Can a person with high functioning autism be extroverted?

Author: Admin, Jul 15, 2018

"ASD is a difference, not a deficiency", and if you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve only met one. Like everything else, no two kids on the spectrum are the same. Let's understand both the terms Autism and Extrovert before jumping on to the discussion. As per Wikipedia’s definition "Autism is a developmental disorder characterized by troubles with social interaction and communication and by restricted and repetitive behavior." As per Cambridge dictionary, extrovert is "an energetic happy person who enjoys being with other people".

Consequently, people generally perceive kids with autism as introverts. This certainly does not mean someone with autism cannot be a social butterfly or have outgoing abilities; it’s not always a black-and-white issue. There is a typical misperception that “autistic” is merely a superlative for “introverted”, but introversion is merely one factor of a personality, whereas autism is a set of social, sensory, and communication deficits - and introversion, no matter how extreme, is not one of those. Hence, people with autism can be outgoing and extrovert, yet at the same time, they experience issues like understanding social cues and how their conduct may appear to others. Some people avoid other people however some seek company; autistic people may not be able to understand body language and may misunderstand social cues but they love to interact. Kids on the spectrum by and large have unmistakable intrigue and if you enthusiastically discuss with them, odds are that they may surprise you with their knowledge.

I know a few extroverted people on the autism spectrum. They are not unnecessarily shy. If we ask them a question they will truthfully answer. With the passage of time they have learnt the socially acceptable way of interacting, they have learnt what to say and what not to. Honestly, it's the emotions and the interpretation of emotions that become a trouble for people with autism. Neurotypical people are also wired at times, they want facebook likes, selfies, need attention; get jealous, gossip behind the back and a lot more.

Following are the things that people with autism do that makes them look an extroverted, outgoing personality

1. They are artists / singers / performers

If a person with autism is an artist, singer or performer and performs live on the stage in front of huge crowd, neurotypical people will generally consider him / her as an extrovert. Live concerts, performances are generally correlated to the extrovert behavior.

2. They are not shy and will smile at people, even at strangers.

With years of practice and learning the socially acceptable behaviour people with autism start behaving or imitating the behaviour of neurotypical people. They smile and greet people on the way to school, college or at a workplace. They master small talks like "it's cold today" and if the other person replies they can continue with the conversation with "how are you" "where are you heading" etc etc.

3. They love talking but often miss social cues and tend to talk too much.

Extroverts with autism might be considered as a chatterbox, as someone who never shuts up. This particular situation is little tricky, since the person finds it difficult to understand that others are not interested in this discussion or when it's time to stop.

4. They will jump in immediately in any social situation regarding their special interest.

As soon as people with autism hear anything regarding their interest area, they jump into the conversation. This can be with total strangers, or with people they know. This can be experienced as very threatening, or as a very strongly oncoming personality. Some people will refer to them as a ‘Google' (know it all).

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