August 25, 2018

Body Language 101: The Overview

 As a person with Asperger's syndrome, one of the biggest challenges I faced at a young age was understanding body language. I could not tell when someone was telling a joke or if they were being serious. The constant misunderstanding often led to a lot of frustration for myself and the other person. I would occasionally get some advice from my friends about certain social cues. My lack of understanding seemed to have caused them to grow annoyed with me. It often caused fractures in my friendships at a young age. When I was in eighth grade, I realized that I needed to start researching body language. It was difficult to find accurate information on this topic. It took several years, until I reached college, for me to develop a simple understanding. Still, I have second thoughts on my ability to translate correctly.
                My major challenge of understanding body language is the breaking down of physical cues to communicate non-verbally, consciously or unconsciously.  It can be difficult to explain the struggle of having to learn these cues so late when they are assumed to be understood by all. When I started my research, I received a surprising mixed response. While my parents were very supportive about my research, I was surprised when there was some backlash from some of my peers. A frequent complaint I heard was that I should not have to do this kind of research. In their minds, I should have already understood their body language because we were friends.
                Unfortunately, there is a consistent assumption that most people can understand body language. The issue with this mindset is that autistic people struggle to learn body language cannot be understood by neurotypical people. This has created some difficulties in communication.  I have created this series to help bridge that gap. 'Body Language 101' is a series that breaks down the most common struggles in body language. Each article and video will address a different aspect of body language. They will provide advice, explanations, and insights. These topics will include:   

          Eye contact is one of the more well- known challenges for people with Asperger's/Autism. The most common use of eye contact is to show interest in what a person is saying in a conversation. However, this can be a stressful task for a person with Asperger's/Autism. This article will provide advice on how to improve maintaining eye contact in a non- stressful manner.
          Facial Expressions are used to express the emotions of a person. However, they can be tricky to read for several reasons. The main reason is that people can hide their emotions to a degree with their facial expressions, with some being better than others. This will be a series of videos showing the different facial expressions used for different emotions.
          Body Posture is another way most people express their emotions- similar to facial expressions. However, body posture can be more nuanced in expressing these thoughts, revealing rather how the person desires to present themselves. These can be harder to pick up and even harder to hide. This will also be a series of videos breaking down different body postures.

                 It is important to note that this series is meant to be a general guide for body language. Every person has some differences in how they portray their emotional state. Body language is a tricky thing to translate. I will try my best to cover as much ground as possible in each article and video. I will be posting a new article of this series twice a month. If there is a topic that you wish to see covered, but has not been yet, please make your pledge at my Pateron account-
Thank you for reading! See you next week!

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