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social identity
  • Lixina
    Posts: 289
    I've been reading over some of Elizabeth Newson's writings and realize that she thinks the central deficit in PDA is lack of a clear identity. This sounds strange to me because I feel like if anything I know myself better than most people. I see many fellow students who aren't sure what they want to do with their lives - some haven't even picked a major, a friend of mine who's also majoring in psychology isn't sure which area of psychology to research, whereas I've known what my career should be since I was about 15 or so. I also know exactly what my strengths and weaknesses are, whereas many young adults seem to have a fuzzier idea of that.
    Part of this is because I've researched so much about the autism spectrum and applied it to myself, but mostly that's given a vocabulary to what I already knew. For example I always knew that I would get interested in something and it would get an almost addictive intensity for awhile, and then my interest would shift - but now I know to call that obsessive interests, an autistic trait.
    The one thing is that for a long time, I never compared myself to anyone else. I didn't realize I was different from other kids because it didn't occur to me that I should have anything in common with them. It's only very recently that I've ever felt like I truly belong within a social group - first by identifying myself as autistic, and then as PDA. And it wasn't the sudden 'this is me' that most late-diagnosed autistic people describe. I spent quite awhile researching, then gradually started recognizing that what I was researching resembled myself.
  • Well certainly for me, these days I never feel unsure of who I am, but when I was little I went through a stage of feeling that I had no personality. It wasn't that there was nothing unique about me, just that there was nothing about me. I felt like that for a few years, hitting a peak when I was about 9. I used to cope other people's laugh, their handwriting, their way of walking, their vocal stresses and intonation, their accent... not because I wanted to be like them, but because I felt I didnt have a natural state to revert to that was my own. In hindsight, I did have a strong identity, just no sense of it. I didn't feel like a whole person. I've known what I wanted to do with my life since I was around 10, and strongly since I was 12. But having people tell me it's a bad idea, not a viable option etc has had an effect on me, making it appear as though I've been fickle about what I want to do and doubting myself because others doubt me. I got over that too though.
    I don't know if this is what Newson is referring to but sounds similar.
    Maybe she's only talking about children here... I mean we've all found there isn't much to be read about adolescents and adults with PDA.
  • Moose
    Posts: 1,843
    I have to say this confused me initially, but it does actually make a lot of sense when you think about it. It is not about whether the person knows themselves or not, but more of a case of knowing where they 'fit'. Perhaps this is not only a trait PDA, but also a fault of society that likes to pop people into nice neat boxes. It seems that if you are a 4 year old child, you should act like a 4 yr old in every social department. It could be argued that this is a case of double standards, after all we celebrate the young child who is academically well beyond their years, but find it hard if socially they do not act their age.

    My son actively seeks adult company, he is extremely comfortable with those much older than himself or very much younger. In both these situations he is incredibly mature and grown up, yet in many other ways he is emotionally and socially immature. You could say that he has a greater diversity of skills than his peers, or that his skill base has developed unevenly. In some ways he is 11, but he can also be 4 or 18. So how do you classify him? He is not a typical 11 year old, nor a wise head on young shoulders nor an infant. He actually is all of these and none at the same time. This means he does not conform to a socio-demographic stereotype and in this way does not have a clear social identity. His identity is clear enough to him, but confusing to those on the outside.

  • Moose, I'd agree with that completely too.

    Just on the age thing, I most definitely agree. This video almost exactly describes my feeling on that
    except for the fact that I feel both consistantly at once but in different areas rather than at different times.
  • Lixina
    Posts: 289

    It is not about whether the person knows themselves or not, but more of a case of knowing where they 'fit'.

    OK, then it applies to me. Throughout childhood, most of my friends were either 2 or more years younger, or adults. I'd tend to act the same age as whoever I was interacting with, regardless of my actual age. And when I was really young, I don't think I really thought of myself as anything like other children. I knew I was a child (my Dad says once I commented that one teacher 'must feel really tough picking on a little kid') and I knew they were kids, but it never occurred to me that people expected me to act like them.
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