I have been doing a bit of ‘research and development’, which I probably will be doing for the rest of my life, on conversing: starting conversations, keeping them going, and exiting awkward situations.
Bad at Small Talk
This is a topic that will take me forever to master as well as most people on the spectrum.
Conversations are one of the hardest things for people with ASD. We are awesome at answering questions, but asking them? Not really. The hardest thing for me my whole life has been trying to start a conversation. I really just don’t know how to begin because I’m bad at small talk and it never gets me anywhere. Even when I practice it with someone that I’m not really comfortable with, we both get kind of lost after the second or third exchange.
What Conversations Feel Like
I’m not the best person for advice, but I certainly can tell you what it’s like for someone with autism to experience this.
- It is incredibly frustrating!
- Some of us are analyzers.
We’re bad at thinking fast of new things to ask or say, because we are still thinking about the right thing to say. We are envious of those who can just do this with no effort and are ready to move on to the next topic of discussion.
Develop an Exit Strategy
When someone is talking to me about a topic that makes me uncomfortable, I look for ways to get out of the conversation. I will often mention something else, excuse myself, say I have a headache and leave the conversation. The headache/stomach pain/physical symptoms excuses work every time!
Change the Subject
Another thing I do is change the topic to something that interests me. If drastic measures need to be taken, I just say I need to excuse myself for a moment. I may say I need to use the bathroom (in order to get out of an extremely uncomfortable conversation).
It is also sometimes hard when two people are bad talkers. I usually tend to be friendly with a very outgoing person so they can lead all the time, it really helps. With two shy people, I make an extra push to be the initiator. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Shy people require patience.
I am learning new tips and tricks to conversing successfully with both my peers and adults. Usually, the trouble comes with my peers, not with adults. It’s easiest for us on the spectrum to usually converse with people older or younger, just not those who are our age. As I learn more successful tips, I will be sharing with you!