When I was a teenager I didn’t have very good social skills. What helped me develop social skills was discovering hypnosis. I developed an interest in hypnosis for all the wrong reasons, I thought it would be a good way to control my environment – or at least the people in it. As I started learning I discovered that hypnosis has very little to do with manipulation and control of others, and is actually to do with communication skills. Social skills are something most children with autism need help with. If they are towards the high-functioning end of the spectrum they are likely to be intelligent and able to learn if they are interested in learning, so you can teach them social skills just like they would learn piano, or any other skill or talent. It is common for children to be told ‘not’ to do certain things, like “Don’t do this, don’t do that”. This isn’t helpful because it doesn’t teach what to do, all it does is tell you what you are doing wrong. Even learning the skills they will probably continue to struggle with certain things. I still struggle to say “hi, I’m okay, how are you?” when someone says to me “hi, how are you?” This simple reciprocal exchange eludes me most of the time, even when I practice and practice as I see someone approaching me, and I run through that sentence in my mind hundreds of times, but when I open my mouth all I say is “I’m okay” and I carry on walking.
Teaching them what behaviours are and aren’t acceptable is helpful, so it isn’t acceptable to grab something of someone else’s because you want to look at it, or to grab their clothes because you want to feel them. It is useful to teach about personal space, to teach about eye contact and gestures, and body posture, and the use of voice – like voice tone, volume, speed of speech, and varying pitch. It is also useful to practice different scenarios they find themselves in, and have them learn to mentally rehearse scenarios, so that they can practice situations in their mind. This is something I frequently do, I will practice conversations, the different way conversations will go and what I will say or do during the conversation. This all gets me through most interactions with people. I still struggle with extended periods around people, and unexpected situations, and where things don’t go to plan, but have found I understand what is and isn’t socially acceptable much better now. Some difficult ones to break are that it is socially expected that you will lie to people, rather than be honest with people, and I struggle with knowing how to instigate social interactions.
Look Into My Eyes: Asperger’s, Hypnosis, & Me by Dan Jones is available in Paperback & Kindle Here is a link to your local Amazon store: http://apn.to/prod/1542551196