One of the ‘triad of difficulties’ that people on the spectrum have is in relation to social interaction and another being communication issues. Personally, I’m fairly high functioning in some regards and not in others, but that’s the key, there is not a ‘one size fits all’ in autism; hence it’s a spectrum condition.
Personally speaking, situational awareness is something I struggle with. I sometimes fail to be aware of my surroundings in a physical sense. This is ironic for someone who rides and races mountain bikes, but hell, it took me a very long time to learn to ride a bike. I do occasionally get in people’s way inadvertently although my spacial awareness is good.
Where I sometimes struggle is in how I should act in certain circumstances, I am fine once I have learnt a fixed set of rules. However, in social situations, these rules are subject to variation and change: obviously, social relationships change and develop and what was apt for a first meeting does not apply after interacting with a person you have known for months or even years.
For me, an example is for an invite to a house party. I dread such things, despite the fact that I am not introverted. There is simply too much happening, generally to many people and noise and smells and I probably only know a few of the people who are likely to be there. Who do I talk to? What if I end up hogging the hosts attention for to much time? These are just some of the reasons I seldom attend house parties and I only do now, on occasions because it’s something that someone close to me wants to do.
I have ran highly successful music events and club nights throughout London, the U.K. and have DJed around Europe. I was happy and successful in that high stress environment for around a decade, some would say that I thrived. From a business point of view, yes I did well and was happy making others happy. However, now I rarely return to such a situation; I always had the escape of being able to hide behind the DJ booth, or in the Green Room or simple stand outside and smoke. I’ve quit for five years now and the main thing that I miss is that it gave me an instant excuse to remove myself from situations which became challenging.
How does a person learn behaviour:
We all, learn behaviour from peers, parents, partners and so on. But is that learned behaviour always socially acceptable?
- I suspect that a good deal of the behaviour in teenage years isn’t.
Is there a rise in antisocial behaviour in amongst society as a whole, or is there a decline in standards?
- I’m not a social commentator and seeing as I do make mistakes, it takes something truly out of the ordinary for me to notice it. I notice social decay and levels of extremely ill manners: I don’t have bad manners, but I don’t alway have the correct filters between thinking or feeling something and voicing something which may or may not remain an internal monologue.
People on the spectrum learn and a lot of incredibly intelligent, but we just learn and engage differently. I mimic sometimes and at other times when I am fortunate enough to have someone with me to advise, I ask ‘So, what is the protocol if x happens?’ I may also give the people close enough to me to understand the consent that they may interrupt me and change the subject or stop me making a fool of myself.
Interaction and communication is a nightmare of pitfalls and likely faux pas, so the autistic person has additional hurdles, many of us can’t read subtle facial expressions or subtlety at all. Changes of tone can be lost on us and we tend to take things said very literally. That said, we patience and compassion we more skilled in some areas. I am better than I was and I continue to learn on this journey.