I’d like to suggest that most autistic spectrum social difficulties may arise from a combination of:

– Not understanding the purpose & rules of non-autistic social interaction, unless explicitly informed.

“I used to feel as though I had somehow missed receiving a copy of life’s ‘user manual’, and still feel the awkwardness of having to discover through trial, error, experimentation many aspects of behavior, and social interaction that apparently are natural for most.”

– Lisa, adult Aspie

– Not being understood. Having a very different set of needs, values, interests and ways of functioning and not having those differences understood, accepted or respected by others.

“I have long suspected that I am just not experiencing the world the same way as other people. I think everyone experiences the world in different ways. Many people experience it in ways that are very similar to the majority of people. We call these people normal. It is relatively easy for them to understand each other because the way they experience the world is similar. Some people – like me – experience the world in ways that are very different from most people. We have lots of names for these people, most of them are not very nice names.

“The closer someone’s experience of life is to yours, the better they can understand you. The more different the two are, the more likely the other person will not make sense. I think that it is this, more than poor communication skills, that provoke the ‘people don’t understand me’ feeling I so often get.

”There is a double standard in communication between those that hold the most common views and those who do not:

“When I do not understand other people that is perceived as being my fault.

“When other people do not understand me, that is somehow my fault as well.”

– Ilah, probable Aspie from USA

“I always knew I was different and was very hurt and upset that I was easily rejected by other people in my age group for no concrete reason. It was as though they all excluded me from their social cliques by some unspoken consensus and for reasons which they were incapable of explaining to me. I feel perfectly comfortable ‘among my own kind’ where it seems I don’t need to explain myself or my odd behaviors to others because I and my ‘odd behaviors’ are ‘normal’ there.”

– Tom, Aspie from USA

“I think I’m the opposite of the qualities that most people value, at least in America. I’m very quiet. I’m not materialistic. I’m not aggressive. I’m not ambitious. I try very hard not to judge people for anything but how they treat people. I don’t care much for socializing, and find common sentiments such as ‘get a life’ and ‘don’t you have any friends?’ very insulting. Why is it anyone’s business? I have taken so much crap for my lack of ‘ambition,’ but people don’t realize that this world is too overwhelming and frightening for me to even be able to think that way. I dislike being labelled as ‘disabled’ for being this way. Why can’t I just be different without there being something wrong’ with me?”

– Kitty, Aspie from USA

– Communication difficulties (see the Communication pages).

– Sensory perception differences (see the Sensory pages).

– Stress, confusion, nervousness or unease.

My own ability to interact smoothly with others is very situation- & person specific. When with people I feel totally relaxed with and tuned-in to, such as my closest friends or relatives, I’m often able to pick up the most subtle hints of humour, emotion, body language etc. and can respond immediately and appropriately in a way that I’ve never been able to when interacting with others.

But in situations where I’m the least bit tense or uncomfortable it is as if I’ve turned both deaf and blind and can miss things that are blatantly obvious to ‘everyone else.’ Only later, as I’m driving home or lying in bed and reviewing the ‘mental video’ of the event in my head, I may see my mistakes and think ‘Oh, how could I have missed that?’ Or ‘I should have said and done this instead!’

I don’t know how many times I’ve wished that I had an EDIT button for my life so that I could delete certain events and do them over again. It’s actually very difficult being both the Leading Actress and the Director of this very long play called My Life. And not even having a script to work from, but having to improvise every scene without any prior training or rehearsal whatsoever… I mean really, how does anyone ever get it right on the first try??

– Ing, site-author

Emotional hyper-receptivity

Some sensitive and people on the autistic spectrum are like natural empaths and pick up other people’s emotions and either get overwhelmed, confused or cannot stand the discrepancy between what is being said and felt.

“After much thinking I realized that I probably have Asperger’s and recently it became crystal clear to me why it I feel that social events, such as parties or being at work, costs so much energy.

I am super-sensitive to other people’s emotional states. Earlier I’ve confused my own feelings with theirs and taken responsibility for feelings that weren’t even my own.

I have also realized that we live in a secondary world, where everything is about facade and because one’s relationships can consist of work comrades and acqaintances, with few close friends and partner or no partner.

In such settings there are not much room for genuine feelings and true expression, such as admitting one’s insecurity, anger or sadness. Even true joy is repressed.

I feel that I am very sensitive to taking in those around me. When this society mainly consists of people who show an expression that doesn’t really correspond with their true emotion, e.g. that they’re nervous, it can frighten me enormously. The difficult thing for me, I’ve realized, is that the other person seems to want me to agree with them that alls is happy and easy. I have a very hard time pretending anything. It takes an enormous amount of energy from me to play along in the illusion the other person has about their reality.

I can understand if the caschier at the supermarket and I won’t enter a deeper meeting and that it is easier if she just repeats empty phrases so that everything goes quickly. That can take a little energy, but not so bad. It is in bigger crowds, such as at a party, where quite a few are rather nervous about meeting new people, but constantly ignore that feeling and pretend that all is fine. I hate it!

Or when people talk and ask things because they’re nervous, or try to get me nervous, when in fact it is they themselves who are. I hate to squeeze forward that smile, fake that laughter, look in those eyes and agree to let us, me and that person, make total idiots of ourselves by sweeping the reality of what is under the carpet.

It’s no problem for me to not go to that party, or just avoid people if I’m there, or not look for a job. I value my fellow humans and myself higher than that. I’m thinking that one day I may be strong enough that I will go to a party, and dare be completely myself and meet people from that strength, and not give up neither myself or the other person in that meeting.

On the other hand, in my friendships i have discovered the gift of people actually being in their feelings, regardless of what those are. I’ve started realizing that I can really relax, even sometimes sit and smile, when a friend is crying. Or when a friend is showing anger, or frustration. Those are moments when I thank the world for letting me have that little moment, when someone was brave enough to be honest, and showed their true face for just that moment.”

– ‘Trollslända’, probable Aspie from Sweden

I am like a sponge when it comes to the moods of others, but this has varied somewhat throughout my life.

For a long time it was much easier, because I just ignored when people lied when I asked how they were.

People around me have always complained that I so often ask how they are, but that I do this is because I always notice if there is something amiss. What it is, I cannot tell. It could be anything from not winning the lottery, stubbing their toe, having a headache, being angry, having lost a parent etc. – I can’t tell the difference, just that there is something going on.

Previously I used to just let it go if I got the reply “It’s nothing”. This was much easier. It is takes a lot less work to completely ignore people who behave inconsistently. To just ignore their emotions and go on what they say, especially as they get upset if I keep asking.

But lately it’s become harder for me to just let it pass, even if I’m not quite sure what is going on with them.

– Zic, Aspie from Sweden


Asperger Syndrome And Social Relationships: Adults Speak Out About Asperger Syndrome (Adults Speak Out About Asperger Syndrome Series)

The Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships: Decoding Social Mysteries Through the Unique Perspectives of Autism

Social Skills Training for Children and Adolescents with Asperger Syndrome and Social-Communications Problems

A 5 Is Against the Law! Social Boundaries: Straight Up! An honest guide for teens and young adults

Relationship Development Intervention with Young Children: Social and Emotional Development Activities for Asperger Syndrome, Autism, PDD and NLD


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