Social Expectations

Yesterday there was some discussion about accepting and rejecting social rules.  Asked to talk about the rules she would reject, Emma wrote four that she would prefer were not required and expected of her.  When we returned to our hotel we discussed this further and Emma slightly amended what she’d written and added one to the list she’d made during her morning session.  I’m guessing there are additions to this list, but these sessions are exhausting and I didn’t want to push for more.

1.  “Giving eye contact when I don’t want to.”

2. “Being expected to answer verbally.”

3. “Being happy when I don’t feel up to it.”

4. “Keeping my body still”

5. “Trying to be Temple Grandin”

When Emma wrote “being happy when I don’t feel up to it” Soma asked, “do you feel social pressure to be happy?”  Emma wrote, “Don’t you?”

So here’s my question to all of you…  if you could change a societal expectation, what would it be?

Oh, and this is the eagle Emma drew after her last session…

Emma's Eagle ~ January 29th, 2014

Emma’s Eagle ~ January 29th, 2014

24 responses to “Social Expectations

  1. The eagle can be seen as a symbol of Freedom in this country, therefore I think she drew it intentionally, to say that she wants to be “free to be herself” and not have to bother with those social rules she described.

    Our .02

    Also, Emma is awesome and so are you! -all of us

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Being polite to people who are blatantly rude to me. People unashamedly stare at me at the mall and sometimes I feel like saying STOP STARING AT ME.

  3. I wish for my daughter that she wouldn’t be compared to others

  4. Saying hello and goodbye.

    I don’t mind saying hello and goodbye. The difficulty comes because it does not come naturally which means I have to consciously think of it, monitor it if there is more than one person and I don’t always remember. All sorts of negative intentionality’s are attributed to me when I forget to say hello or goodbye – especially if I remember to say hello or goodbye to some and not others. Thus, I think we would all be better off if we scrapped this social rule. Really, can’t you see when people are there and when they leave without them needing to announce it? If we dropped this one social rule I would be thought to be a much better person in this world by most of the people I come into contact with in my life.

    • I can relate to this. I always find it confusing when there are more persons around. I have to think about how and when and so many things, and it seldom feels like I am getting it right. I so wish it was acceptable to just leave situations and places without announcing it.

      And when I encounter people I would love to be just be in their presence for a while before talking to them. I need time to process their presence, evaluate my reaction to them, gauge their mood, and more. Having to jump in and greet and talk before I have processed is always hard for me.

    • I found this thought particularly interesting because I actually have the opposite problem when it’s one on one, but at the same time know exactly what you mean when it comes to the uncertainty with groups. (which may be my social anxiety actually)

      When I say the opposite problem I mean I like even more structure with greetings and partings. Like for instances people aren’t expected to say anything if they are just leaving momentarily and that seems to be socially acceptable, but I’d rather they said “I’ll be right back” I don’t freak out so much. Because when someone just leaves I’m never sure if how long they’ll be, and if I should do something else while I wait for them.
      Also why I don’t like saying “hi” when someone I know walks past me, because if they say it, it makes me think they actually want to stop and talk. XP

      For the group stuff my solution thus far has been to stop looking at anyone in particular and then I say “I’m going to go” and then say bye once after that and wave while I walk away, it seems sufficient.
      That way even if one person heard me they can fill everyone else in, and i don’t have to worry about the speaking to everyone because I didn’t say it to anyone in particular.

  5. Hello Ariane, We are the family before you this week at HALO. My name is Linda my husband is Richard and our son William is 1 years old. I am so inspired by Emma. I wonder how often you come to Austin for camp and for how long you have been coming to the clinic. This is our first time. We have seen experienced huge changes from Tuesday to Wednesday. We are planning on coming one more time this year. I wonder what other people do?

    • Hi Linda! So pleased you have introduced yourself! This is our third trip, the first was this past September. Our lives have been transformed, literally and completely!! I will say hi if we run into each other today.

  6. “Soma asked, “do you feel social pressure to be happy?” Emma wrote, “Don’t you?””
    Don’t you feel social pressure.
    I know you ask for thoughts about discrete societal expectations, and that against a backdrop of accepting and rejecting social rules.
    I think Emma rather has it when referring to feeling social pressure. So not so much discrete societal expectations, and not so much about rules abstracted from these expectations; but more the surge and the tide of social pressure per se, something oceanically omnipresent.
    What I always want, is the suspension of the whole societal/social force field. In being autistically I’m complete and not at all problematical regards accommodation and inclusion: I’m ready to go, autistically; and the whole human game is on on that basis, no exceptions, nothing impossible.
    Autistically developing and presenting young-people I support, are then much further down that autistic-affirming road. They are hyper-sensitive and hyper-intolerant to all societal/social expectation; and delightful human compadres if approached and engaged on an autistic-affirming basis.
    Societal/social expectations are fine for those who are occurring and developing on a social/societal basis; and all the best to that grouping. But autistically occurring and developing persons require another water to be in, require an atmosphere in which social/societal expectation is not part of the mix.
    Engagement between those occurring autistically and those occurring socially/societally, is then a stand-alone separate matter. Yes we want engagement between individual from both of these groupings, but that’s a dance to be figured out in its doing.
    Emma’s right. The pressure of social expectation is there to be felt, but only on a howdy neighbour basis.

  7. I agree with Emma…being happy when I don’t feel up to it. I detest putting on a happy face just to please others! There definitely is a social pressure to be happy! I’ve even had people to say things like “cheer up” and “don’t be so down” and “don’t be such a sour puss.” Why can’t I just have a day where I can be in the mood that I want or feel??!!

  8. I love Emma’s and I would add the general pressure to meet the standards set by society, the ‘milestones’ and also the want for others to force them into social situations that are uncomfortable.

  9. “None will ever be a true Parisian who has not learned to wear a mask of gaiety over his sorrows and one of sadness, boredom or indifference over his inward joy.” –Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera.

    My favorite story. Erik is like me, and like Emma, I imagine. The emotions between other people, never expressed directly to him. Left out of any interesting conversations, simply because of a “problem”, be it deformity or autism. There are too many parallels to begin to mention.

  10. Complaining. I get tired of hearing people complain – about the weather, their health, their job, etc. Enjoy life and focus on all of the positives.

  11. Having to ask/say “Hi…how are you?”. Hardly anybody ever really answers with a sincere response! Its completely meaningless so I never ask/use this greeting but when somebody uses it on me I’ll simply say “Good. Thank you….” and then I transition into whatever conversation I had in mind to begin with. Only recently did someone tell me some people consider it rude if I forget to ask them back. I find this ridiculous! Asking someone a question that’s not always meant to be answered honestly, and then feeling offended that I didn’t ask them this same question-thats-not-always-meant-to-be-answed-honestly makes ZERO sense to me. Let’s stop the madness! It not efficient. We’re wasting time and spit. 🙂

    p.s. I like Judy’s choice as well. I mean, really … NT people seem so needy at times 😛

  12. This is written by my oldest non-speaking autistic child 🙂 “Making me look at the paper (during school or otherwise) because I don’t need to, I see it in an instant”

  13. Being able to wear headphones or sunglasses in class without having to explain my sensory needs to every single teacher. I don’t know how long it is going to take for people to universally recognize these tools the same way they recognize canes and wheelchairs. I always thought it was a stupid rule that people are “not supposed” to wear sunglasses indoors anyway, like who gives a damn?

    • Amen to that! I remember being told I could not listen to music while doing homework because my mother could not function that way. Yet, having that music in the background and blocking out all other noise was the only thing that allowed me to focus on the homework. Too much light, too loud sounds are just as distracting. If we can’t make the world’s sensory outputs adapt to our needs, at least let us adapt our sensory inputs to our needs.

  14. Pingback: I Am Not Temple Grandin | Musings of an Aspie

  15. Not being able to be politely honest to people without them becoming totally offended.
    Not being able to respond if people are mean without cause, without getting blamed for being argumentative.
    Finding that people you thought were friends, had ulterior motives and either let you down or treat you badly.
    Being expected to be introduced to people I don’t want to meet and to have to attempt small talk.
    Having to replicate the persona of an NT and if I can’t manage it on occasion getting looked at like a side-show.

  16. . . . exactly as Planet Autism has succinctly outlined.

  17. My ONLY nag would be how dare any friggin Aspie/Autisic hit who is jealous of someone who may OR may not be one of them yet display all if not most symptoms of this ability to obviously “Come Out” and explain themselves as how they were able to live a successful life on their own with No Money, No People Resources etc …. Especially been a woman and a woman of color. Those people need to be spoken to in a very serious manner!

  18. Aspie or tomboy?

    Watching TV, especially reality TV. Why does it have to be so acceptable to watch hours of TV daily yet unacceptable to choose no TV. I don’t like it, but every small talk conversation becomes awkward when they realize I’ve never HEARD of their favourite show, nor that one, nor that one either. Eventually they ask “what do you watch then?” and I admit that I prefer to read or do something active rather than watch TV. That’s when I’m looked at like a total freak or snob. I actually practice how to respond to the TV conversation starter such that I don’t hurt or offend the TV lovers.

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