How Autism Affects Socialization

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Last Updated: Jul 28, 2021

When most people think of someone with autism, a specific idea of someone they know in their daily life comes to mind. This may be withdrawn, someone who misses social cues or has trouble expressing themself clearly. Although no two people’s experience with autism is the same, it can’t be denied that a lot of the behavior evident from it is social.

Autism spectrum disorder is more than just a lack of social skills; it profoundly affects socialization and interpersonal relationships. Here’s what autism does and how people cope with it.


Many autistic people describe social situations as though they’re in a fishbowl. They feel like they’re’ bobbing along and doing everything correctly but that they don’t understand what’s going on outside of their space. They’re disconnected from how others experience emotions and divorced in how they should expect others to react. This doesn’t mean they feel nothing or that they’re locked away in their minds, but instead that they’re trying to figure it out, but it’s not adding up yet. This distancing emotionally keeps them safe from negative feedback while also allowing them to relax without performing conversation or behaviors for everyone else’s comfort.

Emotional Dysregulation

Meltdowns are a common talking point when it comes to autism. People have seen the shouting matches, the red faces, and the breakdowns of tears that all sum up an overwhelmed autistic person. Not have the tools to navigate these sensations and feelings can leave autistic people feeling lost and upset and embarrassed later when the symptoms have ended. How people react to them while they’re in this state can inform how they act in the future.

Misreading Social Cues

Social cues can be rugged for most children and some adults, but autism takes it a step further. People like to assume that this means that all autistic people are painfully literal, but that’s not true either. People with autism tend to take things at face value and put in the amount of energy and attention needed. Parents use autism services to help show their children how to catalog and understand how others experience the world.

Sensory Overload and Overstimulation

Although many don’t consider overstimulation reactions as part of socialization, it’s vital to understand how and why an autistic person reacts in any social situation. Many people with autism have a specific limit to how much input they can take at one time. If someone is talking to them while television is playing, and a radio is playing music just a couple of feet away, it can be incredibly overwhelming for some.

For others, their overstimulation can come in the sensations of touch, sight, smell, or even taste. Unable to process all of this information, many people with autism will either shut down or blow up. An inability to recognize and stop it when they start getting overwhelmed causes many fallouts and blow-ups that are hard on autistic people. The right kind of therapy can make it easier, but these problems persist and harm the public image of people with autism.

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