My therapist thinks I can just learn social cues...

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MiguelTheOrtiz
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13 Mar 2024, 1:50 pm

The title is all there is to it really. I was in therapy today (as I've been for the past few months for the horrible mental stuff I've dealt with for the last 30 years) and I was just talking with him about anxiety with work and the upcoming university semester I'm gonna be in and how I can't get social cues to save my life...and he has the idea of just looking up YouTube videos on social cues and how to catch them.


...like there's no way that's a thing for high functioning autists right? Am I gaslighting myself? ...should I just get a new therapist because it sounds like he's being ableist? I don't know anymore....I need help.


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13 Mar 2024, 1:58 pm

I mean, you can. Lots of autists have learned social cues lol.

We aren't going to be great at it but it seems like okay advice in my opinion to try to learn. You aren't going to master it like a neurotypical.

I don't think it's ableist to say "hey try this thing to improve something you are lacking."


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13 Mar 2024, 4:21 pm

Are social cues the same as body language


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13 Mar 2024, 4:42 pm

Believing that one's self is incapable of self-improvement seems to be a highly common form of self-sabotage.

Social skills are learned over time. NT's may do it faster, but they still learn them the hard way, and aren't magically bestowed with a complete skillset out of thin air. Part of the reason NTs learn these skills faster is because they persist in participating in social interactions - whereas a lot of ND individuals opt-out of continued social interaction, and as a result are not exposed to further social interaction, from which to learn social skills.

I doubt your therapist is suggesting you simply watch a video series titled "how to spot social cues", and by the end of it you should know them all perfectly. More likely they are suggesting that studying these videos repeatedly over time, might help you gain insight as to what certain cues mean, moreso than you currently do.



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13 Mar 2024, 6:18 pm

Post pandemic is a good time to learn social clues because a lot of NTs have had to re-learn them.

It may help to realize that there are two types of social clues. Intentional and unintentional.
Someone may want to catch your attention and use intentional social clues.

There are unintentional clues, such as when someone makes a mistake or faux pas and someone reacts without thinking.



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13 Mar 2024, 6:38 pm

People can learn social cues, but like everything your personal experience may vary. If you have difficulties in certain social situations, your therapist should be able to help you. Its not a good sign if they are pointing you to youtube and telling you to figure it out on your own however.

Being on the spectrum myself and a having issues with face blindness, faces/ facial expressions still confuse me, so I miss a lot of non-verbal cues that rely on them.

I also find in extremely draining in social situations where I don't feel like I fully understand all of the unspoken information other people are communicating, which causes me anxiety, which makes the whole situation worse.

It sounds like you and your therapist need to discuss things in more detail, but if I can give you one piece of advice it would be to trust your instincts - you may need more help that your therapist can provide, or your therapist may not fully understand your difficulties well enough to give you better advice.



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14 Mar 2024, 12:42 pm

DanielW wrote:
People can learn social cues, but like everything your personal experience may vary. If you have difficulties in certain social situations, your therapist should be able to help you. Its not a good sign if they are pointing you to youtube and telling you to figure it out on your own however.

Being on the spectrum myself and a having issues with face blindness, faces/ facial expressions still confuse me, so I miss a lot of non-verbal cues that rely on them.

I also find in extremely draining in social situations where I don't feel like I fully understand all of the unspoken information other people are communicating, which causes me anxiety, which makes the whole situation worse.

It sounds like you and your therapist need to discuss things in more detail, but if I can give you one piece of advice it would be to trust your instincts - you may need more help that your therapist can provide, or your therapist may not fully understand your difficulties well enough to give you better advice.


Therapists generally only get to spend an hour or two per week with an individual. Problems cannot always be solved in that small amount of time. It's not uncommon for therapists to give additional exercises to work on, outside of the sessions, in order for the patient to get more practice than just the time spent together. Any questions the patient has can then be asked at the next session. I wouldn't assume that the therapist is offering no help on the matter during sessions, and simply expects OP to solve it on their own time with youtube, with no additional help.



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14 Mar 2024, 12:51 pm

all the more reason for therapist and client to be on the same page and for their advice to be on point - not fobbing off client's to look to the internet for un-vetted, questionable advice.

Pointing a client to youtube resources that they haven't vetted for appropriate content is a red-flag. I have no issue being recommended information, with the proviso that they are familiar with it.



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14 Mar 2024, 1:02 pm

While I agree that it is possible to learn cues ... as I have myself ... it is not just a "learn once and done" kind of thing. There is a lot of subtlety that still leaves me confused. And, if I'm starting to get overwhelmed, noticing the cues is just too much effort (not consciously). I often don't get the "joking tone" so take so-called jokes sometimes offensive.

I will always be at best awkward in social situations. There is no escape for it. And I will always have to either struggle through it or need a nice break after. So learning the skill is helpful, but not a pure solution (for me).

I think he may have been able to word it in a way that was more supporting for you.


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15 Mar 2024, 7:59 am

It really depends on the person who is being "trained". I have 25th percentile visual functioning and 35th percentile audio functioning and no matter how hard I try, my ability to process "what is going on" in "real time" is simply too slow to be successful.

By the time I think I understand a point being made, several other comments have been made and the conversation has usually passed on to "something else". I know to look for social cues, but by the time my processing catches up to them, things have changed.

It all happens too rapidly for me to be successful at conversation, especially if there are many people, lots going on in the background, etc. With a patient and understanding person or two I can usually deal with things, but that is not my "usual" experience when I try to do anything at all in "real time".

It makes for many misunderstandings, impatient others to my struggling attempts, etc etc. That old saying about fish needing a bicycle or teaching an elephant to climb a tree, that applies to me in "real life" interactions. Just because somebody points out how miserably I fail and tells me I "should" do better doesn't mean my neurology is equipped to do that!

I find my best communication is the written and printed word.

"talk" "chat" and general conversations are virtually impossible in most situations that would not confuse or frustrate a neurotypical individual at all.

You know your own strengths and weaknesses better than anybody. Feel free to show this to your therapist so they can gain perspective on hidden struggles in sensory processing, and how it can affect some of us.

See also articles on "double empathy" and the effects on communication with neurodiverse individuals.

No everybody can "just do it if you try".

I was blamed and shamed all my life for not living up to other's expectations, and until I got my autism diagnosis I did not understand "why" I struggled so.

NO, it is not true that just anybody or everybody can "learn" social cues and use them, some of us are not equipped for most "real time" interactions. So frustrating!! !! !


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15 Mar 2024, 9:26 am

Hi:
Yes you can. What also helps is doing a deeper dive on the internet about social cues.



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15 Mar 2024, 7:05 pm

DanielW wrote:
all the more reason for therapist and client to be on the same page and for their advice to be on point - not fobbing off client's to look to the internet for un-vetted, questionable advice.

Pointing a client to youtube resources that they haven't vetted for appropriate content is a red-flag. I have no issue being recommended information, with the proviso that they are familiar with it.


At the risk of repeating things I've already said, asking the patient to be pro-active off-hours in addition to their therapy sessions is not "fobbing off". The idea is "in the meantime, also try this, too", not "here's a link, now go away" - these are not the same.

And again, the vetting occurs when the patient, having actually done what was suggested, brings said material into the session to discuss it. The goal is not "watch the vids and solve your own thing", it's "watch the vids to help you think of questions to ask during our session". Having watched a video, the patient can then ask the therapist, "hey, so I saw this happen, what does it mean?" - and the therapist can either explain what might be happening, or explain why it's not an accurate reference.

Not everything in life is going to be handed to you, with a certificate of authenticity guaranteeing it's accuracy ahead of time.



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15 Mar 2024, 8:20 pm

You can repeat yourself as often as you like. Simply repeating yourself further isn't likely to make either of us agree on this point however. I've had enough poor therapists and poor therapy to last me quite some time. There are plenty of therapists (including occupational and speech/language therapists) that can do a better job at social skill training that goes well beyond DIY, I assure you.



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16 Mar 2024, 10:46 am

babybird wrote:
Are social cues the same as body language


Anyone?


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16 Mar 2024, 1:08 pm

It sounds to me like your therapist does not fully understand what it means to not be able to grasp social cues. If the problem was that you simply had not been paying attention, then learning to pay attention to social cues would help, but I don't think that is the difficulty that most people with ASD experience. Your therapist would need to ask you very specific questions about your experience with missing social cues so that he can understand exactly what you are experiencing and then he can go about giving you very specific advice. Watching YouTube videos seems much too generic to be helpful.

Also, social cues are something we miss because we see things in a different way and it may not be possible to learn to see social cues, though there can be workarounds that one can learn. But again that would require very specific knowledge of what exactly you need to become more attuned to.

It's possible that this is not the right therapist for you, but you could start by explaining to him that YouTube videos just don't offer the information that you need.



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16 Mar 2024, 1:09 pm

babybird wrote:
babybird wrote:
Are social cues the same as body language


Anyone?

I would say that social cues include body language, but they can also be verbal.