The Triad of social difficulties
It’s common that those on the spectrum struggle with the some, or all of the following: –
- Social Interaction
- Obsessive or repetitive behaviour
For clarification, I wish to point out that I am not an expert on the field of the autistic spectrum; nor do I hold myself out as any kind of authority on the condition. This blog is written from the perspective of a person who under the ‘old guidelines’ would have been considered to have Asperger’s Syndrome* which now falls under the clinical definition of Autism.
Since, discovering this condition, I have conducted extensive research and self-learning, gaining a qualification in ‘Understanding Autism’, as my desire is to teach, I have a specific interest in helping those with special educational needs, my interest predominantly, in helping those children who struggle and the education system might otherwise fail.
Explanation of terms:
I will use some terms through my blog and I’ll clarify some of these here: –
Neurotypical – a person without autism
Neurodiverse – a person with autism
PNT – Predominatly Neurotypical (i.e. the non-autistic section of the world, or section of the community in discussion)
SPD – Sensory Processing Disorder
Growing up in the 1970s, in a factory town in the West Midlands, I’m not even sure if teachers or other care-givers were aware of the autistic spectrum. Statistics dictate that I would not have been the only one who wasn’t neurotypical within my school, class, activity groups, friendship circles and various colleagues. However, much of my formative years were simply put down to being shy.
As I got older, into my teenage years, my awkwardness and failure to quite integrate, despite trying should have also been identified. Dating and social interaction was something I struggled extensively with and I very much suspect that my peer groups and friends were probably also having, or having had much the same issues.
As I got older, I took jobs which forced me to ‘mask’ my social awkwardness. Meaning that, I took on a persona, who was far louder, more brash and far more outgoing than I felt or was. To some extent, this still helps me to function in social situations; however, the problem with masking, much like any physical or metaphorical mask, is that the wearer is hiding themselves and that they are essentially lying. With this knowledge, in mind, I have simply found that it’s more honest to simply be myself. This does mean that I socialise a lot less, tend to avoid things like house-parties (which I always dreaded anyway), but at least I’m being honest with both myself and those around me.
Dating: one of those problematic issues for neurodiverse people. We learn how to conduct ourselves by learning protocols and rules: I, really like rules – I liked the military structure for this reason. However, dating and romantic interactions require understanding of subtlety, something that many of us find elusive. This said, I have had long term relationships, I have been married and have cohabited with several partners. I enjoy sharing my experiences with someone close to me, and I am very tactile (some people on the spectrum aren’t). I may express my emotions differently and I have a tendency to ‘jump in with both feet’ in some cases.
I recently read a which covered this topic [Autism and Asperger Syndrome in Adults] which had be sat in total agreement with his chapter on dating. This said, I still fail to identify when someone likes me, I often joke that the best way to ensure that I notice is to either kiss me, or simply turn up naked.
Anyway, I hope that this section gives a sufficient background and I hope that anyone on the spectrum, or living with those on the spectrum finds this interesting, informative or even just mildy amusing.
My obsessions: Running, mountain biking, snowshoeing, hiking. These are more than hobbies, they take such importance that I have to remind myself that other things need to co-exist as well. More on these later.