I am suddenly good at reading body language.

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Quantum
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01 Apr 2019, 2:29 pm

I'm 21 years old and was diagnosed with autism at the age of 15.

I have always been puzzled with the recognition of others feelings and expressions. For the several past months I have actively strived towards having a social circle. I usually had problems identifying faults in my actions unless I started revising hours later on what I have done alternatively seen different behaviour in the person I seemingly hurt without my concience.

Now, fast forward time, I am actually quite good at recognizing what others feel and think. Probably due to experience.

Am I "cured" of my autism or something?

I still commit a lot of mistakes I simply can't recognize at the present but I am still able to understand and connect to others.



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01 Apr 2019, 3:10 pm

This might be a case of "practice makes perfect" (or at least improvement). In my life, I have learned and implemented social behaviors...I am not diagnosed, but got a 32 on the AQ. I can also recognize many facial expressions, etc. I think the difference is that NTs are born with that knowledge/the ability to easily learn it, so it comes very naturally to them. For those on the spectrum, it is a skill you learn like reading or maths. Not impossible, but takes paying attention, practicing, and making the effort.

I would read up on "masking" as well, and the toll it can take if you do it too much. Basically, make sure you aren't working too hard to fit in and catch all the signals that you burn out...your friends should meet you halfway and be willing to make allowances, give you the benefit of the doubt, and explain things that you don't pick up on. :-)


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Harpuia
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01 Apr 2019, 3:28 pm

It could be you are a higher-functioning aspie and can understand some social interactions, or at least in some cases.

After years of constant abuse from family, treatment by peers, etc. I've learned to have a very good intuition for negative social expressions/interactions. I still cannot tell neutral/positive ones very well though. I scored a 32 on the AQ as well and can waver between 25 and 35 depending on my stress level.


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Pepe
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02 Apr 2019, 7:10 am

Being able to look ppl in the eyes might be helping with interpreting body language...
If you can do that you have an advantage since a lot of emotional cues are facial expressions...

I have absolutely no problems with looking people in the eyes, to the extent I had to learn to regulate it...
This may or may not be the reason I am extremely good at reading people...
I can't predict how they are going to react to something I have said to save my life though...<shrug>


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02 Apr 2019, 7:23 am

Most likely you have learned to do consciously what the population as a whole can do unconsciously. They are skills which certainly vmake navigating areas like work less troublesome. It is a good idea though to think it possible these skills require some energy to be spent on them, and take care to keep times in your life to do stuff which does not need that sort of energy to be spent, so you have better chances of avoiding overload or burn out.



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02 Apr 2019, 8:36 am

I also review my past interactions to figure out what went wrong (or right) to try to apply that knowledge in future interactions. I've found that it usually helps when my past experiences are perfectly paralleled by the interactions that I "study for." (I do not generalize skills very well, so different contexts pose a problem.) i.e. if I study conversations with a certain person and apply that knowledge the next time that I'm interacting with them in the same context. I'm guessing that you've been working towards having a compact social circle - a group of individuals that you've been interacting with regularly and studying over time. If you're finding that it's easier to interact with that certain peer group after your revisions, that's to be expected, because you're picking up on patterns within a very specific and consistent context. But don't necessarily expect that the skills you seem to have gained in this one scenario will be consistent across the board. You might have to start all over again the next time you enter into a peer group. Not to sound discouraging. The ability to learn from mistakes and to pick up patterns even without thinking about broader context is still a form of social learning - I think that skill can be strengthened if you consistently expose yourself to new groups and people.


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02 Apr 2019, 11:21 am

If I were to take the thread's title literally, it'll be true to my case. Of being 'suddenly' good at reading body language' instead of years of observation.
It's by having a really good sleep quality, that would grant me a working executive function, the processing power to 'notice' subtleties and the actual mental capacity to multitask between the majorly able to process unfiltered senses, knowing what timing is, and weighing pros and cons of thoughts all through milliseconds and throughout the entire times -- and without any negative consequences like exhaustion or anxiety, if anything it's the opposite.

My own years of body language observation is still, far, far from 'enough', and I don't do a lot of masking even if I have the choice. Without the right tools, I won't notice those things because everything is just too fast for me to actually consciously notice subtlety. Let alone process, assess, conclude, and more so execute it right...

And no, this isn't a cure to autism nor you (OP) are 'cured' of it.

Learning body language and being good at it is done by greater compensation. Masking and vigilance is just few of the many ways to learn them.
But learning body language and reading people -- doesn't grant the ability to actually have these 'clues' used properly in order to 'act appropriately' beyond any form of script. Unless it's an extreme explicit form of scripting, it in order to emulate spontaneous socialization as opposed to active-but-odd done right.
Thus still having mistakes -- 'empathy' won't be enough, even emotional connections won't be enough, as much as social drives and desires won't be enough. Autism is more than just some social and emotional issue.


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03 Apr 2019, 5:39 am

Quantum wrote:
Now, fast forward time, I am actually quite good at recognizing what others feel and think. Probably due to experience.

Am I "cured" of my autism or something?


No, you have just managed to wire a work-around in your head. Because I avoid eye contact, I have more attention available for body language. Sometimes, it is more honest than the words. Static cartoons convey a great deal of information by body language. Even the stick figures in XKCD are quite expressive.



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03 Apr 2019, 8:31 am

IME a lot of us learn compensations as we get older and have more experience of people and life. It's one of the things that complicates getting a diagnosis when you're older.

And, although you've learned to work it out, your brain is still probably doing a lot more work than a NT who "gets" these things naturally.

My sense for myself is that I'm hyperaware (rather than unaware) of other people's cues, but I don't generally have words for it,and I do tend to be overwhelmed by the "energy" or "presence" of some people, which can cause me to react as though unaware or callous, due to overwhelm not lack of compassion.

There is some evidence (in New Scientist a few years ago) that training in compassion, eg with Buddhist meditation, can help sensitive people to control and keep back these kinds of overwhelming empathy.



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03 Apr 2019, 8:52 am

Quantum wrote:
Am I "cured" of my autism or something?

I still commit a lot of mistakes I simply can't recognize at the present but I am still able to understand and connect to others.


You are learning, but it sounds like you still have a lot to learn before you can consider yourself "cured of autism."



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03 Apr 2019, 9:03 am

I've never got the 'Reading body language' thing. Is it something most people instinctively do?


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03 Apr 2019, 9:05 am

I believe normal people use it to quickly divide into teams.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Internship
See the beginning of this movie.

I recall a few school setting examples decades ago.



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03 Apr 2019, 1:29 pm

Quantum wrote:
I'm 21 years old and was diagnosed with autism at the age of 15.
...
Am I "cured" of my autism or something?


Reading is just the first step, get the feelings the next, using it for emotional interaction the next aso. I think you'll never become a NT but you may learn to master the emotional interactions and to read the intentions even better then NTs read each other. Once you are able to read them care about their empathy towards you and learn how to use it to cause them to like you and to respect you.


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03 Apr 2019, 2:01 pm

To the OP and others, this topic is so sad---not that you, OP, are now more able to read body language---that is happy. What is sad is people limiting themselves in terms of their understanding of their own potential and attributing their own lack of success to autism. There may be some truth here in a very limited sense, but imo that way of looking at it is an over-generalization that keeps people stuck in a trap.

***This is kind of a side topic, but re eye-contact, the understanding of this by many people is so clueless I cannot let it pass, as this lack of understanding which is, sadly, being encouraged by others, is creating even more suffering. I've said it when I was on here a few years ago and will say it again. Do NOT try to force yourself to have eye contact or encourage others, especially children, to do so, as you/they will almost surely do it wrong and other people will perceive you as even more weird. Most normal or 'normal' people have rather minimal eye contact, just intermittent during a dialogue. Iif you extend the length of eye contact from none to some for too long a time period or too frequently, which, again, imo, you are almost sure to do, you will most likely freak other people out as you will be perceived as invading their territory. Trying to make eye contact or extend the instances of it is the wrong approach (imo:-)



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03 Apr 2019, 2:12 pm

littlebee wrote:
***This is kind of a side topic, but re eye-contact, the understanding of this by many people is so clueless I cannot let it pass, as this lack of understanding which is, sadly, being encouraged by others, is creating even more suffering. I've said it when I was on here a few years ago and will say it again. Do NOT try to force yourself to have eye contact or encourage others, especially children, to do so, as you/they will almost surely do it wrong and other people will perceive you as even more weird. Most normal or 'normal' people have rather minimal eye contact, just intermittent during a dialogue. Iif you extend the length of eye contact from none to some for too long a time period or too frequently, which, again, imo, you are almost sure to do, you will most likely freak other people out as you will be perceived as invading their territory. Trying to make eye contact or extend the instances of it is the wrong approach (imo:-)


Like some animals, some cultures consider eye contact hostile. There is no single NT standard - every group is different. I hear that black people in the US often over-do the eye contact by mistake in job interviews, because they are trying to do more than usual.



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03 Apr 2019, 3:30 pm

The whole (meaning in general) autistic people are handling the subject of learning body language is to me ridiculous and really saddening, as they are being encouraged to think wrong by others who are hooked into a particular paradigm based (imo) on faulty logic based on false premises. I will get into that later maybe here or on another thread, but touching on this topic, many (so-called) neurotypicals are basically clueless about interpreting body language and complex facial expressions. I know this for a fact. F-A-C-T.

Interesting that you mention black people. I am caucasian but a lot of black people perceive me as or even call me black, which I consider to an honor. Anyway I have studied this culture extensively--not speaking of race but specifically the African American culture). This is perhaps a topic for a different thread or maybe I will write more about it here, but basically one of the main ways people of this culture survived slavery is by using many forms of subtle body language to communicate with each other (a lot of it in the presence of white slave owners). it is a wonderful skill to develop and the great degree to which it is developed is possibly unique to this particular culture and a real gift to be able to study. I should note that I am also a musician, and the way musicians signal to each other when they are playing in a group is another very intersting topic.

What I am really pointing to in all of this dialogue I am engaging in, not just in this thread, but on wrong planet is that in many ways austistic people are shooting themselves in the foot by the way they are framing things. I saw this when I was here before and tried to write about it, but did not have the understanding or verbal skill at that time to fully express what I was with so much love in my heart trying to share, and the whole experience of trying to communicate became kind of painful and was using up too much energy, so I left for a few years and went to other venues, not just because of that, but also the light intensity was too bright for me at the time to be able to participate. Now there are some problems for me here that I am still trying to figure out if I can work around, but also in some ways it feels better to me here.