I Live By The Rules – My Own Rules (Autism and Social Rules)

I live and learn by rules.

Social situations are unnatural to me and simple social skills that “normal people” learned naturally were completely lost on me growing up. The way I learned social skills was a bit different and required a lot of trials and errors.

Every time I had a social blunder I made a rule, to try and not duplicate the same mistake again. Sometimes the rules I make are not quite perfect so I have to tweak and change them.

Below are 10 of my  own social rules:

  1. Say hi to people when they look at you.
  2. Smile at people when they look at you and look friendly. (My resting natural face is serious and can be off-putting.)
  3. If a next step is needed compliment something about the person in front of you or add a quick comment about the weather.
  4. Act friendly in public – smile and laugh when people tell jokes. (I forget that laughing on the inside doesn’t count when you have a blank flat face.)
  5. Don’t bring up your special interests unless someone else asks or is on that topic.
  6. Be careful NOT to talk too much. (I limit myself to one or two sentences at a time to give people time to talk.
  7. Wait until you hear a LONG pause before talking unless someone asked you a question. (I NEVER know when it is my tern to talk – the pauses sound like eternities and I still end up interrupting even when I don’t mean to.)
  8. If somebody turns their body away from you let them leave and don’t keep talking. (I also have a hard time ending conversations.)
  9. Let the other people talk and practice listening.
  10. Try to remember what you friends have going on in their lives. Remember to bring theses things into conversation if timing is appropriate. For example – if your friend tells you they have a sick loved one – don’t forget to ask them how that person is doing the next time you see them.

36 thoughts on “I Live By The Rules – My Own Rules (Autism and Social Rules)”

  1. it would be cool to read them ranked in order of importance. 5 is too strict (in my opinion,) and 2 is great to practice, but 10 is still important even if 2 is impossible for someone–

    you could have “fun” trying to categorize them too: 5 is for social conformity, 2 is for social harmony, and 10 is to care for someone. obviously social conformity and social harmony are related, but theyre not the same thing. i wouldnt ever want to live in a society where conformity and harmony were the same thing– and thankfully it isnt always.


  2. Wish I had this list years ago. I still interrupt but only because I’m excited and relating to what the person is saying. I expect them to interrupt me and like a tennis match, we bat the conversation between us…sigh…I know, it’s wrong….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Socializing is such a complex skill…even for neuro-typical people. For you, as I’ve seen with J, it must be even more convoluted.

    In J’s case I can tell when he is happy or find something humorous because I know him, but other people are put off by is usual facial expression. Other times he smiles, and it is completely out of order in terms of the situation. Reading emotion in people’s faces is a struggle for him: I have to say, sign and facially reflect that I am upset, and even then he sometimes doesn’t entirely get it.

    Of course, the other side of the coin is that sometimes he expresses his joy in ways that are absolutely baffling to us: happy, for some inexplicable reason, translates to “hit myself very hard on the head” to J.

    You are truly amazing. You help me so much. I tell my husband it’s like a window has been opened that used to be painted shut… Thank you so much!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh my gosh I love this! Your post helped me realize, “Me Too!(TM)” lol 😉 I didn’t realize it before, but reading your post illuminated for me that I have done this, too 😘

    Liked by 3 people

  5. So much yes to this. I wobble between being socially awkward to very confident and I still have to run through those rules. Remembering to ask people how they are, how their families are, etc. is difficult for me. I read something awhile back that talked about how our culture says, “Hi, how are you?” but doesn’t want know the real answer. We’re expected to say “Fine” or “Good” or “I’m well,” but honesty is frowned upon. I took that to heart–and stopped greeting people that way unless I genuinely wanted to know.

    Society’s rules are very weird.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m not autistic, just socially awkward, but I might print those rules out and hang them next to my desk, that’s pretty useful! 🙂
    Oh and also overdoing 10 to the point where you remember what your friends did 5 years ago or so apparently makes one look creepy 😉


  7. Years ago my wife told me she couldn’t handle my being on the move all of the time (I was a software consultant), and asked me to go perm/ft ; so I did. My wife told me that since I was going to be in an office with the same people all of the time, it was important for me to follow these rules; (1) if somebody spoke, stop speaking, (2) listen to what the other person said, (3) don’t speak until the other person stops speaking.

    I thought I was already following all of my wife’s rules, and had been for decades. I became aware at an early age that I needed to follow rules for conversations (and other social interactions), so I was already pretty practiced in following a set of rules. I was surprised when my wife inferred that I was still talking over people.

    I think I have conversations down now, but I still get called out once in a while for talking over people.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “I was surprised when my wife inferred that I was still talking over people.
      I think I have conversations down now, but I still get called out once in a while for talking over people.” That is the part people don’t get. They think it is simple to just follow the social rules once we know what they are. I still mess up when I THINK I follow the social conversational rules correctly. I THINK it is my time to talk but it never is. I try SO hard not to interrupt and be rude but I still do…. and sadly that is the best I have in me….

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Wish there was a love button for this post. The special interest, ending the conversation, and knowing when someone is done are always really hard for me. I generally know when to talk, but not when to stop. Ramble-centric here

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s hard for someone like to do these things, even though you and I have the exact same things we work on. I’m sure you’re far better at them than I. I just read this and thought, “Stop writing what’s in my head!” Even the words in parenthesis. No one ever asked/asks about me, so I have a habit now, of just telling about myself a little bit, to see if that person would take an interest in the person they are speaking to. I also had to learn, that people only care about themselves, so it makes sense that they would talk about themselves and then leave.

    AnonymouslyAutistic, to me, from what I’ve read about you, that you’ve shared, you don’t see autistic to me. You seem like just a regular person. Maybe I’m autistic as well. You just see like a regular person. Thanks sharing your posts.


  10. On Fri, Dec 2, 2016 at 1:19 AM Anonymously Autistic wrote:

    > > Dear Anna,

    > Thank you for the reminder that social skills are something we all have to > practice continually. Your rules are a reminder that we all need to be > courteous in any situation.

    > Thank you,

    > Gary > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > anonymouslyautistic posted: “I live and learn by rules. > > Social situations are unnatural to me and simple social skills that > “normal people” learned naturally were completely lost on me growing up. > The way I learned social skills was a bit different and required a lot of > trials and e” > > > > > > > > > >

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I think in some cultures talking at the same time, out of turn, interrupting whatever is not such a big deal. By way of contrast, in India I recall going to social events and for the most part people sat around In a circle and almost said nothing.

    Thanks for your honesty in this blog. I think the DSM (other post) might do well to explore some of the extra abilities that those with so-called autism may possess or come to possess. Just my view. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

      1. You got it! Was thinking it looked like a “can’t do” list. However, some of these gifts and abilities may not be all too common. Hence the challenge. They won’t list things they can’t recognize. Again, just my two bits. Happy holidays! 🎆👼

        Liked by 1 person

  12. There has been a lot of moving in my life, I now live in my 11th city, 5th country. So my life has needed me to meet and talk to many new people. I am in my forties now, and I have been constantly working on and fine tuning my social talk algorithm for 20 years now. Much of it has become automatic and works so well for one-to-one meets or very small gatherings that no one finds anything odd about me. But it is, in reality, an on-going process, I am always learning. But many things, once learnt, can’t be unlearned like a window was opened for a few minutes letting light into a dark room, and even if is dark again, I actually know and remember what I saw. I don’t know how else to explain it. It is also different from shyness and intraversion; the social difficulties arise out of many different additional issues.


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