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Not sure if there's a thread for this already, couldn't find it. Just thought it'd be nice to have it. :)


Task from tdoc for the week is to find someone who shows empathy and sort of mimic what they do. There's a situation at work where I'm sure this is how my supervisor would act. While I dialed it down from how she would react, it doesn't feel natural. 

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In my own experience this kind of mimicry was exhausting and I gave up on it.  

 

In essence it means constant acting and pretending. 

 

This is how I came to be diagnosed at the age of 39. I just got to the point where I couldn't pretend anymore.

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I'm getting to that point now. I just want to stop with the stupid useless smiles and small talk and perky voice. I mean seriously, if I'm coming to your office to ask you something I don't have to ask you how you're doing! I don't care, the point of me going to your office is to ask you something work related not ask you how you're doing and that doesn't make me rude. And please, would people stop walking into my office. I'm sick and tired of people coming in and being like 'is the person here?' uh if I haven't told you, then obviously they're not here. And why do people have to be so damn cheerful. Seriously. And if I tell you something don't question it five thousand times. There I told you, that's it, stop asking questions. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

When I get presented situations where I have to show empathy toward someone, it is like my brain shuts down and I forget how to do everything.  I used to work as a cashier in a grocery store and one time a woman complained to me because her son had slipped on something in the store.  I didn't know how to respond to it, so I think (it has been a few years now, so I'm not positive) I just said that I was sorry.  The mom got mad because I didn't ask how her son was doing.  To be honest it didn't even occur to me.  :306:

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  • 3 weeks later...

I show empathy in my own way; those who know me well understand. those who are getting to know me, if I feel it worth the effort I will directly point out what/how I am doing.

I have found that moving into my mid/late 20's, dealing with all the health stuff that's cropped up over the past few years (eg: my bipolar diagnosis and treatment, finding out that working was wearing me away to nothing, applying for disability, etc.) leaves me, as well, fed up with the pretending/mimicing thing. I learned much even before my last job, and so much more at that job, management in sales/retail. It's a useful skillset I intend to retain for times of need; social interaction with family and friends is not what I'd consider necessary. Even when my dear ones are in a rough or bad place I know they expect the authentic me. New additions to my social circle shouldn't learn to expect something they won't get.

I socialize less than I used to, but it drains me less when I do it. I have become very picky with regard to whom I am willing to spend time with.

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For me empathy tends to present as problem solving. As in, "I feel bad for you-let me figure out how to fix the problem you're having." This isn't always what people want. Sometimes they just want to vent.

 

My worst empathy fails are with people who want to vent about the same things over and over when I can see a perfectly clear way to solve the problem. I get very impatient with people who won't fix problems that have obvious fixes.

 

I know I'm a good listener, though. Part of it is because I'd rather listen than talk. Sometimes I offend people because I don't realize they've hit a point where some response from me is required. I'm not good at pointless interjections, or at saying things just for the sake of saying something if I don't have anything meaningful to say.

 

I try. It's the best I can do.

 

Edit for spelling.

Edited by Gearhead
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In my own experience this kind of mimicry was exhausting and I gave up on it.  

 

In essence it means constant acting and pretending. 

 

This is how I came to be diagnosed at the age of 39. I just got to the point where I couldn't pretend anymore.

 

 

Very much this.

I can "do social" in terms of matching expected behaviour and expression, verbal and otherwise, but it is tiring.

I'm having to process information and concepts at a high level, quickly.

It's not an unconscious or semi-automatic thing it seems to be for many others.

 

To a degree I consider it a social courtesy to others, (making them more comfortable) even so.

But there are limits.

 

And now with chronic fatigue syndrome I don't have energy to allocate to that modality at all.

It's a good job that as a corollary to the CFS I'm living a solitary existence where I don't have to.

 

Now, "normal" people happily stepping outside *their* comfort zones for a bit so I can stay inside mine?

That is, unfortunately, rare.

 

Chris

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Gearhead - I'm like you in the 'my empathy is problem-solving' department. Although I differ in that I invariably chatter and talk and rant rather passionately, though I am also a good listener it just takes effort. Effort I am very willing to spend on those dearest to me. Though I'm something of an active listener anyway. Unless I am specifically requested to remain silent. I think this is a factor of being hyperactive/impulsive ADHD on top of the autism though.

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My best friend is an Aspie, and she's of the venting and talking the same stuff over again variety of communicator, but it doesn't bother me when she does it because she's actually venting about things that make sense to me, and because each time we go over something we think of a slightly new way for her to try to approach the problem, a tweak, if you will, to how she's been dealing with whatever it is.

 

I can "do social" in terms of matching expected behaviour and expression, verbal and otherwise, but it is tiring.

I'm having to process information and concepts at a high level, quickly.
It's not an unconscious or semi-automatic thing it seems to be for many others.

 

To a degree I consider it a social courtesy to others, (making them more comfortable) even so.

Now, "normal" people happily stepping outside *their* comfort zones for a bit so I can stay inside mine?

That is, unfortunately, rare.


Chris

 

That's very much how I feel. It's funny. My tdoc and I have worked together since 2000, and he's devoted a lot of time to teaching me how not to come across as "crazy," because he cares about me and because he knows what can happen to bipolar people who can't "pass." When we started working together neither of us had the slightest idea that I might be ASD. So I learned from him not to blurt out whatever I was thinking, no matter how entertaining I thought it was, and how not to bounce my legs when I felt like it (now I would call that stimming, but he always took it to mean I was hypo/manic), and how to talk very calmly and coolly to people...all in the name of coming across as not-bipolar. But from my vantage point now, I can see that all of this training actually went a long way toward constricting my Autistic nature, and probably contributed to my need for an ASD diagnosis. I just couldn't hold that persona together any longer.

 

I'm not angry at him; he didn't do the wrong thing, and I know he had and has my best interests at heart. I appreciate having all that stuff in my toolkit. I just need to learn now how much of it I can use and how much of the time I can use it, because now that I know that it isn't my bipolar rearing its head and I'm not crazy (well, not always), I have a limited amount of energy  that I'm willing to devote to making other people feel comfortable, and I give much less of a damn about it. I would rather be an activist and teach the world about the many harmless ways that Autistic people can interact with neurotypicals so that we can be equal citizens and participate in our society fully.

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 I appreciate having all that stuff in my toolkit. I just need to learn now how much of it I can use and how much of the time I can use it, 

 

There's an odd thing here, because learning to extend ones toolkit of awareness and techniques is valuable, but those helping equip us in that respect can be giving almost identical lessons and exercises with drastically different mindsets.

 

One is about increasing our awareness and skills, so we have greater understanding and more flexibility and choices in social settings.

The other is about "let's see how near normal we can get your behaviour." 

The second, though the actual things taught can closely parallel the first approach, remains very close in attitude to "curing" left-handed people of their "problem."

 

I hereby indulge in a parable:

 

 

Fishpaste world...
.. where nearly everyone puts fishpaste on their toast at breakfast.
 
A few very odd people seem to prefer marmalade.
This tends to provoke a reaction over the breakfast table.  Things like: 
"Yuck! Disgusting! They shouldn't be allowed at the table until they can eat properly."
"It's just not acceptable! Why would anyone want to spread marmalade on their toast?"
 
Others, with more kindly intent, try to help these individuals gradually come to learn to put fishpaste on their toast, with practice sessions and fishpaste games.
 
They are worried that if those with the marmalade habit do not learn to put fishpaste on their toast they will miss so many of the wonderfully nuanced tastes and flavours that everyone else enjoys. 
They also know that, unfortunate though it is, ostracism, ridicule and more is likely to be the lot in the world-at-large for those who reach for the marmalade at breakfast, and that learning to keep this quirk well-hidden is the route to social progress. 
 
Surely once they have got used to it, they will prefer fishpaste anyway...
Or at least accept it out of habit. 
Whatever it tastes like to them.
 
Welcome to fishpaste world. 
 
 
Chris.
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There's an odd thing here, because learning to extend ones toolkit of awareness and techniques is valuable, but those helping equip us in that respect can be giving almost identical lessons and exercises with drastically different mindsets.

 

One is about increasing our awareness and skills, so we have greater understanding and more flexibility and choices in social settings.

The other is about "let's see how near normal we can get your behaviour." 

The second, though the actual things taught can closely parallel the first approach, remains very close in attitude to "curing" left-handed people of their "problem."

 

 

The irony is not lost on me. If tdoc weren't so unfailingly kind, and if he hadn't explained his thought processes to me over and over again, I probably would be pretty angry right about now.

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 4 months later...

Iaawal, stop talking about your cat. You sound like a mom with a new born baby. All people do is stop by my office to get something and then they're looking at pictures of my cat and hearing stories about him. Man everyone here has heard way too much about my cat. It's hard to stop myself and I can't tell if they're enjoying talking about cats or if they're trying to find a way out. I'm doing better though at choosing my victims I'm talking to fellow cat owners, they must enjoy it right? 

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  • 1 month later...

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