Most of social skills comes down to just practice

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Minervx_2
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22 Nov 2023, 11:27 am

I feel like Aspies try to think their way out of problems. When really, improving at socializing doesn't require that much intelligence.

It's mostly trial and error. Putting your 10000 hours in.
If you're in high school/college, join clubs. Talk to classmates after class. Talk to people in hallways and at lunch.
If you're an adult, find some meetups/social events. Do a job where you work with other people.

You may need to make 1000 gaffes to learn proper social etiquette.
You may need to meet 100 people before you find a close friend compatible with you.
You may make some mistakes that mar some friendships, and that's the tuition fee you pay to get better.
Doing immature things is part of how you learn from mistakes, humble yourself and mature as a person.[/list]

Some guides, videos and discussions articles online can help a bit, maybe 10-20%. But the other 80-90% is just raw grinding.

The person who makes the 1000 mistakes in 1 year will learn faster than the person who makes the 1000 mistakes across 7 years.



MatchboxVagabond
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22 Nov 2023, 9:25 pm

Yes and no. As far as masking goes, I guess so. But, the skills aren't necessarily always very durable. I'm currently in burnout and I've pretty much lost most of the usual skills for things like eye contact and at times speaking fluently or remembering to ask about other people.



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30 Nov 2023, 7:04 am

In my case, no.
Mine comes down to internal regulation and inner states.

If I have no issues with any of those, there will be a room for learning, putting up with trial and error, and with all past experiences relevant and accessible.

Yet if I do, all that is inaccessible -- my 10000 hour worth of practice is worthless because I'm too busy being distracted over sensations, irrelevant thoughts and feelings. :roll:

On top of that, all experiences through the dysfunctional states meant there are no learning, experience that do not count. I can commit 1000 mistakes, no matter how similar or different -- and will never learned from any of that.


So for me, personally...
Social skills are not skills, but are 'states'.
Like hunger or sleepiness. Since when being hungry and tired a skill?


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DuckHairback
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30 Nov 2023, 7:32 am

There's some truth in what you're saying - avoiding social contact is a sure way for any skills you have to grow rusty and make it even harder when you try to re-engage. That's true for NTs and NDs.

That said, you're not allowing for the sheer effort it takes for people with ASD to socialise, which is undoubtedly greater than for neurotypicals. Many of the processes that are happening automatically for NTs never stop being conscious, manual effort for people with ASD. Many of the social environments that NT's find comfortable never stop being overwhelming for ASD people. Hence burnout. Hence meltdowns and shutdowns.

I don't agree that people with ASD should be able to 'grind' through this stuff. I do agree that we make it harder for ourselves when we stop trying.


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IsabellaLinton
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30 Nov 2023, 10:00 am

Minervx_2 wrote:

It's mostly trial and error. Putting your 10000 hours in.
If you're in high school/college, join clubs. Talk to classmates after class. Talk to people in hallways and at lunch.
If you're an adult, find some meetups/social events. Do a job where you work with other people.



Why?

I don't want social interaction and find it loathsome. Autism means we have dysregulated nervous systems. People provide so much variable input that they're exhausting, and when you add all the environmental considerations required for "clubs, hallways, meetups, social events and jobs", it can often be overwhelming or require days if not weeks or even months to recover. That's how it is for me, anyway.

If I did want to be more social it would need to be one-on-one with a quiet person in a very lowkey activity. Maybe they'll need to "practise" at this type of friendship instead of me practising (and harming myself) for theirs.


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Minervx_2
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04 Dec 2023, 2:09 pm

I hate the term "masking".

In my opinion, if you do it properly, you'll connect with people organically instead of feeling like you have to put on a mask.

It just comes down to basic things:
* Sharing a conversation
* Asking a person about things that they're interested in (and when they bring up a subject, enquire about that)
* Being aware of their emotional state



neweye23
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10 Dec 2023, 3:28 pm

I definitely agree that social skills practice is trial and error mostly, but I do think there are add-ons to this process that can give it a boost. Due to the nature of having a mind that is often more analytical when it comes to social situations, I have also sometimes approached situations in a bookish manner. I'm not suggesting that simply reading books is going to make social skills blossom, but that some, such as Aspie Teens: Secret Book of Social Rules, can serve as a great reference for reading and then applying. For example, this book contains tips on how to better navigate conflicts with other people, and one can just read from the tips and then apply them in the real world with people they know, much like a computer programmer opens a book on coding when they start to train themselves on a machine. It may sound like an overly-artificial approach, but it does provide you with a general guide for social parameters and what the most appropriate answers are for certain scenarios.
Another important thing to know is that there are many people out there on the spectrum that sort of freeload off of others for social advice / guidance. Avoid this as much as possible. I was briefly friends with one guy in college who did this to me and I kept telling him he needs to think for himself with how he figures out the social world (I gave him minimal advice, and he kept asking me afterward). Whether it's research, speech therapy, or simply trial and error we use, it's wrong to constantly ask others for this advice as we are not necessarily learning this way. Most of the time, we need to govern ourselves the best we can with social interaction.
One more thing that helps is finding a job that thrusts you into social interactions. I currently work as a sales advisor in retail and I greet and talk to many customers every single shift. I know it's because I have to, but I think this has helped me greatly socially and emotionally--and I'm getting paid while doing so. I'm no master at reading other people still, but I am at least less shy and more outgoing.



Last edited by neweye23 on 10 Dec 2023, 3:50 pm, edited 4 times in total.

BTDT
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10 Dec 2023, 3:33 pm

It can be much harder if you have face blindness and haven't a clue as to who you are talking to!



MatchboxVagabond
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11 Dec 2023, 8:02 am

BTDT wrote:
It can be much harder if you have face blindness and haven't a clue as to who you are talking to!

Yes and to a somewhat lesser extent if you're dealing with the common issue of auditory processing speed not keeping up with the conversation.



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17 Dec 2023, 6:04 pm

IsabellaLinton wrote:
Minervx_2 wrote:

It's mostly trial and error. Putting your 10000 hours in.
If you're in high school/college, join clubs. Talk to classmates after class. Talk to people in hallways and at lunch.
If you're an adult, find some meetups/social events. Do a job where you work with other people.



Why?

I don't want social interaction and find it loathsome. Autism means we have dysregulated nervous systems. People provide so much variable input that they're exhausting, and when you add all the environmental considerations required for "clubs, hallways, meetups, social events and jobs", it can often be overwhelming or require days if not weeks or even months to recover. That's how it is for me, anyway.

If I did want to be more social it would need to be one-on-one with a quiet person in a very lowkey activity. Maybe they'll need to "practise" at this type of friendship instead of me practising (and harming myself) for theirs.


THIS! Well said, Isabella



Stormyweathers
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20 Dec 2023, 2:23 pm

Minervx_2 wrote:
I feel like Aspies try to think their way out of problems. When really, improving at socializing doesn't require that much intelligence.

It's mostly trial and error. Putting your 10000 hours in.


I feel like neurotypicals typically assume that their motivations and learning curve are universal.

For example, it's really common for a neurotypical to think devoting 10,000 hours trying to fit in is a worthwhile expenditure of time, even more common to assume that their learning experience will bear more than a passing resemblance to mine.



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20 Dec 2023, 6:07 pm

Minervx_2 wrote:
I hate the term "masking".

In my opinion, if you do it properly, you'll connect with people organically instead of feeling like you have to put on a mask.

It just comes down to basic things:
* Sharing a conversation
* Asking a person about things that they're interested in (and when they bring up a subject, enquire about that)
* Being aware of their emotional state


I don't think it's that easy. When I was young I didn't know I was autistic. I put in a lot of effort in "learning social skills" and I got really good at it on a superficial level. I got popular among friends and a lot of girls and later women were attracted to me. Problem was it was a mask. I had to keep people at a distance or they would discover that the image that they had of me was false. Women didn't fell in love with me but this image I had created. I hung out with at lot of people but I didn't feel any real connection with them. I was an actor playing a charismatic neurotypical character. I still do that to a large extent at work. Now for me the challenge is to resist the impuls to take the easy way and mask for popularity instead of being myself and get the chance to form some genuine relations with likeminded people.


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MJ14
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21 Dec 2023, 7:09 pm

I'm sure it's possible for some of us, but not all who are on the spectrum. I can socialize... to an extent. I've been working alongside professors and professionals in higher education the last three years, and I still cannot grasp what is expected of me in social situations. A variety of things happen when I attend an event or something social.

1. I may get nervous during the conversation and start saying ridiculous things that don't make sense or come out not in the way I meant.
2. I may have a conversation and halfway through it I'll completely forget what the others were talking about and blank out... For no reason, it just randomly happens in social settings.
3. I may enter the event and not know "which table in the cafeteria has my people." As in, do I sit with Frank who is also socially awkward? Or do I sit with my coworkers who is possibly purposely avoiding eye contact so that I don't sit with them? Or do I sit by myself and hope someone who can carry a conversation comes over to say hello? Not knowing one's place or who exactly one's "people" are is difficult in social gatherings.
4. I may join a conversation and when someone asks my opinion or asks a question, I automatically become a deer in headlights, drawing nothing but blanks. This happens in small and large social gatherings, whether with people I know or don't know.
5. I mask until any 1-4 happens

I have practiced, taken courses, practiced more, and prayed for change but no matter how hard I work at it, it feels like I'm not the person at the event people want to talk to, ya'know? For context, I'm in the process of being diagnosed with ASD at 38 y/o. I sure wish I could change these glitches in my social skills.



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22 Dec 2023, 7:22 pm

IsabellaLinton wrote:
Minervx_2 wrote:

It's mostly trial and error. Putting your 10000 hours in.
If you're in high school/college, join clubs. Talk to classmates after class. Talk to people in hallways and at lunch.
If you're an adult, find some meetups/social events. Do a job where you work with other people.



Why?

I don't want social interaction and find it loathsome. Autism means we have dysregulated nervous systems. People provide so much variable input that they're exhausting, and when you add all the environmental considerations required for "clubs, hallways, meetups, social events and jobs", it can often be overwhelming or require days if not weeks or even months to recover. That's how it is for me, anyway.

If I did want to be more social it would need to be one-on-one with a quiet person in a very lowkey activity. Maybe they'll need to "practise" at this type of friendship instead of me practising (and harming myself) for theirs.


Loathsome seems to be a strong word.

Personally, I imagine social-interaction with confusion, awkardness, and striving for consensus - even in activities were everybody share common interests. Yet, more often than not, I would sense that I've "stepped-out" of my "comfort zone" for the right reasons.



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22 Dec 2023, 7:42 pm

For young people on the spectrum, say in their teens and twenties, practicing social skills is probably helpful.

But I suspect most autistics over 40 or so are probably like me - after decades of trying to overcome our difficulties in social situations we're too tired and burnt out to keep up the effort required. Nowadays I actually get physically ill with too much social exposure. Unfortunately that does mean I'm losing skills, but it seems there's nothing I can do about it. Nobody is going to keep doing something that makes them ill.



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23 Dec 2023, 4:36 pm

MrsPeel wrote:
For young people on the spectrum, say in their teens and twenties, practicing social skills is probably helpful.

But I suspect most autistics over 40 or so are probably like me - after decades of trying to overcome our difficulties in social situations we're too tired and burnt out to keep up the effort required. Nowadays I actually get physically ill with too much social exposure. Unfortunately that does mean I'm losing skills, but it seems there's nothing I can do about it. Nobody is going to keep doing something that makes them ill.


People over 40 have to reassess their strengths in order to reassess thier weaknesses. If strengths include small talk with familliar people (everybody on a first-name basis) in familliar places, that is a strength which might just eventually, and even presently prove helpful. Even experiences with small-talk can be helpful in becoming a good judge of character.

Positive thinking/experiences with small-talk might just act as a potential motivating self fulfilling prophecy both in the present, and in the future.