Not interested unless it is about them

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StarCity
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06 Aug 2014, 4:38 pm

Hi,
I am diagnosed as being a person with aspergers/ASD, however I seem VERY different than the few people I personally know, who have also been diagnosed as having aspergers/ASD.

With the other people I know personally (aquaitances/friends) I have noticed time & time again that they do not respond to texts or emails unless I am asking them "How are you?". "What have you done today?". "How do you feel about ... ?". ect.
If I tell them something about me; such as something I have done, or something I have achieved they don't reply. But if I ask them something about themselves, then they do reply.

Occasionally they may text/email me asking how I am, but whatever I write the only thing they respond to is the ".... and how are you?" that I always write at the end of my message.

Where I am different is that I know that it is good manners to say "well done" to someone for an achievement, and to show an interest in other people. I do it because it is what I have been told is the right thing to do.

When I show an interest in someone elses life it is what friends do. I like it when a friend says "thank you" for me showing an interest in what they are doing in life.

What I can't understand is that the inability for someone to empathize with another person appears to have nothing to do with how low/high functioning they are on the autistic spectrum.
As an example; I said the same thing a couple of years ago to 2 different people. One was High-Functioning, the other was Moderate-Functioning.
What I said was "Yesterday I took my cat to the vets to have her given an injection to kill her. I did it because she was very ill, and it was better to end her life now rather than let her continue to suffer in pain".
The person diagnosed with High-Functioning ASD responded "I played football yesterday and we won 2/nil".
The person diagnosed as having more severe Autism responded "Ahh. Poor cat. You must be very sad. Get another one so you won't be lonely".
So, from that example the level of empathy has nothing to do with the level that someone is on the Autistic spectrum. The moderately autistic person demonstrated empathy, but the one diagnosed as having aspergers totally disregarded my grief.

:arrow: What are your experiences of this sort of thing in your own interactions :?:


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We, the people on the Autistic Spectrum have a choice.
We can either try to "fit in" with the rest of society, or we can be so egocentric that we can't be bothered.
I choose the actor. I observe NT's. I listen to their socializing. I practice it, so in social situations I can just emulate/mimic what is expected.
It isn't natural for me, but it enables me to "fit in".
It is VERY tiring and draining, but at least we can appear like them even though it is an act. Like being on the stage.
They can't see it is emulation, and so we are accepted.


starkid
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06 Aug 2014, 4:44 pm

The first person's response in the cat conversation doesn't necessarily indicate a lack of empathy. On the other hand, the second person could have felt nothing and been following a script. Feeling empathy and verbalizing it are two different things.


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franknfurter
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06 Aug 2014, 4:46 pm

I have experienced the same, I say hello to friends and ask questions on facebook, I am lucky if half reply, and if they do its usually months after I said anything.

its quite frustrating, you can't help but feel a little put off, I don't feel its personal, well I don't see why it would be, but people are generally just, well either selfish or they are anxious or something.

if I don't reply to someone, its either because I don't know what to say or people keep asking me to go places, because I am currently acrophobic

its interesting, I presume people get so caught up in themselves, or they don't know what to say



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06 Aug 2014, 4:59 pm

severity doesnt mean the same as functioning [which formaly/ medicaly speaking refers to an IQ over or under 70 and how that impacts on the presentation of autism],its possible the moderately autistic person has had more social experience so is used to back-forth questions.

autism is sometimes refered to as selfism,and theres a good reason why-there are varying levels of disconnect to the world and it can make us seem entirely or partly ego centric.
everyone has different levels of social skills,severity doesnt automaticaly mean a moderate HFA will out trump a mild HFA in traits/difficulties,a mild HFA might experience some sensory problems worse than someone with profound classic autism for example;autism traits differ in everyone across a sliding scale.

it sounds like the friend coud do with checking out social stories,these are stories which help people on the spectrum to understand things;such as social communication.
perhaps hunt one down and try and work it into chat, maybe recommend a social stories site or something.

does this friend use forums?
if not,perhaps he shoud do,its extremely helpful for learning how to talk to people.


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StarCity
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06 Aug 2014, 5:05 pm

starkid wrote:
The first person's response in the cat conversation doesn't necessarily indicate a lack of empathy. On the other hand, the second person could have felt nothing and been following a script. Feeling empathy and verbalizing it are two different things.


Hi starKid, What you wrote makes a lot of sense.
The issue as to who is "feeling" and who is responding as if to a script is difficult to determine.

Personally, this got me thinking about my own interactions. I hope that when I interact that it is delivered in a way that makes it appear genuine so that the "reciever" feels recognised, acknowledged, & appreciated. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't and the "reciever" says that my voice tone made it seem that it wasn't genuine. But then I learn from that, and try to make it sound more authentic the next time.


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We, the people on the Autistic Spectrum have a choice.
We can either try to "fit in" with the rest of society, or we can be so egocentric that we can't be bothered.
I choose the actor. I observe NT's. I listen to their socializing. I practice it, so in social situations I can just emulate/mimic what is expected.
It isn't natural for me, but it enables me to "fit in".
It is VERY tiring and draining, but at least we can appear like them even though it is an act. Like being on the stage.
They can't see it is emulation, and so we are accepted.


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06 Aug 2014, 5:08 pm

It may be partially related to the fact that a great portion of those with ASD (particularly AS) have incredibly narrow interests.


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kraftiekortie
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06 Aug 2014, 5:13 pm

I believe even a person on the Spectrum should be able to sympathize with a cat being put to sleep, especially if he/she is cognitively "normal."

I find the "high-functioning" person's reaction callous.



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06 Aug 2014, 5:52 pm

StarCity wrote:
starkid wrote:
the "reciever" says that my voice tone made it seem that it wasn't genuine. But then I learn from that, and try to make it sound more authentic the next time.


If you were genuine when you said it, and you try to change the way in you said it, that makes it less genuine, even though it might seem more genuine to whomever you are talking. You'd be faking authenticity in order to sound more authentic. Maybe other people just need to accustom themselves to your way of expressing yourself. Authenticity is achieved by being, not trying.


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olympiadis
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07 Aug 2014, 12:30 am

starkid wrote:
The first person's response in the cat conversation doesn't necessarily indicate a lack of empathy. On the other hand, the second person could have felt nothing and been following a script. Feeling empathy and verbalizing it are two different things.


+1

I would have been able to verbalize my feelings about the cat very well, but many people cannot, or they avoid trying. I wouldn't think it always means they didn't feel anything. There is a disconnect between feeling and expressing.



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07 Aug 2014, 12:33 am

starkid wrote:
StarCity wrote:
starkid wrote:
the "reciever" says that my voice tone made it seem that it wasn't genuine. But then I learn from that, and try to make it sound more authentic the next time.


If you were genuine when you said it, and you try to change the way in you said it, that makes it less genuine, even though it might seem more genuine to whomever you are talking. You'd be faking authenticity in order to sound more authentic. Maybe other people just need to accustom themselves to your way of expressing yourself. Authenticity is achieved by being, not trying.


+1

I agree with this too.
It is by NT rules that we would pro-actively emote or act out our feelings without ever being asked about our feelings. I think most with ASD learn to mimic this to an extent, but of course there is great variation between individuals. The expectation is that everyone become a convincing actor. Feeling something is not enough. You have to show it to others. That's the NT rule.



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07 Aug 2014, 12:47 pm

A dozen or so years ago, I attended several 'groups' and they were mostly people in their 20s who had never worked, and had never had to fend for themselves. They treated me with suspicion, whilst speaking of nothing except themselves.

Since I stopped going to work, I have had lots of time to reflect, and I can recognise many past situations in which I had no clue at all that I was completely 'missing the point'.

I now have the pleasure of being able to avoid almost all human contact and therefore there are fewer opportunities to respond inappropriately to someone else's remarks.

But it would have been very difficult for me to think of a sympathetic response to the death of a cat! Anyone who becomes attached to a cat is, in my opinion, some kind of sucker...


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StarCity
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07 Aug 2014, 4:49 pm

MrGrumpy wrote:
.....I now have the pleasure of being able to avoid almost all human contact and therefore there are fewer opportunities to respond inappropriately to someone else's remarks.


Mr Grumpy, you make yourself sound like Robinson Crusoe without "man Friday". Marooned on a desert island.


MrGrumpy wrote:
But it would have been very difficult for me to think of a sympathetic response to the death of a cat! Anyone who becomes attached to a cat is, in my opinion, some kind of sucker...


Yes, she was just a cat but she was my best friend.
In fact, it was only when she died that I began to socialize with people.
I'd told an aquaitance at work (Daniel) how empty my home felt since she wasn't there and how I felt sad when I walked in, and so he invited me around his place instead of me going home to be sad. I agreed. We became friends.


_________________
We, the people on the Autistic Spectrum have a choice.
We can either try to "fit in" with the rest of society, or we can be so egocentric that we can't be bothered.
I choose the actor. I observe NT's. I listen to their socializing. I practice it, so in social situations I can just emulate/mimic what is expected.
It isn't natural for me, but it enables me to "fit in".
It is VERY tiring and draining, but at least we can appear like them even though it is an act. Like being on the stage.
They can't see it is emulation, and so we are accepted.


NaturalProcess
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07 Aug 2014, 7:04 pm

StarCity wrote:
Hi,
With the other people I know personally (aquaitances/friends) I have noticed time & time again that they do not respond to texts or emails unless I am asking them "How are you?". "What have you done today?". "How do you feel about ... ?". ect.
If I tell them something about me; such as something I have done, or something I have achieved they don't reply. But if I ask them something about themselves, then they do reply.

Occasionally they may text/email me asking how I am, but whatever I write the only thing they respond to is the ".... and how are you?" that I always write at the end of my message.

Where I am different is that I know that it is good manners to say "well done" to someone for an achievement, and to show an interest in other people. I do it because it is what I have been told is the right thing to do.

When I show an interest in someone elses life it is what friends do. I like it when a friend says "thank you" for me showing an interest in what they are doing in life.

What I can't understand is that the inability for someone to empathize with another person appears to have nothing to do with how low/high functioning they are on the autistic spectrum.


Personally, I find that both the NTs and AS people I know are self-interested to the point of never instigating contact with me or asking how I am doing (with the rare exception of NTs asking out of social manners, but not actually wanting to know).

I made it a point a few years ago to stop reaching out to people who never reached out to me and my friend circle dropped to almost nothing in one night.

I'm starting to think it's the type of people I am associating with. I know there are mutually caring relations out there, I've seen them.

Also, as a person with high functioning AS, if you had told me your cat had gotten very ill and had to be put to sleep, I couldn't empathize, but I would have run a script because I understand intellectually that lose is a big deal. I would wanted to say 'You'll need a new cat.' but I know from (hard won) experience that that is not something to say to the bereaved.

I think, as Temple talks about so much, the callous reply you got was just poor social skills.



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07 Aug 2014, 11:47 pm

If they only respond when you ask about them, that at least is something. What baffles me is,
I know people who won't respond even to questions about themselves.
They wish to keep in touch, so they simply start a new email when they feel
like making a report. I have no idea how to respond to these emails - perhaps
a picture of a kitten? A cartoon? I feel that the air has been sucked out of the room
somehow.


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07 Aug 2014, 11:52 pm

StarCity wrote:
Hi,


The person diagnosed as having more severe Autism responded "Ahh. Poor cat. You must be very sad. Get another one so you won't be lonely".
: [/b]


I really like this response. It makes me think of the Good Samaritan - someone low in the pecking order who acts in an affiliative way.
How much do you care if it's scripted? For myself, I can't work it out.


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You are very likely neurotypical"
Changed score with attention to health. Still have AS traits and also some difficulties.