Sunday, 1 February 2009

Misunderstandings and social anxiety

Part of my social anxiety and being clueless when it involves people revolves around the follwing question: is it worth trying to relate or communicate when all that effort put towards stringing a sentence together is probably all for nothing? Not to mention the fear of the unknown, as unpredictability is virtually a dead cert when it comes to non verbal cues because people are not thinking the same thing as you or me (something I was totally oblivious to until a few months ago) but now being conciously aware of this, it sometimes makes the anxiety worse! I somtimes have the desire to live in denial and accept the consequences. Not so discouraging if I see a person regularly, the minefield is a little easier to pass through, but still laborious.

I believe the AS experts misunderstand as well (based on what i've seen, this opinion may change of course). An example is the tests where you look at photographs of people and/or their faces and/or their eyes and have a multiple choice of emotions to estimate what each person could be experiencing.

Complete tripe, in real life only a short glimpse of someone's facial expression is available, or even more demanding multiple facial expressions, on top of absoring the conversation and having to prepare your own response. It is a bit like having to process mental arithmatic at the same time as having a torch shining in your face, at the same time as stringing a potential conversation together. Unless you are a savant, mental arithmatic is seldom done *that* quickly.

Of course some sums are easier to work out than others. If you compare 100 x 2 to a smiling face, and 237 x 37.238 to a confused face, both can be worked out but obviously at different speeds, causing instability to the recepricol exchange. A smiley face can be picked up and put on almost instantly, to realise someone is confused may be totally bypassed. But stare at the confused face for a while and it will become clear in the end, but at that time the person may have called the police!

I may be wrong, the test procedures may be more sophisticated, and what I have said is based on what people have told me. My point is even informed people, if they dont have it wont have a clue what it is really like.

My reason for this thread is my recent meeting with my manager (who I informed that I have AS months ago) when he told me my body language was inappropiate in a meeting in a small room full of 20 strangers. He said that if I am ok in a small meeting with people I see every day then I should act the same in the meeting in a room...oh I just give up! Basically my point is if the other individual has not experienced it first hand then misunderstandings are inevitable.

The reason I was pissed off is because it is an insult to my intelligence. I am just as smart as him, probably even more, but he has a social knack with people either getting on with them or influencing them. My colleagues just said it is his indirect way of making sure we know who is boss and uses any situation as an excuse to impose, and everyone has had their fair share of it.

I have accepted this but it has highlighted how many times situations like this have happened in the past. I just get the impression that he sees me as someone who is simple with very little grey matter who can be manipulated at will. But then who can blame him when my verbal communication with him can be compared to that of an 11 year old. Then again that train of thought might be me resorting back to paranoia and assuming the worst from people I dont understand. It is a constant mental war of attrition! I am not as bad as I used to be but other people just act as a catalyst.

Having said that, just because AS is one of my primary topics of thought, doesnt mean it will be the same for him, and if I didnt make my point about the condition in the first place then how will someone even attempt to understand? I guess it is a two way scramble of communication, I havent got a clue how a NT subconciously reads people so how can I judge them for not understanding when they have something that is second nature? It is not as easy as pretending to be blind just by shutting your eyes. Think ill stop for breath, will add more to this in the near future when im in a better frame of mind.

The truth is I HATED being alone all the time when I was younger, but was socially oblivious, only wrapped up in my thoughts, not being able to ‘figure people out’. People made no sense to me and were entirely unpredictable, yet I longed to be normal. I spent long hours in bed at night thinking about my interests, but couldn’t find any way to make myself say hi to anybody. Then as time progressed I got more and more frustrated at my family and associates' inability to think as I thought, and my inability to act unreasonable as everyone else appeared to do.


AS-4-L said...

I usually do very well on those eye tests...but only by working back from the answers. My first glimpse of the eyes usually results in an instinctive answer that isn't even on the list, but by going through the list I can compare the image with each answer and I can almost always find the right match.

This is why on-line tests are worthless. When doing the test with a real person and just giving my answer verbally and not having multiple choice questions I'd do a lot worse.

Tests only test who is good at taking tests.

Beastinblack said...

If I ever had to do that test on blade runner, I would fail miserably, and as a result executed!

Lindsay said...

[I]s it worth trying to relate or communicate when all that effort put towards stringing a sentence together is probably all for nothing?

I have to make this decision a lot, too. I do not think in words, and sometimes it takes me a very long time to translate whatever I am trying to say.

I also have only recently acquired the ability to express some things, particularly emotions or sensations. For whatever reason, the more personal or subjective the experience, the more difficulty I will have talking about it. At various points in my childhood, I have refused to say the word "I," so strong were my mental blocks against voicing this stuff!

Really, I have been "learning to talk" my whole life.

If I ever had to do that task on blade runner ...

OMG, I identified so much with the Replicants! Especially the thing about how they were very young and emotionally inexperienced? Yeah. That's me. 24 and about as worldly as your average preteen, and as emotionally intelligent as your average toddler ...