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Featured How do you cope in the outside world?

Discussion in 'Friends, Family & Social Skills' started by Pinkie B, Jun 10, 2019.

  1. Pinkie B

    Pinkie B Just Me

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    I love hanging out here because I can finally compare notes with other people who share the same kinds of daily struggles that I do.

    I used to keep a blog where I would document various techniques that I had come up with for coping with the abundance of Life Maintenance Activities that always loomed insurmountable over my head...but nobody ever read that blog. Now I have a better idea! Let's share here!

    What are your strategies for coping and camouflaging when you have to be out in public and look like a normie?

    Some of mine are:

    Mimicking My favorite strategy is just copying the behavior of people that I like and respect. I used to have a collection of people that each exhibited a characteristic that I wish I had in myself and I would ask myself, "what would Ikeda-san do?" (he was my mechanic and the kind of guy who could always see the silver lining and smile). I would use Ikeda-san as my model when dealing with adversity or people who I thought were nasty. I had another woman who I would copy when it came to work and life decisions and another dude who I copied for something else that I can't remember. The best would be if I could actually have the person with me in a social situation so that I could just copy them real-time. It had the dual effect of making me feel less alone and also helping me get along with others without the overwhelming stress of having to guess if I was doing it right.

    Positivity I know that people like positivity so I err on the side of being positive when I don't know how to react. If I want to tell someone a story I try to end it with the reason why it made me happy or excited and if they tell me a story I listen for the parts that I think they might be happy about and then I say, "oh, [that part] must have been awesome for you!"

    Superficiality and Generality I also know that most people aren't trying to get too involved in your life or you in theirs so when I do small talk with others I try to think of what the most superficial meaning of the conversation could be. Like weather. People talk about the weather to have something to talk about that they can connect on without having to get personal. So I say generalities about the weather, "It's been raining a lot lately" or if someone comments on the rain I say, "Yeah, it sucks because your laundry never dries" Really, I think the rain sucks because I can't ride my bike, but I know that laundry is a more general concern and people aren't really interested in my own personal take on the weather. When people talk and I don't know where they're going with something I try to guess what the most general or superficial meaning could be and I hit it on the head pretty often.

    These are just some of the ways that I deal with the expectations of myself in public. What about everyone else? I'm eager to know how we all deal with this stuff!
     
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  2. SusanLR

    SusanLR Well-Known Member

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    The superficiality and generality is a good one.
    And the weather is always a good small talk that seems accepted by all.
    Especially here in Florida where it is so hot and we have thunderstorms everyday, that type of thing.

    I don't work anymore so I don't have workplace conditions to cope with.
    But, I do feel uncomfortable out in public just doing the ordinary everyday things, shopping
    and such.
    When I do have to shop I just shut out the people around me as much as possible.
    If I just go about doing what I'm there for I don't have to interact much.
    Paying up at the cashier feels the most awkward. Trying to get what I need out of my purse
    and answer the cashiers questions without acting so unfriendly.
    I try to answer politely, nod, smile and answer yes, I found everything fine. etc.
    I do feel like people are watching while I shop and get the feeling they think I act funny
    or something, but, who knows? A lot may just be paranoia from being alone in the crowd
    when most have others with them to talk with.

    So that's about all when it comes to dealing with being out in public.
     
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  3. Suzanne

    Suzanne Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Excellent post.

    Since I spent many years not knowing about aspergers, I spent those years, confused and so insignificant that to mimic another was unheard of, because I did not feel good enough to imitate.

    However, now that I do know about aspergers, I do find ( mainly online) that I bounce off what others say.

    I came to the awareness many year's ago that negativity does not work well. And so, to find out if I was liked, I would use a fun tone and I obviously got it right, because of being called cheeky and adorable lol

    In my faith, there is a sister who has off spring with a lot of emotional baggage and thus, she is very kind and has often covered over my social errors; although it does seem I make people feel uneasy, with my logically approach to things.

    As for small talk. I fall back on that heavily, when the air is dead silent. I cannot deal with silence, as my head is screaming at me, so I NEED to break that silence, but it often does not work if another is not willing to participate.

    I have to say, I am happier for not being around other humans.
     
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  4. Autistamatic

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

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    Simple answer these days.
    None.
    I masked, largely successfully, for 47 years and my reward was 2 nervous breakdowns. I gave up the mask altogether in 2018 and it was a massive turning point in my life. Turns out, in my case at least, that the mask was causing me more stress and aggravation to maintain than just being my unedited self. It was the most liberating and life changing decision I have ever made.

    There is a serious point to consider here too.
    Most of us complain about how we are treated in this world.
    Most of us want to see our autism accepted as a normal part of life.
    How can we expect society to accept us for who and what we are if we constantly disguise ourselves and hide our true nature from the world? We give them nothing TO accept when we do. "Out of sight, out of mind" as the saying goes...
     
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  5. Progster

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

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    My interactions with people tend to be functional rather than social, and I don't generally talk to people more than is necessary to get a job done. I am polite and try to always remember to say hello, please and thank you, but small talk really isn't my thing... I actually quite like talking about the weather, but my interest in it is scientific and not social. I can imitate, try to be positive and upbeat, but I can't do generality and superficiality, that's just not the way I am and I'm not going to try to change myself just to please other people.
     
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  6. Creep

    Creep The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

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    I go no contact when possible.
    Dialogue minimally.
    Stick to the weather, books, or yard work.
    Just the facts.
    Don’t talk about personal life.
    Practice remaining calm.
    Good luck.
     
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  7. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member

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    I have always imagined myself as a sort of Space Ranger and everyone else mostly Green Slime monsters. Kinda paranoid, but the universe is a dangerous place.

    gs2.png
    ;)
     
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  8. shysnail

    shysnail Well-Known Member

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    I think my life maintenance might be rusting up and a few bolts have fallen out completely :D

    Mimicking is definitely important. I pick up phrases that fill gaps I've not been able to fill previously in conversations. Often just little filler things that don't mean anything, yet are so important in small talk. I also laugh a lot, because it seems social and fills the silence. With very chatty people, it can be enough to have them convinced they're having a two-way conversation with me.
     
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  9. Nervous Rex

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

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    Generally, mimicking works. But I have had so many times where attempting to mimic certain behaviors has backfired big time:

    One is in copying someone else's inside jokes - I've had to learn to recognize when something one person says to another is probably an inside joke not meant for me, and to let it go.

    The really big case of mimic-failure is in jocular, insulting humor - the kind that guys typically do on guy TV shows where they insult or take jabs at one another for fun. I never get that right, and I've hurt and offended people because I crossed the line. So now, I use this technique:

    Kindness. It seems like you can never go wrong being kind, so I just try to look for the kind response or remark in every situation. People think I'm a really nice person, but most of my thoughts are "stay in the safe subject area - don't go into the dangerous ones." Kindness is safe, insults are dangerous.
     
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  10. Nervous Rex

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

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    Also:

    Keep it brief. Keep my own stories and comments brief. If people want to know more, they'll ask.

    Do try to stay on topic. Ooof. This one is hard. One comment will remind me of 12 different things. I have to check them to make sure they're actually related to the topic of discussion and throw them out if they aren't. That might leave me with one or two things to contribute to a conversation, or it might just mean that I smile politely and let others speak.
     
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  11. Pats

    Pats Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Aging. :) You know how everyone makes jokes about when they get old they can do this or that and get away with it. I think that attitude helps me. I spent my life mimicking and masking to the point I lost myself. I'm beginning to get myself back and I credit it to aging and the attitude about being able to get away with things I couldn't before. Expectations and responsibilities are less than they were - kind of like: my I've done my job, now I get to rest. That IS my attitude - I've done my job as a productive human being in the work place and raising my kids. During which time I took nothing but flack from everyone around me about how poor a job I was doing. But I did it, I did it to the best of my ability and everyone affected by me survived quite well. And I get to look at these people who liked to criticize my efforts and see their outcome and now I can smile when I compare me to them. While my kids are independent and really are good people - helping other's and caring and being good parents themselves and I could go on and on. And those who gave me the most criticism has adult kids that still want to be taken care of financially and think of no one but themselves. Yes, I smile when I look at the outcome.
    Ph - sorry. I need to get off here for now - reading the first comment about how someone doesn't like white people tended to put me in an attitude that I need to do something to let it go myself. If you have a coping strategy for that - let me know. Meanwhile, I'm going to be cleaning after having 3 grandkids over the weekend and no power most the day Saturday - my granddaughter wanted her chocolate milk heated and I asked if she wanted me to hold it over a candle. lol They had a great time, though and they had me laughing so hard I was in tears a few times. So I've got to get that mindset back before getting back on here. :)
     
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  12. Nervous Rex

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

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    I can't wait til I'm old enough to blame my forgetfulness, lack of focus, and inability to recognize people on old age.
     
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  13. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member

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    For starters I consider those circumstances where coping and camouflaging is likely to be necessary, as opposed to being alone and not intending or having to interact with others, particularly complete strangers.

    So if I have no need to mask my traits and behaviors, I simply won't. :)

    Sadly though the few people I do either choose or must interact with such as my cousin or brother inevitably require masking to some degree. Where I simply don't have the luxury of "being myself" or risk social repercussions of one kind or another. My cousin in particular has greatly reduced her exposure to me and I know it's quite deliberate. Though part of this is sheer jealousy on her part. I'm retired and she must continue to work. In that respect I suspect my mere presence offends her. Autistic or not. :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2019
  14. rubicks52

    rubicks52 New Member

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    I used to dread talking to customer service people in stores before I worked as a cashier for a summer. Then I realized that as a cashier, I didn't care at all about whatever the customer was saying, so now when I'm the customer, it's highly unlikely that the cashier cares what I'm saying. That realization has really helped me ask for help finding stuff in stores or asking other questions. Normally I'll try to get a jump start on the conversation by starting with a hello and asking them how they're doing, and then that gets the pleasantries out of the way and they often don't feel obligated to make further small talk.
     
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  15. Jojo_LB

    Jojo_LB Brilliant Enigma V.I.P Member

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    It depends on what I'm doing, where I am, how stimulating the environment is, and how helpful my husband and/or close friends are at keeping me calm.

    I used to mask quite often in the past, but I don't do it so much anymore because I found that the more I masked, the more I lashed out because I was anxious and trying to deal with being bombarded by noise, light, sounds, etc. So I freely stim now.

    Last night, I did a Hard Thing! :D My husband, daughter and I went out to dinner north of here, about 20 minutes outside of the city. It was a gorgeous evening, so of course lots of people were out. My husband knows how I feel about being out and about with lots of people around, so he tried to distract me by talking about various stuff that we saw in shop windows (like, "Oh hey look, that's a cool looking shirt on that mannequin!"), and that helped me a lot.

    We arrived at the restaurant and got seated by the floor-to-ceiling windows which were open wide so we could enjoy the evening breeze. It was a good place for me, because inside the restaurant it was quite busy and loud, with almost all the tables occupied. But it was also not so good, 'cause a couple of times people rode by on motorcycles (the sounds of which physically hurt my entire freaking head) and an ambulance passed by. Those times, I just did what I normally do when a very loud vehicle passes by: quickly bring my hands up to my ears to cover them tightly until they are a safe distance away. I didn't care that I got some looks from a few other diners. Nice for them they don't feel like their heads will explode at the sound of motorcycles going by lol

    When I eat out at a fairly crowded restaurant, as a way to bring some sort of balance and organization to what I sense as a chaotic environment, I obsessively organize whatever is on top of the table. It's how I stim at a restaurant. If I see wet water rings forming under glasses, I lift them up and wipe. If people use plastic straws and they remove their paper wrappers and place them on the table, I take them, crumple them up into neat little balls and put them to the side. I arrange the condiments neatly and put them near the edge of the table so there is space and room on it. If there are tablecloths, I straighten them out. When we're all done with the meals, I collect everyone's plates, platters, bowls, utensils, stack them neatly. I take a napkin and wipe the messes.

    I get curious looks from whoever else sits near us for this behavior but I need to do it. Besides I bet the servers are grateful I make their jobs a tiny bit easier :D

    My husband and child just let me do it 'cause it's harmless and they know it's how I stim at a restaurant. If I have nothing left to straighten out, line up, wipe up, I have at least one fidget object that I always bring with me when I leave the house. I make sure my glass is always full of cold water so I can focus on taking small sips from it. I usually ask for refills of coffee so I can focus on sipping on that in addition to the water until we pay the bill and leave. All the while my company keeps me engaged and/or entertained.

    Even though I have these ways of coping, it never gets easier. I just try to make myself go out sometimes so that I am not holed up in the house all day, every day.

    When walking and I'm alone, I have my big headphones on, my favorite tunes playing, my head down so that I minimize the visual stimuli. I only lift my head up to look when crossing streets. I do not take public transportation anymore. I just take a Lyft everywhere now. When I hit my 30's my brain could no longer cope with enduring NYC's subways and buses because they're almost always overcrowded, and they are rarely ever on time. Those are just two of the many problems I have with public transportation, but those are the ones that cause me the most anxiety.

    Like Progster, my interactions with others are almost always functional. I don't try to engage. If someone tries to engage me, I nod, give a little grin, answer if they ask me a question. The most effort I try to put in during these times is just trying to look like I hear what they're saying. If they try to engage me in small talk, I get by with whatever stuff I learned from others in the past. I do alright. :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2019
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  16. Isadoorian

    Isadoorian Well Known Chat Member, Welcomer of Newcomers V.I.P Member

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    I've never really had to cope/mask when out in public because I've never had to do it.
     
  17. tducey

    tducey Well-Known Member

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    I do well. I'm well liked wherever I work. I have a good support group as well.
     
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  18. Pinkie B

    Pinkie B Just Me

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    Does that mean that it isn't hard for you?
     
  19. Isadoorian

    Isadoorian Well Known Chat Member, Welcomer of Newcomers V.I.P Member

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    I guess so
     
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  20. Pinkie B

    Pinkie B Just Me

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    That helps me, too! I find that being on the other side of an interaction makes it easier for me. I think just the reduced uncertainty and the ability to reason about their reactions gives me confidence and calmness.
     
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