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Dr-David-Banner

SMILES

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Dr-David-Banner

Just been watchiing the 1975 Christmas Special Are You Being Served. This was a comedy series about clothes retail sales and starred Wendy Richards. Then suddenly I noticed something so simple it never struck me before. All the actors SMILING! Easy and natural relaxed smiles.
It was the bit where they were in fancy dress and all joined in an XMas song.
The fact is I can't normally smile, more so if I'm supposed to smile to fit in and be normal. I tried to picture myself joining in with the XMas song too and feel sure I'd have frozen. When Tony Atwood said aspies learn to act and fake normality, this doesn't apply to me. I could only play Mr Spock in Star Trek, simply as he shows no emotion and his expression just stays the same.
Watching these people I notice much more how they communicate facially and show expression, use eyes to communicate warmth and smile happily. This is real interaction.
Last XMas, I offended the girls at the shop I frequent as they sprung a surprise photo shoot on me. The plan was for 2 girls to stand each side of me smiling and I'm supposed to look happy and smile too for a magazine photo. I was uncomfortable straight away as I can't just smile for a camera, plus my eyes are so light sensitive, I blink faster than the lense. So the pic ended up with me blank faced and eyes closed and the girls smiling perfectly. It did offend them too as I'd been given wine and a goody basket and it seemed to all I was being a killjoy.
I do think though this is another small difference that helps me understand why I'm autistic. In truth, I know I have lots of good qualities and am generally a good person but it's clear why women are seldom attracted to me (if ever). Really, appearing sexy or attractive has much to do with facial communication and smiles, or even facial language like raised eyes. I mean, I had one friend who would sort of use her eyes to flirt and smiled whenever she wished.
These days I try my best to avoid running myself down or blaming my defects (given I have autism pluses too). I do think though autism in many ways ruined my life totally as I lack the very simple things needed just to be liked. Nobody ever took me aside and explained why I was getting seen as different. I guess since the time I began to work it out, little extra pieces fall into place.
The question is now how do you deal with not having emotional expression? Why does it happen? Is it also a good way to pinpoint autism (because autists may reflect their condition above and beyond eye contact, at a facial level or smiling)?

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Nesf

My problem isn't that I have not expression, but that I have the wrong expression to the social situation. I can and do smile, but I don't always smile (or produce other facial expressions) on cue or I smile when I'm not supposed to, or I smile too much and seem child-like. My facial expression is determined by my internal emotion and not the emotion or the people around me, and I don't always pick up on or respond to people's emotions, so I have the 'wrong' expression. I was frequently punished or told off as a child for displaying the wrong expression.

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Sanctuary

Aspies often have problems with expressiveness - whether it's an apparent lack of expressiveness or appearing to lack the appropriate expression as mentioned by Nesf. In many ways it's similar to acting with the person with AS seeming either to be "wooden" and "underperforming" or simply "false" and unconvincing. Their inner feelings may be very different and exactly appropriate but somehow they are not communicated in ways others find "correct". These things are not easy to change as they have developed over a lifetime. Sometimes the biggest problems come with trying to "fake" or broadly perform expressions as this can seem inauthentic and insincere. I think it's best as much as possible to act in the way you feel comfortable - smile if that genuinely feels right to you but be more neutral if that feels more natural to you.

The photo situation David mentioned is a little different. In a sense it's a fun occasion and I think a big, broad smile just for the camera is in order. It won't matter if it seems a little over the top whereas a neutral or even nervous expression will look odd. Alternatively just say you're not comfortable being photographed although that they can seem strange as well. If it's a rare thing I would just put on some sort of a smile and get it over with. In ordinary interaction though I feel it's best not to force expressions - smiles or otherwise.

 

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Nesf
13 hours ago, Dr-David-Banner said:

Watching these people I notice much more how they communicate facially and show expression, use eyes to communicate warmth and smile happily. This is real interaction.
Last XMas, I offended the girls at the shop I frequent as they sprung a surprise photo shoot on me. The plan was for 2 girls to stand each side of me smiling and I'm supposed to look happy and smile too for a magazine photo.

They really should ask your permission first if it is for a magazine. Or at any time, in fact.

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Dr-David-Banner

The girls were gifting me an XMas Hamper. I was chosen along with 3 others. There was wine and food and chocolate. The pic was to go in the shop magazine but harrowingly this one wasn't published due to my frozen facade and closed eyes.
" I would just put on some sort of a smile and get it over."
I am unable to smile on request. Moreover I seem to have emotional deficiency. Part of this is as with Nesf where emotions are internalised and not tuned into a group. The other part is a very low level of emotion, inability to act out appropriate emotions or resonate to the required emotional requirement. However much promise I may show in sciences, I am nevertheless an autistic person with a degree of neurological retardation. In past years inability to react as expected used to cause me anxiety attacks and phobia.
I tried to picture myself in the Are You Being Served Xmas cast and it felt scary. I imagined them all smiling and laughing and myself struggling to try and appear normal. I don't know how they do these normal things and suppose they feel relaxed like fish in water.
Try to picture yourself in a film scenario and it feels scary somehow..

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Sanctuary
3 hours ago, Dr-David-Banner said:

I tried to picture myself in the Are You Being Served Xmas cast and it felt scary. I imagined them all smiling and laughing and myself struggling to try and appear normal. I don't know how they do these normal things and suppose they feel relaxed like fish in water.
Try to picture yourself in a film scenario and it feels scary somehow..

Bear in mind though that the cast are professional actors who are much more skilled than ordinary people at performing emotions. Comparisons are often misleading but even more so when we make the comparisons with experts and trained performers. Making comparisons with those who don't have AS (some of whom also have difficulties expressing emotions) is also not helpful though I'm as guilty of it as anyone. It's best to accept and work within our limitations where they occur but also realise that AS gives us strengths in other areas.

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Gone away
12 hours ago, Sanctuary said:

Comparisons are often misleading but even more so when we make the comparisons with experts and trained performers.

There is a certain amount of caricature in acting.
Seeing odd clips in a movie or series over a couple of hours is one thing ... but as a personality  -  I don't think the caricatures would well work in real life 24/7 as they would be far too intense.
A good set of teeth and a smile does open many doors socially though .... not quite as effective when the teeth (or remains of) are past their best.
Always brush you teeth :)

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Sanctuary
3 hours ago, Gone home said:

There is a certain amount of caricature in acting.
Seeing odd clips in a movie or series over a couple of hours is one thing ... but as a personality  -  I don't think the caricatures would well work in real life 24/7 as they would be far too intense.
A good set of teeth and a smile does open many doors socially though .... not quite as effective when the teeth (or remains of) are past their best.
Always brush you teeth :)

Smiling is interesting because it is the aspect of body language for which everybody understands the significance. We all know that smiling can be a way of showing positivity, happiness and approval and that there are times when smiling is considered desirable and times when it is not acceptable, e.g. when hearing or delivering bad news or criticism. As it's significance is so well understood it's also the aspect of body language that is faked the most often. Some people fake smiles extremely well but others less so and the latter are seen as insincere and even disrespectful. Sometimes it's not the smile itself which seems false as the lack of congruity with other bodily gestures. 

It's also true that some people who are quite genuine are not very good at communicating smiles and are wrongly seen as deceptive or just not so warmly received. We do tend to react much more positively to the person who offers a broad, toothy smile but someone who is simply self-conscious about their teeth might be reluctant to smile so broadly and therefore not seem so warm, enthusiastic or convincing. Of course it's worth pointing out that not everyone who has these anxieties about their smile (or personal appearance in general) is justified in their fears and that more generally too much is read into the nature of a smile or other aspects of body language.

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Dr-David-Banner

I have a strong feeling Paul McCartney's son James in on the spectrum. I will upload an interview where you will see James is hardly ever smiling. I don't mean that in any way to knock James as basically it's the same for me - rigid body posture, staring into space expression and monotone voice. I just don't connect at all. Also there were serious family issues before James settled down to do music so clearly he suffered stress and the family couldn't work it out. For all I know he may have been diagnosed already in private.
Notice how the female interviewer is using her face, her smiling and body movements to communicate on a social basis yet James is sort of talking into a vacuum (as many of us here will be familiar with). You can see how NT's are equipped to communicate not only intellectually but socially with all the eye movements, body language, smiling.
If true, James is not the only AS musician as one of the Jefferson Airplane members had AS as well as possibly Bob Dylan. I should add I think James is very talented in his own right as a musician.
Notice too the blinking from James (I am also a blinker) yet the female interviewer doesn't blink and is also very relaxed. In fact, you get a sense she's giving out subtle, sexy language which I too have experienced from women as a musician and, like James, I don't react either with similar warm smiles or relaxed body posture. In my case the girl was also attractive and I recall she would literally twist her hips and flutter her eyebrows.
For the offspring of superstars, I guess you can get girlfriends regardless but if this were a normal date, the whole social communication would be lopsided and probably destined to fail. Women really notice our social based communication so for many of us male autists, relationships are hard going.

 

Edited by Dr-David-Banner

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