Learning to translate and digest the meanings of different facial expressions can help determine other people’s needs and foster true communication.
This works both ways. Individuals with Autism has trouble interpreting facials expressions and social cues and they often don’t express their own facial expressions and appropriate social cues.
Most professionals in an Autism related field understand that many individuals on the spectrum have a flat affect. My biggest challenge is educating the public, employers and employees that a person’s expressions does not mean the individual does not have feelings. I have taken many students to interviews where I had a sensitivity meeting with the employer prior and the employer still interviewed the individual and stated, “Next time show me a genuine SMILE.”. Educating employers is an ongoing challenge for an Employment Specialist. I have parents say to me. “Lacy likes ice cream …get her a job in an ice cream shop.” I then have to try to get Lacy a job in an ice cream shop where she has to demonstrate good customer service by greeting and smiling to the customer. This has nothing to do with her liking ice cream.
Do we put Lacy in the back room organizing the gallons of ice cream and have her do custodial work or after 23 years attempt to teach her and parents how important it is to learn to smile naturally? I can always tell when parents catch their child’s Autism early and have provided training to their child at a very young age. Smiles are more natural and social cues are taught early. It is a huge bonus for me and them if a child starts learning early. I have been removed from many cases due to my honesty and tact. I am always professional but very realistic. I will never say the Lacy’s in this world cannot ever provide customer service but it does take a great deal of training both at home and with an employment specialist.