One of the symptoms of autism that nearly always need major attention in anyone with autism is that of social skills. As you probably know, people with autism have a lot of difficulty making friends and, later, having romantic relationships. Why is this? There are many reasons.
One of the Classic Symptoms of Autism - Reading Social Cues
People with autism have a lot of trouble reading social cues...and this is one of the most challenging symptoms of autism. They cannot understand, for example, when they have been talking too much and it's time to be quiet and let someone else talk. They can't understand from someone's face if they've said something inappropriate or offensive, or if the other person is bored. This can create a lot of issues with miscommunication.
Another of the Symptoms of Autism - Understanding Social Norms
There are so many social norms that we all take for granted, but that those with autism often have no idea exist. For example, when you first meet someone, you are supposed to engage in small talk with them. You might talk about the weather, or somewhat banal comments about what's going on around you, or neutral current events. It's kind of a way for someone to get a feel for what you're like without diving in too deep.
For those with autism, though, superficiality - which is what small talk is - doesn't come naturally. A person with autism will often come up to a person and start asking deep, intense or personal questions, and drive the other person away. Or they will start reciting facts of some nature. Luckily, there is help to overcome these difficult symptoms of autism.
Improving Social and Communication Skills
The preliminary conversational dance of sorts is something that is hard for those with autism to master. It needs to be modeled for them and practiced with them. You need to come up with a list of acceptable and non-acceptable topics for your loved one with autism, at least until they get to know the person a little better. Role playing works well with a child with autism or even an adult for that matter. Practicing small talk and explaining when they have spoken for too long can be enormously helpful.
Symptoms of Autism - Emotional Blindness
What about picking up on other people's emotions, or showing their own? A lot of people with autism can't do either well. As a result, they may feel genuine empathy for someone, but not be able to show it. They may feel remorse or want to apologize for a mistake that they've made, but don't know how to do it.
There are also difficulties with emotional regulation. People with autism are often overwhelmed by their emotions, and sometimes will have meltdowns. Crying, screaming or temper tantrums also don't go over very well when you're trying to make a friend.
The Need for Routine Can Be a Detriment to One's Social Life
Then there is the matter of the autistic person's need for routines. They generally need to know what will be happening at every moment, and don't do well with surprises. Most kids like to do things at the spur of the moment, so this can be another detriment to the social life of a person with autism.
While social difficulties are some of the more prominent symptoms of autism try not to worry too much - with proper social skills training and therapy, a lot of these issues can be improved.
Hopefully, with early identification and early treatment, life can be a little easier for those with autism and the people who love them. For additional tips and suggestions that can help your loved one live a fulfilling and happy life visit the AmericanAutismSociety.org. There you can sign up for their FREE newsletter with tips and info on autism.
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