Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Starting One Lap Down?

As with yesterday's post, I was planning on talking about the ongoing sleep issues, but this morning as I was drifting in and out of being awake, and also hitting the snooze button on my phone every five minutes, I had a dream that replayed yesterday's incident at the checkout line.

In my dream I saw the scene played out from a third person's point of view. Seeing it, I realized just how big of a disadvantage it is to establish new relationships for those on the spectrum.

To make a comparison: would a soccer team agree to start the World Cup finals down one goal? Or how about a baseball team agreeing to start the World Series down a game. Or how about a race car driver saying that they want to start the Indy 500 down one lap. Why do I give these comparisons? Think of it this way; yesterday I was displaying all the signs that I wasn't okay, even though I was, and when I was asked I showed more and more signs that I wasn't okay when I was just irked at the question.

By displaying the wrong cues we are constantly starting behind in the first impression department. For those that know me, I have no problem communicating with them because I feel as comfortable as I am going to get. If I come across someone new, or a new situation, I will withdraw into myself and this is when my facial expressions go blank. When I go blank I get asked, "Are you okay?" and with that the first impression is lost forever and I am starting the game of socializing one point down.

I never understood this concept, or was able to explain it, until I saw it in my dream this morning. I don't know if I like realizing this or not because now I am going to be extra aware of it and will either try too hard, or get angry with myself for being socially awkward with people I don't know. At least I understand now. At least now I somewhat have an understanding with how the invisible score system works within the social society. I know I am somewhat capable at conversation once that first 90 seconds is passed, but getting there is the hard part.

As I have been writing this I now realize that I may not be alone in this boat of starting behind. In my travels across the state of Missouri this month I have heard the story repeated, "If only people didn't write my son off from the first sentence" to, "Once he has a friend there's no problem, but getting past hello seems to be impossible."

Think about it, if we are constantly having bad experiences due to reasons we don't know why on earth would we even try? If we constantly fail at establishing a relationship when we don't know why, can you expect us to be willing to listen? It's not so much to just say, "put on a happy face" because I don't know what that means or why I should.

After seeing it played out in the third person though I now somewhat have a better understanding and hopefully this entry can be used to help everyone understand how and why we have issues with relationships. We may be more capable than you think, but if we are always starting the socializing race one lap down, we will never be able to hold our own or learn because instead of starting one lap down some people may never get to start. What do you think?


  1. It really depends on the mood I am in and where I am. Seeing as how Pediatric Bi Polar is associated with Aspergers Syndrome, our mood changes occasionally.

    I use comedy to cope with people. If somebody has something to say, I of course come off as rude, but I try to make it as funny as possible so it's taken as a joke.

    I have no problem being introduced to people. But introducing myself to them (unless absolutely necessary) is close to impossible for me.

  2. Insightful and well-spoken, thank you!

  3. At Anime/Manga Conventions or meetings (my Kansas) I have almost no problems with this. This is also the reason why most of my friends are anime/manga fans too. But in daily life I face the exact same problems.
    I truly wish I could tell things like you do Aaron. It'd make me able to explain myself so much better to people...

  4. As I said in earlier comments, this has plagued me for a long time. However, I got better because I know how to do small talk as well as other aspects of communication.

    Everyone has our own safe and fear zones. Some safe zones are huge. Some safe zones are tiny. That said, life experiences can alter the sizes of the safe and fear zones all the time, as it is a dynamic process. Naturally, a positive experience expands your safe zone, and a negative experience expands your fear zone. Socially, I think it's important for individuals with autism to expand their safe zones- a snail's pace is OK too if they are constantly moving forward. After all, even a snail will travel quite a ways over a one year period.