Did we have emotional readability AT ONE TIME?

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Jayo
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08 May 2021, 6:08 pm

I just came across something outside of WP, which I'll paste here - a short, concise thought - which made me think about the whole theory of those of us with ASD/HFA being intrinsically "emotionally dyslexic" and thus lacking seamless nonverbal communication and Theory of Mind circuitry... someone opined that we may have had it at one point:

"I think that we start out with the ability to read others emotions, but it overwhelms our brains. So we cope by disabling/disconnecting those neurons."

THIS caused a bit of a paradigm shift for me...and I can relate to that statement from my own trajectory in my early and formative years... where I started getting mostly negative responses, like anger or ridicule - so it became uncomfortable to see that certain look in someone's eyes, the intensity or nasty glint, so things went into a "death spiral" or vicious circle, where the more I disconnected nonverbally, the worse it got, and the negative reactions continued :cry:

By about the age of 14-15, this degenerated into a high level of paranoia and anxiety for me, ostensibly due to years of bullying. Hence the corollary for early intervention during those early formative years.



funeralxempire
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08 May 2021, 7:15 pm

That sounds like a roughly fair assessment of my experience.


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08 May 2021, 10:42 pm

I don't have much trouble understanding/recognising emotions anyway.


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autisticelders
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09 May 2021, 4:39 am

early in my life I was trained to respond to demands of others, it did no good to try to understand their emotions or to try to express mine. I was simply to respond to them (please them) when they interacted with me. To do anything else was dangerous. I distinctly remember deciding that emotions were useless and to ignore theirs and mine. I only sought facts and reacted to the reality of whatever demands people were making of me my present. I never reflected on feelings, except when others told me about theirs and I was expected to make them feel better. What I felt was never discussed or recognized by others or myself. Trauma from an early age affects a lot of autistic people's lives deeply. I think I can learn to read emotions, I have learned to 'read' animals very well. With humans I think I have learned a lot about their emotions through expressions and body language, it is troublesome for me that many times people's words are in conflict with what their body language says. such as: "angry??? I'm not ANGRY!! !!" etc.



Aspie1
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09 May 2021, 12:18 pm

autisticelders wrote:
early in my life I was trained to respond to demands of others, it did no good to try to understand their emotions or to try to express mine. I was simply to respond to them (please them) when they interacted with me. To do anything else was dangerous. I distinctly remember deciding that emotions were useless and to ignore theirs and mine. I only sought facts and reacted to the reality of whatever demands people were making of me my present. I never reflected on feelings, except when others told me about theirs and I was expected to make them feel better.
This was my early life to a T. I didn't exist as a person with my own thoughts, wishes, and feelings. I existed pretty much as an object with very narrowly roles: (1) obey adults without question, (2) bring home perfect grades, and (3) keep those adults happy/appeased at all times. Any deviations from these roles resulted in massive vitriol and anger thrown my way. I was also told, indirectly but unambiguously, that my feelings didn't matter, with most of them being unacceptable to begin with. So I did the first logical thing: I turned them off.

This became a problem when I was put in therapy for failing to make friends and getting bad grades. That rotten woman was very into my feelings, and literally DEMANDED to know how the things I told her about made me feel. So obviously, I told her "I don't know", because I actually didn't know. This made her very angry with me, and she accused me of lying or withholding. Which meant I was failing to comply with Role #3: namely, appeasing her with "correct" answers about feelings. I eventually figured out what she wanted to her; after that, as long I gave her those answers, she didn't really care if they were honest or not.

It took me until age 29 to really understand and embrace an important concept NT kids know from birth: my wishes and interests actually matter. Before then, I continued to live in the "childhood mode", respecting everyone's wishes but my own.



Jayo
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12 May 2021, 7:51 pm

Aspie1 wrote:
autisticelders wrote:
early in my life I was trained to respond to demands of others, it did no good to try to understand their emotions or to try to express mine. I was simply to respond to them (please them) when they interacted with me. To do anything else was dangerous. I distinctly remember deciding that emotions were useless and to ignore theirs and mine. I only sought facts and reacted to the reality of whatever demands people were making of me my present. I never reflected on feelings, except when others told me about theirs and I was expected to make them feel better.
This was my early life to a T. I didn't exist as a person with my own thoughts, wishes, and feelings. I existed pretty much as an object with very narrowly roles: (1) obey adults without question, (2) bring home perfect grades, and (3) keep those adults happy/appeased at all times. Any deviations from these roles resulted in massive vitriol and anger thrown my way. I was also told, indirectly but unambiguously, that my feelings didn't matter, with most of them being unacceptable to begin with. So I did the first logical thing: I turned them off. 8O

This became a problem when I was put in therapy for failing to make friends and getting bad grades. That rotten woman was very into my feelings, and literally DEMANDED to know how the things I told her about made me feel. So obviously, I told her "I don't know", because I actually didn't know. This made her very angry with me, and she accused me of lying or withholding. Which meant I was failing to comply with Role #3: namely, appeasing her with "correct" answers about feelings. I eventually figured out what she wanted to her; after that, as long I gave her those answers, she didn't really care if they were honest or not.

It took me until age 29 to really understand and embrace an important concept NT kids know from birth: my wishes and interests actually matter. Before then, I continued to live in the "childhood mode", respecting everyone's wishes but my own.


THIS is very well thought out, and sooooo true.
I was somewhat emotionally repressed by an abusive stepmom that my dad just let her have her way (he was kind of "Beta", you might say), basically she regarded my emotional reactions to things as a form of mental illness since they were exaggerated or out of place, so I just "switched off" to the point where I needed those synaptic connections for proper functioning in the NT world, i.e. seamless response to nonverbal cues with integration with Theory of Mind.

So I suspect this is the regrettable trajectory that many of us with ASD/HFA follow :(

It may also be due in part to the "black or white" thinking of Aspies (retro-name, yes, I know) - we are either way too emotionally engaged, or switched off, as a response (defence mechanism) to avoid hostility.

You should read up on the late Marshall Rosenberg, who was a world-renowned expert on non-violent communication - part of his approach involves acknowledging both your needs and that of the other side.

As to your last paragraph, that "NT kids know from birth...that their wishes and interests actually matter" - I can't say that I entirely agree, as plenty of NT people (female mostly) have been brainwashed early on in life into believing that they must be subservient, and not to be too vocal about certain needs (and of course, a lot of this is cultural) - and on the other side, plenty of ASD folks will continue to asset their special interests or what-have-you, despite any disapproval.
Another fallacy here is that NT kids wishes and interests are considered more "normal" and accepted, whereas our wishes and interests may be regarded as inappropriate, which can be a subjective construct. And in certain cases like my little anecdote, our wishes and interests can be repressed due to perception of mental illness which is stigma / taboo in "polite society". :roll:



Aspie1
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12 May 2021, 8:48 pm

Jayo wrote:
Another fallacy here is that NT kids wishes and interests are considered more "normal" and accepted, whereas our wishes and interests may be regarded as inappropriate, which can be a subjective construct. And in certain cases like my little anecdote, our wishes and interests can be repressed due to perception of mental illness which is stigma / taboo in "polite society". :roll:
Another thing is that NT kids are simply better at negotiating and even fighting for their wishes, particularly within their families. I clearly remember how my wishes at family gatherings always, always, always got shut out into nonexistence. Here's how.
1. When my whole family, nuclear and extended, was ordering pizzas, and everyone pitched in their topping choices, with me wanting mushrooms, guess which topping didn't get chosen? Mushrooms!
2. When my whole family went to a history a museum, and everyone pitched in the exhibit they wanted to see, with me wanting to see Egyptian pyramids, guess which exhibit was overlooked? Egyptian pyramids!
3. When my whole family went to a pan-Asian restaurant, and everyone pitched in their order, with me wanting fried cod, guess whose order was ignored? Mine! I was given pork dumplings instead, ordered by my NT older sister. I tried shouting, but she "didn't hear me". In retrospect, I should have thrown something at her to get her attention.

This boils down to one thing: social skills! The main reason, if not the only reason, families respect NT kids' wishes automatically, is because NT kids are born intuitively knowing how to get their points across even with the strictest parents. Aspie kids have to learn the hard way, and many don't learn until adulthood.



JakeCorn
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13 May 2021, 9:42 am

hello. I'm new here, but very interesting information !



Jayo
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13 May 2021, 12:01 pm

Aspie1 wrote:
Jayo wrote:
Another fallacy here is that NT kids wishes and interests are considered more "normal" and accepted, whereas our wishes and interests may be regarded as inappropriate, which can be a subjective construct. And in certain cases like my little anecdote, our wishes and interests can be repressed due to perception of mental illness which is stigma / taboo in "polite society". :roll:
Another thing is that NT kids are simply better at negotiating and even fighting for their wishes, particularly within their families. I clearly remember how my wishes at family gatherings always, always, always got shut out into nonexistence. Here's how.
1. When my whole family, nuclear and extended, was ordering pizzas, and everyone pitched in their topping choices, with me wanting mushrooms, guess which topping didn't get chosen? Mushrooms!
2. When my whole family went to a history a museum, and everyone pitched in the exhibit they wanted to see, with me wanting to see Egyptian pyramids, guess which exhibit was overlooked? Egyptian pyramids!
3. When my whole family went to a pan-Asian restaurant, and everyone pitched in their order, with me wanting fried cod, guess whose order was ignored? Mine! I was given pork dumplings instead, ordered by my NT older sister. I tried shouting, but she "didn't hear me". In retrospect, I should have thrown something at her to get her attention.

This boils down to one thing: social skills! The main reason, if not the only reason, families respect NT kids' wishes automatically, is because NT kids are born intuitively knowing how to get their points across even with the strictest parents. Aspie kids have to learn the hard way, and many don't learn until adulthood.


Well it sounds to me that they were just being vindictive, or passive-aggressive, based on past acrimony towards your past behaviours that put people off. I don't think it was b/c you didn't communicate your needs clearly (or properly). I mean, as long as you didn't shout, curse, or verbally put down other peoples' choices when making your own choice...which I doubt that you did...and if you said "please" (which I assume you did), then there is no legitimate basis for them shutting you out like that. Their approach to this is a lose-lose situation, nobody benefits in the long term.

And playing devils advocate again: I don't necessarily agree with your last two sentences, as many (NT) teenagers can still be brash and demanding, even with parents, without more tactfully communicating their needs. Which is why several books exist out there (ostensibly written by NTs for NTs) for how to be tactful and diplomatic in situations.
Yes, a few people "know how" to get their points across, but they just don't care and will be brash and patronizing anyway... these are the more toxic types like type-A's and narcissists, usually in positions of power, but these are thankfully very few. 8O



Aspie1
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13 May 2021, 5:31 pm

Jayo wrote:
Well it sounds to me that they were just being vindictive, or passive-aggressive, based on past acrimony towards your past behaviours that put people off. I don't think it was b/c you didn't communicate your needs clearly (or properly). I mean, as long as you didn't shout, curse, or verbally put down other peoples' choices when making your own choice...which I doubt that you did...and if you said "please" (which I assume you did), then there is no legitimate basis for them shutting you out like that. Their approach to this is a lose-lose situation, nobody benefits in the long term.
If what you're saying is true, then maybe I should have thrown something at my sister's head in that restaurant. She sat closest to the aisle, while I sat on the opposite end; she took everyone's input except mine, before placing the orders with the waiter. I tried raising my voice, saying "please!" and "fried cod!", but she "didn't hear me". :evil: (The fried cod I wanted was only $1 more expensive than the pork dumplings she ordered for me, so it's not like money was the issue.) So even if hitting her in the head with something small but heavy for its size, like a soy sauce bowl or a chopstick stand, wouldn't let me get my food of choice, leaving a scalp bruise on her would provide me a mildly satisfying feeling of vindication. (I already knew better than to "whine" to my therapist about this incident, because I knew she'd just mock me and not teach me assertiveness techniques.)

Another time, we were in an Italian-American restaurant, ordering salads as appetizers. Again, my sister took everyone's salad orders, and pretended not to hear me. When I tried speaking up to request Thousand Island dressing on my salad, she made a "brushing aside" gesture with her hand, and ordered ranch for everyone. Lucky for me, this time, the waitress my sister was talking to heard me shouting "Thousand Island", and brought me the order I wanted. How sad! A total stranger working a low-wage job cared more about my wishes than my own sister did! :evil: Especially considering that I wasn't even the one tipping her. (Or maybe my helpless, futile shouting triggered her own childhood memories, or something.)



Jayo
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13 May 2021, 6:28 pm

Aspie1 wrote:
Jayo wrote:
Well it sounds to me that they were just being vindictive, or passive-aggressive, based on past acrimony towards your past behaviours that put people off. I don't think it was b/c you didn't communicate your needs clearly (or properly). I mean, as long as you didn't shout, curse, or verbally put down other peoples' choices when making your own choice...which I doubt that you did...and if you said "please" (which I assume you did), then there is no legitimate basis for them shutting you out like that. Their approach to this is a lose-lose situation, nobody benefits in the long term.
If what you're saying is true, then maybe I should have thrown something at my sister's head in that restaurant. She sat closest to the aisle, while I sat on the opposite end; she took everyone's input except mine, before placing the orders with the waiter. I tried raising my voice, saying "please!" and "fried cod!", but she "didn't hear me". :evil: (The fried cod I wanted was only $1 more expensive than the pork dumplings she ordered for me, so it's not like money was the issue.) So even if hitting her in the head with something small but heavy for its size, like a soy sauce bowl or a chopstick stand, wouldn't let me get my food of choice, leaving a scalp bruise on her would provide me a mildly satisfying feeling of vindication. (I already knew better than to "whine" to my therapist about this incident, because I knew she'd just mock me and not teach me assertiveness techniques.)

Another time, we were in an Italian-American restaurant, ordering salads as appetizers. Again, my sister took everyone's salad orders, and pretended not to hear me. When I tried speaking up to request Thousand Island dressing on my salad, she made a "brushing aside" gesture with her hand, and ordered ranch for everyone. Lucky for me, this time, the waitress my sister was talking to heard me shouting "Thousand Island", and brought me the order I wanted. How sad! A total stranger working a low-wage job cared more about my wishes than my own sister did! :evil: Especially considering that I wasn't even the one tipping her. (Or maybe my helpless, futile shouting triggered her own childhood memories, or something.)


Well, that's the hierarchical mentality of NTs for you...she's already dismissed you as a mentally deficient charity case - ergo all you deserve is derision and and a "yeah, whatever, weirdo!" reaction - which is totally unjustified. :evil:

She should be helping you to get to where you need to be. That's a betrayal that REALLY stings, I'm sorry you had to go through that. :(
Maybe it's because she thinks "well I'll never have autism, so it's fine for me to treat him like that" - it's not like someone who ends up in a wheelchair from a drunk driver crashing into them, or someone suffering from cancer.
grrrrr....
:x