Social skills is a struggle for many of us with autism. I had spent several years trying to figure out what social skills were and how to properly implement them. In middle school through college, I believed that social skills were like lines that you could learn from a script. I thought that if you knew the secret codes that people spoke in then that made you a good communicator.
Now, don't get me wrong. I still do believe that there is a secret code for communicating, but I don't think it is so simple as memorizing lines. No, it is a more conceptual thing. You have to speak on a conceptual level depending on the circumstances. Now, conceptualizing might be difficult for many of us with autism, and that is why social skills are so hard. We believe that saying a certain thing will always work.
But, the truth is we need to be able to grasp the person we are talking to. We need to get an idea for their mood, their interests, whether they have time to talk to us, etc. We might think that if we say something and we get a certain response then we can say the next thing, but the truth is that saying things and communicating is a very fluid activity. By fluid, I mean that it has a flow to it and you have to go with the flow. You can't be too rigid.
Unfortunately, for many of us with autism we are very rigid in all aspects of our life, especially communication. I was very much like this, and to a degree, probably still am. Other people would have to chime in on that.
Anyway, what I am getting at, is that in order to achieve social success, we need to break away from the rigidity that we place upon our communications. We need to be open and spontaneous.
But, how do we go about learning to achieve this? We do this by using our imaginations. We do this by pushing ourselves into directions we haven't gone before.
Here are some ideas that I really encourage. 1. Join a debate team. By joining a debate club, you will be exercising some level of creativity and will have to say more things than you might be use to saying. You will also be given a chance to defend your position.
Here is my second idea. Engage in improv. If you need to, practice improv with yourself in a mirror. Write crazy scenarios on index cards and act them out. Take every day household items and make crazy stories about then. For inspiration watch Whose Line is it Anyway.
For my third suggestion, practice lying to yourself. Practice lying because it takes you outside the comfort zone and makes you think in ways that you haven't thought before. Now, I am not condoning lying. Please don't lie to others unless the lying is done in such a way that fosters the growth of social skills. Lies can be very hurtful towards others so please keep that in mind.
Fourth, consider getting into acting. Join a drama group. Put yourself out there. Yah, you're just memorizing lines, but acting can be good social skills practice, develops confidence, and can make it so you are not so afraid to go up in front of there.
My overall message is to expand your imagination, especially in the area of communication.
I thank you for reading today's entry and wish everyone a most awesome day of awesomeness.