Can you actually work on your social skills?

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Arran
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08 Dec 2013, 6:04 am

It is definitely possible to learn and acquire social skills but practicing them can only be carried out in the presence of tolerant and patient individuals who understand AS and are prepared to accommodate social errors. Most people are not tolerant of social errors and see the individual as being wilful or downright obnoxious resulting in hurt feelings that can last for a long time.



Marky9
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09 Dec 2013, 8:01 pm

My experience: Yes, it is possible to improve social skills, up to some limit that is unique to each individual with ASD.

Compared to where I was, my social skills have improved enormously. But, I am only able to keep up an extroverted NT persona for about 2, or max 3 hours. (Like say at a society soiree, or at a long client meeting.) But after a marathon like that I like to have at least 1 or 2 days to recover - ideally more like 3 days.

The way I was able to improve my social skills was by doing a lot of the things described by prior posters.


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Aoi
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10 Dec 2013, 1:23 am

I've had this discussion with neurologists and psychologists for many, many years. Always I'm told that I can improve my social skills. So I ask them how I should go about this. They have yet to provide one concrete, specific idea. They have also never been able to show me an example from their own practice of substantial improvement.

Yet I have definitely improved, mostly through trial and error. I did take acting and public speaking classes in school, and did a lot of observation of television to learn the basics. That didn't work so well because real life assumes people have five senses, and I only have four (I have no sense of smell, so miss a lot of emotional information).

However, the reverse of this issue, which is rarely mentioned in articles or books, is that aging takes it toll on the brain, as well as the rest of the body, starting at early adulthood. When the effects of aging overwhelm any efforts at improvement is unclear, but there seems to be an effect of diminishing returns on effort. I have made little improvement in the past few years despite considerable effort and risk, and so am now rethinking approaches to this issue.

A few notes on my experiences versus others in this thread. I can now keep up with an extroverted NT for about 1 hour at the outside. I have yet to get a proper job (apparently I suck at interviews), and may be suffering from the "autistic burn out" that I've seen mentioned in several WP thread recently.



Aspie19828
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10 Dec 2013, 12:28 pm

No one understands me, I never get along with people. As I have grown older I have used avoidance to minimise social interactions. School was a nightmare for me in the past being bullied for no reason at all and I used my size to get back at them but that only made things worse. Ignoring and avoiding people is the best way to deal with negative interactions and that does not lead to any trouble. I do not know how people learn social skills. Social skills are something that comes naturally to most people.



anneurysm
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10 Dec 2013, 6:34 pm

vickygleitz wrote:
I wish that half of the money spent training us that we are inferior and should not be ourselves with accommodations in schools, work places, autistic mentors care providers for some autistic people, and help with establishing autistic communities.

I am beyond disgusted that our people are treated so disparagingly and that the measure of an autistics success is primarily based on the development of a facade.

This HAS to change, and I [and you?] need to be part of that change.


Agreed with this viewpoint. The wider message that many of these organizations project (autism speaks, anyone?) is just depressing and does not help people with ASD realize their true potential. I really think that all people with ASD are capable of success (which happens for people in a variety of ways - it may not be a way that NTs necessarily value) but they just need the right supports and ways to empower themselves.

Ideally, there'd be a whole series of workshops/classes for people on the spectrum teaching a wide variety of skills. A course on understanding your diagnosis, development of self-awareness and learning self-advocacy skills would be #1. I think that knowing how to navigate situations on one's own and speaking up for what one needs - without having to change oneself, can put both people with ASD AND those who learn and work with them at an advantage. The person with ASD is able to get the accommodations and understanding they need with minimal stress on themselves, and the NTs become educated and more aware of what the reality of ASD is like for many people with it. Mutual understanding needs to come from both sides - not necessarily people with ASD trying to fit into NT molds, but I think much of the time that NTs fail to understand and listen to ASD people themselves (because they may look at things from a disability model...but that's a whole other discussion).

Teaching and application of person-centered, individualized social skills training should be offered for those who would like to learn them, but I don't see these as necessary for every person on the spectrum, or necessary for one's success.



KingofKaboom
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10 Dec 2013, 6:51 pm

I think you can work on them I have been and these last few years have seen a lot of improvement on what I was as a teen or even early 20's. It's hard and slow for me and I mess up alot but I'm happier.


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equestriatola
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10 Dec 2013, 10:58 pm

Yes, but it has been a rather uphill struggle for me.


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