Mapping social cues to socially acceptable responses – Autism 101



The amazing ability of my mind to identify millions and millions of sensory inputs and analyzing them and mapping them to known and unknown subsections in my memory and then identifying which social cues are relevant to the current interaction with someone AND then telling me HOW to act in order to respond appropriately to those cues all while keeping track of the conversation, is both scary and wonderful!

Was I ever aware that I did this? Yes.

Was I aware that no other person I have ever met does this? NO, not in a million years… I thought everybody did this. Turns out I was wrong.


People with autism struggle with social interaction. I never understood how my classmates could fit in so easily. I studied them every day to try and mimic their behavior. I would practice at home when I saw some new action between two kids. Let’s take smiling for instance, I do not smile just for the sake of smiling because in my mind I’m wasting resources. This meant that I had to practice how and when to smile in order to fit in. I disliked doing this but you kind of put people off if you do not show any specific emotion in your facial expression. the result of me not smiling that much has meant that photos or pictures were a strange concept to grasp. I still don’t like ‘Selfies’. I also don’t really understand photos because I remember almost everything, so I don’t see the need to take a picture as well, frame it, and put up on the wall. I still have that memory so why do we have to put it on the wall?!

I understand now, sure, but strangely enough you will not find any picture frames in my house. I do have some for the kids, but its because they like them. I leave it there for their sake 🙂


Say Hello!

Another social activity I had to learn to do was to greet people. It was strange for me to do this because I can see when you arrive, so why do I have to acknowledge it verbally? I was taught that it puts the visitor at ease. Well, I am not feeling comfortable too, so why should I remain uncomfortable and put the visitor at ease? Confusing…

Give her a hug!

Why on earth would I want to touch someone? I hated having to give people hugs. I do not like physical contact. People also hug too soft or too hard, for too long or hardly at all. It’s confusing…

Make eye contact when you speak to people

I don’t want to…


4 responses to “Mapping social cues to socially acceptable responses – Autism 101”

  1. Being an introvert at core, many of us had to learn these social skills in order to fit in with others. I can fake it, and did for 20+ years in my career in the lodging industry, but I can remember how exhausted I was when I got home and how I just wanted to be alone in peace and quiet. The result is that I no longer want to speak on the telephone – to anyone! I prefer interactions with people face-to-face be one-on-one. Even before the pandemic, crowds gave me anxiety. My hope for you is that you will find a way to balance making others more comfortable without falling into great discomfort as a result.

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