(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 make less effort to appear 'normal' this is not being lazy it is self preservation, I used to spend so much energy masking, trying to achieve the things NT's can manage all the time that I would just crumble afterward. Now I know I am not NT i don't need to pretend to be.
Thanks for the reply, Song.I think that might be the most common change.
The thing is, mostly I don't consciously 'mask', because I've been doing it for so long it's a habit. I'm aware there is a bit of my brain trying to think up suitable jokes and wondering how the conversation is going and what the other person is thinking - looking at the whole relationship from the outside from the inside, as it were. Whether it's taking up a lot of my energy, I couldn't say. I want to be able to be me when I can, and I want to be able to appear NT when I need to, and mostly I just want to get stuff done: I think there is still stuff to learn about each of these. Improv (comedy or drama) has been one thing recommended - it's good to practise being someone else for a change.
Bump (bring this conversation to the top of lists). More votes and/or comments, please.
Socialising and small talk is a lot of work! It's tiring.
I don't put myself out so much anyway, I had always been trying to repair the negative feelings I had had about not being popular at school and at secondary, of actively being scapegoated. I can't be bothered to be socialise any more just to satisfy myself I am socially acceptable. One or two friends have suggested I should make more small talk, but 40-odd lessons a week right now is more than enough for me.I just can't be bothered at all to do that now. Also in the past, I encountered too many men of the creepy kind who I think sensed on when I was masking and would complain forlornly that they were not getting through to whoever I was supposed to be behind these magnificent acts. Creepy guru trippers and the like. Well thanx but no thanx.
"I react to people the same as if I didn't have a label".
Greetings. That first vote there was from myself. Voting does not bring a Thread forwards... but Posting does. And so I Posted, here.
My own diagnosis was "late", and it was good, but made no difference to how other persons (hate) treat myself. When young, Aspergers did not exist, but my diagnosis finally got rid of one annoying word which was always attributed to my own behaviour...
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.