Neurodivergent People Share The Social Norms That Feel Weird To Them
Constantin Wenning on Unsplash

Social norms—those unwritten rules that extroverts excel at and most neurotypical people at least understand.

However those labeled socially awkward often struggle to understand social norms.


Redditor AdPatient167 asked:

"To ADHD, autistic and neurodivergent people, what unwritten rules or social norms feel weird to you?"

Touch

"Being expected to touch strangers."

"It took a long time to get used to touching family members or having them touch me."

"Handshakes, high fives, pats on the back and I just met you?"

"Nope, nope, nope..."

- Lakotagrl

Goodbye

"Having to say goodbye to everyone individually before leaving a party or family gathering."

- yskpodcast

"There is nothing I hate more. It makes me so anxious."

- jubeeeeeeeeeee

"I will tell one person and then disappear."

- mudderofdogs

"My autistic son does this. Sometimes I'll see him just sliding out of the room when no one is looking. Exit stage left."

- ForcrimeinItaly

Frenemies

"Friendliness between people who knowingly dislike each other. Being civil I can understand but acting like best pals is not something I can do."

- CircleToShoot

"Even better when people say they hate fake people…then proceed to be fake as fuck with each other."

- whitetailsnail

"I hate fake people on a personal level but for some reason get great joy out of matching the energy of someone being fake with me."

"Like I get to practice acting?? Am I the main character in the moment??"

"I also am aware this behavior is called mirroring and is a behavior a lot of autistic (particularly women) pick up."

- Srirachaballet

Conversation

"When its appropriate to 'take your turn' in a conversation."

"The end result is I either interrupt people thinking a pause is the end of their chain of thought, or wait too long and someone else chimes in and 15 minutes later the conversation has moved on but I'm frustrated to hell unable to let go of the thing I wanted to say."

- DarkestEmber

Silence

"Lack of comfortable silence. The problem isn’t my lack of conversation, it’s the other person’s inability to sit with themselves."

"It makes me feel like I always have to be the entertainment."

- ironicplatypus84

"Yes, why can't people cherish silence? What is the meaning of conversation if you are just spitting whatever comes to your mouth?

"Is it conversation or 'fill in the words' competition?"

- KatanaLaser

"A while ago I sort of just decided that if I didn't have anything to say, I would just stop talking and see what happens. Best decision I've ever made."

"It's not my place to fill the world's silences and silence has never made me feel awkward, its heaven! So I'm just letting the other person do the work now instead of me trying to keep it going."

"I'm allowed to take up space in this world just as I am, even if its glorious, silent, autistic space! The amount of energy I've saved is amazing as well."

- treejumper1997

Genuine

"Not being honest and direct with people. It not being socially appropriate to share your own stories relating to your friends."

"I also have the tendency to immediately decide someone is my friend and begin to treat them as such."

- rneatpie98

"This is what I totally don’t get either. People always talk about stuff that seems superficial."

"How’s your life going, what are your hopes and dream, what scares you, what are you excited about, how’s your soul. Maybe that’s prying but I feel like I want to share those things with people, but I feel like that’s taboo for some reason these days."

- slade870

Time

"Telling someone you'll be 'just a minute'."

"No you won't. You're lying."

"Now I'm waiting for a minute for you and it's actually been 30 minutes and I could've been doing something else. Just say how long you will be."

- cynicalkerfuffle

In The Zone

"I get super annoyed when someone distracts me when I’m in the zone. Conversely, if I’m distracted and ready to do stuff I absolutely hate waiting."

"Basically I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t follow my exact, unpredictable mental schedule."

- peakfreak18

"Wait is that an ADHD thing, because I have never heard a more absolutely perfect description of how things are in my head?"

"I’ve caught myself being frustrated so many times because people don’t immediately match my energy when I’m trying to do something (like leave the house or buy groceries) but will also become borderline irate if someone tries to talk to me while I’m doing something unimportant like reading a news article."

- Throwaway47321

Advice

"Stop telling me to focus or get organized. If I could do that, you wouldn’t have to tell me to do that."

"Just leave me to my chaos and stuff will get done. Doing things the way you want me to will only stress me out and will make stuff not get done."

- Wilhelt21

Meetings

"Having to start meetings with 5 minutes of small talk. Can we just work please so we can end the meeting faster?"

- JDFighterwing

"Just meetings in general really, most of what is said can be sent to everyone in a concisely written email."

- Aggravating_Ad5989

"The only thing more irritating than meetings that could have been an email are the people who never respond to emails, forcing us to have meetings that could have been emails."

- MaFSotL

While some of these sentiments aren't restricted to neurodivergent individuals, many people with ASD or ADHD can relate.

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