Asperger’s, like all of the Autism Spectrum Disorders, comes with its own unique range of challenges that few “neurotypical” people understand. One of the main difficulties most “Aspies” face is in the realm of social interaction. We have a hard time understanding social cues and nonverbal communications, which makes socializing and social activities much more challenging.
In an article on Psychology Today, I found a very interesting article that talked about the unusual dichotomy that comes with autism. The writer says:
“It seems a common thread that I tend to love the things I hate and hate the things I love. Most activities I enjoy have some component of pain and vice versa. And it also seems that a lot of that has to do with autism, namely problems socializing and sensory sensitivity.”
“When it comes to the social world, my feelings have frequently been conflicted. There’ve been many times I have wondered if I am not an extrovert in an introvert’s body. Going back to my earliest memories, they are dominated with an interest in other human beings. But slowly, over time, those feelings became dampened, replaced by a wariness born of an awareness of how my attempts at connection were received. A fear of pain and of rejection.”
“As a result, my feelings have solidified into the knowledge that the desire to socialize is not the same as successfully socializing. The gap between my feelings and my skills is a painful one, one that despite all I’ve learned and experienced, never seems to fully go away. It’s a gap that in many ways, controls my life.”
That is something I can DEFINITELY relate to!
It’s such an odd balance when it comes to social interactions, even with people that I should feel very comfortable with (close friends, family, etc.). For example, my sister just came to visit us, and I had a lot of fun talking with her, hanging out with her boyfriend, and socializing with friends together. However, there came a point when my “social energy” had run out, and it felt like I was forcing myself to engage in social activities. That “introversion” came despite my enjoyment of the “extrovert” activities.
Conversations can be quite difficult after a while. I can talk for HOURS about something that I’m interested in—and I’m interested in an odd and broad assortment of topics. However, I have a very hard time talking to people about things that have little interest to me. It goes beyond just showing a polite interest—it’s like I’m chewing off my own arm just to keep myself listening when I’d rather be anywhere else at that time.
I wish I could say I had an answer to this dichotomy, but it’s just something that I—like all people with Asperger’s and ASD—will have to struggle with for the rest of our lives. It’s not anyone’s fault that we have a hard time with socializing and interactions. We don’t think that topic of conversation is boring, or that you’re boring. It’s just the way our brains are!