- Difficulty Achieving and Maintaining Eye Contact
- Difficulty reading body-language and tone
- Problems using non-verbal gestures and tone
- Intrusions from the Special Interest (Disinterest in other topics)
- Difficulty keeping away from Detail
- Short Term Memory Issues
- Language Issues
I've already covered eye contact in earlier posts, so I won't cover it again here.
Body Language and Tone
I don't think that the aspie has any trouble determining when someone is annoyed. That sort of body language and tone is usually strong enough. Most of the time, the problematic body language seems to come from humor or generalizations.
For example; I have terrible problems when someone insults me with a smile on their face. I'm never sure if it's a genuine insult or "just mucking around". If I assume it's a genuine insult and retaliate, I could start a fight. If I assume that it's not an insult (when it is) I could be badly hurt physically or emotionally. Usually I assume it's a joke and just smile weakly back.
Another time when this can be a problem is when you're engaged in a conversation and someone says "too much information" or "no more". Is the person telling you to stop or is this just an expression? It's little wonder that Aspies get confused and don't know when someone isn't interested or wants them to stop.
The key to all of this is body language and tone. People with Asperger's generally haven't mastered either of these in themselves, so they're hardly likely to be able to interpret them in others.
The Special Interests
It's hard for the aspie to talk too far away from their special interests and especially not in a level of detail. We're just not terribly interested in other topics. Sure, we can discuss other things for a while but we're usually only pretending to be interested.
Attention to Detail
Aspies generally like to examine things in detail. Too much detail. This is especially true of anything that touches the special interest.
At work, I find that whenever I write a report, I end up providing way too much information. This is also true for when I explain things verbally.
Short Term Memory Issues
There's no conversation killer quite like forgetting someone's name within a few minutes of being introduced. The same goes for forgetting everything you've just heard about an "uninteresting" topic.
The language issue I'm referring to is the tendency to use archaic language. People either get the wrong idea and think that you're being snooty/snobbish or they have to keep interrupting you to get you to explain words.
I guess the point of this post is simply to lay a foundation for non-aspies to understand why conversation is so difficult for us. In later posts, I'll see what I can do to provide strategies for overcoming these problems.