How do you guys go about turning down parties? I can't deal with big social events at all and avoid them like the plague for a variety of reasons (anxious amongst lots of people, will not dress up for going out, hardly like any food so meals are a problem, noise, can't deal with all the conversations). I don't really like to explain this to people especially as I'm not diagnosed so I can't even give that as a reason. I usually go with distance or money. There is a party being organised for work at the moment and several people are trying to persuade me to go. I find these conversations very difficult and they keep coming up with solutions to my reasons for not going. How would other people deal with this?
Tell them you have some kind of prior commitment, or just say that you find parties too loud and you'd prefer a quiet environment. You have a right to your own personal preference and you don't have to justify it by disclosing any possible conditions you may have. Or you could just do what lots of neurotypicals do and tell them that maybe you'll come and then just don't show up.
I have tried the prior commitment one in the past but feel it's wearing a bit thin as I never go to anything. I can't use your last suggestion as you have to pay a deposit if you say you are going. I just get embarrassed telling them honestly. They know about the food issue but that's about it. I just tend to get a lot of "banter" from them when I say I'm not going and they don't seem to understand that this bothers me.
I simply say, no thank you, to the invite and if I feel moved to add any more, I would simply say I don’t like big events. Everybody I know, knows I’m autistic and if they didn’t, I would tell them and if pressed, I might just say, it’s an autistic thing. But I’ve realised, that it was only ever me that stressed about such things, nobody cares if I go or don’t go, they might encourage me and say they’d love me to go, but in truth nobody really cares if I’m there or not as they’re too busy enjoying themselves to care about who’s not there. I would keep it as simple as possible and simply tell the truth, that these type of events cause a meltdown and I don’t enjoy them so thank you but no thank you. After you have done this several times, they’ll get the picture and will stop asking. They might not understand it but they’ll accept it and you could say that if they ever plan something that you don’t find highly stressful, then you would absolutely love to join them. To show interest, you could also ask that they tell you all about it after they’ve been and you can pretend you’re interested for a few minutes.
The only people I know who are likely to invite me to anything like that are people at work. If I'm comfortable around those people and there won't be too many strangers, I usually say 'Okay' - but on the understanding that I won't stay long. The people at work are all autism support workers anyway, and all know I'm autistic, so they are all pretty understanding. One colleague left a short while ago and organised a pub 'farewell' on a Saturday evening. I went along - but the place was so crowded that I only stayed for about 40 minutes. I said why I was leaving, and everyone was fine.
On the other hand, if it's an event where I'll hardly know anyone - like, say, a wedding in extended family - then I'll usually decline. In the past, I've made excuses. Now, though, I tell the truth. We shouldn't have to make excuses, really. I mean, someone with agoraphobia wouldn't be expected to accept an invitation to a venue that they'd find naturally very uncomfortable. The problem is, I think, that people tend to apply their own standards of judgment to all situations and all others. We have a chap at work whose social life revolves around lots of people, pubs, clubs, big parties, etc. We were out driving one day and had to visit a huge country house in a remote part of the countryside. When we got there, I commented on how I'd love to live in such a place. He looked at me like I was mad! 'Are you kidding? All cut off like this and away from life and excitement?' I reminded him of my condition and how it affects me, and he acknowledged it. I still think he thought I was an old fogey, though.
Binary said:I'm not diagnosed so I can't even give that as a reason.
Are you self-diagnosed ? I started from that (I’m still doing my research) but until I didn’t have some sort of confirmation from a specialist (I’m still not clinically diagnosed but initial assessment confirmed my concerns) I didn’t share it with anybody apart my wife.
Now I think it is easier, when I can give reason to people and probably I needed reason for myself to stop kicking myself that I don’t perform to my expectations.
I'm sometimes OK with parties for a limited time but then usually either get stressed, overwhelmed or bored (or a combination of all 3) In the past I've always got around this by having something important to get up for early the following morning as an excuse for leaving early. If you explain this when you get there then its generally more acceptable to the NTs. I have just disappeared from social events in the past but I don't like doing it as I always worry about it afterwards. Since being diagnosed 7 months ago I've not been invited to any parties anyway, but I haven't 'come out' as an aspie yet anyway except too a select few so not sure if I'd tell people the truth or not at the mo, but probably not as most people don't seem to get it anyway.
The anxiety that would be involved with going just would not be worth it. Even for a short time. I tend to assume people won't get it if I'm truthful. I may be being harsh but I tried to explain this to a friend for her 30th (which I did go to for about an hour as I felt it was right to go for a birthday and it wasn't a huge party) but she just replied "well how can you not like going to a bar". I don't find people understand my quirks. They just think it's odd.
Why do you want people to ‘get it’ and do you think it’s even possible for an nt person to understand an autistic person?
My sister was horrified when I said I wasn’t going to my son’s surprise masquerade ball party for his 30th birthday but at least when it came to saying I wasn’t going to her daughter’s wedding she already had me down as some kind of selfish piece of s**t so it wasn’t as shocking for her and it made it much easier for me to turn her down ~ not that I find it difficult to do that anymore, since I simply decided to start telling the truth. Afterall, what can I expect from others when all I’m doing is telling lies instead of telling the truth about myself?
Yes. Self diagnosed. I haven't plucked up the courage to get a formal diagnosis. I certainly have a lot of traits. But I can't give it as a reason as I don't have anything medical to back it up.
My goodness, who are these people who you are giving excuses to that demand medical evidence of what you say? They sound very scary and I’m not surprised you’ve got some anxiety around declining their offers of social get togethers. I thought you were talking about normal people inviting you out. Maybe it’s time to get a formal diagnosis?