Zoë Blade's notebook

Socialisation

I only figured out I'm autistic in 2022. I'm still learning. Writing these articles is how I learn things. They're all works in progress, to various extents. No-one can speak for an entire minority group. These are just my personal experiences, things I've found out from talking to my friends, and discussions I've seen on autistic forums. Please don't take me as authoritative. I'm not.

There's a misconception that autistic people can't socialise or make friends. In my experience, this is totally false. I believed it about myself for about forty years, but it turns out I was trying to socialise with people who essentially spoke a different language to me. No wonder we were always confused by each other's responses.

In hindsight, it's misleading to say that I'm so bad at socialising that I only get on with about one in fifty people I meet. It's much more accurate to say that I'm so good at socialising that I get on with most autistic people I meet. We just happen to be about only one in fifty of the people out there.

It also doesn't help that we tend to avoid going outside. This is partially because it's exhausting trying to socialise with, and being forced to do an impression of, people who communicate completely differently.

I'm no fun at allistic parties. The music's so loud, it's not just vying for my attention, it's making it hard to hear what people are saying. They talk in a way I never could get the hang of. Emulating their way of talking tires me out. I'm probably getting a headache. Maybe nauseated. I'll probably leave early for some peace and quiet, to calm down, while feeling guilty about being so rude.

Maybe one day I'll try throwing an autistic party. If there was any music, it'd be ambient, with no words to distract you, and it'd be quiet. You wouldn't have to raise your voice to speak over it. You'd be able to speak naturally. You wouldn't be expected to unnaturally intonate with your voice. You wouldn't have to apologise for being yourself, for acting as comes naturally. It'd be fine if you'd rather just pet the dog. There'd probably naturally end up being a limit of one conversation per room, so you wouldn't be forced to listen to a second one at the same time. The lights would be soft, and wouldn't strobe or hum. It would be cosy. You could leave early, and everyone would understand. The conversation would be easy to follow and participate in, because everyone would say what they mean, no riddles. No-one would get offended when you point out something or correct someone.

I think it'd go just fine. The hardest part for people might even be the journey there and back for once. I bet once they get back home, the decompression time would be minimal, because they wouldn't have to mask. No-one should have to.

I do most of my socialising either one-on-one, away from crowds, or via DMs and e-mail. The more I think about it, I have plenty of friends. I haven't physically met that many of them, and quite a few are in different countries, but we enthuse to each other about what we're doing and enjoying, and we have the deepest, most intricate conversations about our shared passions. We are social, we just socialise on our own terms.

Just like allistic people do.

Communication: Body language | Implicature | Pragmatics | Saving face | Scripting | Shavian | Socialisation