ASD individuals with avoidant personality tend exhibit the following traits:
- Avoids social situation and activities that involve significant interpersonal contact because of fears of criticism, disapproval, or rejection
- Drinks before social situations in order to soothe nerves
- Is inhibited in new interpersonal situations because of feelings of inadequacy
- Has very low self-esteem due to a long history of making “social mistakes” (usually unintentionally)
- Is unusually reluctant to take personal risks or to engage in any new activities because they may prove embarrassing
- Tends to be easily offended by even "neutral" comments from others (especially his/her spouse)
- Is unwilling to get involved with people unless certain of being liked
- Shows restraint within intimate relationships because of the fear of being shamed or ridiculed
- Stays quiet or hides in the background in order to escape notice and avoid chit chat
- Views self as socially inept, personally unappealing, or inferior to others
- Has intense worry before an upcoming social event (e.g., a large family gathering)
For people on the autism spectrum with avoidant personality, evaluating for the presence of psychiatric disorders (e.g., depression, drug/alcohol abuse, anxiety disorders) is extremely important. Also, because “anxiety tendencies” are often found in other family members, a family psychiatric history is beneficial.
A cycle for the individual with avoidant tendencies looks like this:
==> low social/emotional intelligence due to ASD ==> results in poor social skills ==> results in social mistakes/failures ==> results in teasing, rejection, ridicule by others ==> results in avoiding social situations as much as possible
Quick tips for people with ASD & Avoidant Personality—
• Work on your communication skills. Good relationships depend on clear, emotionally-intelligent communication. If you find that you have trouble connecting to others, learning the basic skills of emotional competency can help.
• Take a social skills class or an assertiveness training class. These classes may be offered at your nearest community college.
• Learn how to control the physical symptoms of social anxiety through relaxation techniques and breathing exercises.
• Get adequate sleep. When you’re sleep deprived, you’re more vulnerable to anxiety. Being well rested will help you stay calm in social situations.
• Face the social situations you fear in a gradual, systematic way, rather than avoiding them.
• Challenge negative, unhelpful thoughts that trigger and fuel social anxiety, replacing them with more balanced views.