I am a woman with Asperger's Syndrome - Social Problems
I write from my own experiences
I do write from my own experiences but also gather research from other Aspies around the globe, men and women. Women on the spectrum tend to be "different" as they are perhaps able to learn to copy/mimic other people easier, and to study those around them into trying to figure out how to act. But we can never get it just right.
What is this special code these people are using?
Non verbal language, "beating around the bush", hinting at something, etc... These things don't register with me, at all. I feel that neurotypical people are speaking in their own secret code sometimes and I was just left in the dark.
I will give some examples of how confused and blind I can be with people who are implying something without actually just coming out and saying what they are trying to say.
There was a bus driver who would always talk to me, he seemed very chatty and perhaps interested in me. I liked him because well, he liked me! He gave me attention, and we had some nice long talks on the bus. Now one day things changed. As I was getting off the bus one day he sort of stopped me and started complaining about how this was his last shift and he didn't have anything else to do for the day. I would just try to give him some ideas he could maybe do.... Then he started talking about maybe getting a coffee. And I told him he should! And he kept going on about things like that until I just said I have to go I have to go shop!
So...Do you see what happened there? He didn't just come out and say hey, do you want to go have coffee, so I never once clued in at that time that he was actually wanting to hang out with me...
I did go shopping and the whole time my head was in this fog of confusion. What just happened there? He wasn't asking me out was he? Did I miss something? I had to go online and talk to some other people with Asperger's to figure this all out. And one of my friends did imply that yes he was most likely trying to ask me out but my brain wasn't registering that. All my brain was registering was that he was bored and wanted to go have coffee, none of that had to do with me.
So a while goes by and I get on his bus again a week later maybe. This time at the end of the ride he comes right out and asks me if I want to have coffee with him. THANK YOU! FINALLY! I can understand you!
Things like this have happened to me my entire life, not always revolving around dating mind you, but in any sort of situation, I need things spelled out to me! No hinting or anything please, it will not register.
I would like to tell another story, a more extreme story of this strange neurotypical way of acting that I don't get. But this ones really odd.. Just bear with me.
I was meeting a guy in person that I met online for the first time, I got to his apartment and knocked on his door. He answered naked. Yes. Naked. I immediately look away and freak out but he's just standing there like this is no big deal. In my head I am wondering did he forget to put his clothes on before answering his door? Oh my god! How embarrassing! Does he actually know he's naked? Is he going to run to put some clothes on?
And I think the way a neurotypical brain would work would be something like this - Oh wow he wants to get right to it! He doesn't want to waste any time! I better take my clothes off and join him!!
Or, that guys a major creep..I'm out of here..
I looked away and froze up, however. I freeze up in situations that are too overwhelming and um, this was definitely overwhelming.
Did I accidentally hint to this guy that I wanted to come over for sex? I really didn't think so.. I didn't want to do that.
So in my frozen stupor he invites me in and I go sit on his couch, not once looking at him, and eventually he goes to get changed. That was one of the most awkward experiences of my life!
Neurotypicals use this non verbal language that really doesn't compute with me, or many on the spectrum. We need things said to us fully, verbally. And if not verbally then please just write it down!
Amazing list of Aspie traits in women
Growing up and trying to be "normal"
No one knew I had Asperger's when I was growing up so I was left in the dark to try and figure myself out. It didn't go well. I knew I was very different, but didn't know why. I knew the only way people would accept me if I were to act/be like them. I would study kids my own age, and even adults, everyone really and even the actors on TV and in movies. I would rehears and act in my bedroom every chance I got. I wanted to be "normal" and I wanted friends.
I took up a major interest in acting, no I didn't go to acting schools, but I acted in private. As a child though I don't think I was able to really get it and if I tried acting "normal" I think I just came off as being stranger... I was learning though and once I reached my teenage years I knew a lot. I still didn't understand other people, but I knew how they acted and I tried to act just like them. Still didn't work well. It seemed the only way I could really come out of my shell was when I was drinking. So I picked up drinking in high school as a means to be able to be "free" of myself. I got a lot of friends, drinking buddies mostly, but I felt special for once because I had friends.. I thought. Really these people were just someone I would hang out with on Friday nights getting loaded. But I looked forward to Friday night as if it was the most amazing thing in the world.
During school, elementary and high school, I could never figure out if someone was talking to me because they liked me, or maybe they were making fun of me. I was constantly in a state of confusion. I remember one day in grade 5 we were going on a trip to a lake to go swimming and we had to go in groups. The students got to pick their groups and I was left alone. My teacher had to drive me there.. Things like this can beat a kid down, especially if it happens time after time. I never knew why no one liked me.
During school I would always zero in on the really strange kid to try and be friends with. I did that my whole life. Another loner like me. So I would always have one friend and that was it. People on the spectrum don't like groups, they are very one on one. I might have been a bad influence once I started drinking though because I would always get my one friend into the Friday night thing. It was the only time I could have fun, the only time I could be LOUD! The only time I could go up to a stranger and just start talking to them. But I did stop when I graduated high school. I retreated back to my bedroom and that is when the depression hit.
Once I graduated I didn't have the schedule and routine of school. I didn't have the Friday nights to look forward to, I didn't have any friends. I would develop extreme anxiety and agoraphobia and lived in my bedroom.
I did learn a lot, but in the wrong way. In my brain the only possible way I could be social and be comfortable with it was to drink.
After high school
This was probably the worst time of my life because there was no schedule or routine. I lived in my bedroom with a black and white tv and my stereo. I drew while I listened to music and cried. I knew I could have friends, but was scared because I was only use to having them in school, I didn't know what it would be like anywhere else. My anxiety was so bad at this point, I couldn't do anything.
My sister had been working at Mcdonalds for quite some time and was pushing me to work there too. Just the thought of being around all those people was enough to put me into full blown panic. But I wanted to be "normal" so bad I tried, and I got an interview, and bombed. I can't remember the interview at all, I was in a state of shock. I have no idea what I even said. But I didn't want to work there so I was glad I didn't get the job!
I was afraid of people more than anyone in the world knew. I was afraid because I didn't understand them, and they didn't understand me. I was an alien.
I held on, slightly, to one of my high school friends, and she would invite me to her house and out to bars. I would sometimes go to try and get out of this hole I was living in. It was hard.. When we were going to the bars I had pretty much quit drinking so I couldn't get drunk and fit in easier. I was very uncomfortable. There were groups of people laughing and having a great time, but I was scared of them. I just wanted to go home.
I never did try to get another job because it was too stressful to even think of. I wanted the depressing comfort of my bedroom. This was so unhealthy for me..
Being in social situations is very exhausting
I get tired, so tired, the more I talk, and the more I listen to someone talk. I will eventually need to go take a nap. I never knew why, of course, because I still didn't know ME at all. I tried hard being social, but I found I could only do it in small spurts. Even with my roommates during early adulthood, I couldn't even talk with them for long.
Now that I am older and know what is going on with me, I can prepare myself for tiring and overwhelming social situations. When I was younger it was harder.
If I am in a social situation for an hour or more I will literally start to feel physically ill. I get lightheaded, and feel sluggish, and maybe like I might throw up sometimes. I get so mentally burnt out!
Social issues are just one of the traits out of many
Making appropriate eye contact....yea right!
I didn't have any idea that I didn't make eye contact, or keep it for long, until I was in my thirties. I think people have thought I was shy my whole life, but there is a lot more to it then that!
People on the spectrum find it very difficult to look someone in the eyes! I find I can only do it if I am very angry, or maybe excited about something. Otherwise I am not looking at the person at all really.
If I am talking to someone I would just prefer if they looked at something else while they were talking to me, I don't want them looking at me and I don't want to look at them.
Why is this? Fear? For me I feel fear, and just awkwardness. It doesn't feel good to me. So I don't do it.
Acting strangely in social situations
For me if I am in a group of people I don't know, or even just one person I don't know, I may be looked at as having some sort of mental issue. All my life people have asked me if I am on drugs. I never EVER understood WHY they kept asking me that! What was I doing, how was I acting, to get that question dropped on me?
I had to figure it out.
People on the spectrum do act strangely in social situations. They may fidget, not look at you in the eye, smile or laugh when it's inappropriate, talk off subject, not seem to be paying attention to the other person, take a long time to respond to questions, and they may even do some stimming like hand flapping or hitting/rubbing their head etc..
THIS is why people see me as strange. In a stressful social situation, especially with people I don't know, I will fidget, move around a lot, chew my nails. I don't tend to look at people for long and I may talk to the wall instead of them when I am talking. I am always smiling or giggling when absolutely nothing is funny. I may say something on my mind that is completely off subject. I may not appear that I am paying attention, but I usually am. I do take a very long time sometimes to respond to questions because in stressful situations I can easily freeze up. And I have been told I hit my head a lot. I try and pay more attention to the way I am acting around people but I really don't know how good of a job I am doing!
Can you really change the way people perceive you?
I've wanted to change the way I was being perceived my entire life. I wanted people to stop wondering if I was on drugs and assuming things about me. But I don't think I will ever master it, no matter how much I study people.
Girls on the spectrum can have an easier time in social situations. But that doesn't mean it's any easier. There is a lot of work involved in trying to act "normal". And it is exhausting. You basically are acting and you need to put a lot of effort into that. It is not fun, not easy.
For me, now being in my thirties, I do put on the act every now and then, but I can't stay at it for long. Now that I know I am on the spectrum if I meet someone new I just come right out and say it so I don't HAVE to act. I'd rather be myself, as weird as I am, it is the easiest way, and it is ME!