Expressive and receptive social problems

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Jack77
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27 Dec 2013, 4:01 pm

I just discovered this site about an hour ago. Therefore, please excuse me if I screw up. When I was younger I was very sensitive to other people's feelings but socially inappropriate at the same time. When I look back, I had some of the symptoms of Asperger's syndrome except for my sensitivity to other people's feelings. For example, the first time I took a girl to the drive-in theater during a hot Summer day, I wore a suit and tie. She came out with jeans and a simple blouse. I immediately recognized my inappropriate clothes and felt I was making her uncomfortable. I had a difficult time learning social skills. You know how a person can have either receptive or expressive language problems. I wonder if person can have either receptive or expressive social deficiencies. Also, I wonder if a person can have social incompetency without the other symptoms of Aspergers or autism. Maybe "dyssemia" is a symptom of both Aspergers and non-Aspergers disorders.
I hope this message isn't inappropriate!



Willard
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27 Dec 2013, 4:29 pm

Jack77 wrote:
When I was younger I was very sensitive to other people's feelings but socially inappropriate at the same time.



Please do not confuse the term "lack of empathy" often associated with Autism and Asperger Syndrome to mean "lack of sympathy." We are perfectly capable of sensitivity to others' feelings, once we know what those feelings are.

Empathy, in the Clinical Psychological sense, is the ability to read nonverbal social signals and interpret or intuit what other people are thinking or feeling on an instinctive level. That is the 'empathy' that High Functioning Autistics lack. For example, we can't always pick up on whether or not someone is upset with us, until they say something openly hostile.

Of course, we can recognize that when someone is weeping, they're sad, and we may feel great sympathy for them, or if they're seriously frowning, that they're mad - it's the subtle signals we're likely to miss. The constant sensory overload of having everything turned up to 11 makes it tricky to pick between which sensory data are important and which are irrelevant, so we get easily distracted and sometimes miss, or misinterpret things.

We may notice a speck of glitter on the floor and completely fail to see the raised eyebrow that should tell us somebody is disapproving of something we just said; if we maintain consistent eye contact, the light reflecting off someone's nose may cause us to miss part of their conversation.

It's the confusion over the terms Empathy and Sympathy that give a lot of people the false impression that people with High Functioning Autism or Asperger Syndrome are emotionless robots. Nothing could be further from the truth. We may sometimes appear that way, because our social awkwardness may cause us to be hesitant to engage with others socially, but in fact, like our personal obsessive interests, our emotional lives often run to passionate extremes.



dianthus
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27 Dec 2013, 11:02 pm

Jack77 wrote:
When I was younger I was very sensitive to other people's feelings but socially inappropriate at the same time. When I look back, I had some of the symptoms of Asperger's syndrome except for my sensitivity to other people's feelings.


Welcome to the forum. It is the same for me, thinking back on how I was as a child, and now...not everything I've seen written about Asperger's syndrome exactly fits me. I think, if I am truly autistic, I have a somewhat atypical presentation of autism.

After being on this forum for a couple of years, and seeing how people who have been diagnosed with autism describe themselves, I think some of the descriptions of autism written by professionals are really lacking in understanding, because they are written from an NT perspective.

This is something to keep in mind: we don't always know how well we understand other people, unless those people give us direct feedback about it. This is true for everyone.

Also I think it is one thing to be sensitive to what other people feel, and it is something else entirely to know what to do about it. Like in the example you gave about the clothing, I would recognize that the other person felt uncomfortable, but I might not know what to say to make the situation better.

As for dyssemia...I had to look that up to be sure of the meaning...yes you can have that without necessarily being autistic. Regarding myself, that's what I've been thinking about since I came to this forum, if my "quirks" are truly signs of autism or if they can be explained some other way. Autism is the simplest, most direct explanation I have found though.