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Can autistic people be extroverts?

Discussion in 'General Autism Discussion' started by AGXStarseed, Nov 4, 2016.

  1. AGXStarseed

    AGXStarseed Well-Known Member

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    (Not written by me)


    A poet who has autism explains why the condition is not a barrier to working as a live performer.

    [​IMG]
    Harry Giles is a poet from Scotland


    "Autism isn't just about being introverted, it's about finding ordinary social interactions difficult," says Harry Giles, an award-winning Scottish poet who has Asperger's syndrome.

    "Sometimes in social situations I won't know what the rules are, or I might get them a bit wrong sometimes and get anxious."

    Despite facing these challenges, Harry, who was born in Orkney and now lives in Edinburgh, earns a living performing self-written poetry on stages across the UK.

    For Harry, it is more comfortable to stand under a spotlight projecting poetry to a room full of strangers than it is to sit among them - but why?

    "Because onstage - I'm in charge. I set the rules," the performer says.

    "It's a much calmer situation than when there is a lot of people talking at once and my brain is trying to understand what they are all saying and what all the different social relationships are."


    'LGBT and autistic'
    Harry's performance skills have been honed since the poet was a child.

    "I've always had to be a sort of performer, because when I am feeling really anxious in conversations - I have to fake that I understand the rules," the poet says.

    "I think it became natural that I took a skill I had to develop to survive and turned it into an artistic thing."

    The poet says that while writing and performing is enjoyable, the business side of being in the entertainment industry can be more challenging, as it involves networking at various social events.

    "A lot of where the business of arts happens is in the pub after the event and I just can't do that stuff," Harry says.

    "I can cope with one of those events a month and have to really build up my will to do it, and give myself recovery time afterwards."


    'Shame and guilt'
    "The more noise there is, the more my brain shuts down and I stop being able to speak; and if am getting really stressed, I am likely to have a panic attack.

    "My brain does the mental equivalent of a hedgehog curling into a ball."

    [​IMG]
    Harry performing at "Queer Theory" in Glasgow

    The issue is not that Harry dislikes social events - it's just that they can sometimes be challenging.

    "It's not to do with desire or preference - it's to do with ability and disability," says the poet.


    'Avoid diagnosis'
    For Harry it is easier to network online than in person, "because words in emails and blogs can be planned in advance".

    Before signing a publishing deal with Freight Books, it was essential for the poet to build up an audience online.

    But it is difficult for Harry to earn a substantial amount of money from publishing, so to earn a living, the poet must be booked regularly for live performances.

    Sometimes this can involve cold calling performance venues, something that can be difficult for a person with Asperger's syndrome.

    "I find that [cold calling] the hardest," Harry says.

    "It's terrifying to phone up a stranger and say 'do you want to book me and my art?'"


    'Coping strategies'
    For years, Harry stubbornly avoided seeking an autism diagnosis.

    "I'm independent minded and suspicious of authority," the poet says.

    But since being diagnosed last year, the writer has felt some sense of relief.

    "I've become more forgiving of myself," Harry says.

    "There can be a cycle of shame and guilt associated with having social anxiety, but my diagnosis has stopped me feeling guilty because I know why I find things hard - it's because I am autistic."

    Since the diagnosis, Harry's relationships have improved, as the poet has become more self-aware about the reasons behind certain behaviours.

    "All my relationships have got better since I started thinking about myself that way, because I started noticing when I do things that are a bit weird," the poet says.

    "My current partner is extremely accepting and supportive."


    'Clubs and bars'
    Harry identifies as being non-binary - any gender that is not exclusively male or female.

    Being LGBT and autistic, Harry adds that it can be difficult to find supportive peers from either community who really understand both personality aspects.

    "Clubs and bars are really important historically to the LGBT community as a space of organisation, self-discovery and identity - but they are just so inaccessible to people with autism," the poet says.

    "On the other hand, autism historically has been under-diagnosed in women and LGBT people.

    "This means that autism self-advocacy organisations tend to be quite male, quite straight, and not always good at understanding LGBT people."

    However, the poet says that some LGBT autism groups have formed recently in Scotland, "which is really encouraging."

    As Harry has got older, the symptoms of autism have become less pronounced, as the poet has refined coping strategies that help manage the condition.


    'Simple rules'

    "My autism is often not really visible to people because I've found new ways of dealing with it," Harry says.

    "For example, I don't find small talk hard anymore - I used to find it difficult, but I discovered there is actually quite a simple set of rules you can deploy if you learn them.

    "It might not come naturally, but I can say 'och, it's a nice day' or 'och, it's a dreich day', and someone else will say 'oh, yeah it is', and I'll say 'how are you?'"

    While Harry enjoys projecting poetry on the stage, the performer would not self-describe as an "extrovert", because in social situations the writer is "far more likely to be in a corner, looking at a phone".

    "The majority of autistic people I've met tend to adapt quite well quite quickly to stages," the poet adds.

    "But we often don't get a chance to go on a stage because people assume we will be crap at it."

    "It's a difference, not a deficiency."


    SOURCE: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-37714048
     
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  2. LittleLemon

    LittleLemon Well-Known Member

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    I think all that makes perfect sense to me. There are introvert and extrovert Aspies. I personally find it hard to wrap my brain around an Aspie performer, but they obviously exist. I just can't imagine it.

    I would put myself somewhere in the middle. I actually like people and I like the idea of social situations. It's just the barriers can be so difficult to overcome that people sometimes give up. I've just started counseling so that i can develop coping skills and small talk skills so that I can have the occasional social event and not feel so uncomfortable. I need to get over not understanding social rules and just go with it.
     
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  3. OrSomething

    OrSomething Champion Lurker

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    Yes. I have a friend who's a (probable) Aspie and an extravert.
     
  4. toothless

    toothless this is mr shadow,my support cat

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    i am moderate classic autistic and extrovert X introvert,most people ive met think classic autism is all about introversion which is BS, my intellectual disability-while mild flavours my autism and makes me even more oblivious to social situations and social inhibition so i dont have problems socialising in my own way,i cant do normal socialising though,if i have to socialise with a 'normie' i become terribly obvious at sucking at socialisation.
     
  5. BlueChapel

    BlueChapel Member

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    I once heard that Robin Williams was slightly autistic.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2016
  6. WereBear

    WereBear License to Weird V.I.P Member

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    I heard that Robin Williams was told he had Lewy body dementia. If so, I think that suicide was a rational response.

    I agree with the poet: I have no problem giving presentations to a group or being a public speaker. Because then, I'm the one in charge, and it is all output. I don't have to work at figuring out anyone else.
     
  7. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    They do indeed exist. From time to time they show up here. Perhaps one or two will see this thread and acknowledge it.
     
  8. Mia

    Mia Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Think that we all have a little bit of extroversion in us as well as introversion. My husband plays guitar and enjoys performing in front of groups of people now and then.

    Yet it's something I don't like doing, things such as singing karaoke with people listening to you. Although I have done it, it's not something I would pursue on a regular basis.
     
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  9. sonnesun

    sonnesun Active Member

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    I also play guitar, and write songs. I've struck up the nerve to perform live too. I haven't got the bottle to do so now. I've written and recorded a few songs over the years. I actually wrote a somg called "Extroverted Introvert" because I struck up the nerve for it all. Maybe I might share it one day.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2016
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  10. Nitro

    Nitro Admin/Immoral Turpitude Staff Member Admin V.I.P Member

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    < former introvert turned extrovert
     
  11. BlueChapel

    BlueChapel Member

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    I can be very extroverted. But it's an atypical extroversion. I don't enjoy loud sporting events or parties, but I can be a very outgoing conversationalist.
     
  12. Giraffes

    Giraffes Active Member

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    Hi as a extrovert (is that odd?) person are others defined to varying degrees by their integral need to connect and interact with others, sharing of experiences, support and advice would be very helpful to me.
     
  13. Pats

    Pats Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    extrovert aspies - yep, they're out there. (lol get the pun?)
    Hi and welcome.
     
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  14. dhl02

    dhl02 Well-Known Member

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    *raises hand*
    I like being around people, but not too many.
    I find it difficult to manage the social dynamics at a party, but I still enjoy large gatherings.
     
  15. Anjy

    Anjy Mi estas weirdo, granda weirdo...

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    My daughter attends a formation school for stage dancing and choreography and she has a co-student who’s diagnosed with Aspergers and an absolute extrovert. Knowing different degrees of HFA from her family she says the point with him is that he tends to be all over the place with his ideas not realising when it’s time to have others have their say.
    My son, who’s an IT specialist, recently told me of a colleague who was obnoxiously extrovert and he really disliked him until he noticed by accident he was carrying a Severely Handicapped Pass and he assumes it’s for HFA, also.
    I myself, in spite of not being able to ask strangers what time it is, have a tendency to try and own a conversation, unconsciously, and am hurt if people tell me I’m being bossy.
     
  16. Schism

    Schism Well-Known Member

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    Hi & hello.
    I guess there are maybe. Many a musician or artist are known to be on the spectrum now. I've seen ASD TED talks too on YouTube & they seem pretty confident.
    Personally, I go into shock having to publically perform, legs tremble, bottom lip wobbles following teeth chattering etc. I've been there, on a public platform, but I could not once say I enjoyed it. Afterwards, I could ride a little high if it went well, (especially after a few beers) but a short lived experience. Doubts & regrets always follow.
     
  17. Anjy

    Anjy Mi estas weirdo, granda weirdo...

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    Yeah, me too. The number of times I did something like that, it went well and I thought:”wow, you finally got this!”
    Until the next time and I realised I’m back to zero. All. The. Kriffing. Time.
    Like my brain has no “save file” button.
     
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  18. Jimbo

    Jimbo Well-Known Member

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    I'm not all that great at socializing but I preach in churches as a layspeaker. It took years to develop the skills needed and now I am more relaxed preaching than making small talk. It's the small talk before and after the service that's difficult.