As part of my constant anxious analysing of my assessment process, one of the things I've been thinking about it the concept of being sociable and making small talk. I mentioned in my assessment that I was very self conscious, which I am a lot of the time to an exhausting extent, and I submitted some notes in which I talked about the fact I found socialising to be quite difficult in that I have to always think about what I'm saying and often even if I'm 'doing the right face'. I have realised though that despite this, I am a really quite sociable person. I do make an effort to make small talk with people to some extent, eg shop assistants, our neighbors etc (though those aren't situations where I'd end up having a full conversation) and I do enjoy it. Eg I had a driving lesson this morning and managed to chat away to my instructor though it wasn't spontaneous and easy to do. It sounds odd to say I enjoy it even though it's an effort. I have mentioned a bit about this in my assessment but not a lot, so now I'm worrying that I've made it sound like find it harder to be sociable than I do.
I didn't really have any trouble talking to the people who assessed me either, though I'm not able to make eye contact when speaking.
Bit of a rambling post, but I was just wondering what others were like in terms of this? It's one of my big 'if I can do this -insert thing here- then maybe that means I'm not Autistic' worries, ie if I enjoy chatting to people, even though it doesn't come naturally, does that mean my problems are caused by something else. I've just realised that by saying this it almost sounds like I'm implying that people on the spectrum aren't sociable, I don't mean this at all! I'd just be interested to hear other's views :)
I go through phases with being sociable or not. It usually depends on how bad my social anxiety is and whether or not I’ve got a lot of external stressors at a certain point in time. At the moment I’m very sociable, I’m enjoying meeting new people, spending time with friends and doing the small talk thing with aquaintances. It is an effort with non-autistic people but one that’s worth it for me at the moment. I’m making new autistic friends too which is a lot less effort and quite refreshing actually as I find most autistic people to be very genuine and very caring and easy to talk with. Prior to last summer I’d had a few years where I didn’t want to be around anyone apart from my children. I could go back through my life and find that that pattern has repeated itself often, a few years of not being able to deal with people and then a couple of years of being a lot more sociable. I think that a lot of autistic people do want to be sociable, they just either don’t know how to be or they get fed up with being rejected or they suffer too much social anxiety. Hope this reply helps?
I'm not brilliant at socialising. I used to find it slightly easier when I was younger as we could play games etc. Now socialising seems to consist of talking and I don't know enough people that share my interests or at least will talk about them at length with me.
I can put on a front and have a proper conversation with someone but this is a lot of effort and short lived. I hate small talk with a passion.
There are plenty of people with autism that enjoy chatting, in fact there are some that chat too much. The autism is the reason that it doesn't come naturally. But the fact you enjoy it doesn't stop you being autistic.
That's funny you say you find it easy to chat to shop assistants etc, people where you don't end up having a full conversation. I find it quite easy some days to be sociable in situations like this, and like that it's not intense or personal, just a casual few minutes chat. I have big issues around feeling harassed, and people I've just met as a friend wanting to know stuff about me or commenting on me and what I do. It literally drives me mad and I can spend weeks avoiding everyone because of it. I get so angry and frustrated because of it. Does that make sense?
That's really interesting to read Kitsun, thank you for sharing, it definitely helps :)
Thinking about it I can definitely see that there are times in my life when I've felt the need to socialise, been able to cope with it better and really enjoyed it, and also times when I've needed to have lots of quiet time or just spend time talking to my animals instead. It seems sometimes I have more energy for it and sometimes I search around in my head for something to say and feel like there's nothing there. I met an old friend a couple of days ago and was finding it hard to think of things to say on that occasion as we don't really have a huge amount in common but thankfully she's very chatty so I can just do the appropriate face and nod at what she's saying. It wasn't until I went through my assessment that I realised how much effort I was putting into pulling the right faces in response to what people were saying!
Well said, I get so stressed with small talk its not true. At work I'm fine because its in small doses and purposeful, but outside I go to mush, Im Ok on here because you guys struggle as much as I do and I have time to think about what I want to say but if its face to face I can 'act', for a short period but after that I feel lost.
Its not rambling its very relevant and I feel exactly the same.
Ah yes I definitely find it easier talking about my interests, I often wish there were more people I could talk to at length about mine. I have a couple of old friends I meet up with sometimes and although we have the fact we went to the same school and college in common other than that there's not a lot so although I'm very fond of them I find it a bit tiring. Last time I met them both together I'd totally run out of things to say and when there was a gap in conversation just said 'ah I'm really tired now' and they both looked slightly perplexed.
Yes I suppose the shop assistant thing is quite low pressure isn't it, because it's sort of time limited (if that makes sense) Not like having to have a full on conversation.
And yes that definitely makes sense, I don't like feeling pressured at all by being asked too many questions, or indeed having people make remarks about me where I perhaps feel the need to justify myself. A therapist I've been seeing asked me when I mentioned ASD whether anything had been spotted when I was at school, which I took to mean 'I don't think you seem Autistic, did anyone spot anything at school?' and so I ended up feeling frustrated and like I had to defend the fact I was going through an assessment. I could've taken it the wrong way of course!
I often get panicky when asked things and generally come out with some garbled answer which doesn't reflect what I'm thinking necessarily. I had that problem at my assessment a bit, it's like I'd get asked the question and my brain would panic and although I had an articulate answer within me, what came out of my mouth didn't bear much relation to it. I've not explained that very well! I think I find it easier to listen to someone else speaking and I can just smile and nod, whereas often when I'm speaking I feel under pressure and can't seem to say what I mean properly.
Thanks Bookworm :)
I usually have back up conversation topics on my mobile for times when I can't think of anything to talk about. I've mostly given up on pulling faces as I'm so rubbish at it and my cheeks start going into spasm if I fake smile for more than about 2 seconds. I just stick to keeping to the rules of conversation when I'm talking with non-autistic people. I figure that if I'm going to the effort to do that then they can put up with my blank face and lack of gestures etc.