For much of my life, I have had a hard time understanding not only the non-verbal communication of others, but how my own non-verbal communication affected others. Sometimes, if I was irritated at someone, I would simply keep my mouth shut, the rationale being “They can’t hold me accountable for something I didn’t say.”
What I failed to realize was that sometimes silence speaks louder than anything you could say, or that you could say one thing, but your facial expressions, actions, and certainly body language tell the real story.
Social skills are especially difficult for teens on the autism spectrum, but many of these skills can be learned, and with practice, can become habit. Social skills are critical to make friends, get a job, and to live a fulfilling life. Research from Harvard University says social skills are the top factor for getting a job.
Share the following book excerpt with your son or daughter to give them a head start in mastering these important social skills.
Too often, neurotypicals expect a perfect useful relationship from a friend. They like friendships to be easygoing with as much similarity between two people as possible. Therefore, they hold higher expectations for the other side, even though the other side shares that same expectation. Due to the absence of fulfillment, neither person makes connections or sometimes people can become unreasonably selective in the friendship process. The reason for this is that both neurotypicals and aspies often feel like outcasts around certain groups of people.
If this happens too frequently, the inclination to make friends declines. However, this shared dilemma can actually help to foster the relationship between an aspie and a neurotypical or an aspie and another aspie, if they are willing to give a chance for that to happen. After all, few things feel more reassuring than being able to take up your worst fears and issues with others, knowing that they will not condemn you for them.
Starting from an early age, many Aspergers adults consistently feel like they have little chance of success, productivity, or joy in the real world. Negative early-life experiences that typically fall under the categories of isolation, ignorance, exclusion, or sheltering, in addition to present challenges, collectively form this delusional mental/emotional construct.
Fortunately, Aspergers adults who claim to have it hard have the power to turn the tables of their lives right-side-up and to make incredible progress as adults in both their personal and professional lives. Even though Aspergers adults usually have numerous struggles in adulthood for countless reasons, there are crucial practices they can incorporate into their daily lives to work towards success. The happiest and most successful Aspergers adults significantly understand:
This is Part 2 of a two-part article by Reese Eskridge on the topic of building leadership skills. You can read Part 1 here. Reese compiled the following list of personal challenges that often plague those with Autism or Aspergers. Each piece of common self-doubt listed below is accompanied with Reese’s own personal encouragement and guidance for how to overcome!
I am not competent enough about role(s)/inexperienced in creating and running events or activities: Be yourself and start with what you know you can do, create something to promote it and to enable others to use it; identify an issue or interesting concept and think about a purpose that will serve the greater good; Take opportunities and think about how you can excel in each role you play.
I do not understand what message(s) to convey… Ask yourself many questions and try to answer as many potential questions as possible (i.e. what would they like to know about…? How would they react if…?).
I have a problem with perfectionism and fear of failure… If you have challenges, thoroughly examine the challenge and work around it to achieve your purpose as the leader; what are the lessons to learn from each challenge (use keywords).
I am too fixated on minor or irrelevant details or do not know most important details; Digresses into restricted interests, rather than piques follower’s interest and serves followers’ best interests… Establish structure in a manner that ensures that you do not miss any important details; then, you can take control of a given situation by speaking with all forms of credibility.
I am too shy to speak up when needed; there is too much pressure… Recruit help where and when you need it the most, even if it means developing just yourself, and plan out and organize those resources to maximize their effectiveness; in other words, get those resources to do exactly what you want them to do. Develop passion in what you do or plan to do and the rest will come naturally.
I do not feel like I can do this independently… Don’t sweat it! Try to develop abilities to do assortments of tasks that you must accomplish and get guidance as necessary; do not get guidance if you can easily figure out tasks at hand; get help when you absolutely cannot do something yourself; learn team building strategies for this.
I am not confident in having a positive influence… Just remember that during an organized event, people are there to listen to you and do what you say, although it is better to give recommendations and to delegate responsibilities fairly, rather than simply take over. Keep it positive every step of the way and devise strategies when the going gets tough for anything. Ask yourself the potential solution to a problem when it arises and keep calm; be a role model by acting like the person you want them to act like.
I have poor organizational skills… Do not hesitate to consult with other people and resources that specifically address this. Also ask yourself, how can I best keep track of materials in general. Obtain folders, files, etc. for documents and a calendar or calendar book in which you can write down the dates and times of upcoming events, meetings, etc. Planning is the single best strategy when you or your followers are disorganized or disoriented. Make sure that everybody involved has at least one role and delegate by each person’s strengths and willingness to participate in that role. Ask who wants what and go from there.
Heather smiles gently as she watches the video about a celebration in Africa. To be fascinated by something means that it captures your imagination and you want to give it your full attention. Heather leans forward (always a sign of interest) towards the TV screen.
She stares intently at the screen, following the action with her eyes. Active thinking is a central part of fascination. We can see thinking going on in the way she strokes her lip with her little finger. We get the sense that she is ‘in the moment’, giving her complete attention to the screen.
In a split second when she’s intensely interested her eyes close a little and then widen. If you look carefully you will also see an intake of breath.
This summer Aspergers101 hosted a free informational series on Aspergers at the San Antonio Public Library. We have recorded each of these valuable sessions in video and powerpoint format so that you can have access to them at any time. Below, watch the second workshop from our Informational Summer Series on Aspergers focusing on social development.
First, Jennifer and Sam Allen discuss important strategies for parents, professionals, and peers to utilize when socializing with those with Aspergers. Next, Louise O’Donnell, Ph.D. Neuropsychologist and Assistant Professor at UT Health Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics talks about the neurological aspects of social development for those with Aspergers and Autism.
The following are excerpts from Jennifer and Sam Allen’s powerpoint presentation on social development.
Interview with Stuart Quinn, a filmmaker with Asperger’s Syndrome. Stuart made a short film about what it is like to have Asperger’s Syndrome from a personal perspective.
AS101: Hello Stuart, thank you for sharing your film short with our Aspergers101 audience. First, tell us a bit about yourself.
Hey I’m Stuart, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when I was 15 years and I am a filmmaker based in the UK.
AS101: How did you come to make your film titled “A. Syndrome” about living with Aspergers?
The film came about during my 2nd year of Drama School which in the first term we had to make a short film. The short had to be something about ourselves. It didn’t have to be directly about ourselves but maybe a theme or something that personally about us. I chose to explore what the world is like from my subjective point of view with Asperger’s.
AS101: Who is the actor and is he also on the Autism Spectrum?
Although lead character is based on me I wanted to keep an open mind when it came to casting and just find the right person. During the casting I needed to find someone who could bring the emotional qualities to the character but also do it without speaking and his eyes tell the story. Mario Pace who is the lead actor brought what I needed to the film and I was thrilled when came in to audition and gave a brilliant performance. Mario isn’t on the spectrum but he brought the emotional core to the character more than anyone else.
AS101: How is your film being distributed and what are you hopes for people who view it?
The film is available to view on YouTube with my YouTube channel for free as I want everyone to have access to view it. I would like the audience to make their own mind up when viewing the film because I have always felt the best stories I have loved always leave it up to the audience how they feel about the story and subject matter. I do hope that maybe it will inspire anyone who wants to make a movie to make one and don’t listen to negative people who say otherwise.
AS101: What would you like to say to those reading who are trying to better understand Asperger Syndrome?
Because the spectrum is so huge it’s very hard to totally understand it. Although information can be found by talking to doctors or information online etc, I think it comes down to understanding the person and who they are. Everyone who is on the spectrum will not act or respond in the same and others have different needs than others etc.
AS101: Lastly, how could someone get in touch with you if they would like more information about you or your film?
You can find me on my twitter account at @SQUINN85 and Youtube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC06CcKLNR2YLvgP8yXVQfkw
One of the most important job skills every employee, including those on the autism spectrum, must learn is how to greet a customer properly. If employees learn this valuable skill, they will be way ahead of the pack. Their employer will notice and customers will become life-long evangelists.
Many employees (and business owners!) fail miserably at this simple task, turning customers off forever and losing them to the competition, or to the online marketplace, often without even realizing it.
Volunteering at an animal shelter is a great way for tweens, teens and young adults on the autism spectrum to practice and improve social and job skills. They also learn responsibility and a respect for animals. As visitors come into animal shelters to look at animals available for adoption, it’s the perfect place for teens to improve face-to-face communication. The experience they gain volunteering at an animal shelter molds them into more effective volunteers and prepares them for the work force.