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Help NTs understand themselves and us

Discussion in 'General Autism Discussion' started by Thinx, Apr 29, 2019.

  1. Thinx

    Thinx Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    This is lighthearted yet heartfelt. I notice a growing acceptance from neurotypical people that it's a two way street, that they need help to understand and communicate better with people on the autistic spectrum, and to appreciate our difference more constructively than has been done so far.

    This thread is intended to offer ideas for them, to help them communicate better with people on the autistic spectrum and appreciate our qualities and strengths, and what we may have that they might want to aspire to, such as directness, high values, ability not to make constant eye contact etc.

    My first suggestion for NTs is:

    Give those eyes a rest guys, you are making contact with them way more than you need to, it's kind of spooky, and maybe has become an addiction? Start small, just try looking away sometimes, or over the person's shoulder, soon you'll find you can manage a whole conversation with barely a glance at the other person! It's so relaxing...
     
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  2. Fino

    Fino Alex V.I.P Member

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    Maybe to please not judge us by our verbal abilities! :eek: And try to not do so much explaining, instructing, and such verbally.

    Unless all of that is mainly just me. :confused:

    And people suggesting things we should do or places we should go because they know we would like it, which is a nice sentiment, but whatever it is just sounds stressful.

    I don't know if that's just me, too.

    I just wanted to comment because I felt bad just putting "funny" then not saying anything, like I was laughing at the thread, but I was laughing at the "give those eyes a rest guys" thing. :oops:
     
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  3. Fridgemagnetman

    Fridgemagnetman I only have one V.I.P Member

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  4. Progster

    Progster Gone sideways to the sun V.I.P Member

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    I'm being cued. Ok, here goes :)
    An ememe is an emotion meme which is carried by a commonly known short statement of question. When people communicate with each other, it's not just about the words they use, but they are also transmitting an emotional message, often a feelgood vibe or they may be trying to manipulate the person's emotion in some way. For example, when people ask "how are you?" they (EDIT) often aren't really asking how you are, it is serving a social function, a greeting, a kind of social grooming that transmits a feelgood vibe to the other person, it's a communication about social status and the relationship between those two people. For us, when we hear this, it is a question asking after our health and we don't necessarily perceive it's true, social purpose, so we may answer the question literally and honestly, which may not be what the person was actually after - they were after the feelgood emotion, not the actual answer to the question.

    For us, the words are the most important thing that we pay attention to, but for NTs, it's the emotional message behind the words that is significant. "How are you?" is an ememe. Another common ememe is "we should meet up sometime". When a person say this, they are not necessarily wanting to meet up, but are transmitting a feelgood message to the other person that says "I'm a friend" and that's what they want the other person to understand. When we hear that, it means to us literally that we should meet up, and then we may get frustrated or disillusioned when the person we suppose to be our friend doesn't actually call us to meet up. Intellectually, we may come to understand that these ememes have a social purpose and shoudn't be taken literally, but we tend not to intuitively communicate in ememes as NTs do, so it is a conscious effort to 'translate' them and to understand what the emotion or social purpose of the ememe is. We may learn their social meanings and imitate, but it is still a huge effort for us that makes social interaction exhausting.

    This causes misunderstandings in communication. Either we fail to be aware of the emotional or hidden social function of the words or ememe being used, and then, from and NT perspective, we take things too literally, or NTs may assume that our own words are carrying an emotional message that is not intended, and then, from their perspective, we are seen as being rude and unempathic, hence giving rise to various stereotypes and myths that we are lacking in empathy or are insensitive to other people's feelings.

    So basically, we have two different communication styles that are neither superior nor inferior to each other; NTs use a more social communication in the form of verbal ememes, symbolic gestures and body language, whose primary goal is to convery imformation to others about social status and emotional state, whereas we may want to convey similar information, but don't use these symbolic gestures or ememes or non-verbal communication, we use actual words directly to say how we are feeling and what our desires and thoughts are. The differences is in the way our brain works and how we process information, we are wired to process facts and details and often have difficulty processing the emotional or social information that social communication is designed to transmit. EDIT: so when we hear "how are you?", even though as adults we may be able to work out intellectually that the question is symbolic rather than actual, our primary and instinctual interpretation is that is is a question about our health and being, because that is how our brains are wired to process information.
     
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  5. Fridgemagnetman

    Fridgemagnetman I only have one V.I.P Member

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    This is also how we can be defined as 'taking things literally' which can also take a while to understand from both sides.

    The confusion arising as our statements are interpreted as communicating an ememe and the meaning can be assumed.

    The response in a conversation is often based on that assumption.

    The confusion increasing as the reply is then given a literal meaning - which does not make sense in terms of the original statement.

     
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  6. Streetwise

    Streetwise Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    you learn a new thing every day I never knew there was a shortened term for emoticon
     
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  7. Progster

    Progster Gone sideways to the sun V.I.P Member

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    It's not an abbreviation of emoticon. It's short for 'emotion meme'. It's an idea that @Fridgemagnetman and I came up with to help describe the differences between autistic and NT communication.
     
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  8. Fridgemagnetman

    Fridgemagnetman I only have one V.I.P Member

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    And it should be in the dictionary already ...
    :)
     
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  9. Autistamatic

    Autistamatic He's just this guy, you know? V.I.P Member

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    We could do with a version of Google Translate that works in real-time and converts "Autistic" into "Neurotypese".

    Unfortunately, the first attempt looked like this:

    neurotypese_03.png
     
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  10. Streetwise

    Streetwise Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    please God don't use Google translate it's terrible I try to understand the translation of Hebrew it's indescribable what it comes out with
     
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  11. Streetwise

    Streetwise Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I have a slight amount of hope that Google translation is almost understandable compared to Hebrew
     
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  12. Autistamatic

    Autistamatic He's just this guy, you know? V.I.P Member

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    Joking aside - the problem with translating between "Autistic" and "Neurotypese" is that the NT often "hears" something different to that which is said. They expect layers of subterfuge and misdirection that aren't present, so end up misunderstanding us.
    This is not true of ALL NT's of course - some have made the effort to meet us in the middle, have learned to ask us to clarify when they think we might be being negative and have left their preconceptions at the door whilst engaging with us.
    In an ideal, neurodiverse world, all would do this but we are still some way from reaching that point. That's why it's so important to keep working toward that goal!
     
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  13. Jojo_LB

    Jojo_LB Brilliant Enigma V.I.P Member

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    Misunderstandings, disagreements and arguments with NT's can get a lot worse when they want to talk about and/or resolve them right away. I have two main reactions because the negative emotions, usually frustration and anger, are overpowering: I would withdraw for a long period of time without any explanation, or I'd lash out vehemently in self-defense. I need to spend some time trying to sort the emotions out, figure out why I'm feeling so negatively, and then come down from it. But they incorrectly assume that I am being petty or childish, or that I am holding a grudge, or that I am a passive-aggressive sort.

    I would love it if NTs could understand that we (often) don't like confrontation, or we can't talk about our problems and issues the way they can.

    I can only speak for myself here, but I'm sure a lot could relate to this. I need a lot more time to keep away from a situation before very slowly and delicately revisiting it again, if I'm able to, especially when the situation is fraught with negative emotion.

    Also, I'd much rather prefer to put things in writing.

    I wish NTs would accept writing and/or emailing and/or texting more often as a form of communication of thoughts and feelings. I know it's not the preferred method for most of them, but I feel like a lot of us are much better at it this way. I know I certainly am. I think that so many people would actually get me if they accept that I just want to express myself much more in writing, and a lot less verbally.

    My husband and I came to an agreement a while ago that if we argue, or something else very upsetting happens and I have a melt down and become verbally uncommunicative, then I can continue to communicate via pen and paper.

    It filled me with such relief that he understood that that's what I need sometimes to communicate. And we got to put this in action a couple of months ago when he was having a hard time understanding why I was so upset about something and I could no longer speak. He handed me a small pad and a pen and asked me to write it down. Things were resolved a lot more quickly and less messily than if he continued trying to poke and prod me (figuratively of course lol) for explanations.
     
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  14. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I'd like to see Sorting and Organizing recreation centers.
     
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  15. Autistamatic

    Autistamatic He's just this guy, you know? V.I.P Member

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    I like the sound of your arrangement @Jojo_LB
    I suggested something similar to an ex of mine because she was always starting rows I didn't understand but she was...
    Unwilling, shall we say ;)

    Thankfully my wife and I have our own arrangement which works equally well. She always asks me what is wrong if I seem "off" in any way and she accepts my answer. She always gives me time to process if I need it and she never raises her voice.
    We've managed 13 years without an argument. Not even a little one. Neither of us bites our tongue, we're just 100% honest all the time and we give each other the time and space to explain ourselves if ever there's a misunderstanding. I only wish I could teach then rest of the world to do the same - we might have a much better, happier society for NDs & NTs alike :)
     
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  16. Jojo_LB

    Jojo_LB Brilliant Enigma V.I.P Member

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    Wow @Autistamatic 13 years without an argument.. That's awesome!

    My spouse and I haven't been together as long as you and your spouse, so we are still working on how to perfect our communication. But I am grateful there is someone who actually cares to learn how to communicate with me, whose communication style is very different from what he's familiar with.

    Continuing on this theme of emotions and conflict resolution and communication in general. I would appreciate it if NT's didn't feel the need to touch so much. Most NTs I meet I are huggers, hand shakers. I don't mind the hand shaking as much as the hugging, but I'd prefer just a friendly nod and hello with no touching. And yes, I'll even make eye contact while saying hello for a second! :D

    And going back to conflict resolution. When conflicts are resolved, they like to "hug it out" lol Look I have no real hard feelings left after we've resolved the conflict, but.. Do we really need to hug? I'm still dealing with residual emotions. If it's an acquaintance or a friend, I don't need to hug. If it's someone I'm especially close to, I still need some time before I get to feeling more "huggy." :D I get there eventually, but again, I would like NT's to understand that we need time and space first.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2019
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  17. Tony Ramirez

    Tony Ramirez Christian with Asperger's Syndrome

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    My issue is when they purposely change the subject because what I am saying is important but to them they don't care.
     
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  18. Autistamatic

    Autistamatic He's just this guy, you know? V.I.P Member

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    Or they DO care but they find the subject an uncomfortable one ;)
     
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  19. the_tortoise

    the_tortoise Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Be literal. Be specific. Be concrete. Don't expect us to read between the lines. Assume nothing about body language. Assume nothing about anything.....ask questions instead.
     
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  20. Daydreamer

    Daydreamer Scatterbrained Creative

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    This looks like it'll be an interesting thread. :)

    Personally, as a neurotypical who grew up with a socially anxious streak, I can understand feeling uncomfortable with eye contact. When I was younger, I went through phases of avoiding eye contact. However, this was only the case with particular people. Except for the time when I was selectively mute, I avoided eye contact completely at that point in my life (due to a phobia of talking publicly).

    So, I learnt how to speak in public and make eye contact with the help of speech therapy. Unfortunately, bad experiences led to me feeling uncomfortable regarding eye contact again, albeit for different reasons this time.

    I used to have an art teacher who insisted that I make eye contact with him in his lessons. He was particularly adamant about that. So if I wanted my answers to count, or had a question, then I would have to make eye contact for an acceptable amount of time. Otherwise he'd reply "Look me in the eyes first", "Nope, not counting that" or "that wasn't long enough, come on". I used to find it odd how much emphasis he put on this. However, I no longer have a problem with eye contact, so thank you, I guess? o_O

    When I'm in a conversation, I usually look for non-verbal cues to figure out how comfortable a person is with eye contact, and I alter my approach accordingly. A friend of mine used to shy away from eye contact, and would look at my shoulder instead. So I'd look at their shoulder in the opposite direction. Gradually, as he became more comfortable around me, we slowly started to make eye contact. I didn't force it, but it just happened naturally overtime. But even if someone never becomes comfortable with eye contact, I don't mind.

    One time I was looking into information regarding selective mutism, and apparently selectively mute children often find it difficult to filter auditory information. I'd love to see a study about how this affects them as they grow up. Personally, as an adult who used to selectively mute for just under a year as a child, I seem to have maintained that lack of filter. This applies to all my senses really. So I can relate to people thinking that I'm not being social because I don't like those kind of events. However, if you know me IRL then chances are you know what I'm like when I get overwhelmed. My friends and family are understanding about this. However, they do like to make jokes about me not being social.
     
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