thought, both conscious and complicated, at the same time.



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28 Dec 2011, 5:06 pm

MindWithoutWalls wrote:
I can be anxious because of past experiences similar to one in which I find myself currently. I can also have anxiety after the fact, as a delayed reaction or as a reaction to a later evaluation of my social interaction.

I can relate to this! I attended a Christmas party with my fiance, which was held at the home of his boss. Even though I thought that I was doing well, nearly two hours after leaving the event, I started to shake and was close to tears. I hate parties! :(


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28 Dec 2011, 5:17 pm

Joe90 wrote:
I have both AS and social anxiety/phobia, but I'm not sure where the AS ends and where the social anxiety begins, it's like they overlap eachother.

Not all Aspies are socially unaware, because I'm not socially unaware. I constantly worry of what others think of me, and I'm scared of social failure, and I am too socially self-aware for my own good, which means I think of appropriate things in my head to say but am too afraid to verbalize them in case something goes wrong (ie, not getting a word in edgeways, being unsure about the difference between joining in and butting in, somebody interrupting me, fear of looking silly, etc).

This is also another common trait of people with social phobia and social anxiety what I definately have:-

I want to go to parties and other social events, but I never go anywhere like that because I'm very nervous about meeting new people. Too many people will be there and crowds only makes things worse for me. The thought of meeting new people scares me - will I know what to say? Will they stare at me and make me feel even more insignificant? Will they reject me outright? Even if they seem nice, they're sure to notice my frozen look and my inability to fully smile and make true sociable body language. They'll sense my discomfort and tenseness and they won't like me, they might even laugh at me or judge me, there's just no way to win. "I'm always going to be an outcast," I predict. And then I spend another night alone, at home, in my ''comfort zone''. I feel comfortable at home, where I can be myself. In fact, home is the only place I do feel 100 percent comfortable. I have never been to a party with a crowd of mates in my whole life! :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops:



I am a slight opposite to you in that my struggle and anxiety is caused by my trying to work out what to say and what I am supposed to do next. I often do not know what I am supposed to be doing next. I don't really care if people do notice I am nervous as I see nothing wrong with being shy and believe people are overly judgemental anyway. In short I think they judge people unfairly and I do get frustrated over that because I am somewhat more accepting of things like shyness etc. I do not see someone as being less of a person just because they are shy. Actually I can find shy quite cute and endearing.

Mostly I am getting worked up and frustrated because someone is talking to me and I do not know why they are talking to me...are they trying to be my friend? Are they just being polite? are they just passing along information? Are they just making a comment on something?

What am I supposed to do next? I don't know as I don't know what their purpose in talking to me is.

I do sometimes get nervous about saying something and looking silly if I have a joke in my head. I may refrain from saying it in case no one laughs. The other times I get nervous include giving a public speech on something I am not confident about (but am fine with a topic of interest and can happily give 3 hour or more lectures lololololol). I also get nervous at drs and therapist appointments as I know they do not understand my social problems. They seem to think if they get rid of some imaginary depression I don't always have and then teach me how to relax socialising will come to me. I cannot make them understand I do not know how to socialise and get frustrated with them.

They just put everything down to the imaginary depression they seem to think I get because I do things like keep my curtains drawn in the house or sit in my pyjamas every day. I mean yes, I get depressed sometimes, but that is not the reason I don't wear make up, or I sit in my pyjamas or I keep my curtains closed.

I wear my pyjamas because most day wear irritates my skin but my pjs are comfy. They just think I have not gotten dressed but I have as my pjs are not associated with sleeping for me. I don't wear anything when I sleep as I find it uncomfy to wear clothes in bed, therefore my pjs are comfy day wear to me.

I don't wear make up because it irritates my face. Neither do I style my hair every day as it is long (which I like) but do not like it flapping around in my face when I am trying to get things done, so I tie it back.

I keep my curtains drawn because I am light sensitive, particularly to sunlight, supermarket lights and sometimes strobe lighting.

They put my habits down to anxiety or OCD such as the fact that I like to eat the same flavoured ice cream every saturday night and I get upset when I can't get my flavour. It's not like with OCD where I think something bad will happen if I don't eat that flavour, its just that my saturday feels all weird without it. Its not my saturday. I don't want another flavour, I want that one, I always have that one, I am happy with that one and my only anxiety really comes from other people trying to change it. In the same way I used to have to watch scooby doo at the same time every day as a child. If scooby was not on my mum said I would have a tantrum from hell and get horribly upset.

I feel like they are trying change things about me that are a part of who I am and not a part of some horrid illness that needs to be normalised. I was a weird kid who spent my time collecting bank forms who grew up into a weird adult who can spend 14 hours plus a day doing a jigsaw puzzle or studying (depending on what my interest is at the time).

And I get no help with my social problems. I have told every therapist I have seen that I do not know how to mix with people and it always falls on deaf ears. Up until I started getting badly bullied I was socially oblivious so was not aware I was doing something wrong but as I got old it got harder and harder to make friends and I have been bullied so badly multiple times in my life that I am now aware there is something wrong with my ability to socialise. This made me look at what I was doing wrong and the truth is...I don't know.

I miss the oblivious days...because the non oblivous days are just confusing to me.


Quote:

In public places, such as shopping centres, I feel that everybody is watching, staring, and judging me (even though rationally I know this isn't true, but still believe it because it just seems so real). I can't relax anywhere, "take it easy", or enjoy myself in public places. In fact, I can never fully relax when other people are around. It always feels like others are evaluating me, being critical of me, or "judging" me in some way, noticing something odd about my body language, and although I make an effort to go out looking presentable and acting ordinary, it still disturbs me that there will always be something ''off'' about me what people seem to recognise, and the thought of having strangers (especially women) notice who I am just by looking at me makes me feel very insecure. I know that people don't do this openly, of course, but I still feel the self-consciousness and judgment while I am in public places. It's sometimes impossible to let go, relax, and focus on anything else except the anxiety and fear. Because the anxiety is so very painful, it's much easier just to stay away from social situations and avoid other people altogether. Then I know that people can't pick on me, and I especially fear my peers picking on me (whom I don't know). I get chronic backache when out in public, simply because I'm holding myself stiffly because I'm scared to look
awkward or geeky.


It's just so difficult to handle that it's unexplainable to people who don't experience these feelings.


I do not really notice other people when I am out so am not aware if anyone is staring at me. Neither do I care what complete strangers who I may never see again think of me. People who I have to work with yes, as I have to work with them everyday and not getting on well with them makes for an unpleasent experience (people can turn very nasty when they don't like someone and I do not know how to handle that when it happens...I am like a rabbit caught in the head lights of a speeding truck). If I have to live with them or if I fancy them and I want them to like me then yes I care what they might be thinking about me. But a stranger who is irrelevant to my life...no. I don't care and I am not even aware of what they might be thinking.

I hate crowds because of all the noise plus if there are too many people walking towards me or too many things going on my eyes stop being able to focus and it just plain hurts them.

When it comes to social anxiety it is more based on frustration about the following things:

1 Inability to know how to make friends
2 Inability to make friends
3 The fact that people assume because I have social problems that I am backwards...this annoys me not because I care what they think but because if it is to do with a job etc they severly understimate my ability to do the job and so I do not get the chance to use all the skills I do have. It seems unfair for them to make such a judgement based on the fact that I can appear shy. I dislike injustice and unfairness and if I feel someone has gotten something wrong I have the urge to keep going on about it until I have managed to correct them lol.
4 Frustration with not being able to find anyone who understands.



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28 Dec 2011, 5:38 pm

hartzofspace wrote:
MindWithoutWalls wrote:
I can be anxious because of past experiences similar to one in which I find myself currently. I can also have anxiety after the fact, as a delayed reaction or as a reaction to a later evaluation of my social interaction.

I can relate to this! I attended a Christmas party with my fiance, which was held at the home of his boss. Even though I thought that I was doing well, nearly two hours after leaving the event, I started to shake and was close to tears. I hate parties! :(


I am lucky there in that in some ways I forget quickly. Basically I do not feel embarrassment for very long. It is, at most, a fleeting feeling for me that can be there for a second or so but gone just as quickly. It comes back to the belief that people judge others on silly criteria that really tells them nothing of great importance. Ie someone knocking over a drink or saying the wrong thing only tells you that in that instance they knocked a cup of coffee over or they said the wrong thing. You cannot know more about them than that from those two instances so peoples tendency to judge a persons whole worth, value and personality on such things is quite frankly silly!



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28 Dec 2011, 6:04 pm

btbnnyr wrote:
I think that a way to tell the difference to think about what is going on inside your mind during interactions. If you are having a conversation with someone about one topic, are you able to pick up on social signals automatically? Basic signals like if they are annoyed by something you said or if they agree or disagree with what you said without them telling you directly. Or would you have to maintain a whole seperate and conscious train of thought parallel to your train of thought about the topic in order to access this analytical social cognition? When I am having this kind of interaction, there is nothing in my mind except the topic. The automatic processing is not there, and I cannot maintain two separate trains of thought, both conscious and complicated, at the same time.


I often misinterpret the signals I get from others in conversation. I've had to learn to mostly ignore what I think is going through the other person's head, because I'll interpret curiosity or confusion as boredom or anger. I also kind of dread social situations like parties or receptions simply because I get so tired and drained during them. I have to psych myself up to go to them and then generally have to leave much earlier than most of the other guests. I really don't get much out of these sorts of things. Very intimate gatherings with a planned activity and a known time limit are far better.