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XFilesGeek
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:15 pm    Post subject: Passive verses Aggressive Aspies Reply with quote

Hello everyone.

This was inspired by a conversation with my psychologist.

In his ongoing attempt to assist me in the development of social skills, my shrink noted that I don't "come off as unlikeable" to him, whereas most of the other individuals he's treated with AS typically present as more aggressive, overbearing, ect. He could easily see where those other people failed at socialization; why I don't get along with other folks isn't as immediately obvious. I'm assuming the version of Asperger's he's refering to more closely resembles the oft mentioned Sheldon from "Big Bang Theory," whom I don't identify with and don't even particularly like.

I attribute my apparently more pleasing demeanor to the fact I'm a "passive" Aspie who "imploded" more than I "exploded." In fact, throughout my life, my complete lack of reaction to things that most people would have had some sort of reaction to was more noteworthy than any kind of "meltdown" behavior. Case in point: a few months ago, I had just finished taking a shower and was drying my hair when a maintenance worker barged into the bathroom. I hadn't heard him knocking because the fan was on. I felt absolutely no surprise or fear at the sudden appearance of a strange man in my bathroom, nor was I particularly disturbed by someone seeing me sans clothing. If anything, I found it funny.

Yes, I'm still an Aspie, not a "schizoid" or some such nonsense. I don't "not have emotions," they're just rarely externalized and I tend to have a great deal of difficulty expressing myself in a way others can understand. As a child, I was obsessed with being polite and following the rules, I rarely spoke in school (not even to ask to use the bathroom), and the majority of stress I felt at changes in routine, sensory nightmares, et. al. remained internalized, occasionally resulting in a meltdown; however, MY "meltdowns" would usually be in private with any violence being directed at myself only. Furthermore, talking to or interacting with other individuals hardly ever entered my head, let alone lecturing people on my interests, or trying to control other children's play. According to my mother, I was practically the perfect child: a tiny adult who required very little effort to raise. Blah.

Any opinions from my fellow "passive Aspies?" Do you feel it was harder for you to get DXed, or that people take your DX less seriously? Do you believe "aggressive" Aspies and "passive" Aspies should be put in separate categories?
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Bloodheart
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I consider myself a passive aspie - I remember as a child and in my teens this annoyed me no end, without knowing what asperger's was I thought of myself as being 'apathetic' and lacking emotion or care. Which bothered me, and I never did quite get why I didn't react more, particularly with my particularly volatile group of friends. My meltdowns are public, but those lovely crying ones, or shut-downs over issues of an 'adult' nature - I wish I was an aggressive aspie sometimes for the sake of having angry meltdowns that scare people rather than crying ones where people think you're pathetic, or shut-downs that prevent any sort of communication. I digress.

No, not put in separate categories, it's just a difference between us the same as other differences - no two aspies are alike, etc.
I've not known other aspies, I have had therapists treat me very delicately which I don't think they would do if I was the aggressive sort, the difference between the two does definitely effect how we experience the 'condition'.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm also very passive as well. I try to avoid conflict at all costs and I keep to myself when my friends aren't at the clubhouse. I don't disturb the people in my apartment building and I like to stay in my room on the nights that I stay home. I also keep to myself at my parents home. I talk to my dad for 15 minutes and my mum for 15 minutes. It's all small talk that I do. I keep my special interests to myself. On a day that my mum's babysitting, I'll play with my niece for an hour and than kick back and keep to myself.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I relate a lot to this, and I am really glad you posted it. Especially what you said about directing meltdowns inward (I have done that a lot, although I often would destroy my possessions if I got to the point of violence).

I do care if people walk in on me when I'm alone - I find it fairly frustrating and discombobulating.

I am not sure if I will have difficulties getting diagnosed. I hope not, but I do wonder.
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pensieve
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was probably passive as a child because I was so quiet. It gets boring after the first 25 years. Now that I speak more and have very poor interpersonal skills I also voice my opinion more, talk back and correct people.
I also realised that when with my friend she would just yell out abuse and I didn't see the need in it. She's not diagnosed with anything but I could probably say the closest thing she comes to is ADHD, although she thinks Bipolar disorder.
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anbuend
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 12:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm passive. Passive as in, I even (to my dismay in some ways, given that I hate stereotypes) fit just about exactly the stereotype of Lorna Wing's "passive subtype" of autism: I cannot approach other people, but they can approach me, and I will often interact when they approach me. I don't really like most of her ideas on autism subtypes but the passive one seems to be at least one aspect of something very real. Interestingly, autistic people with my movement disorder are overwhelmingly people of the passive subtype. Leading some people to think that what she calls "social passivity" may be in many cases simply one aspect of an early manifestation of the movement disorder. (We're also supposedly the least common of her subtypes overall.)

Interestingly, apparently many autistic people who fit this subtype become physically aggressive in adolescence. Not socially aggressive and overbearing, but physically aggressive. This happened to me, although I now have a good handle on it and am no longer violent towards anyone. So apparently being passive is sometimes linked to an adolescent stage involving aggression, rather than simply being the opposite of aggression.

I think that in general in person I come across as quite passive. However, there seems to be a minority of people (but an extremely pesky minority) who find my communication style to be extremely angry and aggressive. By this, I mean my writing style, because these are nearly always people on the Internet. I don't know what it is that makes them think that, but I've learned from experience that once they believe it, nothing I can possibly say will convince them otherwise. And they will use my supposed "anger" and "aggression" as an excuse to be extremely hostile and nasty to me, sometimes even cruel. It's a very weird phenomenon that I wish would just go away permanently. I try to explain to them really calmly that a small minority of people sees my word choice this way but that I am not in any way meaning to be hostile or angry, but they never believe me. I cannot think of a single instance when such a person has changed their mind based on anything I've done or said.

Sometimes I think that these people are projecting their own anger and aggression (and anger at the things I say) onto me, and thinking that if they feel anger or defensiveness when reading my writing then I must be the angry and aggressive one. And I think at least a small number of them are bullies who call me angry as a way to excuse their bullying. But by and large it simply leaves me puzzled, because most people who know me say that I am very far from an aggressive person.

In person, I've only very rarely been accused of having a generally aggressive or overbearing manner. Even when I was violent, people said that it seemed to come out of nowhere and they couldn't see any actual aggression to it, and some of them couldn't tell if I was trying to fight them or trying to give them a hug until I was hitting them or something. But I certainly never even get close to violent anymore. I rarely get angry. People who know me in person say that I'm incredibly easy-going, and when I do end up in a bad mood it's usually because of a physical issue such as pain. (But people have even commented on the fact that even though I have severe pain I'm much less grouchy than they would be, even when I'm somewhat grouchy.)

I recently had to go to the emergency room for dehydration, and the emergency staff person who accompanied me there told me that when she gets assigned to me it's generally the highlight of her shift, because so many of the other people she gets called out to work for are unpleasant or aggressive. And that, momentary problems aside, I'm pretty much always more pleasant to deal with.

None of this means that I never have social trouble. I don't say the "little words" very often -- hello, goodbye, please, thank you, etc. and some people take that as meaning I don't care, when I do. And other things like that, various misunderstandings. Plus, I do have emotions (including anger) and I do show them when I have them, and that bothers some people who would rather emotions be held at arm's length and discussed rationally (this is a cultural difference a lot of the time, but one many people are not even aware they have because a lot of it's tied to class issues). I'm not a saint, I'm just passive. But overall, people's responses to me are generally that even at my worst I'm much easier to deal with than a lot of other people they know. These are comments I get a lot.

So I'd say I'm definitely very far on the passive end of things, yet did have a period in my life when I was sometimes violent (but still, overall, quite passive even then, when I wasn't being violent). And yet apparently that's a known phenomenon for passive autistic adolescents. (Note, while I have been passive and aggressive, I've never in my life been passive-aggressive. Smile ) I can get angry and I show it in my physicality when I do rather than discussing it as if i'm talking about what to eat for dinner. People say they can easily see and hear it in the way my fingers hit the keyboard (I type to communicate in person too). But I don't have an "angry personality", and my overall manner is anything but aggressive or overbearing. Many times I am so passive that people don't even know I'm here inside my head.
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anbuend
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 12:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh and regarding meltdowns, I think I've had every kind of meltdown. But as my movement disorder (remember, highly correlated to early social passivity) progresses, more and more and more I only get this weird thing... I feel all the movements trying to happen as if I am getting a regular flailing/self-injuring/yelling meltdown, except they only happen inside my head. They never reach my body. I feel as if I am falling further and further down a tunnel, and the world is further and further away. The older I get, the more my meltdowns look like that. (I've also always had regular shutdowns, but these are different from just a shutdown.)
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 12:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am super passive and have always imploded or had my my temper tantrums in private. While that allowed my the ability to get employment, etc, it also cost me a LOT in physical health issues. I have had a bleeding ulcer, many panick attacts, etc... etc... Probably better now that I know what is going on that I learn to advocate for myself a little better.

Oh yeah, and I am emotionally VERY flat.
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pensieve
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 12:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting. I was an aggressive adolescent. I was still quiet but as I began speaking more but not enough to make people feel comfortable around me, I held many things against them and my feelings came out in sudden meltdowns.

I also have something weird that happens when I exercise half an hour in. I begin flapping both hands uncontrollably, be unable to run but only jump. It's like I'm losing the control over my body. And because I exercise to music I hear it so much clearer. I can separate every drum beat, chord, and can barely hear anyone singing. I really should see a neurologist but It's so off and on for me, that sometimes I feel like I'm not actually having any real issues.
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x_amount_of_words
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 12:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can relate to this. I have no doubt that I'm passive which makes me more likeable. I don't often get into confrontations with people, when I do, it is difficult for me to counter react. This is why I got bullied a lot in school without reason. People never hated me; they just did not respect me. I personally wish I could be more of an aggressive Aspie.
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anbuend
Oak-Type Autie
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 12:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And what do you know... moments after I post this thing about a minority of people online considering me angry, I went to another thread that I'd posted something long on in the interests of pure accuracy, and someone made a comment that I think was partly directed at me (also possibly partly at Verdandi, I think), about "angry people" who didn't like what they said. I just attempted to reassure them that I wasn't angry at them, and didn't think anyone else was angry with them either, that it was just an autistic precision thing.

I really, really hope that this will be the one time when the reassurance works instead of backfiring on me. I start to become really really intimidated the moment someone calls me "angry", because it usually ends in them at the very least lashing out at me, and at most being cruel to me (sometimes in ways where it's like.. it becomes them bullying me in an ongoing manner even though I haven't said a word to them since whatever exchange we had, and even though I bear them no ill will at all). Since I don't know this person at all (to tell the truth I don't keep track of most names on here or other online places, so it's only the occasional person where I'll manage to build up an ongoing sense of who they are), I don't know if they'll take me at face value, or lash out, or be cruel, it could go any of those three ways. Things like this make me not want to write ever at all because I have zero control over whatever it is that makes people respond to me this way, so it feels like my only way to avoid it is to avoid communicating. It's been months since this happened so I guess it was due to happen again. Crying or Very sad

But on the other hand, the majority of people don't take me that way, so maybe it's worth writing after all. It just really hurts so much when this does happen, it makes me forget how rare it is and how much most of the time stuff like this doesn't happen at all.
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Zen
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 12:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

anbuend wrote:
But on the other hand, the majority of people don't take me that way, so maybe it's worth writing after all.

I, for one, would like you to continue writing. I love reading about your perspective on things. I understand the feeling though. It's happened to me plenty of times as well, though not here.

As for the topic, I am also passive and was always well behaved as a child. Even as an adult, I'm often commended for my "patience" because people can't tell that I'm raging inside. Someone even told me that they never thought I could be an aspie because I never talk.
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Verdandi
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 12:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I found this list on another post: http://www.wrongplanet.net/postt153500.html

Quote:
passively accepts social approaches as long as the other person initiates and keeps it going
may enjoy social contact but does not initiate it or seek it out
may or may not make eye contact
social approaches from people are tolerated as long as they're not sudden/unexpected or intrusive/disruptive
quiet, easy going, can engage in activities led by others


This is me a lot of the time, but I also have the polite, formal thing going on as well. There may be some aloof things going on. But I think those I mainly picked up in my 20s. These days I seem to be more passive again.

anbuend, I've lost count of the number of times in other online venues I've posted something I thought was polite and reasonable and been told I was extremely angry, flaming, or (more rarely) outright trolling.
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anbuend
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 12:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah I'm by far mostly passive but have had moments of all the rest of them throughout my life. That's why I'm not too keen on categorizing these as hard and fast types of people, rather than just different approaches to socializing.
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Verdandi
Miss Kitty Fantastico
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 1:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, it's a bit hard when all four categories have traits that I identify with.

I mostly feel my tendencies go toward the passive. Like, if a friend offers to give me a ride to something, I can deal with a week's notice. If I decide to go to the same thing on my own, I need about twice as much time to acclimate to it.

These times are due to committing to 120+ mile trips. Something more local I can cope with less notice, but it's still much harder for me to initiate than it is for me to go along with someone else.
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