Possibly ASD, but pretty good social skills?

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purplecloud
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18 Sep 2018, 7:53 am

I'm not good at being brief, but I'll try. :oops:

I'm about to start an autism assessment next week. I was supposed to have started one half a year ago, but something went wrong in the system so I started CBT for social anxiety instead. My counselor started suspecting ASD and I was eventually put on a waiting list for an assessment.

Now my "problem" is that I think I have pretty good social skills, at least when it comes to reading body language, facial expressions and tone of voice. I have always been polite and I am not blunt at all (except with my family, because I don't have to worry about hurting them or starting a fight).

I have a few memories of me saying/doing something inappropriate as a child, but it wasn't a problem.

- When I was about 4-5 years old I said to my cousin that her drawing was ugly, not in a "mean" way, but just stating a fact. My mom was quick to "teach" me not to say such things and she explained why.

- When I was between maybe 6-9 years old I was at my aunt's house, in one of my cousin's rooms with my cousin. He had just gotten a girlfriend and I started asking very inappropriate questions about their relationship. At the time I didn't think it was inappropriate, but I remember him telling me to not ask such questions.

- At age 9 I was obsessed with a boy in my class and I would ask him to be my boyfriend WAY to often and he always said no. I still didn't get it, not even when he was mean to me. Then he started "dating" one of my friends and I was really mad. I forced my friend to break up with him right there and then and she did. When thinking back to this, I feel like it was very out of character for me, since I have always been very nice and caring. Somehow I didn't understand that my friend would probably get hurt by what I did/said. I don't remember how she reacted, but we were still friends after that. She was probably very tolerable with me.

- At age 11 my teacher told me and another kid (the boy I had a crush on) off after class, because we had apparently "bullied" another boy in our class that day. I didn't understand anything, because I thought we were just talking, as you do. It made me really upset to be told off since I was always one of the good kids and I never wanted people to get hurt.

Unlike most autistic people (from what I've read), I had quite a lot of friends as a kid actually. However I was never the one to initiate a friendship. You could say the other kids "chose" me and made me their friend, which I accepted most of the time. Sometimes my little brother even made friends for me and he is 3 years younger than me. As time went on I lost more and more friends though, because when they called me and asked me to play with them I sometimes came up with excuses and I was rarely the one to call them on my own initiative. This lead to them losing interest in me, which didn't bother me at all. I still had some friends left though. Three of them were in my class, so I couldn't lose contact with them because I saw them almost everyday and then I had my very best friend in the year below me. This was until grade 6 when everything changed and those three started to bully me (because of something I had apparently done/said in 5th grade), as well as some other kids in my class. After that I didn't have any real friends until age 16 when I started high school (you start high school at 16 in my country) and I found my current two best friends. I don't really want more friends, because It's too much work and I'm not that good at keeping contact with people. I'm 20 now btw.

My social problems didn't start until grade 6 (when I was 12), because it was simple before that. All you did was play with other kids, but things changed in middle school and suddenly you were supposed to stop playing and start acting more grown up. Instead of playing hide and seek and record silly videos with your friends, you were now supposed to want to meet new people and just "hang out". I was terrible at that. After my "friends" stopped bullying me, two of them became my "friends". We went to another town to meet people I had never met and we went to some houses I'd never been before and all I can say is it was hell. I never knew what to say so I was mostly quiet, which lead these new people to ask me "why don't you talk?" and "why are you so quiet?". I saw how the others socialised with each other and I felt like I was just watching them, rather than being part of the "group". This is when I started to feel out of place and different. I eventually became very depressed, started self harming, got pretty severe social anxiety and such.

So basically, I can read body language, facial expressions and tone of voice well (at least since I have gotten older), but I am not good at talking to new people and keep a conversation going. I know how to respond to what people are saying, but I can't initiate conversations most of the time and I don't know what to talk about. Can anyone relate to this? Could I still be autistic even though I had many friends as a kid?



BTDT
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18 Sep 2018, 8:15 am

It is much easier for women to mask poor social skills than men.



purplecloud
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18 Sep 2018, 9:32 am

BTDT wrote:
It is much easier for women to mask poor social skills than men.


Yes, so I've heard, but I don't think I was masking before the age of 12, at least not what I remember.. Maybe I sometimes pretended to know what kids were talking about, but that's about it I think. I know I masked A LOT in middle school though, which made me break down eventually.



banana247
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18 Sep 2018, 11:12 am

Sounds similar to my story. I was diagnosed with Aspergers only a few years ago.

I had a lot of friends in elementary school and don’t remember having much difficulty. I shared video game or collection interests (ie Pokémon cards) with other kids, and I was really good at those types of things, so it wasn’t hard to make friends surrounding them. Also, I was super smart in math and reading and popular among teachers. In elementary school, it was cool to be popular among teachers, so I think that helped a lot.

Middle school was a game changer, like you said. I went to a charter school, so I began attending less classes on campus as I watched my few friends navigate 100% better than me and leave me in the dust. By high school, I was barely going on campus at all and did all my work at home.

I started attending community college when I was 15 or 16 because it was right next door to my school and I found the adults there to be infinitely better company than my peers.

Since then, my social success has fluctuated in various seasons of my life. They say that aspie girls are usually stellar at socially camouflaging and I definitely believe in that. I find that my success in any given setting has a lot to with whether I have made a “good” friend there, because having someone I trust and relate to means someone I can mimick. If I have no point of reference, I’m just sort of lost at sea.



purplecloud
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18 Sep 2018, 1:00 pm

banana247 wrote:
Sounds similar to my story. I was diagnosed with Aspergers only a few years ago.

I had a lot of friends in elementary school and don’t remember having much difficulty. I shared video game or collection interests (ie Pokémon cards) with other kids, and I was really good at those types of things, so it wasn’t hard to make friends surrounding them. Also, I was super smart in math and reading and popular among teachers. In elementary school, it was cool to be popular among teachers, so I think that helped a lot.

Middle school was a game changer, like you said. I went to a charter school, so I began attending less classes on campus as I watched my few friends navigate 100% better than me and leave me in the dust. By high school, I was barely going on campus at all and did all my work at home.

I started attending community college when I was 15 or 16 because it was right next door to my school and I found the adults there to be infinitely better company than my peers.

Since then, my social success has fluctuated in various seasons of my life. They say that aspie girls are usually stellar at socially camouflaging and I definitely believe in that. I find that my success in any given setting has a lot to with whether I have made a “good” friend there, because having someone I trust and relate to means someone I can mimick. If I have no point of reference, I’m just sort of lost at sea.


I think this last bit might be something I've done. I remember feeling "unsafe" in school when I didn't have at least one friend to "follow". I remember mentally preparing on the bus to school for the half hour I would have to spend alone in the morning, before my friends came (my bus came early). As long as I have at least someone to hang around I will probably be ok, because I can rely on them. Now I'm only 20 and I've barely had any experience where I had to be independent (never had a job for example), so I don't know how I would do in such a setting. Though, I'm pretty sure it would be very stressful if I don't know anyone at my future job or don't find someone to connect with...

I'm still so unsure about this whole thing though, because as a kid I attended several birthday parties and I had several ones myself. All went well and I enjoyed it, except for one time when I invited two boys I hadn't invited before and it was chaos. They were loud, ran around and didn't listen, which made me really upset and I actually have a photo of that party where I'm sitting in a chair, crying and holding my hands over my ears. I also had several "movie nights" with my three friends in elementary school where we did typical girly stuff like face masks and it went well. I just have a feeling that these things will make the psychologist go "Nope, can't have ASD then", especially since I was a very happy and optimistic kid. Barely anything bothered me back then, not even when people teased me sometimes. Sure, I was sad in the moment, but then it was all forgotten and I was back to my happy, carefree and confident self. Wasn't until age 12 that things started getting to me.

I guess I just have to be honest, tell my truth and explain myself as best as I can (which is hard in the moment, because I forget things).



purplecloud
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20 Sep 2018, 1:56 pm

Anyone else who can relate?



superaliengirl
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20 Sep 2018, 2:21 pm

Social anxiety aside I also have pretty good social skills imo. I can read body language and often pay attention to it out of interest and I also pay attention to facial expressions and if someone is joking or not through the tone of their voice. I think the tone of voice thing is something I always pay attention to now because back when I was bullied i'd often get insults masked as compliments. I still struggle with knowing the right things to say in pretty much all situations though and can come off as cold because of it. I also have an aspie friend who is both very social and have good social skills. I had a friend once who wasn't on the spectrum who was way more awkward socially... It's different from person to person. All aspies aren't the same and don't have problems in all the same areas.



purplecloud
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22 Sep 2018, 4:58 am

superaliengirl wrote:
Social anxiety aside I also have pretty good social skills imo. I can read body language and often pay attention to it out of interest and I also pay attention to facial expressions and if someone is joking or not through the tone of their voice. I think the tone of voice thing is something I always pay attention to now because back when I was bullied i'd often get insults masked as compliments. I still struggle with knowing the right things to say in pretty much all situations though and can come off as cold because of it. I also have an aspie friend who is both very social and have good social skills. I had a friend once who wasn't on the spectrum who was way more awkward socially... It's different from person to person. All aspies aren't the same and don't have problems in all the same areas.


Thank you so much for your reply!!

When I was bullied I don't think I got insults masked as compliments, I think they just straight said mean things (like when they said clothes I was wearing were ugly for example). Though I didn't really understand them because once a girl said my cardigan was ugly and I had heard her just a few days before saying she wanted to buy that exact cardigan. So when I came to school with one and she said it was ugly, it made no sense to me.

I think I usually know what to say in social situations when it comes to answer people in the correct way. Like if someone asks "what do you think about my hair?", I know I should respond with something positive. I am always polite and when I talk to people I don't know well I always have this polite, a bit higher pitched, tone of voice. My problem is more that when I talk to people, like making small talk, I don't really know how to keep the conversation going if it's not about something I'm interested in. I am also pretty bad at asking things back, like if someone asks me "how are you?" I will say "pretty good" (even if I'm not), but I will most likely forget to ask that person back. I also rarely, if ever, ask those questions first. One of my best friends usually asks me how my family is and I always forget to ask her about her family. I hope she doesn't take offense to that, but I don't think so. Asking people about their life as a polite gesture doesn't feel natural to me if I don't actually want to know something. Why should I ask if I'm not interested?

What I think is so contradicting to potentionally having ASD is that other kids loved to play with me when I was little and they thought I was very nice and friendly. I also did a lot of pretend play, even with other children. I would say I was pretty typical in that sense and I didn't have any big arguments with my friends since I tend to avoid conflicts. I also had very typical girl interests, such as dolls, fashion, singing, dancing, drawing, crafts, shopping and I don't think any of them were intense enough to be classed as special interests....

I'm just so confused. I feel like there is more to it than just social anxiety and depression (I don't really feel depressed since graduating school though, even though my daily life is pretty pathetic) and I know I stim and have always done and I have some sensory issues to, which doesn't have anything to do with social anxiety or depression. I know I should probably just talk about this with my psychologist who's assessing me, but I find it hard. :|



fawnboy
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11 Oct 2018, 11:14 am

Growing up and making mistakes by saying things that are too-honest and hurting people's feelings, all the adults in my life were very clear and corrected me accordingly. I can still remember many times where specific incidents occurred and what my teachers/family said in response. I think this could be a solid reason for my better-than-most-Aspies social skills, because I am a very absorbent learner and I learned lessons from each of those events.

That said, maybe I just look more sensitive now because I have learned it's safer to say nothing at all. You just come off shy, not rude or mean. :|


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