Edit: and congrats for the book! I have ordered mine !
Amy Arnett wrote:Xisca, Thanks for your suggestions!
I suspected Asperger's in the past, but the social symptoms never quite matched. While I do become exhausted, I don't have trouble understanding or reading social situations.
I took the quiz you linked to anyway, because quizzes are fun.
Your neurodiverse (Aspie) score: 101 of 200
Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 140 of 200
You are very likely neurotypical
I suspected Asperger's 5 years before getting to know where my neurodiversity was! Amy, yes quizz are always attractive! I have done quizzes that gave me NT as well, and some questions were too difficult to sort out until I had the best idea... I took the test again but thinking of me as a child and teen! Then the ND score went up so much! I took it seriously only when I was told to be an Aspie by 2 different bodyworkers that are also friends (and don't know each other). So just in case, it can be worth it to have a better look!
As both NDs and NTs can have some similar answers to tests, it seems that the separation NT/ND is made when a certain level of divergence is reached. So in a way, we are all different and the more we are different the more we are likely to not understand each other. So I believe that more consciousness about what is ASD, and more consciousness about our limbic and somatic brain, can help all humans to reach more mutual understanding! If only we could believe others instead of thinking "This is impossible, this person cannot experience this because nobody would".
I disgarted Asperger's because I did not have certain traits. I have no eye avoidance and not much sensory issues and no meltdown... I also read social situations very well, and I know now that this has 2 reasons: I am fond of anthropology and observe humans like from the outside (I loved the book the human ape!). I have a form of sinesthesia that enhances my mirror neurones.
Look anyway at the polyvagal theory and all that is about the vagus nerve, because it has to do with our ease with social situtions. One thing overlaps with ASD and this is having some form of trauma, in our present physiology or from a past event. What did not match trauma for me was that I always remember being a very good pupil at school but in terror with other children because I was so slow at adapting to situations and speak up, and I have such a good familly that I really have no developmental trauma there! Imagine that I am trained in Somatic Experiencing and that they did not see my ASD.... They have a bias and so they see everything as trauma!
I will go on explaining myself in hope that it can help somebody to make the difference and anyway it helps me to be clearer myself. I have the way Temple Grandin has to think in images and she is the most famous ND for me! And so linked to our permies goals... So I think in images and videos but several at a time, making flashes of new understandings that people never understand when I explain, as talking is linear. I can describe best when writing.
What I know of me that are and were signs of ASD:
when I am alone and hesitate in doing something, like now for writing, I balance back and forth, rocking myself. The only sensory issues I have are the very typical blockage to enter the shower, but then have difficulties to go out of it, and I had migraines from going to malls, from the light and noise. I also could not stand eating at school because of all the noises. I would just be over my plate and eat. I still cannot understand how children can be so noisy! I also thought I had some chemical sensitivity, but I mainly have a sensitive olfact.
As an adult, my ways to interact is to have very little small talk but to speak of the last thing I have learned and I tend to "info dumping"... I have also gained confidence by being a specialist people had to listen to, and wanted to. But as a child and teen, I had to preparare my sentences in my head and was too slow to keep up with conversations, except in language classes where I could answer the teacher before others. I was overwhelmed by all the agitation out of class and was a mini adult. As I was not taking the bus with others and had not much interaction, I grew up thinking "My parents did not teach me how to be social and did not give me enough opportunities". Haha now I know that we are not supposed to learn this but to get it subconsciously from others.
I have eventually learned enough to be super good at reading people and interpreting behaviors, but I first went through animal behavior and a lot of study. I have indeed the common focus and passionate study of the spectrum. Mine focused on life and behavior, thus seemingly changing with time, but I make a big puzzle out of all my learnings. I am still fooled very easily because the concept of liying is a mystery. I have found a way to identify lies though... I noticed I always have a shock, like a sensation of big surprise when you learn about something that seems impossible. I have to be very quick at catching my surprise, or else I get coated in the lie, because my mind quickly reorganise the new information to make it fit. My niece made what was a joke for her but a lie for me, about my other niece, and the information changed how I viewed her, and it is very difficult for me to come back to my former take of who she is. But my view of the lying one is also changed and she made a big mistake!
So it explains why social lies and masking is what made social interactions difficult and tiring for me. It is like always changing the puzzle and the understanding of the situation. As what makes social interaction comes from the unconscious parts of us (actually the autonomic nervous system), confusing information from the environment makes it impossible, because illogical, to choose the right way to behave. As I would take things litterally, then I would answer accordingly, and then would feel people having fun in a way that was not logical, and coherence fall appart until it all appeared to ne a joke. So when I asked my niece by whatsapp (we don't live in the same country) if my other niece was back from her year in Japan, I believed her when she answered "No she went to New-Zealand".
Another frequent point is to have no sense of hierarchy, which make people unconfortable because I have the same distance or proximity with everybody. It gave me problems with some teachers who thought I was not considering them enough as teachers. I actually see only humans though I respect the quality of knowledge and the difference I can see there. I also look quite harsh, and even sometimes in my writing transmissions! So people are often impressed or made unconfortable by my ways and face. I have to make an effort to not have a neutral face, or to have a full smile.
Feedback from others can reveal very well the social issue in ASD. Here are a few examples of what I have been told:
- The problem with you is that it is impossible to know what you feel because you always look the same
(and me very proud to not have bouts of anger and to be very acceptant and able to cool my reactions to others)
- The problem with you is that when you say something, you are too often right, there is nothing to answer.
(yes because I need to be quite sure in order to speak)
- Oh I can see that you are the kind of person that it is better not to mess up with.
(and me so astonished!)
- From a monitor when I was the director: We were afraid to go and tell you something that happended. I don't know why because you never reacted bad. You just impressed us.
(she said this only 20 years after...)
- In professional trainings: you have to work on your face and look as soft as you really are. You look too harsh/severe.
I feel studied by you as if you were an entomologist and I was an insect.
Not to mention a lot of "I was not expecting that" in cases when people knew me better, but in personal interaction Vs group interaction.
Flow is difficult in social interactions, but not with animals for example because they are just direct and easy to read. As flow is difficult, rupturing any sense of flow is also difficult, thus a difficulty to start and stop interactions. So for example I don't know how to leave or stop a phone conversation. And if people are too polite and don't dare to tell me they want to stop a conversation, and just try to make it felt, it creates a discomfort in me. I used to feel paralysed until I learned to interprete, but I still thank people who can be direct enough.
I also feel it is difficult to ask people something when the answer might be no and the people don't want to say no. I have learned it is better not to ask when you think it will be a no. As it makes me feel uncomfortable, I have found ways to say something like "I know people don't like to say no, but really, this is an opened question and I welcome any answer", because I need to be sure and not to stay with doubt about having understood or not.
I grew up thinking that I was missing something that everybody found pleasant and wonderful: social interaction pleasure, like in parties! For me, it is like when a child does not like veggies and are told that they will like them later, when they will be used to it. So, even if you don't like it, you have to eat it until you like it. And of course, same as we like eating anyway, I did like social contact and friends! But I could not understand that a person I liked on a personal basis, was acting so differently in a group! They were like 2 different persons and it would upset me a lot. For me, people were just acting crazy when they were numerous. The more people, the more crazy.
Of course in social situations I was told "but just be natural" so many times! But I thought that for me people in groups were not natura at alll... As I was good in languages, when I went abroad I found out this was very interesting, because people would be very tolerant of my ways! When after high school and 10 years with the same children, I started to have more interactions with new people, I noticed that people who did not know me acted more normal with me than people I already knew. Then they would take some distance and treat me differently than others. So I started to go to new places on purpose, and be with unknown people helped me a lot. They would treat me "normal" and I decided to learn how to behave and what were the right and not right ways in society. This is why I have to think about my childhood if I want to know more about my ASD!
In social situations, let's say going to a birthday party with people playing music, I go from person to person, spotting the one that is having a rest alone, so that we can make a bubble that makes me feel appart from the big picture. I just have a problem in case of surrounding noise: I have issues to let the noise out and pick up the voice. This feature happens in both ASD and trauma because in trauma there is a need to stay vigilant to the outside world, to not be taken by surprise. So for example I cannot understand somebody talking at a quite short distance if I am washing my hands under running water.
The last feature I have about social interactions is being split between being alone and being with people. When I am alone I want more people around, and when I have people around, I want them to go away! The only exception to this is when we are really doing things together. Contrary to appearances, this has nothing to do with control, but I need to know what people are doing and why, because I need a world of a very high level of coherence. So in social interactions when there are a lot of people and we don't know each other well, my disconfort comes from not knowing enough of their background, and having too many surprises about what is happening and what people are doing.
So I can feel I am not fluent and others can view it as such, while in reality I find that THEY are not fluent! They are fluent in their bubble, but not with the world. Or else how can they have a party and let all the plastic on the ground? No wonder why I have always valued tribal social ways and living with people who are known since ever! I also value living with animals and in nature, because I can find there the logical patterns that make things change as smoothly as the weather and interactions between all parts. Even a storm fits well, but I find that humans who do not live in a certain environment are behaving as separated from it. My conclusion is that a lot of social behaviors are just trying to create a social bubble that compensates being out of tune with the non human world.
I have learned in Somatic training that people socially behave the way they do for "co-regulation" and that they need small talk and parties and also things that I value more such as helping each other, but I cannot understand that we can stay at the level of just copping mechanisms without tackling the real deeper issues. The paradox is that though ASD people are said to be socially inhibited, and often suffer more trauma and bully, they want much better social interactions, but ones that include all the environment and more acceptance of diversity in general.