It’s a significant part of AS and NLD is that people miss the critical nonverbal cues that make up as much as 70% – 90% of social communication, so they can fail to know when to join, how to follow the “give and take” of a group conversation, and how to read the response to their own behavior. One way to get guidance is to self advocate – to explain the challenge and ask for feedback. This has its pro’s and con’s, and there are pointers that are good to know.
First, the pro’s. If you have AS or NLD, you don’t “get it” when you’re missing something, so being told to be more self-aware and “catch yourself” isn’t helpful unless someone verbalizes what it is you’re supposed to catch. Having someone let you know social norms you might be missing can be very helpful. If you are worried that something is not right but aren’t sure, you can ask for feedback. Each social group has its flow and rules, and deciphering them often needs actual verbal explanation. The good news is that within a group there is consistency, so as you learn the unspoken rules, you can be more self aware of observing them.
Now the con’s: You have to be both very solid in your sense of self worth and non-defensive to take feedback, because it’s usually criticism. If someone says you go on too long, or you aren’t giving other people a chance to talk, that can feel embarrassing and even shameful. It’s not hard to to fall into negative thinking like, “People think I’m annoying” and “People don’t like me. ” It’s important to both believe and tell yourself that you’re an OK person, you know you have a challenge picking this up, and that it’s a good thing that people want to share this instead of excluding you. This is challenging if you, like most of people, have a negative emotional response to being criticized.
The tendency of most people who feel embarrassed is to become defensive, and usually argue because of anger or withdraw because of hurt. Both of these defeat the purpose of getting feedback, which is to be able to participate more successfully.