Autism spectrum disorders are on the rise. This post aims to help the average person understand the experience of being autistic, for the purpose of increasing mutual rapport.
This article contains the following sections.
- Educational Resources
- Why are Autistic Individuals So Angsty?
- Angst caused by Oxytocin Deficiency
- Angst caused by a lack of Theory of Mind
- Angst Caused by the Misinterpretation of Eccentric Behaviors
- Angst Caused by Bullying and Rejection
- Descriptions of Successful Aspies
- Red Pilled Aspies
I think there must be a lot of guys reading Manosphere/Red Pill blogs who have some form of autism, like Asperger’s, yet no blogger ever seems to address their thoughts and needs. Considering how the population frequency of autism has been rising, at some point, they will be so prodigious that we’ll have to learn how to get along with them.
Of note, Asperger’s syndrome appears as one of the most common occurrences of high-functioning autism.
If autistic individuals can be properly informed and trained at a young age, they can find it easier to adjust to normal people, and are likely to become much more successful in life, in terms of their social lives, marriages and careers.
Marc Segar offers a self-help-guide for people with autism/Asperger’s, entitled, A Survival Guide For People Living With Asperger’s Syndrome. His book, “Autism and Computing”, launched a blog by the same name, and a Wikibook, Autistic Survival Guide. If you are in constant contact with an autistic person, you may want to read through these sources to glean a few insights. The website Wrong Planet also focuses on the experiences of autistic individuals and how they might best cope with life
In a nutshell, a lot of the most helpful points in Segar’s work cover all the most important lessons that neurotypical people learn about life, such as self-esteem, finding one’s place in the right career, setting personal boundaries and respecting others’ personal space, conveying mannerisms and communicating effectively. One very interesting perspective in Segar’s work is how aspies can ‘best accommodate the apparent stupidity of normal people’.
Some other informative word studies include Monotropism, Sensory Overload, and Trolling.
- “Monotropism” is when a person has a restricted range of interests and can only pay attention to one thing at a time. Researchers theorize that autistics display this behavior as a way to cope with their hypersensitivity to sensory information. Individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder(ADHD) have the opposite sets of behaviors, in which they are unable to focus on one subject for very long. Both types have difficulties in performing tasks requiring attention and concentration.
- “Sensory Overload” refers to a situation in which there are too many people, too much activity, and too much noise, all of which cause confusion and anxiety for the autistic individual who cannot process this information immediately through intuition.
- “Trolling” Autistic individuals have an interesting relationship with trolling. For one, many immature, but otherwise normal people, find intense, but cruel entertainment in trolling those with autism. Because of their past experiences of being trolled, some aspies think this is just how normal people interact socially and therefore mimic their behavior in an effort to ‘connect’. But most aspies recognize that being trolled by others is a form of mockery and ostracization. (This facet will be covered in more detail later.) On the flip side, many aspies have been known to troll others, especially on internet forums and blogs. Aspies motives for trolling the internet may range from (1) creating entertainment for themselves, (2) experimenting with, and testing the reactions of others for their own personal education about people’s behaviors and social interactions, or (3) a kind of passive revenge for being trolled themselves, (4) a need for attention or meaningful dialogue. There may be other motivations as well.
Related: BeWytch Me: Asperger’s Syndrome, Autism and Trolling (July 14, 2014)
On a side note, I have long suspected that birth control medications are somehow linked to the rise in autism. (Of course, this is probably only one out of many other factors.) The following paper explores the possibility of this hypothesis.
K. Strifert, “The link between oral contraceptive use and prevalence in autism spectrum disorder”, Medical Hypotheses, 83:6 (2014) 718-725.
Why are Autistic Individuals So Angsty?
I have a couple friends who have Asperger’s. I know they have a very difficult life. It’s not because they’re “dumb”. These guys are actually quite intelligent, and gifted with some special talents. But yet, they find it incredibly difficult to be happy. Other people just can’t understand why they are so deeply troubled, and so they become a drag to the social scene.
I’ll briefly describe four of the most influential factors that lead to this state of angst. My purpose here is not to draw undue pity, but to simply create some empathy which might impart a greater understanding of how to get along with these individuals.
Angst caused by Oxytocin Deficiency
An oxytocin deficiency is commonly found in autistic individuals. Oxytocin evokes feelings of contentment, reduces anxiety, and induces feelings of calmness and security around other people. Many studies have already shown a correlation of oxytocin with human bonding, as it increases trust, and decreases fear. This explains why autistic individuals often appear very uptight, formal, suspicious of others, and socially recalcitrant.
This oxytocin deficiency also affects their sociosexual lives. One study confirmed that there was a positive correlation between oxytocin plasma levels and an anxiety scale measuring the adult romantic attachment.
In other studies, it has been shown that in order for a person to reach full orgasm, it is necessary that the brain regions associated with behavioral control, fear and anxiety are deactivated; which allows individuals to let go of fear and anxiety during sexual arousal. This suggests that oxytocin may be important for the inhibition of brain regions that are associated with behavioral control, fear, and anxiety, thus allowing orgasm to occur.
Angst caused by a lack of Theory of Mind
Theory of Mind is defined as the capacity to mentally represent thoughts, beliefs, and desires, regardless of whether or not the circumstances involved are real. Many individuals classified as having autism have severe difficulty assigning mental states to others, and in interpreting verbal intonation and other non-verbal expressions as indicators of specific mental states in others. This condition is often called “Mind Blindness”.
In other words, guys with Asperger’s lack discernment. They have a horrifyingly low Emotional Quotient (EQ). They truly don’t know what other people are thinking or feeling, unless those people do or say something obvious to reveal it. Because of this, it is impossible for them to know what is an appropriate response to people in a particular social setting. This condition also lays the foundational social elements of being ‘out of touch’, which then attracts taunting and trolling from others.
Marc Segal’s Autistic Survival Guide points out that autistic individuals cannot sense the emotional context of a social setting. He describes the dynamics of this effect as follows.
- Non-autistic people tend to get ALL aspects of social interaction 50-99% right, ALL the time.
- Autistic people can get aspects 100% right or 200% wrong, yet rarely, if ever, will an autistic person be able to achieve 50% of all the aspects.
I can embellish this assessment, based on my own understanding gained from autistic friends and students. Autistic individuals have the viewpoint that neurotypical people always make a game of judging each other by how close they can get to 100% (see Segar’s section on ‘Confidence’).
This may be at least part of the reason why it is difficult for auties to get explanations out of non-autistic people. It takes a lot of time and concentrated effort for a non-autie to transform their subconscious mental processes into socially descriptive words, it usually also exposes their basic desires and deeper motives, which can be embarrassing as well as risky.
Furthermore, normative people seem to regard an autie’s need for explicitness as an attempt to “cheat the game”. That is to say, from a non-autistic persons point of view, why would I want to go through all the hassle, risk, trouble and time necessary to give a small piece of emotional information to an autistic person who has not first demonstrated an ability to use said information discretely and wisely, and then also not betray my humble frankness?
These contrasting viewpoints reveal how tedious a social interaction can be, not just for normies, but for autistic individuals as well. Obviously, this difference in perception creates a vast barrier between communication styles, which affects every aspect of interaction between an autie and a typical person.
Angst Caused by the Misinterpretation of Eccentric Behaviors
One tragic consequence that results from mind blindness is the inability to judge the context of a social situation with enough accuracy to be able to fit in. Because of the inherent difficulties involved with understanding others, many autistics tend to give up on pursuing meaningful social interaction, and focus instead on the hard work of maintaining their own emotional balance, and obtaining peace of mind. They also fail to express this autorejection in a way that others can understand. As a result, most people misinterpret the eccentricities of autistics as rude, inappropriate, or unacceptable behavior.
The following video identifies five characteristic behaviors of autistics, and the common misinterpretation of these behaviors.
Cliff’s notes for the video are as follows.
“There is always some distress, anxiety, or obsession manifested in every ‘inappropriate’ behavior that gets misinterpreted by others.”
The most common misinterpretations of behaviors common to autistic individuals are listed as follows.
- A “low tolerance for boredom” is misinterpreted as laziness.
- The inability to “read” others is misinterpreted as lack of empathy.
- Poor “emotional regulation” is misinterpreted as psychological instability.
- Detachment is misinterpreted as narcissism.
- Deficits in social skills are misinterpreted as abnormality.
Angst Caused by Bullying and Rejection
Simply put, one of the biggest problems faced by autistic individuals is social rejection. This, in addition to the frequent trolling and bullying, are the most crippling reasons why auties find it very difficult to be happy. From the viewpoint of an autistic person, nearly everyone is a bully, and this is largely because most people are careless, and often cruel.
People have a schadenfreudian nature, in which they don’t want to see someone who is socially awkward and unfamiliar with being happy, to actually be happy. *
Also, facing someone with an apparent handicap is deeply embarrassing for some unjust reason, and the average person just can’t tolerate it. So, no one wants to talk with them, listen to them, or be around them. At worst, most people talk to them, and about them (often behind their backs) with scorn and ridicule. As a consequence, autistic individuals are subjected to excessive amounts of rejection on a daily basis.
In addition, people unfamiliar with autism spectrum disorders naturally assume that autistics are capable of playing the social game (as described in the previous section). But since they can’t, those people think it’s fun, easy, and ego stroking to win a social spar against an Aspie (not to mention juvenile and cruel). To offer an analogy, if a man had polio, very few people would be so cruel and rude as to call him a ‘crip’, and kick his one good leg out from under him. But people ignorantly think it’s OK to do that, in a figurative sense, to individuals on the autism spectrum.
This video briefly outlines some of the pressures experienced by adolescent autistics.
* This social reaction is apparent, not just for autistics, but for every person with any type of disability, ingrained problem, or spiritual stronghold. At the risk of appearing too ‘liberal’, I need to say that Christian charity requires us to willfully overcome the callousness of our nature towards the neighbor who is disadvantaged. Adopting this one Christian attitude will drastically improve your relationship with an autistic person.
Descriptions of Successful Aspies
Many noteworthy and famous people have, or are suspected to have, some form of autism. Ranker.com offers lists of a few of these people: 16 Famous People with Autism and Celebrities Who (Probably) Have Asperger’s Syndrome.
Back in 2015, I came across a blog written by an aspie named Penelope Trunk. At that time, I thought her writings had a lot of passion and optimism, which I found admirable, but I also found her works to lack some basic landmarks of logical purity. (Maybe that is just a symptom of being female.) Since then, she has developed a very successful writing career, and has founded a small business. [I don’t agree with many of her viewpoints, but I mention her here, because I think some people might be intrigued by her honest writings, and inspired by her professional success, while knowing that she is autistic.]
Personally, I know one guy with Asperger’s who has a professional hobby of restoring classic guitars. I’ve seen him take very valuable, but ruined instruments, and repair them. He has restored several old Gibson Les Paul’s with broken headstocks. He cuts out the cracks and splinters, and makes a jig to cut intricate splines and tenons to fit into the joint. He glues all the pieces together like a wooden puzzle and puts several clamps on it. After trimming off the glue and sanding it smooth, he paints the headstock black with a sunburst fade into the natural mahogany finish at the end of the neck. Finally, he replaces the “Les Paul” decal, and finishes it with a clear coat of lacquer. No one can tell that it had ever been broken.
This guy is happy when he is restoring these classic guitars. Many people are inspired by his work, and offer him encouraging words concerning his artistry. For him, the best part is that people leave him alone, and stop noticing his shallow breathing. He enjoys it because he can get into flow, and he makes pretty good money at it too.
Red Pilled Aspies
Guys with Asperger’s have one Red Pill advantage that I have noticed, so this takes us to the Orange Pill. The Manosphere often instructs men to not take women’s words seriously, but to examine their behaviors instead. Most guys with Asperger’s are naturals at this. * They have told me some profound insights on women. Here are a few things I’ve learned about women from Asperger guys.
- The easiest way to p!ss a woman off, and set her off balance, is to look at her smugly, and give her a cold smile without saying anything. It makes them self-conscious, and they lose confidence. They will typically lash out in self-defense by calling you a pervert. [Heh… Aspies are not Alphas, you know.]
- Some women get slut eye, and start chewing food with their mouth open when they have the Tingles for a man nearby. They do this (presumably) because they’re insecure and feel vulnerable. [LMAO!]
- Women have the mindset that all the world is a stage, and they’re always trying to do their best act. That’s why they stay in groups, and go places (like the restroom) in groups – because they’re insecure about their act. The need to talk about each other’s performances, give each other tips for improvement, and support each other. It’s like a football team taking a break at halftime and getting a revised play strategy from the coach, and if one of them screws up their act, then the whole team gives them hell. [I thought this one was hilariously true.]
- Women are always trying to make other people emotional, often in an attempt to sabojack and control the social interaction. [I was so intrigued by this viewpoint, that I studied it in a previous post, Why do Women Incite Others to Emote?(June 19, 2018)]
* The negative caveat to having this skill is that Aspies cannot detect some of the emotional information that could be beneficially associated with the obvious tells.
The figure above shows several challenges of personal regulation that autistic individuals face, related to the intake of sensory information, the processing of emotions and anxiety, and the willful control of attention and impulses. These areas of difficulty include,
- Cognitive Flexibility: Difficulty in two skills – flexible thinking and set shifting.
- Central Coherence: Not being aware of the present moment.
- Executive Functioning: Not knowing what to do in a given circumstance, and after knowing, finding difficulty in the efficacious performance.
- Theory of Mind: Not being able to determine the thoughts, feelings, and intentions of others.
- Hidden Curriculum: Not understanding what is expected of them within a social context.
- Social Pragmatics: Not knowing what will bring ‘success’ in a given social situation.
- Self Advocacy: Not knowing how to express themselves in a way that others can immediately comprehend.
In addition to these challenges, autistic individuals usually experience intense levels of anxiety and anger on a continual basis, and this is because of a combination of the following factors.
- A lack of trust and bonding caused by low oxytocin.
- Their ‘mind blindness’ (an inability to postulate a theory of mind in others) causes them to be unable to intuitively sense the thoughts, feelings, and intentions of others. This leads to regret, frustration and disappointment.
- Their inability to gauge the social context of a situation prevents them from being able to know how to respond appropriately, and blend in harmoniously.
- Other people misinterpret their eccentric behaviors as abnormal, psychotic, lazy, careless, unfeeling, narcissistic, unacceptably rude, or as having malicious intent. Such assessments are not representative of the autistic person’s true thoughts, feelings, and motives.
- Their general sense that the world is full of stupid, careless, and cruel people, which is reinforced by daily trolling, bullying, and rejection.
As a result, autistic individuals usually display the following characteristics, among others.
- They continually experience angst, and find it very difficult to be happy.
- They tend to recoil into their private inner world, where they are more comfortable.
- They turn their attention to particular activities in which they are skillful.
- They require a long time to acquaint themselves with other people well enough to trust them and get along with them.
People who are in contact with autistic individuals on a regular basis, and who wish to improve their relationship with the person, should remember the following.
- Accept the fact that the autistic person faces great difficulties in simple social exchanges.
- Adopt a formal personal presentation whenever interacting with an autistic person. This will make them feel more respected and less apprehensive.
- Exhibiting serenity, reasonability, altruism, and patience, will be interpreted by the autistic person as dignity, intelligence, kindness, and acceptance, respectively.
- Recognize that the autistic person lacks a great deal of emotional and intuitive information that most people take for granted. Be as verbally explicit as possible, without being condescending. Autistics do not readily comprehend sarcasm and allusions.
- Autistic individuals are overtly sensitive to disorder, noise, and seemingly random displays of strong emotions. Large crowds, anger, shouting, loud noises, and abrupt changes to schedules are deeply unsettling for the autistic person.
- Avoid the temptation to tease, taunt, or troll the person. Also avoid being sarcastic or aggressively angry towards him. This is very important. One slip will destroy much hard-earned trust.
- Try not to presume cruel or careless intent on behalf of the person. In the event that he has spoken rudely or acted offensively, try to discuss this with him privately as a caring friend, and explain why his behavior was unacceptable. If he responds with confusion, you may also need to tell him how to respond in a more appropriate manner. If he responds with anger, you may not have yet developed sufficient standing with him.
If you can gain sufficient trust and rapport with an autistic person, you may be intrigued to discover some of his unique and useful insights on specific people, the social behaviors of normal people, and the world in general.