Tag Archives: communication issues flat affect

Asperger’s Flat Affect: Is it always a Disadvantage?

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!

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