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Featured How do older autistic adults deal with social challenges?

Discussion in 'Friends, Family & Social Skills' started by Oldlady, Feb 1, 2019.

  1. Shamar

    Shamar Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I suppose it all boils down to social interaction being a confusing blank. Verbal communications get garbled. I have no clue to body language, subtleties of spoken language, tone, double meanings, implied meanings. It all leads to social ostracism, loneliness, despair. I can understand some of these when they are clear and unambiguous. If someone tries to punch me, I assume he is angry. If someone is yelling at me, I assume I messed something up. If a girl sits on my lap and tries to suck my teeth out, I assume she is interested in getting to know me better.
    In addition, I am an anthrophobe. I tend to panic in crowds or when surrounded by strangers. When flying I absolutely MUST have a window seat. Locking me in an airplane surrounded by strangers is like locking an arachnophobe in a tube full of spiders. A window seat means I can see openness and am only half surrounded. One full flight I had an aisle seat and almost went into a full screaming ballistic panic.
    Another factor is that my autism has crippled my ability to bond with or have feelings toward another person. There is just nothing there. This does not diminish my desire for social interaction or to have feeling toward another person.
     
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  2. Autistamatic

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

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    At 48 I can't say it's much easier than when I was first diagnosed. There is more awareness without doubt, but it's patchy.
    For us to function without exhausting ourselves by constant masking in public, we need others to meet us halfway, and very few people are willing to do that. I've faked it all my life because if I hadn't I wouldn't be working.
    These days I'm lucky to be married to a wonderful woman who understands my strengths and limitations which allows me to be myself when I'm with her. After a day of faking it at work I just don't have the emotional spoons left to continue to do it when I get home. She's enough for me.
    I did recently start associating with an autistic social group which was quite pleasant until I discovered some disturbing information about the organisers which put me off attending. Until then it was quite refreshing to spend time with others like myself.
     
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  3. interim

    interim New Member

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    I discovered the computer. It literally saved me. It allowed me to create my own universe which actually makes sense. I think it's very important to have something that grounds you and keeps your general sanity, so unpleasant stuff looks more tolerable. I'm happy for people that found friends/partners, but for me it didn't work out, since there was no one I can trust. I trust only a machine that was created to serve you, not it's own interest.
     
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  4. Ginseng

    Ginseng Christian V.I.P Member

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    Wow! Imagine if we all tried to be kind like that?
     
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  5. Peter Morrison

    Peter Morrison Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    My social anxiety isn't always visible. I'm outgoing, and I have polite manners. What happens inside is a combination of boredom, fears that I am avoiding or neglecting someone, and a lack of ability to join in with people who all know each other well. These all conflict with one another - trying to be a part of the group(s), but not seeing it as pleasant or fruitful. It's always awkward for me. I'm always self-conscious in a group of strangers. A new face gets attention because it is a new face. I know I should introduce myself to people, but rarely see the same friendly approach from others. It makes me feel I am intruding, but I get away with it and I only do it because it is socially polite. I also forget names in less than 5 seconds, and I rarely have anything cleaver to say to start a conversation. Luckily, I know that I can turn to anything that comes to mind if I need to fill dead air from a lame approach at small-talk. Still, I find it awkward.

    Like many on the spectrum, I like to talk about distinctive topics of interest. If I am able to get involved in one of these topics, I tend to relax. I still find it hard to socialize with all the strangers at a party or event. It's the same situation all over again. I don't like not acknowledging people, and I end up nodding my head or saying "hi" to anyone I haven't formally met yet. It just feels awkward.

    Professionally, I have no problem with meeting people. It's the nature of business that lends itself to the topic of conversation. Short pleasantries are just customary and don't last long. Sometimes, my natural honesty will cause me to answer the question "How's your day going?" in great detail. That's very much outside of normal chit-chat. I'm still unsure if that is a nervous reaction, or if I am taking the question seriously.

    Growing up, I had bad marks in "socializing" when I was in Kindergarten. I had few close friendships, and I never had a "crowd" to hang out with. I know I always do best with people one-on-one. Crowds bother me if I have to interact, and I always gravitated to people I knew in a crowded event. I taught myself to not be self-conscious if I stood alone. This led to me observing culture, social rituals, friendships, and behaviors in the mainstream society. I learned what was expected, but I couldn't do it myself.

    The social awkwardness that people on the spectrum feel can easily lead to habits that we have all seen in large group settings - even among extended families at holiday times. I prefer to hang out in the kitchen where there is activity, or help set the table - another activity. I prefer being useful. Knowing that guests of family members at a big family event can feel ignored because they are the outsider, I will step in and try to make them feel more included. That's because I know what it's like to feel socially inhibited. For all of my own social anxiety, I am an excellent host. Perhaps there is security when you are on your own turf, or at least on familiar turf.
     
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  6. Ginseng

    Ginseng Christian V.I.P Member

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    Just reading all these comments makes me all the more curious what it would be like for us to be able to get together in real life. I wonder if we would really like each other and if we would be kind and patience with each other like we want from others? I think I would like y'all. But we can pick up so much more about personalities in real life then on the keyboard.
     
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  7. selectivedetective

    selectivedetective New Member

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    So much on this thread that has resonated with me, and some of it makes me feel quite emotional.
    Oldlady, I think I understand your feelings about ages. I am nearly 50, and also felt I was no longer young when past 40. I'm a bit afraid of being oever 50 as I also feel it is moving towards old age. I'm single, but had hoped I might have found a partner by now, but I feel I will become more invisible as I age. At the same time, I welcome more invisiblity in other ways.

    I love the flow chart Nervous Rex, and I love the focus on being kind. My humour doesn't go down well with people I don't know either. But with close friends, I can be very funny and actually amuse people. I have a small circle of people who get me, and who I feel safe with. but I say very little to everyone else.

    I think I possibly say less now that I'm older. In my twenties and thirties I just thought I was shy. I wasn't so aware of my limitations and the reactions I should come to expect. if I say anything too clever or funny, people think I am superior, and i'm trying to mock them. I suppose that's where kindness is useful. If you show by your actions that you are kind and supportive, then perhaps people take any faux pas with a pinch of salt. It's hard though, because at the same time, with age, I have grown more aware of when people are taking advantage of me, so I also feel I should hold back on the kindness sometimes
     
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  8. Nauti

    Nauti Well-Known Member

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    Hi newcomer! (I feel strange calling you old lady, ir feels rude).I am in my 40's.

    I am pretty new here too.
    I learnt to be social, at least to "fake in til you make it" socialize through drama class and performance, as a young person.

    I was a pretty distraught, withdrawn, depressed teen, but acting class saved me, as it gave me an "out" and taught me that I could pretend my way through life and thus learn how to be social.

    I moved into a career in music as a vocalist and performance artist. I found I could function, socially, if the socializing was task focused. Eventually, I developed the skill of being able to speak publicly, on the microphone and thus, this increased my social ability. All of this learning was excruciating, I might add!

    I also learn how to accept compliments, graciously.

    It IS very tiring to.put on the mask, and eventually, I got very burnt out from excessive socializing and I have swung the orher way, but I am now confident that I CAN, if I need to. Which is HUGE!

    I practise graciousness, politeness and minimalist communicating, unless it is a context that calls for more information from me.

    I do a lot of therapy, just to keep me from excessively isolating, however, I do have a partner and children. Luckily, my partner is a kind and delightful Aspie and he is the person I want to spend time with, mostly.

    I have, pretty much, given up trying to cultivate relationships with NT people, and find myself more comfortable with just a couple of Auties, as friends. It's the lack of forthright and upfront honesty, that I find unsettling, so I am just polite and friendly with them, with no expectation of more than what is being offered or asked of me.

    Don't get me wrong, I WISH I could make NT friend's, it just hasn't worked out for me, so far. My daughters are, possibly, the closest I will get to NT friends (they are 25 and 17). But I really don't ask much of my girls, it's more of a me supporting them, in whatever way I can, kind of dynamic. They are loving and accepting of me though, which is precious beyond words.

    I have pulled back from the extending-kindness-and-care to everone I meet level of social interation, as I just got too burnt out.

    However this was also due to the fact that most of my life was filled with huge adversity, lack of care, abuse and betrayal from my significant other's. And because I was excessive in my non-discriminate caring and extending of myself for many years, coupled with the fact that I bore, and have raised 7 children, one with high needs autism and their father is most assuredly, ticking the majority of boxes, in Hare's Psychopath Check List. So I have PTSD, as a comorbidlity, to add to the social difficulties mix.
    So, now, I, mostly, enjoy lots of solitude, and time with two other introverts (my son, 13,-and new partner of 8 years) and therapy and one of two other Aspie girlfriends.
     
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  9. NothingToSeeHere

    NothingToSeeHere Asexuowl V.I.P Member

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    @Nervous Rex I love your flow chart! Is it ok if I share is with someone who isn't on this forum?
     
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  10. Nervous Rex

    Nervous Rex High-functioning autistic V.I.P Member

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    By all means!
     
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  11. Gracey

    Gracey Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I suspect acceptance would be automatic? :)
     
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  12. Ginseng

    Ginseng Christian V.I.P Member

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    I kinda think so too. Hope so anyway. :)
     
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  13. Suzanne

    Suzanne Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I am on the path of a formal diagnosis and the closer it gets to being confirmed as an aspie, I have this awful feeling it won't help a jot to feel ok with who I am! Which means, I do not deal with social situations. I feel awkward and utterly miserable and tortured. I jump if someone says something, because of the fear I cannot come out with an answer straight away, so my way of dealing is to not put myself in those situations anymore.

    I see that I have tried for 49 year's to intergrate into society, with a lot of pain in my heart, from sadness, that it is my sort of "right" to say: no more thanks!
     
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  14. Jil

    Jil Sometimes getting slightly better

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    I used alcohol for 40 years to help me socialise, I became addicted and that didn't help at all. For the past year, and foreseeable future, I have chosen to live alcohol free so, at 53, I'm a real beginner with regard to coping strategies for socialising. I am usually fine for about 30 minutes but then I can easily shut down if I sense there isn't a 'space' for me in the conversation and/or the topic is frivolous.Then, there's no coming back and it can take me a day to recover and lifelong dislike of the instigator of this reaction. Or, if it's mild I just wither with discomfort and boredom and feel I'm wasting my life. I do find I can really enjoy some people but these events are few and far between. Urgh. Makes me feel at a loss.
     
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  15. Canismajoris

    Canismajoris Hypergiant

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    The more I think about it the more it irritates me that I have survived mostly just by observing people and then mimicing their behaviour. It is called masking I now have been told here.

    It works when there are not that many people around and I have some time (few seconds) to start the processes.

    When teenager I used alcohol to relax me. I was still weird yes, but people accepted it better when all were drunk in parties etc. Some girls actually tought being weird even to be fascinating. :p
     
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  16. Laura O

    Laura O New Member

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    I'm 49 and only fairly recently diagnosed. Socializing has been a challenge for me, lifelong. I couldn't read subtext or social cues, have a hard time recognizing faces and have auditory processing issues when there is a lot of noise. It was hardest as a teenager and I had such severe anxiety at trying to navigate people that I left school. Eventually I went to college and I made a concerted study of people and their social behaviors. I learned to mask and get along, but the masking is only so effective and I continued to have difficulties maintaining and making social relationships as an adult.

    I have found that I do best in one to one or small gatherings if I have to socialize. I also have found that it can be very tiring to put on my public social persona and I need down time. I have learned to accept that I am a quirky introvert over the years and have a few friends who appreciate me and a husband who also needs a lot of down time away from people, so we are compatible. Finding out that I have Asperger's/ASD level 1 explained a LOT to me about my lifelong struggles. I was only identified in 2018 so I haven't had tons of experience since my diagnosis, but I can tell you it has done a LOT for my self acceptance. Now instead of fighting my neurology I work with it.

    I dearly wish I would have been diagnosed sooner and had this understanding of how my brain works. I think it would have helped me to navigate life much more effectively. The more I understand and accept myself and feel comfortable being myself, the better it is. I will never be a social butterfly or like large loud parties, but I CAN live life on my terms now and not be ashamed to ask for clarification or to repeat something I haven't understood. As I slowly come out of the Aspie closet to those close to me, I can be open about my social challenges and reassure people I care for that I DO care deeply for them, even if I stink at the usual social gestures. I can ask for help when I need it. And I can feel like I am not alone.
     
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  17. china autie

    china autie friend to dogs and frogs and cats

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    Yep, face-blindness or prosopagnosia. I got that too. It happens with autistics. Actually, some non-autistics have it too but they usually come to it via brain injuries or other neurological insults.

    Oliver Sacks had it so I consider myself to be in excellent company.
     
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  18. Sabrina

    Sabrina Gentle & brave earthling

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    That’s me, frequently. I was wondering the other day if other people had those thoughts too, so thank you for unknowingly answering my question.
    I do better in one-on- one social interactions, or with small groups of people. I’ve concluded that I don’t talk, or hardly talk, in groups of six or more people, because I focus my attention in what is being said and then I forget that I’m supposed to say something. But it might also be that the conversation goes too fast and other people answer before me.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2019
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  19. Oldlady

    Oldlady Well-Known Member

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    I feel as if I could have written this myself. You have verbalized my experiences with people as well except that I do enjoy talking with people I am very intimate with in a familiar and safe environment. I actually love to talk if it's an interesting subject, but I also get exhausted from the effort. However, I look at it like a good game of squash (I still play three times a week) ... it's exhausting, but well worth the effort. I also hate the phone and refuse to use it unless I absolutely must. I do like to hear what people with different views have to say about things that interest me. I like to try to see it from another perspective.
     
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  20. Oldlady

    Oldlady Well-Known Member

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    I have the same hurt reaction when people I care about don't listen to what I'm saying. What I do now is ask them to tell me when they are not listening so that I don't waste my breath. I would rather know that they are not interested so that I don't put in the effort and time it takes.

    I crave respect from others. I have read recently that respect is a component of why people like other people. So ... I guess I want to be liked. I know that I can show people that I am competent and capable and that is usually what it takes to get their respect. I am less sure that I can consistently be nice. I also have temper trouble, but recently I discovered that if I believe I don't need my anger to protect myself anymore, then I can control it much better.

    I also have problems with forgiving myself for errors that I have made in the past. It's as if I think that I should have been perfect from the moment I was born and not need to learn through my mistakes like a normal person.
     
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