How do neurologically typical people feel & experience life?

I know this is pretty futile musing, although maybe some of the more neurologically typical people on here can help! (I shy away from using the term "NT's" because it feels a bit "them and us" to me).

I've found myself wondering, as I'm accepting, exploring and deepening my understanding of my own atypicalness & ASD diagnosis, about what it's like for others.

For every "aha!" moment I have about e.g. noisy restaurants, eye contact, lack of capability / impetus to maintain friendships, exhaustion in social situations, there is a corresponding "What's it like for others?" moment.

So for example, for typical people:

  • How does the world *sound*? Is it muted, filtered by attention etc?
  • How does eye contact *feel* when experienced as something that you *want* to do? Even with strangers?
  • What's it like to be drawn to want to be with a group of other people?
  • What's it like to enjoy a day out with friends, and not be exhausted (except in a tired & content kind of way)?
  • What's it like to be thrilled at the prospect of going out every single evening for days in a row?
  • What's it like to want to ask other people where they went on holiday, and be interested in what they tell you about where they went and what they saw?
  • What's it like to say the opposite of what you mean, because for e.g. you're being polite, and yet know that everyone knows what you actually mean?
  • What's it like to wish that you had more time for travel, seeing family members, more face to face meetings etc?
  • I like these curious questions. It feels like you’ve articulated the kind of background thoughts I have from time to time - the ones that are there at the same time as my inner voice is asking why I feel so separated from people. They also underline how being the way we are is like walking through life with a veil between you and the rest of the world. You can never take it off; you can never really feel life in the way that people without a veil can.

  • How does eye contact *feel* when experienced as something that you *want* to do? Even with strangers

    I am going to attempt an answer to this one.  When my nephew was a baby, more of a toddler perhaps, he was very placid and would sit on my lap and babble or poke my face.  I used to cuddle him and stare into his eyes - they were lovely and big.  At some point I have gone from staring into his eyes to almost zero eye contact, as he is now grown up.   I have no clue what happened in between.

    When I need to do eye contact, such as an interview or something very important I practice by talking to a photo of a family member  (they are on the wall in my hall). Then when i have to do it for real i pretend it's still the photo. It takes a whole bundle of energy spoons but has been worthwhile when it mattered. 

    So in summary I like to imagine that eye contact should be nice, like looking into the twinkly eyes of a baby or a loved one in a photo. 

  • Diagnosed this year (Autism)

    Been a longgggggggg time coming"!  And retrospectively explains why ive always felt exhausted by social activities..and shy away!

    Of course, the first experience is sheer overload of noise and patterns, objects...

    The people ive been with can seem to flow through a conversation..when im still fixating on something said 5 mins away, that to them has no real need to be thought about..

    Still trying to get me head round all this,,as its taken 51yrs and theres no way i can undo the zero-intervention beforehand...And I guess I've cemented certain bad habits... 

  • By the way I know it’s not that simple.... looking at a baby is nearly a reptile brain reflex whereas interacting 2 way with an adult... where to start.? But I’m thinking how to access this kingdom, if you get what I mean...

  • I do the fixating thing. Like crazy ! I call it ruminating ...like a cow chewing the same thing for hours.

  • Here’s some of mine, if you don’t mind me joining in..

    • what’s it like to just show up at places, unprepared, happy go lucky and without meticulous planning?
    • what’s it like to just eat whatever someone serves and enjoy it?
    • what’s it like to think of a friend, dial their number and start chatting to them?
    • what’s it like to see someone you recognise , such as a neighbour, coming down the street and look forward to a chat?
  • I think one of the things that made me realise just how different I was was when I was describing total sensory overload from the effort of trying (involuntarily) to process the 1000s of simultaneous noises on the train to my best friend. He said "ugh, that's when I just have to turn the audio input off". I asked wow can you actually do that and he was equally baffled that I can't.

    So yes, apparently NT people can control the sound filter, and even decide to block it out if they want to!

  • Wow. Amazing that we all grow up thinking everyone is like us except for personality & likes, dislikes etc, and in reality, people can be so different.

  • yup, and that's my best mate of 30+ years ..... I suppose you don't really discuss thing along the lines of "what do you hear/see when ......" very often!!

  • I can tell you even neurologically typical people struggle with most of those . As a NT person I don't really have any interest in what other people did on their holidays,I'm certainty not thrilled at the prospect of going out several evenings in a row and an constantly exhausted after social events with friends .There are no absolutes for NT people because as the old saying goes we are all on the spectrum.