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andantespianato
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23 Feb 2009, 10:52 pm

How would you distinguish shyness from autism and asperger syndrome in adults? Is it possible to 'just happen' to have similar personality traits without being diagnosable with something or other despite the fact that these 'traits' have held you back in some ways?



pandd
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23 Feb 2009, 11:24 pm

I'm unsure of how you conceive AS, but your question seems to indicate that perhaps you view it as being about personality rather than a neurological condition.

AS is not a personality or type of personality. Shyness is not necessary for a diagnosis of AS, it's not even a symptom in fact.



andantespianato
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24 Feb 2009, 10:17 am

Nothing to do with me at all, more that although anybody else who the topic has been brought up with thinks im on the spectrum, and I also think so, my parents still insist that im 'just shy'.



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24 Feb 2009, 11:41 am

If your asking what the differences between shyness and any form of autism is, there's a big difference. The way I see it, shyness is just having a hard time adapting to new things. You can be shy because you have a hard time meeting with people for the first time and you don't know what to except. However, the more time you spend with those people, the more comfortable you'll be with those people and eventually, you will break out of your shyness. People who are "only" shy will not be shy forever.

For any form of autism like aspergers, you aren't only shy but you'll likely never connect with anyone(or many people anyways). You can rarely break out of your shyness and you can't read social cues so you'll never connect unless it's under certain circumstances. Plus, people who are only shy and have no form of autism are still NT so they can read social cues fine. People in the autism group can't read social cues. An example I'd like to use is my behavior. I suspect I have a form of autism myself because for seven years of my school years, I was never able to break out of my anti-social behavior. Thats something someone who is normal and is only shy, would not do. The fact is shy people can change, people with autism can't without therapy or if they find that "niche" group of people they can connect with. This is why I get mad when people think I'm only shy and nothing else because I know it goes beyond that.



andantespianato
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24 Feb 2009, 1:16 pm

Being only shy wouldnt necessarily hold a person back in any way though, right? My parents are trying to pin everything on shyness... Theres a big difference between me and other people who would call themselves shy, 'shy' doesnt really explain me and I think I may have picked up the wrong meaning of the term growing up. I was always just told that I was shy so I believed it, didnt really have anything else to explain me.



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24 Feb 2009, 2:18 pm

I was often called shy. Though I'm not at all, I enthusiastically approach strangers and start conversations and I do not worry about what people might think about me or what I do.

Nevertheless, people called me shy because I appeared withdrawn and otherworldly and even later they still called me shy when I just went along with most things because they either confused me or I didn't care at all and didn't understand how they could be significant to others.

Then I also talked little and sometimes cannot talk these days, which people who don't know that it's a problem with speech/language will assume is just shyness.

I am, by all means, not shy, but there's always someone in my life claiming I must be shy because I don't do social stuff like them. Very strange.


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24 Feb 2009, 2:54 pm

I am shy on top of being aspie so that's like double bubble.


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Nephesh
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24 Feb 2009, 3:10 pm

andantespianato wrote:
How would you distinguish shyness from autism and asperger syndrome in adults? Is it possible to 'just happen' to have similar personality traits without being diagnosable with something or other despite the fact that these 'traits' have held you back in some ways?


Here in Information Technology, I thought that the woman in the next cube must be Aspie because of her shyness. Getting up and speaking in front of groups, attending going away parties, etc, is all way outside her comfort zone. So I had her take the Baron-Cohen Aspie test and she scored almost exactly average.

On the other hand, I can get up and speak to groups, and can tolerate crowded social events for small amounts of time. (Come in hug the wall, hit the buffet and leave.)

So, obviously an Aspie can overcome shyness, and not all shy people are Aspie.



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24 Feb 2009, 3:18 pm

Being shy is different. I sometimes get called shy, because I rarely talk, even in small groups (2 or 3 people). It seems that way also because I talk freely with only a select few people.

However, if I was actually shy, then I would not have had the nerve to have spoken in front of 40+ people today. Especially not with the confidence I did. Given that the subject matter was something I am deeply affected by, I did not even think of turning down the opportunity. I surprised a few people.

The only part of the day I was uncomfortable with was lunchtime, when the room was crowded, and several people tried to engage me in conversation. I needed to go outside. When I returned, I went to the quietest corner I could find, and sat behind a lectern.

It was not long before I was given another opportunity to speak, which again I did with confidence. After the event was over, I was among the first to leave.

The applause was enough to tell me I was going to be 'in demand' if I'd stayed.

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24 Feb 2009, 3:23 pm

I'm the shyest person in my whole school, I would differently say that it's a symptom.



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24 Feb 2009, 3:48 pm

robo37 wrote:
I'm the shyest person in my whole school, I would differently say that it's a symptom.


I was both the shyest and the loudest kid in my school. I wouldn't make conversation with others, nobody really knew me, but then again I would show off a lot.

I think my worst mistake was displaying my ability to recreate an owl's call by blowing into my hands. I became a curiosity. People would ask me if I could mimic any other animal, and it snowballed from there. I became 'animal boy', who nobody would hang out with and everyone laughed at.

But I was already used to being solitary and taunted years before then. It still made me feel pretty low, though. Nowadays, I'm not so used to it, and every insult I ever get (usually in jest) seems to hit me right where it hurts most

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24 Feb 2009, 5:08 pm

I was shy when I was younger - I think it was something to hide behind, but I don't think I am now (and I wasn't as a young child I don't think - it seemed to develop from about 7-8). More recently I have realised that my 'shyness' is different from that of other people I know. I have had a few friends who were also shy, and particularly at school I could never work out why these people were generally liked by everyone, whereas I was not - as far as I could see my deficit was in being shy, i didn't realise there was anything else.

Now I see a difference more clearly. Shy people are often scared of talking to new people, but once they have met someone they will be able to small talk, even if they are nervous of doing it, and the next time they meet that person they will build on the relationship until they get more confident. I on the the other hand have always found that meeting a stranger for the first time is fine (particularly in the absence of anyone else that I know), but that after all the standard questions are exhausted (what do you do etc), I am stuck and have nothing else to say. Second meetings are usually appalling and people who have got a good impression of me the first time (which does happen if I am in a good mood at that time) start thinking I am strange as I have nothing to say to them and might not even notice them. The exception is the rare time I meet someone that I find genuinely interesting. In general I only find people interesting once I get to know them - a situation which means that I rarely bother to get to know anyone, the exception being work where I am around people a lot without having to small talk, and then I become interested enough in them that I genuinely want to ask questions about their lives. It is also through work that I have become confident in public speaking and discussion - fear of these things was genuine shyness I think, and has improved with practise and confidence. Smalltalk however has not improved and I am like the poster above who can confidently give a talk and field questions at a conference, then sneak off and spend the break in the toilets to avoid hanging round awkwardly not talking to anyone. I am hoping that with age the awkwardness will go - I'll still not talk to anyone but I'll feel confident and relaxed in my silence instead of feeling as though I'm doing something wrong.

Unfortunately, the shy people who have befriended me, thinking that I am just like them, can get annoyed with me when I just don't do certain things that they find natural. Even they cannot understand why sometimes I feel too anxious or too tired to greet and exchange a few sentences with someone I know quite well. They think its all about conquering fear and don't realise that I just don't have anything to say.



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24 Feb 2009, 5:55 pm

andantespianato wrote:
Nothing to do with me at all, more that although anybody else who the topic has been brought up with thinks im on the spectrum, and I also think so, my parents still insist that im 'just shy'.

Er, well, the question you are asking is not likely to provide you with particularly useful information if you are hoping to get some clarity around that issue.

It would be more useful to consider how well you can use non-verbal communication to regulate expression, or how well you can detect and interpret non-verbal cues, or whether or not you have interests that are atypical in their focus and intensity and which interfere in other activities or development in other areas.

Shyness is tangential to AS. Some people with AS are shy, but many are not particularly shy; on the contrary, one associated behavior pattern (ie a pattern of behavior that occurs at a higher prevalence rate amongst those on the AS end of the spectrum than amongst those not on the spectrum) is a tendency to walk up to complete strangers and launch into a monologue about one's pervasive interest, all without so much as a greeting (an example of "active but odd" social behavior).

I am very rarely described as shy, and if someone or something gets me started, I can blabber on about things of interest for long periods of time, completely forgetting that those I am talking to are even there in any real or meaningful sense.
robo37 wrote:
I'm the shyest person in my whole school, I would differently say that it's a symptom.

I have blue eyes. As a child people would sometimes tell me I had the bluest eyes they had ever seen. If I employed the reasoning you seem to employ to arrive at your conclusion above, then I would be describing blue eyes as a symptom of AS. They are not and neither is shyness.



Lepidoptera
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24 Feb 2009, 6:16 pm

merrymadscientist wrote:
I was shy when I was younger - I think it was something to hide behind, but I don't think I am now (and I wasn't as a young child I don't think - it seemed to develop from about 7-8). More recently I have realised that my 'shyness' is different from that of other people I know. I have had a few friends who were also shy, and particularly at school I could never work out why these people were generally liked by everyone, whereas I was not - as far as I could see my deficit was in being shy, i didn't realise there was anything else.


Overall your post describes me pretty well. In school I don't think the other kids disliked me, they just ignored me for the most part, and I, them. I had a few friends, but mostly my philosophy was to just leave them alone. The only time that didn't work was when some kids wanted to make friends and I didn't have the correct reaction so they turned to bullying behavior.

As an adult I think most people I meet initially find me interesting because we meet through some shared interest or some other commonality and I can speak pretty well on things I know about. (I never meet anyone through striking up small talk in the grocery store or something like that.) After an initial meeting though, things tend to go down hill as they want to expand the conversation into all sorts of small talk, or about things I don't know anything about, or worst of all, don't care about. The result is that the only people I make any sort of connection with are those with whom I have strong shared interests, and that can take a very long time.

I don't seem to make the strong emotional connections that most people do. From what I've read this seems like a very autistic trait although many on these forums would argue that they do make strong connections. People who I've considered friends have drifted out of my life and I don't feel any particular sense of loss.



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24 Feb 2009, 6:17 pm

Edit: Delete double post. My computer went crazy. :)



Last edited by Lepidoptera on 24 Feb 2009, 6:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.