(poll below) Has thinking of yourself as autistic affected your social behaviour? By social behaviour, I mean things like how you talk to people and react to situations, whether you avoid or engage strangers and so on. Maybe there have been threads on this before.
I've had my 'ASC' diagnosis for two years now, and I'm not sure the change in 'identity' has changed much about my life. I've kept the same friends, and made a few new (aspie) ones. But how I think about how I act may have changed a bit. For example, if I find myself stumbling in conversation, can't think of anything worth saying, am muttering to myself, or am aware of having just behaved in an awkward or 'weird' way, I probably would have felt worse about it before my diagnosis. Now I think: well if I'm autistic, I've done OK to keep the conversation going this long.
Often, I used to put awkwardness down to lack of self-confidence or depression or having too boring a life to be able to make small talk, or having never learned how to converse because I was isolated as a child, rather than accept that I was just naturally sometimes awkward or didn't like social situations. (I can also come across as smooth, confident and collected, but mostly within formal or structured situations where my own feelings aren't involved.) Probably that excusing or explaining my behaviour to myself made me ruminate on my loneliness and emotional state more. So if I'm not pushing myself to pretend to be 'normal' (to be accepted and put typical people at their ease), I'm wondering whether my behaviour has changed or will change. Does it mean my social connection with my friends is less than it was, more cursory, or that I don't listen so much? Am I now filling an autistic role or expectations with people who know my status? When talking to those people who I don't want to know my diagnosis, am I also making less of an effort, dropping conversations and walking away more?
Social awkwardness is probably not the 'worst' aspect of being autistic for me, although finding it hard to approach or make connections with strangers holds me back as regards a romantic relationship. However, for me I think inability and disinclination to make 'small talk' was the main thing that diagnosis or assessment picked up, along with a disconnection from my own emotions (alexithymia). Is small talk really such a big deal? (The ADOS-2 diagnostic process can be imperfect in discovering and explaining of the main issues.) I do also wonder how it is that I try to answer questions directly, impartially and accurately, but can't do the sensible thing and ask open-ended questions of the other person, which will put the onus on them, and might lead to more of a bond. Why am I always focussed inwards on making sense of new data? And I do have enough general knowledge to be able to contribute something to whatever their interest is, just to be polite and come across as a well-rounded person, but it is of course the negotiating the beginnings and ends of conversation and the changes in topic that seems difficult for me. I may not come across as weird for the content of what I say, albeit it may appear a bit abstract and intellectual, but excusing myself in mid-flow, or not saying anything at all to start a conversation, is noticeably different.
For those who've been diagnosed for many years, have you found a satisfying way of being yourself in conversation with people who don't know you're autistic?
I'll also add a poll, just for completeness. Take this thread however you like.
I think the main difference for me, as you mention, has been how I think about myself. I haven't had my diagnosis long though so perhaps it's too early to tell. I feel better about myself, generally, now that i have the diagnosis as it explains a lot and I feel I don't have to beat myself up about perceived failures so much.