We autists have problems in social situations and our social skills suffer from those problems. One thing that aggravates our problems is sensory overload. One theory about the cause of this problem is that we lack comfort-producing neurotransmitters like oxytocin, which neurotypicals have in higher concentrations than we autists do. Comfort-producing neurotransmitters ameliorate the impact of sensory overload. With the reduced impact of sensory overload, we are better able to pick up social signals and improve our social skills.
Oxytocin is the bonding neurotransmitter that is produced by women during childbirth and facilitates mothers bonding to their new babies. This neurotransmitter is also produced during sex and facilitates bonding to the other partner. When oxytocin rises, people perceive a good feeling, or “buzz”. Problems are perceived to be less important and stress is lessened as oxytocin overrides the cortisol in the system (cortisol produces stress).
A night of dancing causes levels of oxytocin to rise about ten percent in neurotypicals. For autists, the increase hasn’t been tested, but I have a nice buzz after a night of dancing. The increase may well be more than ten percent for autists. Try it, you’ll like it!
What kind of dancing produces this increase in oxytocin? Lead/follow dances. Ballroom. Country Two-Step. Swing. Any dance where a man leads a woman and a connection and frame are established. For waltz, the frame is established by the man placing his right hand on the woman’s scapula and maintaining rigidity in his arm. This is a connection and it helps to establish comfort and trust. If the arm fails to maintain its rigidity, comfort and trust will suffer because the woman will become insecure. The frame must remain strong.
Increased concentrations of oxytocin occur with lead/follow dances because of the physical and emotional connections. People don’t get that increase in freestyle dances where there’s no physical connection.
Try lead/follow dancing and see if it doesn’t help you.