"Typical" Friends & Social Events = Enjoyable?

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MathGirl
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08 Dec 2010, 3:04 am

One of the two of my university Asperger’s groups has a Facebook page. Just out of curiosity, I have decided to browse the profiles of the pages of the group’s members, I have found that at least two or three people from the group have a lot of social pictures on their profiles; the typical kind of pictures of party settings where everyone is really close to each other, smiling, and having fun. One of these people once even said in the group that he went to the prom and thought it was really fun.

I don’t understand this, because from my perspective, conventional social situations, especially among typical people my age, seem like the ultimate Aspie HELL. Groups of people close together creates sensory tension as well as complete confusion due to difficulty reading body language and understanding the social dynamics. Moreover, over the years I have come to recognize how the reason why I could never understand how to properly socialize with typical teenagers is because most of their communication is conveyed through sarcasm/implied meanings/body language. The overload of a crowd of people alone is too much for me to handle, and me being able to appear “typical” to the point where people would be willing to be around me AND enjoy myself at the same time is pretty much impossible.

I have plenty of friends and consider myself to be quite social, but most of them are not NTs, with a small part of them being older people who are unusual in that they are capable of having straightforward communication with me without being offended by the fact that I don’t get their sarcasm and whatnot. What I wonder is, though, how there are Aspies out there who actually enjoy being with their typical age-mates and seem to enjoy it, as well. In my case, no matter where I go, I get sarcasm from people, which I don’t understand quickly enough and then just end up feeling stupid. It is a very draining experience for me, and something I would rather avoid at all costs. Then there’s physical contact, too. Yuck.

So I would like to know… among those who have found “typical” NT friends and actually enjoy being with them, how did you do so? Did you have to sacrifice anything for it? Did you disclose anything about your AS?

Just curious.


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Poppycocteau
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08 Dec 2010, 6:16 am

No, I would hate a situation like the one your describe - I don't even like being around more than one person at a time, and anything that involves too much noise or alcohol is a complete non-starter (music and drunk people stress me out and annoy me).


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Chronos
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08 Dec 2010, 7:14 am

First I think you should realize that the personalities of those with AS vary just as much as the personalities of those who are NT.

While everyone with AS may meet specific diagnostic criteria, not everyone with AS will have the exact same issues, or perceive things in the exact same way. Some of us our loud, some of us are quiet. Some of us hate tight clothing due to sensory issues, some of us hate loose clothing due to sensory issues. Some of us hate to be touched. Some of us love to be touched. Some of us have social anxiety, some of us don't. Some of us can make friends and yet can't get a date, some of us can get married, yet can't make friends.

And I also think it's important to recognize that some of us have learned to present outwardly in a very NT fashion, or force ourselves into situations we know we have issues with, to learn to navigate them better and improve on ourselves.

That might be what the people in the group who attended those social events were doing.

To answer your original question, I had an acquaintance who was quite social and liked to party. I did not have a close relationship with him, yet he liked to promote certain night clubs and bring in big crowds, and one day he told me I should attend a party being held at one of these clubs because he could get me in for free. I had never been to one of these events and part of me wanted to have had participated in such things, so I agreed to go.

It actually wasn't the most horrible atmosphere in the world. It was held outdoors and the majority of the people were gathered around the DJ so I wasn't stuck in the middle of a crowd of people. The music was a bit loud but I could get away from it. All in all, it wasn't the wort experience of my life, I'm glad I tried it, but I didn't really enjoy it.



MathGirl
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08 Dec 2010, 5:02 pm

Chronos wrote:
While everyone with AS may meet specific diagnostic criteria, not everyone with AS will have the exact same issues, or perceive things in the exact same way. Some of us our loud, some of us are quiet. Some of us hate tight clothing due to sensory issues, some of us hate loose clothing due to sensory issues. Some of us hate to be touched. Some of us love to be touched. Some of us have social anxiety, some of us don't. Some of us can make friends and yet can't get a date, some of us can get married, yet can't make friends.
That's true, and I recognize that. It's just that a loaded social environment seems to me to be going against the criteria for AS in itself. I myself can handle a busy social situation if I talk a lot (because it helps me get into my head, thus blocking out everything else better) but I feel completely disoriented around NTs my age because they are just way too unpredictable. They don't pay attention to me unless it's for a specific purpose, and I have to work extra-hard to get some kind of reciprocation from them, at which point it becomes just a pointless drain of energy. I don't know how some Aspies can do it, because I've never even felt safe around a large group of NTs my age without adult supervision. So enjoying such events is just too far out of the picture for me.

I have no idea how it feels to have a different personality, and what other factors may enable you to seek out such situations... that's why I'm asking those of you who have gone through such experiences.


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anneurysm
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08 Dec 2010, 6:04 pm

AS can manifest in so many different ways though. Some of these people may simply be more comfortable in these types of situations than others, but it doesn't mean that they are completely able to fit in to them. It doesn't mean they have tons of friends, have these get togethers often, or are necessarily happy about having them. The guy who liked his prom could very well have said so because it is an expected social response from him to like a social event. He could be leaving things out like anxiety before the event, sensory overload during it, or the difficulty of interacting with people during it. Or perhaps he did have fun, but only because he went by himself, didn't talk to anyone there and just went for the atmosphere. You never know because you aren't that person, but a picture or recount of an experience can only tell you so much...it doesn't tell you everything.

In the world of facebook, there is a LOT of fakeness and posturing, and this can be decieving at times. Everyone seems to have the same expressions in pictures (e.g the duckface) and people can pull looks that give the impression that they're fitting in and being "normal"...even if things appear completely different.

As you know, I have a few "typical" friends, but it took me years before I could even get to the point where I could trust such people as I found them unpredictable and uninteresting. They'd invite me to hang out with them and attend things for years but I always declined...I didn't allow them to come into my life until I went to college at 18-19. Things like sarcasm were very tough to me to learn because my first instinct was to take whatever they said seriously, and I still do that sometimes, which is why I stay away from people who tend to use it a lot or find it funny.

The key was, for me, to find people who were open-minded and tolerant of my quirks...the more I had to hide from others, the less closer I became as a friend, which explains why I recently decided to cut a lot of people out of my life. Nearly all of my closest friends know I have AS and find my speaking and mentoring work interesting. Mind you, these people may be unconventional but they do not have AS, so I still have to do a lot of social gestures in order for them to be interested in me. I do a lot of validation of the other individuals, complimenting them, asking about their lives and interests, and yes, I do a lot of small talk. It takes some of my soul away, yes, but it's the trade off I have to make in order to expect the same things in return from them.

The key is finding your niche and finding people that you admire and that admire you in return...and you have done a great job of recognizing your own comfort zone and what types of situations and people make you feel the most at ease. Engage in the social activities that you feel comfortable with. I know others on the spectrum who haven't doen this yet and are thus socializing with the wrong people who are maing them unhappy. It's a trial and error process to find people who really click with you. You are a more genuine person than I am and you should stick with people who are able to fully embrace this.

On the FB group, I can only think of two members who would have social pictures. One is someone I think is misdiagnosed (he seems more like he has a learning disablity or NLD) and the other seems to have very superficial relationships with her friends. Unless new people were added to the group that I'm unaware of, I can't think of anyone else who would have these types of pictures up.


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anneurysm
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08 Dec 2010, 6:14 pm

Chronos wrote:
First I think you should realize that the personalities of those with AS vary just as much as the personalities of those who are NT.

While everyone with AS may meet specific diagnostic criteria, not everyone with AS will have the exact same issues, or perceive things in the exact same way. Some of us our loud, some of us are quiet. Some of us hate tight clothing due to sensory issues, some of us hate loose clothing due to sensory issues. Some of us hate to be touched. Some of us love to be touched. Some of us have social anxiety, some of us don't. Some of us can make friends and yet can't get a date, some of us can get married, yet can't make friends.

And I also think it's important to recognize that some of us have learned to present outwardly in a very NT fashion, or force ourselves into situations we know we have issues with, to learn to navigate them better and improve on ourselves.

That might be what the people in the group who attended those social events were doing.


I completely agree with these statements, too.


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I am an anomaly. Diagnosed with borderline,"tentative" Aspergers at 7 as the school board required me to have a label in order to receive special education services. I did not fit criteria for ASD but that was the closest label that fit my behaviour at the time.

My longtime psychiatrist has confirmed that I do not qualify for an ASD diagnosis (but have traits & OCD-like traits).

Mostly keeping a distance from ASD-related things (including WP).


Science_Guy
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08 Dec 2010, 8:06 pm

I'm alone in all of my Facebook pictures. :(



florian99
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08 Dec 2010, 8:32 pm

Science_Guy wrote:
I'm alone in all of my Facebook pictures. :(


Same here. This could almost be a diagnostic tool.



just-lou
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09 Dec 2010, 6:32 pm

My only "normal" friends now are friends from high school, and a few from university. They know I'm different, and the ones who actually stick with me just accept that I'm a bit off-kilter sometimes - others ignore it. I don't last long with NTs who want to be judgemental about everything, including me.
That situation you're describing is the precise reason I never go to formals or dinners or whatever. My family insist that staying in my dorm working whilst everyone else is out partying would be "no fun." They don't seem to understand how being in a big, hot, crowded, noisy room full of people drinking alcohol and singing karaoke would be unpleasant. :?



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10 Dec 2010, 2:08 am

florian99 wrote:
Science_Guy wrote:
I'm alone in all of my Facebook pictures. :(


Same here. This could almost be a diagnostic tool.


yeah im alone in all my new facebook pictures. and for whatever reason, my "friends" back in high school/college, well we werent ones to take pictures, as such i didnt have strong friendships during those years anyways. and i know i wont ever last with nt's. they will get bored with me or it will be too awkward so we just go our seperate ways.

as far as the op, well there are extroverted, social aspies and i can understand why that is. but im not one of them. AS is different for everyone. some have sensory issues, touch issues, others have obsession issues, social issues, and etc.



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10 Dec 2010, 7:17 pm

me + party = me leaving


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MathGirl
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10 Dec 2010, 8:18 pm

anneurysm wrote:
AS can manifest in so many different ways though. Some of these people may simply be more comfortable in these types of situations than others, but it doesn't mean that they are completely able to fit in to them. It doesn't mean they have tons of friends, have these get togethers often, or are necessarily happy about having them. The guy who liked his prom could very well have said so because it is an expected social response from him to like a social event. He could be leaving things out like anxiety before the event, sensory overload during it, or the difficulty of interacting with people during it. Or perhaps he did have fun, but only because he went by himself, didn't talk to anyone there and just went for the atmosphere. You never know because you aren't that person, but a picture or recount of an experience can only tell you so much...it doesn't tell you everything.
I don’t think he said it because it’s the expected response, because he just brought it up randomly. While I don’t really understand how someone could go to an event that is all about socializing, not talk much there, and still enjoy the event, I guess it’s possible. I find it hard to imagine that someone would actually want to go to such an event for this purpose only, rather than doing something much more interesting. Unless people-watching is their special interest or something.

anneurysm wrote:
On the FB group, I can only think of two members who would have social pictures. One is someone I think is misdiagnosed (he seems more like he has a learning disablity or NLD) and the other seems to have very superficial relationships with her friends. Unless new people were added to the group that I'm unaware of, I can't think of anyone else who would have these types of pictures up.
I have a feeling that the guy who you’re saying is misdiagnosed is the guy I’m talking about. There’s just too much on his profile that goes against AS traits (like being good at sports). While I’m not saying that someone with AS cannot be good at sports, there are a lot more indicators there than just that. There are actually three people I’ve had in mind, by the way. One of them has a few social albums up, but she seems just way too natural in her pictures, either around people or alone. Of course, I’ve never met her, but she gives off an impression of a very sociable person.

anneurysm wrote:
The key is finding your niche and finding people that you admire and that admire you in return...and you have done a great job of recognizing your own comfort zone and what types of situations and people make you feel the most at ease. Engage in the social activities that you feel comfortable with. I know others on the spectrum who haven't doen this yet and are thus socializing with the wrong people who are maing them unhappy. It's a trial and error process to find people who really click with you. You are a more genuine person than I am and you should stick with people who are able to fully embrace this.
I’m not saying I’m uncomfortable in my own shell right now… not at all. It’s just that the night I wrote up this message, I’ve been thinking how there have been all these events going on in my dorm and I haven’t attended a single one of them. I don’t know if there’s a way I can do them whilst not losing my sanity, not becoming exhausted, and enjoying them the same way as the other people there enjoy them. Whenever I go to one of these house meetings in my residence, I just freeze up, sit there quietly, and observe people around me, waiting until I escape the crowd and regain my composure. So it’s a bit of a mystery as to how other Aspies can actually enjoy such settings. Moreover, I wonder if I use my AS as an excuse to myself not to be more active in my residence community. I’ve told my Don that the reason I don’t come out to these events is because I have a “learning disability” part of which is “not being able to read people’s body language and to adequately pick up any jokes or sarcasm”, which, I told her, makes it very difficult for me to be around people. I also told her that I get overwhelmed pretty easily by crowds and too much noise.

florian99 wrote:
Science_Guy wrote:
I'm alone in all of my Facebook pictures. :(
Same here. This could almost be a diagnostic tool.
Not necessarily. A lot of NTs are just either super introverted, or don’t see the point of posting too many pictures of themselves on Facebook. For the younger generation, it would probably be more accurate in that respect, but older people tend to not have much of themselves on Facebook at all. And by younger generation, I mean those who are, maybe 23 or younger.


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