Are you autistic? About 1% of the world population has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It is even more prevalent in the US and it’s estimated 1 in 68 births have autism. Autism is a learning disability that affects how the person communicates and relates to other people. The way they sense the world around them is also affected. It’s a spectrum disorder because people may share certain autistic difficulties, it affects them in different ways.
Asperger syndrome is a form of autism, and people who have it usually have average or above average intelligence. Speech problems is less of an issue but may still have difficulties processing and understanding language. Being autistic or having Aspergers can make it hard for you to learn how to socialize and communicate with other people than usual.
People with this condition can’t empathize with others and pick up on nonverbal and subtle social cues easily like neurotypicals (people without ASD). It’s difficult for shy, introverted people to do this at first, but even more so for people with ASD. How can you learn to be more social and emotionally connect with people when you have this condition?
Just to be clear, I don’t have autism or Aspergers (though at first I thought I might have). I grew up shy and introverted, but I think I picked up on how to socialize and connect with people faster than if I was autistic. I’ve been hearing a lot from guys who say they have ASD or Aspergers and need help on how to socialize and learn game. I find it very interesting and decided to dig deeper into this topic and find ways to make the learning process easier for them.
People with ASD are very analytical and like routines, rules and principles. They take everything very literally. They don’t understand sarcasm or metaphors very well. You tell them they’re cool and they say it’s hot outside and they’re actually sweating.
I have a friend that I’m pretty sure who is autistic or has Aspergers (I’m not sure if he got officially diagnosed with it). You would tell a sarcastic joke, and he wouldn’t get it. He might say, “What?” or “That’s stupid…” and brush it off. I knew him through a community of competitive gamers. He studied the game so much that he knew all the technical frame data, hitboxes and physics of the game. He was one of the best players in the world at the game, but he was very socially awkward or “weird”.
He grew up very shy and didn’t talk to people most of his life. He played video games all the time and never really socialized. At first, people got very annoyed by his personality and thought he seemed to be rude or disrespectful. For example, he may just take something out of someone else’s fridge without asking or give a “fish” handshake when meeting or greetings someone.
However, after much time in the gaming community and traveling with people to events and tournaments, he started to become better socially. People would actually start correcting him in certain social situations without getting upset. They knew of his condition and were willing to help him out. He would then (after many repetitions) start picking up things here and there.
He’s not the smoothest talker, but still much better than what he used to be. This is because he was socially exposed to more people who shared similar interests and felt comfortable around them. You can tell a joke now that he might not get a first, but will usually start laughing and catch on. He even tells a joke here and there himself!
Having other people who are understanding of you and correct you during social situations can be a great way to learn social behavior. People with ASD have a difficult time learning social skills on their and own so they need some guidance or rules to model from in the form of books, videos, social groups or mentor. This site has tons of information you can use to read up on and learn from. Pickup and game is learnable as long as you break it down in small chunks and do it step-by-step rather than flooding.
Game is both logical and emotional. No 2 interactions are the same, but they all usually have the same waypoints. There are certain behaviors you do and rules to follow based on the feedback you’re receiving. You will learn to empathize with people and be more calibrated, the more times you practice and socialize.
Approach and open to get things started. Keep the opener short. Don’t dwell on it and not lead the interaction anywhere. Transition quickly and move on into a normal conversation. Have her chase you by displaying confident body language. If the conversation starts getting stale or boring, break rapport to rebuild attraction and keep her engaged. If she breaks rapport with you, you break rapport back. Qualify her throughout the conversation and escalate and reward her proportionally for the amount of investment she’s giving. Solve logistics and go for the pull.
You can learn for hours, days, weeks, and months of material and try to learn everything about social situations, but the best way to learn is to focus on your sticking point or an obstacle blocking your next progression in the interaction. Then immediately applying it so it becomes a habit. You can also expose yourself in many social situations and have a mentor close by to give you live feedback. This can be a trusted friend, family member, wing or coach.
The most important thing you have to do is make goals and take action. Some people with ASD or Aspergers just accept the fact that they have it and set up their lives where they don’t have to interact with people as much. Others believe they can learn and improve their social skills. No matter what, you have to set a goal and decide what you want to do. I believe you can learn how to become more social. It may take you longer than usual, but it can be done. Wheat’s your decision?
I would love to hear some of your experiences with autism or Aspergers. Whether having the condition yourself or interacting with somebody else who does. How did you handle it and what methods have you used to help you become more social and empathetic? I think together with modern psychology, game and practical applications we can learn from each other and find ways to accelerate the learning process and make progression easier.