In our Aspie world, we often misread what people are saying to us.
We can not only fail to transmit appropriate non-verbal clues with our message, but also find it difficult to notice and interpret these clues in remarks directed to us.
We can have difficulty detecting and decoding what is sometimes called prosody—facial expressions and verbal inflections in tone, stress and rhythm that give added meaning to speech.
Because of this lack of awareness regarding certain conversational signals, we can mistake an insult for a compliment, a denial for permission or an unpleasant remark for a friendly one.
Yes, Flat Affect can be a problem for Aspies. Sometimes we blatantly misunderstand … with unpleasant, even embarrassing consequences!
The communication confusion caused by our Aspies Flat Affect is something we spend a lifetime working to eliminate. But can there actually also be a hidden advantage to the Flat Affect?
If we stop to reflect on these situations, we may realize that in some situations having Flat Affect may actually act in a protective way, saving us from embarrassing and distressing situations.
Because Flat Affect can be seen to be a mask of inscrutability, without displaying fear or embarrassment, we are able to pause.
We can ponder what the other speaker is really saying and actually meaning. We can patiently study any available cues before deciding how we wish to respond.
Flat Affect then can be seen as a protection against vulnerability in an area in which we are otherwise most vulnerable: conversational decoding.
In other words, Flat Affect allows us to have a certain amount of control over what could be an anxiety-riddled situation.
Is flat affect necessarily disadvantageous? Or could it be a selectively advantageous genetic variation?
More on that possibility in next week’s blog!
Tagged communication issues flat affect
We all know about challenges like climbing Mount Everest or crossing the Pacific Ocean on a raft. If you’re up for that kind of challenge, you may read no further. Congratulations!
For some Aspies, the word ‘challenging’ may seem to be synonymous with ‘anxiety-producing’, creating stress.
Experts tell us that whether stress becomes a positive or a negative factor in any particular situation depends upon how we respond to that stress.
Worrying creates unhealthy stress, whereas allowing stress to spur us on into action in a challenging situation ensures that it leads us forward into a positive learning experience.
For some Aspies, ‘challenging’ may even refer to those activities which for many people are common, almost daily occurrences.
For instance, what if you would like to go to a certain shop but it’s in an unfamiliar area of town; one into which you have never ventured. You don’t know how to get there, let alone how to get back!
Maybe you’re hesitant to take a bus because the numbers, the routes and the schedules can be quite confusing.
Breaking down a challenge like this into its relatively simple components will allow you to realize that you can resolve each of them, separately, quite successfully.
You could download a schedule for the number of the bus you need to take to get to your desired location. When you are ready, go to the nearest bus stop. When that particular bus comes, take it.
Carefully observe what roads the bus is taking, what shops and restaurants you are passing, or which other points of interest are along the way. You could make a mental, or even a paper or e-note of them.
When you get to your destination you may not wish to initially venture too far from the bus stop.
Familiarize yourself with the three or four blocks around the bus depot, note the street names and any other unique or ‘landmark’ buildings, parks or memorable natural landscape features.
Once you have experienced the bus route and the nature of the surroundings at your desired destination, you can take the bus back home again.
You might find it helpful to do this two or three times until you feel comfortable in your knowledge of the route, how long the trip takes and the nature of the area surrounding your destination.
What will you have accomplished? Just this: you will no longer need to wait for someone else to have the time to drive you where you want to go. You will be able to move about based on your own agenda, not that of your parents, your siblings or your friends.
You will be in control of your day, and just a little bit more in control of your own life.
And you will feel a sense of success, maybe even of triumph!
Becoming more knowledgeable about your community and its surrounding areas can increase your confidence, giving you a greater sense of independence.
You will find that knowing where you are going and that you can get there on your own can be exhilarating and liberating.
The result is that your sense of self-respect will receive a tremendous boost, encouraging you to undertake similar challenges, in a similar manner, with far less anxiety in the future.
It is important to realize that falling into the trap of simply avoiding the initial anxiety which may accompany a novel task will not get you where you want to go. But meeting the challenge will enrich your life.
When we decide to take control of a situation in our lives, we ask something of ourselves.
When we respond positively and successfully we present ourselves with an opportunity for growth, which involves meeting, accepting and overcoming challenge after challenge.
Ultimately, we become our own heroes, infusing ourselves with the courage, even the desire to face whatever challenges present themselves. In this way we can view new challenges as opportunities for enhancing our experiences.
Our reward is a life fully and joyfully lived, with gratitude for challenges which come our way.
Tagged anxiety, challenges into opportunity, personal growth, stress