Azekeil (azekeil) wrote,
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Gender and Autists

This article was taken from ninneviane and modified some time ago. I finally got around to finishing it off a while ago but I didn't have time to post it, so here it is now instead. The italics, added by me, are supposed to describe how a person with some autistic symptoms might differ.

GENDER and Autist WARS: Multi-Tasking, Lying, Point Scoring, Communication and Attempting to Understand the Outside World.
Taken from the This Morning web-site (and modified without permission)

Multi-Tasking
Most women can't understand that men can only do one thing at a time. Most autists can't understand men or women. A woman can read while chatting on the phone, so why can't he? The reason is that a man's brain is compartmentalised and specailised. Autists brains are like a big box that they're stuck inside. They've learned to look out through the slits and piece together life around them in some form, but it's usually an incomplete picture in a few important ways. In simpler terms it's as if he has little rooms throughout his brain and each room contains at least one main function that operates independently of the rest. This means he has a 'one thing at a time' approach to everything he does in life. For autists, this usually means to the exclusion of interaction with other humans too. This single-minded, focused approach may seem limiting to women but it allows men to become a dedicated specialist or expert on one subject. The same goes for autists. That's why 96% of the world's technical experts are male - they are excellent at performing one skill.

Understanding the male 'one thing at a time' mentality is one of the most important things a woman can ever learn about men. Understanding the autists' inability to grasp most basic social interactions is the most important thing anyone can learn about autists. Take an MRI scan of a man's brain when he's reading and you'll find he is virtually deaf. I would imagine the same could be said of autists. Remember you should never talk to a man while he's having a wet shave - unless your objective is to hurt him! Most women can do several unrelated things at the same time. Brain scans reveal that a woman's brain is never disengaged, it's always active even when she is asleep. Most men can become completely dazed and confused when a woman multi tasks during conversation. Men are amazed at how a woman can talk about one subject, switch in mid-sentence to another and then go back to the first topic. Most autists will assume you understand the context in which they are talking about something, and may get very frustrated through the communication breakdown when this is not the case.

Men may be able to find their way from A to B via a maze of backstreets, but put them in the middle of a group of women discussing a number of topics at the same time and they get lost. Autists exhibit this behaviour except usually more extreme. The key to communicating with men is that men take turns when talking. If you want to make a man feel at ease when talking to him don't interrupt. And if you want a successful, stress-free outcome, the best strategy is to only give men one thing to think about at a time and most importantly never ask a man a question during lovemaking. For autists the best thing to do is get to know them so you can being to predict the contexts they are coming from and be able to respond appropriately.

Lying
Everyone lies. Although generally autists don't see the point of lying (or telling the truth for that matter either). Lies are told as a way of allowing us to live together because as humans we'd prefer to hear subtle distortions of the truth rather than the cold hard facts. So when was the last time you lied? Maybe you didn't actually lie, you just let someone make a wrong assumption based on what you did or didn't tell them.

There are 4 basic types of lies:
The White Lie - stops us from hurting others with the painful truth.
The Beneficial Lie - used by a person who intends to help others.
The Malicious Lie - set out to destroy the character of their victims. The autist may often be accused of this but in nearly all cases the 'lie' is taken in the wrong context.
The Deceptive Lie - most dangerous of all because the liar intends to harm the person for his own benefit.

Why do we lie?
We lie for 2 reasons - to make a gain or avoid pain. Autists don't usually see anything wrong with this. They don't think it's bad because they don't understand the repercussions of their actions. But with a little practice it's easy to recognise the behavioural signals that each sex gives out and more importantly you can learn to decode them. An autist who doesn't believe they're doing wrong can be very difficult to detect a lie in. Scientific research shows that men and women tell about the same number of lies. But it's the content of their lies that differs.
Women - Women tend to lie to make others feel better and to keep their relationships safe and find it the most difficult to lie about their feelings. A woman will tell someone that they like their outfit even though they hate it.
Men - Men lie to make themselves look good or to avoid an argument. To avoid lying a man will usually keep away from a person and will only lie if he is forced to give an opinion. This is more true of autists as well.

There are not many comments from here on in as for an autist the answers are mainly academic. The rest of the story is left in for interest and completeness' sake, however.

Spotting a lie:
Most women are good at spotting men's lies because of super-awareness of body language and voice signals. Therefore men get caught lying far more often than woman which makes it seem like men tell more lies when in fact they don't. The most common lies a man will tell a woman include "I'm not drunk"- this is an easy lie to pick up because he would only say it if he was drunk. Or "Sex with my ex was lousy". For men sex is one of life's constants - it's always good, no matter where or when [ed: who is the author?!]. If a man says sex with an ex was lousy, he's definitely lying.

Most lies can be detected because they involve emotions that show themselves as visual and verbal red lights. But the closer you are to a person, the harder it is to lie to them because of the emotions involved. A husband will have difficulty lying to his wife if he truly loves her but he'd have no difficulty lying to an enemy if he's captured in warfare. Most men know how difficult it is to tell even the smallest lie to a woman - face to face- without getting caught. So men don't waste your time telling a lie to her face to face. Call her on the phone or email her. Most women have less difficulty lying straight to a man's face and they can usually get away with it. Women are also very good at remembering what lie they told and who they told it to. Men usually forget their own lies.

A woman's ability to decipher a lie comes from her need to look after her babies and quickly assess the difference between pain, fear, hunger, sadness and happiness. She also needs to be able to rapidly assess the attitude of people who approach her nest - are they friendly or aggressive? Both men and women dramatically increase hand to face gestures when they are lying. Men's gestures are easier to spot because they are bigger than women's and men use more of them. Men and women smile just as much when they lie as when they tell the truth. A real smile comes fast and is symmetrical, a false comes slowly and isn't symmetrical. When people are trying to show an emotion that they don't feel, their facial expressions are not symmetrical.

How not to be lied to:

Uncross your legs, unfold your arms and lean back. That is make yourself open to the truth.
Invade their personal space. When you get close they will become uncomfortable and find it harder to lie.
Mirror their body language and posture. This establishes a rapport and they are less likely to lie to you.
Stay calm and never show any surprise or shock at anything they say. Treat everything they say with the same importance.
Don't react negatively to anything they say, the first time you do you will lose any chance of being told the truth.

Point Scoring
Most men are completely unaware that a woman keeps a secret point scoring system on their partner's overall performance in a relationship. Therefore men can become a victim of it without ever understanding where they have gone wrong. The number of points a man accumulates from his partner can directly affect the quality of his life at anytime.

When a man and woman decide to live together, they rarely discuss the fine details of how each will contribute to the relationship. Each silently assumes the other will continue giving what they have been giving or will behave in stereotypical roles - like their parents did. Men prefer to stand back and see the 'big picture' and make a small number of big contributions than be bogged down with a series of what to them seem like smaller less important ones. For example, a man may not bring his partner a gift very often but when he does he brings a big one.

Women's brains on the other hand are organised for the finer detail and they make a wide range of smaller decisions on the many intricate facets of a working relationship. A woman will allocate a point for every thing that their partner does in the relationship regardless of size, and two or more points for an intimate act of love. For example if a man buys a woman a single rose she will give him one point. But if he bought her one rose every week for six weeks then he would score six points. For the woman regular gifts of a single rose tell her she's always uppermost in his mind. Similarly if a man paints the house he scores one point. If he picks up his dirty clothes or tells her he loves her he also gets one point. In other words points are given for the number of actions taken not for the size, quality or outcome of a single action. 95% of all points awarded by women in a relationship are for everyday things that do or do not happen. With women it is the thought that counts.

Most men are completely unaware of how women score points because men simply do what they do in a relationship and don't consciously consider keeping score. For women, point scoring is done subconsciously, and all women intuitively understand how it works. This difference becomes the cause of many misunderstandings between men and women.

Women have long memories in contrast to men's short memories. She will say no to sex today because he yelled at her two months ago. Men will forget the positive things they did for you last week but they will also forget the positive things you did for them. When a woman feels the score is balanced in the man's favour it's unlikely she will even mention it. However when its in deficit she will become distant and angry and the couple's love life will fade.

A man usually has no idea about when the score in a relationship is uneven. A woman can let it get to 30 to 1 before she complains about it. Then she accuses him of doing nothing and he becomes confused and upset by her accusations. If a man kept a scoring system he wouldn't let it get to that stage. Once he felt the score was 3 to 1 he'd complain about him giving more and he'd want the score evened up. Similarly if a man kept score he would believe the bigger the action or the larger the gift the more points he should score. For men size matters whereas for women it's frequency!

Woman should encourage a man to do the little things she likes in a relationship and reward him when he does them. Men are not programmed to offer help, support or advice unless asked for it. If you don't ask men will assume everything is fine in the relationship.

What's the solution?
Men must remember that the small activities score about the same points as the bigger ones. You will get better scores for small things involving emotional support such as complimenting her appearance and helping with the dishes. If a man makes the effort to do the small things for his partner she will feel appreciated and will reciprocate thereby improving the quality of both their lives.

Communication
We've known for years that, compared to women, men aren't great conversationalists autists even less so. Girls start speaking earlier than boys and a 3 year old girl has twice the vocabulary of a 3 year old boy. For males speech and language were never critical brain skills. Males use fillers like "um" and "kinda" and they use only 3 tones of voice in comparison to a woman's 5 tones.

When a woman talks her speech centres are located on both sides of the brain and this is what makes women good conversationalists. With large areas to control speech, the rest of the brain is available for other tasks. This means she can do several different things at the same time while talking. Research shows that women can speak and listen at the same time whereas men can either speak or listen - most men can't do both at once.

A typical woman's brain is organised to speak 6-8000 words a day to communicate, compared to a man's 2-4000 words. This becomes very noticeable at the end of a working day when he arrives home because he's done his 4000. At the end of the day a woman wants to talk about her day and to burn up the words she hasn't used so she tells her partner everything that has happened to her throughout the day. Male brains are highly compartmentalised and have the ability to store and separate information. At the end of a day that has been full of problems a man's mono-tracking brain can file them away. The female brain doesn't store information in the same way - the problems keep going around in her head. The only way a woman can get rid of her problems is by talking. So when a woman talks at the end of the day, her objective is to discharge her problems, not to find conclusions or solutions. Men prefer to think over their problems and they will only speak or look animated when they are ready to communicate their decision.

Men talk mainly inside their heads because they don't have the same verbal capacity that women have to use words for external communication. When a woman sees a man staring out of a window, he is often having conversations with himself inside his head. When a women sees a man doing this she assumes he is bored and tries to talk to him or give him something to do. This results in the man becoming angry at the fact that he has been interrupted. Women perceive thinking aloud as being friendly and sharing but a man thinks she is giving him a list of problems to fix. He then becomes anxious and upset or tries to tell her what to do.

Men need to understand that when a woman talks, she is not expecting him to respond with solutions. She just wants him to listen however women need to understand that when a man doesn't talk, it doesn't mean that something's wrong.

Men's sentences are shorter than women's and are more structured. They have a simple opening, a clear point and a conclusion. The first rule of talking to a man is keep it simple! If you want to be convincing only give him one clear idea at a time. A woman's brain on the other hand is able to juggle several different subjects. This ability to multi-track is frustrating for a man because he can only handle one subject at a time. A woman may start talking about one subject, switch in mid-sentence to another and then without any warning, revert back to the first with a little bit of something completely different dropped in for good measure! If you want to communicate effectively with a man, a simple strategy is not to interrupt him when he is talking. He needs to get to the end of his sentence otherwise it seems pointless.

When a woman talks she uses indirect speech which means that she hints at what she wants - it's a female speciality building rapport with others by avoiding aggression or confrontation. This doesn't work with men as they don't understand the rules. Men use direct speech and use words sparingly. This means that they find the lack of structure in a woman's speech disconcerting. Men need to understand that indirect speech is part of a woman's brain wiring. To build a relationship with a woman, a man needs to listen effectively using listening sounds and engaging body language.

In order to make the most impact on a man, tell him what you want to talk about and when you want to talk about it. To motivate a man to take action, ask "will" or "would" questions to get commitment. Instead of saying "can you please take out the garbage?" say "will you please take out the garbage?"

A woman will use emotions to fight a man with while he keeps defining her words. To argue successfully a man needs to understand that a woman will use words that she doesn't mean, so he shouldn't take them seriously. When she says "you never take me out" or "you always do this". She doesn't actually mean 'never' or 'always'. A woman needs to learn that you have to argue logically with a man if you want to win and only give him one thought at a time. Similarly if men want to get on better with women they need to talk more. If people want to get on with autists they must learn that most of the time they are not doing something out of spite, it is out of an inability to understand/process human behaviour patterns. However, some actions will be purposeful and the skill is in differentiating them, coupled with knowledge of the autist in question. One must be careful in punishing young autists; even punishment can become a learned response so they simply expect the 'punishment' action to follow their undesireable action.
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