Myth: All Autistics are Happy Being Loners

I am Autistic. I am not a good social self-starter.

People sometimes tell me, “We should get together for a visit.” or something similar, and I will say, “Yes, that would be nice.” Then months, or even years, go by with me waiting to see them. I don’t understand why things often don’t get beyond that first offer to get together. I guess they may be waiting for me to make some plans at that point?

“The hallmark feature of ASD is impaired social interaction.”

I have a social disability. So, I am not often going to make the social plans and invite people to do things. This doesn’t mean that I don’t want to visit or do things with people. I do enjoy other people. It is just not likely that I will make the first move, or sometimes even the second move.

I don’t readily understand the idea of a “social scoreboard” where people seem to keep track of who’s turn it is to make the social plans.

When in doubt, about me, please ask me rather than assuming that I am happy spending most of my time alone. I do enjoy my friends and want to do things with them.

All Autistics are not “loners” by choice. Many of us want to enjoy time with friends but don’t get included as often as we would like. Please consider these things and remember that most of us can be great friends if you give us the chance.

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Categories: Autism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “Myth: All Autistics are Happy Being Loners

  1. You are so right… I have trouble with ebbs and flows – I’ll be in a social dessert, yearning for some interaction, then I’ll get a cluster of invitations at once and for my own health and sanity, have to turn some of them down… and then people think I don’t want to do anything with them, and it cycles… social interactions are a challenge! You said it well.

    • Yes, many of us want to have a good friend or two that we can rely on. We often need to pull back from (and/or recharge following) larger social events. Too much of a good thing can be draining!

  2. This describes me a “T” when it comes to making plans with friends. I’m just not that good at it.

    • Yes, I think that many of us have problems with the idea of social score keeping. We don’t always know when someone is simply being polite (so called lip service) or if they really intend to follow through on making some real plans. I do feel disappointed when an offer to get together never happens.

  3. I relate to this so much! I need so much alone time that people assume I’m not interested in friendships. But I yearn for a few close friendships and don’t know how to take acquaintanceship to the next level. It’s so frustrating.

    • I understand the difficulty in moving from acquaintanceship to friendship all too well.

      I don’t talk much with people that I don’t know well. Once I get comfortable with someone, watch out, the floodgates open up and I am very likely to talk too much. When you are lonely for a while you find that you have a lot to say when you finally find someone who seems like they will listen. Unfortunately, all too often, that next talkative stage is the end of the line. They often shy away at that point and simply fade out of my life. They may be very polite about it, but it still hurts when you can tell that your friend(s) have decided to back away from you. I am very often an unwilling loner because of this type of thing happening.

      We truly have a long way to go before Autism Acceptance is a reality and not just a nice saying…

  4. Randy Horne

    I have learned so much from you about autism, I really appreciate the education! Between being very sick and my out of control housing situation I haven’t left the house in days. As soon as we get moved in to wherever we end up and settled it’ll be time for some good ocean adventures!!

  5. I’ve struggled very intensely with this. I’ve felt stuck in a painful delimma: I like people, desire social interactions…but feel most comfortable by myself. And it’s because of all of the reasons you state here…socially, I just have a hard time sorting through the data, making connections work. I couldn’t agree more: the happy loner thing is a myth, and a dangerous one…there are a lot of folks out there on the spectrum, who feel confused/trapped by their social difficulties. Thx so much for this post.

  6. Just a thought as a fellow loner…I have bipolar disorder instead of being on the spectrum, but I do have the issue of being tired by social encounters.

    One of things I have most trouble with is initiating get-togethers, because most of the time, I really don’t have the energy. But asking someone else to get together yourself is the best way to keep the ball rolling. I also have a tendency to talk too much, so I have to remind myself to listen at least half of the time. One way to do this is to ask a few open ended questions to someone about themselves, and then listen with minimal interruptions. After you have listened to them, it is more likely that they will listen to you. Another thing I did when I really had to get something off my chest is to talk briefly about it to everyone in my family as well as those I had as friends so I could “spread the wealth.”

    My husband is someone who has the tendency to discuss everything he is is doing on his hobby in excruciating detail. So he meets friends who also love the same thing and so no one gets bored.

    I still spend a lot of time alone, and I like it that way. But I do have a few friends that, no matter how long it has been, are still glad to see me. What I think is if you reach out to someone you never got together with, then they may surprise you by being glad to get together for a short visit.

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