#2 Going MIA At Social Gatherings

Written by SAPL on July 13th, 2008 in Socialization.

The Party’s Getting Started!

1/2 Hour Later…

It is a misconception that Aspergers do not like to socialize, probably created by some of the idiots who get annoyed at Aspie traits that are in fact just different. Aspies do socialize-they just don’t require nearly as much of it as neurotypicals do. That being said, when many Aspies come along for social gatherings-birthday parties, reunions, etc., they will spend a few minutes chatting then quickly move on to something else that sparks their interest and is usually a solitary activity, otherwise known as Going MIA At Social Gatherings.

The solitary activity may range from catching up on a work or personal project, reading the latest Journal of American Medical Association to catch up on the latest statin information, surfing the internet, etc., etc. It’s not that the Aspie is trying to be rude and shun everyone at the party-it’s simply that they do not have a need to do any more socializing and pretending to do so will only result in boredom, irritation, etc.

Neurotypical friends and family who don’t realize the Aspie doesn’t have the same level of social need as they may mistakenly coax or even demand the Aspie stop running away and socialize more. They may make it a point to invite them to 2x as many social functions after they realize how the Aspie behaves, thinking the Aspie simply needs “exposure” or “practice” in being more social. This can result in numerous reactive behaviors from the Aspie, ranging from creating excuses to being downright rude to guest because they feel they are “forced” into situations and words and feelings are being put into their mouths (“I don’t have a social phobia…I am not shy…I just don’t care for it”).

Sooner or later the Aspie gets smart and learns to use these “forced socialization” events to their advantage, such as agreeing to go the the friend’s party for obtaining her MBA just because they know the friend has a NICE CD burner in the upstairs room where they can burn the latest live Radiohead concert mp3s. Or, they might think to themselves, “Oh, they own that cool dog. He’ll be great to play with.” Food is always a motivator for everyone, Aspie or neurotypical, and good grub may be worth a thousand small talks to some.

In summary, Aspies like socialization, they just don’t need as much of it as neurotypicals do.

13 Responses to “#2 Going MIA At Social Gatherings”

  1. ericabird Says:

    OR they’ve got a garden or they always have new magazines or an unabridged dictionary or funny little kids or collections of fossils or shells or field guides……oh, wait, that’s MY house minus the kids.
    Maybe I’ll just stay home…….

  2. Stuff Asperger People Like » Blog Archive » Asperger People In The News: Joe Ellis, Chairman of NAKMAS Says:

    […] working as individuals more, huh? Ah, yes, going MIA is good for sports events as […]

  3. Stuff Asperger People Like » Blog Archive » Asperger People In The News: Clay Marzo Likes To Do It (His Special Interest) In The Water Says:

    […] Things Mentioned In This Post: Going MIA The Special Interest Possible Need For […]

  4. AC Says:

    I always go MIA at some point during most social events involving my family and couple of friends. I can stand about 30 minutes of inane, pointless conversation about nothing in particular then my head starts feeling hot and fuzzy and next thing I know, I’ve got to go to a quiet room to decompress (sometimes for the remainder of the evening or until I’ve heard someone in the next room say “ok, we’re leaving now”, which is like music to my ears because I know it’s ok to leave at that point!)

  5. Laura Says:

    “Oh, they own that cool dog. He’ll be great to play with.”
    I may not think about it beforehand, but I usually do end up hanging out with their pets when I can’t deal with any more humans.

  6. MDP Says:

    I only recently became somewhat educated about the topic of Autism Spectrum Disorders and Asperger’s Syndrome. This is rather unfortunate considering if I had had this information many years ago, it would serve as the perect explanation for my atypicality. Since being introduced to ASD, I’ve been researching almost nonstop. This list is my most recent stop. After reading this list, I am certain that I have AS to some degree. Thank you for making this list and I intend to continue looking around this site.

  7. Mariam Says:

    Haha that pictoral synopsis is totally me! I’ll make small talk sometimes at parties, but if no one is talking to me and everyone is having their own little convos about some inside joke, I dont feel obligated to linger within earshot and try to figure what the hell they’re talking about.

  8. Timo Says:

    I always end up either playing with the children and pets, examining the bookshelves for history and science books or outside, far enough away that the sound of people talking is audible only as a distant hum, but I’m able to hear my wife calling my name when it’s time to go.

  9. ESP Says:

    Since young, I had problems making friends. Always they seemed more interested to interact with others than with me. When I try talking, they make excuses to go somewhere else or see other people. Only when I found out I have asperger, I started improving because at least I know why and what are the things I need to improve on. Being an aspie is no joke.

  10. Violet Black Says:

    I relate to this so well. I would never go to a party without at least a pencil and a napkin to hide myself away from all the inane rituals (not to mention the pointless sensory load of all those people moving around and talking, or the sheer uselessness of standing around exchanging non-information with others for undefined lengths of time).
    Sometimes, especially when I’m lonely, I will try to go with people to do things, but it pretty much never works out in my favor. I usually tell myself, “It could be good for me to interact with So-And-So because he/she is very nice and could maybe help me _____.” I am subsequently disappointed that _____ never got done (and probably never will) and most of the time was spent on So-And-So’s favorite amusement and/or So-And-So talking to Someone Else about . I know I should theoretically be able to enjoy people’s company simply because it’s their company, but it just doesn’t come naturally. As a notoriously weak time manager, I am constantly fretting about the time having been thrown away for things I hadn’t intended when I could have used it for something productive or at least enjoyed the extra buffer hours.

    The worst thing this post reminds me of is summer camp when I was in my early teens(?). People socialized at me nonstop, and whenever I managed to catch a moment by myself, someone would inevitably chase me down and say in that over-emphatic kindergarten teacher voice, “What’s WRO~ong?” It got so frustrating that midway through the one and only week I was there, I started refusing fluids and clawing a dent in my wrist in hopes of eventually forcing them to send me home (or to the hospital or wherever). Of course, once my sister leaked my nefarious plot, it mainly netted me MORE unwanted attention, but they did let me spend the evenings with my mother at a relative’s house after that. We never told my father any of it.
    It’s kind of an embarrassing story. I don’t even believe in self-mutilation.
    Also, I think it was off-topic. But maybe it isn’t, so I’m not sure if I should be posting that tangent or not.

  11. Regulus Says:

    I always bring a book but my insecurities almost always get me, I mean how the bloody heck do I know when and how it is polite to stand up and leave from a group of people talking you got caught up in but you haven’t said a word in the last ten minutes? when I think it is right it isn’t and when I am certain it is not, it is. So I do it anyway regardless and then it backfires and people come to bring me back to the herd and they don’t even bother including me – I mean are you fr34k1ng kidding me?.

  12. Regulus Says:

    It’s like a nightmare from the twilight zone!

  13. reader Says:

    “I am subsequently disappointed that _____ never got done (and probably never will) and most of the time was spent on So-And-So’s favorite amusement and/or So-And-So talking to Someone Else about .”

    What about when most of the time was spent on So-And-So’s Special Interest?

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