Differences Between Autism And Shyness

Differences between autism and shyness

Shy and autistic people share some degree of difficulty interacting with others in social communication situations.but there are enormous differences between them.

First, shyness is a personality trait that would more accurately be described as low extraversion, which may additionally result in a lower incidence of positive emotions.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder whose clinical expression falls somewhere along a spectrum of severity.. It includes a succession of characteristic symptoms and sometimes presents with intellectual disability.

In this article we will detail the differences between autism and shyness. With this objective we will describe the characteristics of both and highlight everything that differentiates them, since they are independent phenomena.

Differences between autism and shyness

The first difference, which is fundamental for understanding this matter, is that Autism constitutes a persistent neurodevelopmental disorder with anatomical correlates in the central nervous system.while shyness is a personality trait that does not erode personal and/or social autonomy with the same degree of intensity.

We proceed to detail the fundamental characteristics of autism.

What is autism spectrum disorder?

Autism was described by Leo Kanner in the middle of the last century; understanding it as a profound alteration in the processes of social interaction, an inflexible desire to preserve one’s own identity, an abnormal connection with objects and a verbal expression characterized by mutism. Although many of these attributes are maintained in the current definitions of the problem, others have been qualified in light of scientific evidence.

It is important to mention that autism presents different levels of severity, since it is a spectrum and not a monolithic condition. Along these lines, grade 1 can be distinguished (moderate communicative difficulty and restrictive behaviors in a single context), grade 2 (deficit in initiating social contact and behavioral inflexibility) and grade 3 (minimal interaction with others and extreme rigidity of behavior, with serious disturbance in the process of changing the attentional focus).

All symptoms must begin in the first months of life, although they are often evident more clearly when the child begins to participate in situations that involve special social and cognitive demand, such as academic ones. This early onset, without any noticeable regression with respect to the previous acquisition of maturational milestones, allows it to be differentiated from childhood disintegrative disorder (which breaks out at two years of age and erodes normal development up to that point).

1. Communication problems

People with autism They may express difficulties in maintaining bonds that are based on emotional reciprocity., like friendship. They may approach others through approach strategies that are perceived as strange or abnormal, since they do not resemble the usual mechanisms through which the communication process begins. This can contribute to the social fact not being resolved adequately or satisfactorily.

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There also tends to be a kind of lack of coordination between verbal and non-verbal behavior. For example, eye contact is often impoverished, despite being an important element for the transmission of emotional information. Basic understanding of gestures and faces, particularly when they express an affective state, may also be substantially altered. This difficulty deprives the person of essential contextual clues to understand the intention of others.

There is also an important tendency towards literality in the understanding of spoken discourse, so that proverbs or idioms are not captured in a metaphorical sense, but in a purely textual sense. It is for this reason that concreteness is sought in the communication process, with a preference for the use of verbal formulas that minimize the abstraction of the message that is intended to be transmitted.

In the most severe cases, a social behavior can be seen in which symbolic play disappears, which is one that distances itself from objective experience, compromising the possibility of participating in recreational spaces with peers. The behavior would not conform to the demands of the framework in which the communication is framed, and difficulty would be evident in meeting the expectations projected by society in the different contexts in which the person participates.

2. Restrictive and repetitive patterns of behavior

People with autism may exhibit repetitive or repetitive behaviors., as well as restricted interests that limit their adaptation to the environment. The most common thing is that they refer restrictive attention to what is interesting to them, absorbing its resources and displacing the rest of the things to a second order of relevance. Thus, a close bond can be forged with objects, on which a rigid relationship of use and exploitation is established.

Ecosymptoms may also arise, which involve the repetition of acts (echopraxias) or words (echolalia) that are perceived in others. In other cases, idiosyncratic language is used, devoid of any standard of grammatical consensus, riddled with neologisms or syntactic structures that are only fully known to those who live with the person daily. Stereotypies, among which rocking stands out, are common and represent a form of self-stimulation.

Finally, they may be attracted or repelled by the color, shape, or texture of certain objects; as well as by their movement patterns or arrangement in space. Sometimes they respond to these stimuli by showing a vehement rejection, or they find themselves trapped by their properties to the point of remaining absorbed in their contemplation for a long time, reducing the degree of reaction to other external situations (such as attempts to reclaim their attention).

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The need for structure can be transferred to the spatial and temporal coordinates of the environment, seeking a predictability that tries to impose a concrete logic on the uncertain everyday life. This directly implies a tendency to force strict habits for the development of day-to-day activities, which in parallel translates into deep discomfort when some unexpected change occurs. For this same reason, transitions (such as moving or changing schools) are experienced in a distressing way.

3. Cognitive alterations

People with autism may have some degree of cognitive impairment., especially in executive functions. This is a higher order domain, related to the basic organization and regulation of behavior and/or thought.

It depends largely on the prefrontal cortex; which coordinates brain structures such as the premotor cortex, basal ganglia, thalamus, hypothalamus, hippocampus, amygdala or cerebellum.

Below are some of the cognitive functions that have been studied most frequently in the case of autism, through research that explored the specific profile of neuropsychological impairment. All of these alterations can occur even in cases in which intelligence is preserved, and are an essential element to differentiate those who present autistic traits from those who have a personality characterized by shyness.

3.1. Attention

Attention is the ability to maintain the focus of awareness on an element of the environment, as well as to filter relevant information or inhibit information that is not relevant. In the case of autism spectrum disorder, alterations have been observed in vigilance processes (maintaining attention for a prolonged period of time), as well as in the selection of relevant stimuli and the discarding of accessories.

3.2. Troubleshooting

The impact of planning and sequencing processes, which are basic tools for solving problems, has been observed with some frequency. These difficulties are associated with the projection towards immediacy, as well as the feeling of emotional overflow that emerges in the face of indefinite or ambiguous situations. This deficit compromises autonomy and decision making.

3.3. Mental flexibility

Mental flexibility is the ability to adapt to the demands of different tasks that occur almost immediately, and that imply the need to use different strategies quickly and efficiently. In the case of autism, rigidity is seen in the cognitive process required to maintain activity in changing environments, or in which the demands of the situation cannot be anticipated.

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3.4. inhibitory control

Inhibitory control is the ability to ignore the impulse to issue a response to an environmental situation that precipitates it, or to stop a behavior that has already been launched within a chain of causes and effects. It represents the essential function for the regulation of the emotional state, tolerance for frustration and the balanced analysis of conflict situations.

3.5. mentalistic skills

These skills involve the ability to be aware of the mental processes that are unique to the person, and that are different from those of others. When they are intact, it is possible to monitor the flow of internal experience, and differentiate it from that of the rest of the individuals. It involves recognizing the uniqueness of the people with whom you interact, including their motivations and the level of knowledge they have about the issue being addressed in a conversation.

What is shyness

Shyness is a preference for situations that do not involve social interaction, along with the experience of discomfort. in contexts in which this has to be carried out.

It must be differentiated from social anxiety or phobia (hyperactivation and apprehensive anticipation of current or future situations behind which some judgment lies), schizoid disorder (disinterest in relating to others) and avoidant disorder (fear of criticism and avoidance of contacts). interpersonal).

Compared to autism, shy people have some difficulty when dealing with others, but they are aware of the rules that govern this type of situation and can adopt them without problem in cases where they manage to gain sufficient confidence. They also do not present any type of restrictive interest or behavioral rigidity, nor a specific alteration of cognition or intellectual capacity.

These are situations that share an apparent alteration in the way in which the communicative act occurs, but that profoundly disagree about how and why. Shyness does not have any degree of pathology and should never be considered as suggestive of it in itself, but rather of the extensive range in which the personality of a human being can manifest itself.

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