As an Aspie, I tend to miss a lot of non-verbal communication. I know it’s there, and sometimes I can get a handle on it, but generally all I get is what’s said. I know what non-verbal communication involves – facial expression, body language, gestures, veiled metaphors, tone of voice – and I’m quite good at using it myself when acting, but picking up on it? No, sorry.
Sometimes it’s easier when someone’s being obvious – really obvious, with a direct intent and meaning – with their body language or expressions, but most of the time people aren’t obvious. They’re subtle, calm, nuanced. And so I miss a lot of context and subtext with what people are saying. On the other hand, there’s this – come on, is that supposed to be scary? Intimidating? Sorry, no, that just makes me laugh.
I said I can be quite good at non-verbal communication when acting. When in a role, I know what that person should be doing, I know their motivations and objectives, I can replicate what I know what they would be doing in that situation. What I apparently can’t do is apply that sort of thing to my own personal interactions with other people in real life. I don’t even know how I come across to people: Didactic? Needy? Arrogant? Pretentious? Insufferable know-it-all?
Pretty much the only thing I know for certain is that I’m hopeless at flirting and/or picking up on being flirted-with. I’m sure part of that can be blamed on going to an all-boys’ school and hence not having any practice at talking to girls during my formative years, but quite a significant amount of not-getting-it must surely be the result of my Aspie inability to pick up on non-verbal communication.