Describing your social brain to neurotypicals.

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b00m3rang
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02 Mar 2012, 3:48 pm

matsev wrote:
A big challenge for me is describing how my brain works in a social situation. This is also something that took me a long time to become aware of since I don't have a "normal" model to base it on - other than my observations of others and how they interact with people. I best describe it as being half asleep or even intoxicated. When I interact with others, I'm not fully aware of those around me, the direction of the conversation, the body language or facial expressions, or the intentions of others. My brain feels cloudy, and often I have trouble recalling the social interaction even minutes later. I only feel fully alert and clear-minded when I am engaged in some academic activity such as playing the piano, drawing or studying science and mathematics; when my brain is in deep in thought I feel fully focused. Incidentally the term autism means "to turn inward."
Can any one with Aspergers or high-functioning autism relate to this description? How would you describe that experience?
Please Share!

-Mat



I have the exact same problem in social situations. Especially if I'm dealing with people I've just met, or more than one person at a time. I have a VERY hard time remembering names, even after several meetings. Probably partially because I don't make a lot of eye contact.



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02 Mar 2012, 4:46 pm

Quote:
I have the exact same problem in social situations. Especially if I'm dealing with people I've just met, or more than one person at a time. I have a VERY hard time remembering names, even after several meetings. Probably partially because I don't make a lot of eye contact.


I've often wondered if I have trouble reading facial expressions because I can't make eye contact, or if the two problems have nothing to do with each other.
-Mat



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02 Mar 2012, 5:01 pm

I eggspress my real thoughts and feelings and eggspect others to do the same, ooops, Seconds To Disaster.



Hexagon
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02 Mar 2012, 6:08 pm

When I try to interact socially without an academic setting, this is what happens: I walk in to the situation. Everyone is talking, and I hear tiny snips of words which don't link up into conversations because they're coming from different people. If there are bright lights, they glare and make my eyes hurt and distract me. All the other sounds people are making break my concentration. If I'm talking, I'll say things I'm thinking and not realise I didn't say what I was thinking up until that point. I'll mess up words and forget things. If someone else is talking, I don't make eye contact because I forget because of all the distractions, or if I remember, I stare because thats all I can manage, and don't really hear whats being said.



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02 Mar 2012, 6:23 pm

CocoRock wrote:
It's reassuring to here I'm not alone with this issue!

I sometimes explain that because social interaction is a conscious cognitive task for people with AS, rather than a natural instinct, that conversations use a considerable amount of 'brain space' before we even get to the topic of conversation.

Sometimes I liken it to a person without AS trying to solve a maths equation while holding the conversation. It's not a perfect analogy, but it can be useful.

It's also a way to explain why we might look away while holding a conversation - as a means of thinking clearly.


That's a great way of explaining it, I think. I find "chit-chatting" just as frustrating and complex as a math problem (I was never any good at math).

I would also say that it's similar to putting my mind through an hour of P90X (the super intense workout video), without that great payoff at the end, in which you feel like you've accomplished something.


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02 Mar 2012, 8:25 pm

I don't get asked by many people, but on the rare occasion I do, it's kind of like this, in a nutshell:

"Sometimes I get what's going on, sometimes I don't. It's not hard to tell when I don't. It doesn't really bother me. The only thing that does is when others think I'm not getting it and start screwing with me. I may not be getting it before that crap starts, but I catch onto that pretty damned fast. I don't take to it too kindly. I don't mind if you point out that I'm missing something. Just don't screw with me when it happens."


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03 Mar 2012, 2:48 am

Sometimes I think it's akin to speaking a foreign language. Where as speaking/listening to/reading/writing your own language is natural - something you do automatically, doing that in a foreign language is all the more harder, because you constantly have to think about and work at everything. It requires constant effort. Sometimes you'll understand, sometimes you'll think you understand but you don't, sometime you'll somehow muddle on through despite not getting ut completely, and other times you won't have a bloody clue. There's a lot of guess work involved as well and even if you do become fluent, you're still constantly thinking about it, trying to blend in and replicate your behaviour as much as possible, because it simply isn't something you can do naturally.



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10 May 2012, 4:51 am

Tom_NUFC wrote:
Sometimes I think it's akin to speaking a foreign language.


That's the analogy I've always used. It's like speaking a second language so you might miss things or have a lag in comprehension. You can take it further to say we're in a constant state of culture shock? How often do you have to speak to or spend time with your house mates? How exactly does one engage in the semi-mythical practice of small talk? When is eye contact non-negotiable? I feel like a foreign visitor in my own country.
Further, I'd tell people to watch Our Idiot Brother to see the way everything he says and does gets him into trouble :lol: I love that movie. That's how I feel navigating the social world.



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10 May 2012, 5:41 am

awkward, inexpressive, weak in communicating/explaining, quite shy/anxious, sometimes misunderstands people.

That pretty much sums it up... for me. But all of us is different.


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10 May 2012, 1:50 pm

In a social setting I am looking to collect and exchange information - that's it!


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10 May 2012, 2:19 pm

I would say with me the biggest issue is it seems like I process input slower...so it's not hard for me to miss things especially if there is a lot going on at once. And sometimes it's hard for me to word things so I'll either lose my train of thought totally or end up pausing trying to remember exactly what my point was long enough for everyone to assume I was done and start on to something else.

It's not such an issue with people who know me who I'm comfortable around.....because they don't think anything of me over it as they know how I am. But if I am around people that make me uncomfortable or who I don't know then it's worse because I have anxiety on top of those issues. So I'll end up coming off as nervous or unsure or something and then it's even harder to form a complete sentence without losing track. and I have bad memories of being called retarded and other names for these issues as a child so I guess that kinda makes me worry what other people are thinking about me...and then what they might do because of it.



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10 May 2012, 2:24 pm

Hmm..not sure I can quite describe my state of mind in social situations, but...

I'm not great in casual social interaction. I don't have much to say typically; others have to engage me in conversation. It can take me a while to formulate a response--and sometimes right as I come up with a response, the conversation moves onto something else. I often don't find others' jokes to be all that funny. Sometimes I don't know how to react to what others say. I might find the ketchup bottle on the table more interesting than the conversation.

On the other hand, start talking about something I'm interested in, and I can dominate a conversation, and I won't want to stop talking about it even if the conversation moves onto something else.



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10 May 2012, 7:16 pm

Sweetleaf wrote:
And sometimes it's hard for me to word things so I'll either lose my train of thought totally or end up pausing trying to remember exactly what my point was long enough for everyone to assume I was done and start on to something else.


FishStickNick wrote:
It can take me a while to formulate a response--and sometimes right as I come up with a response, the conversation moves onto something else.


I can really relate to this. Someone asks you something and just as you think you're about to nail the response and answer the question they move on to something else :x
One of my girlfriend's house-mates in particular does it all the time.



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10 May 2012, 8:30 pm

MrXxx wrote:
I don't get asked by many people, but on the rare occasion I do, it's kind of like this, in a nutshell:

"Sometimes I get what's going on, sometimes I don't. It's not hard to tell when I don't. It doesn't really bother me. The only thing that does is when others think I'm not getting it and start screwing with me. I may not be getting it before that crap starts, but I catch onto that pretty damned fast. I don't take to it too kindly. I don't mind if you point out that I'm missing something. Just don't screw with me when it happens."


Several people at work like screwing around with me. Some days I can brush it off and laugh...try to keep a good humor about it, but sometimes when I'm overstimulated, it will really burn my butt.

I've never even considered trying to explain how my brain works in social situations, but let me try...

I can follow a one on one conversation just fine as long as the person doesn't start getting vague and using euphenism and metaphors. If they start doing that, I will either ask them to elaborate (if I'm truly interested), or pretend to understand...smile and let them carry on.

If it is a group of people (anything more than one), I get lost very easily and can only follow one person's line of thought at a time. My head gets fogged and confused. If it is a an extra large group (like when I had to attend my office christmas part and I ended up in the midst of a large group all chatting)...I either choose ONE person to try to follow or I space out completely and retreat into my head.

If the conversation (in a group) turns to me...where I'm the focus...I'm get highly embarrassed...get flushed...begin stuttering and stimming.

Regardless of whether I'm talking to one person or three, I'm mentally exhausted afterwards, but of course the more people the faster and more I'm exhausted.


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11 May 2012, 12:40 am

MrXxx wrote:
"when others think I'm not getting it and start screwing with me. I may not be getting it before that crap starts, but I catch onto that pretty damned fast. I don't take to it too kindly. I don't mind if you point out that I'm missing something. Just don't screw with me when it happens."


zombiegirl2010 wrote:
Several people at work like screwing around with me. Some days I can brush it off and laugh...try to keep a good humor about it, but sometimes when I'm overstimulated, it will really burn my butt.


At my last serious job (I had it for about a year) I would hear stuff that I thought might be about me or related to me in some way but then I'd give people the benefit of the doubt or tell myself I was being paranoid. It was pretty hard to ignore though when it finally got to the point where they were joking about some guy who interviewed to work with us but they turned him down. They were like "Oh yeah, he seemed a bit slow, like the kind of guy you could talk about right in front of him and he wouldn't even know you were doing it". Then they'd all laugh.
That's when I absolutely knew I'd been a naive fool and worked up the courage to resign not long after, which of course only made things much, much worse until I left.



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11 May 2012, 9:07 am

Dan_Undiagnosed wrote:
MrXxx wrote:
"when others think I'm not getting it and start screwing with me. I may not be getting it before that crap starts, but I catch onto that pretty damned fast. I don't take to it too kindly. I don't mind if you point out that I'm missing something. Just don't screw with me when it happens."


zombiegirl2010 wrote:
Several people at work like screwing around with me. Some days I can brush it off and laugh...try to keep a good humor about it, but sometimes when I'm overstimulated, it will really burn my butt.


At my last serious job (I had it for about a year) I would hear stuff that I thought might be about me or related to me in some way but then I'd give people the benefit of the doubt or tell myself I was being paranoid. It was pretty hard to ignore though when it finally got to the point where they were joking about some guy who interviewed to work with us but they turned him down. They were like "Oh yeah, he seemed a bit slow, like the kind of guy you could talk about right in front of him and he wouldn't even know you were doing it". Then they'd all laugh.
That's when I absolutely knew I'd been a naive fool and worked up the courage to resign not long after, which of course only made things much, much worse until I left.


That sucks that they treated you that way!

The people around my office...well, a few...like to say something completely off the wall in the flow of another conversation with me just to see if I'll catch it. They won't change their facial expression or tone of voice, so I do completely miss it. Then, they bust out laughing and say how "gullible" I am. :?


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Your Aspie score: 193 of 200
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You are very likely an Aspie