This entry comes to us from Louis Molnár. Louis is a business executive, politico, and community advocate. He lives in Toronto, Canada. You can find his Twitter page right here. Thank you, Louis!
We autistics have a reputation for being introverted and closed-off, but there are a great many of us that are naturally extroverted. It doesn’t mean that we don’t feel the social anxiety that is common with autistics, but extroverted autistics will very often push ourselves harder to get to a place where we can express ourselves. True, introverted autistics are more likely to appreciate the comfort level inherent in being left alone, but for extroverts we really want to get out there and be gregarious. And many of us are.
So what’s it like as an extroverted autistic? Well, little research has been done of the true social interactions with autistics. I’m not referring to the statistical research, but more on the social drive that is intrinsic to human beings as social animals. Because there aren’t many (if any) social mechanism studies about autistics, my personal experience is anecdotal — that is, based on what I’ve witnessed being out and about in the public as an ‘out’ autistic — and this perspective unfortunately has to be.
Those of us who are extroverts are more likely at a young age to study others and their behaviors. I personally adopted comedy, non-sexual flirtation, and high energy as a means of putting others at ease. By helping others get to a comfortable place with me, I myself was then more comfortable and could be more of myself without fear. It’s a strange logic, but this formula has aided many of us well.
My personal journey to an authentic extroverted self was not easy, that’s for sure. There were quite a few roadblocks on this path: I stuttered and stammered as a child; sensory overload of all kinds was a thing too. Speech and theater classes helped with the impediments and expressions that most other people seem to pick up subconsciously. But all that work paid off. Over time these courses built up my confidence and soon I was giving presentations to rooms full of people at work, and this further bolstered a sense of accomplishment that made me want to do more.
Dating for extroverted autistics is also a bit of fun. And I use the word ‘fun’ in jest, mind you. Guys that I’ve dated have found a stark difference between the person they meet and the person at home. It’s not just me; a lot of extroverted autistics I’ve met have expressed this challenge. The fact is that even though we’re extroverted, being out in sensory-overloading places is exhausting. Work socializing is exhausting, even. We just need a break and sometimes a bit of a nap to recharge. This is a common thing among autistics and something we just accept. But for our partners they begin to question whether we’re bipolar when they see our behavior as an on-off switch. From the outside I guess it can look that way, but like many others we extroverts tend to be people-pleasers. We don’t mind our mental health and take the breaks that are good self-care, and this makes for what appears to be erratic expressions. In my adult life I discovered yoga and Tibetan Buddhist meditation, and boy what a difference it made!
So yeah, extroverted autistics do exist. We blend in with the general population more easily — something we call ‘stealthing’ in the autism world. I’m personally quite out and proud though, and love being an extrovert!