Friday, October 3, 2014

Social Skills: Purpose of Portrayal

I can only speak for myself. As a person who lives on the spectrum, I find most social interactions anxiety provoking, awkward, incomprehensible and excruciatingly exhausting; not to mention at times deeply depressing.

As a child I preferred the company of adults. I read all the time and longed to have lengthy thoughtful conversations about subjects of interest, only to find myself being punished for doing so. In those days children were meant to be seen and not heard, at least that was what I was told. Often banished to my room, I would later be forced to play with children who had no knowledge or understanding of the subjects that I found interesting. I would often shut down and retreat to my inner self.

I can remember thinking of how absurd it was to have children around even though I was a child. Conversations with peers were mind numbingly boring at best. I can't recall ever feeling "childlike" according to that which I've observed in others with exception to having an acute awareness of the lack of power, voice and remedial purpose useful only when appeasing the whims of parental units.

My social tastes have not differed with age. It would be the defining of purpose behind the portrayal of normal social behavior that lead to many years of placing people in certain categories. My interactions with "friends" were limited to them being my students and I their teacher or being my subjects and I their council, at times I took on the roll of their protector...same difference. Relationships were not fulfilling, even so, I longed desperately for human interaction, but continued to struggle with it. Some days I was willing to do anything to have it, even if it meant soliciting attention with gifts.

It was not until my 48th year when I learned to see "friends" in a different light. I learned how to determine if relationships had an equal amount of give and take. I made great strides to connect with people of like interest. These lessons learned come from years of hardships and pain. Unfortunately that is what it takes for some of us and then again, sometimes those lessons are never learned.

Social skills training is greatly needed. Keep in mind that children, even those on the spectrum, look at the examples presented as well as what is being taught. Don't take social interactions for granted. What may come easily to you may be traumatic for others. Take time to know your child and help them develop their own interests while encouraging them to find merit in the interests of others. This may seem remedial, but it is the acknowledgement of the importance of someone other than ourselves that helps to facilitate cohesive interactions.

In a world where attention can mainly be on self there is much benefit to becoming aware of others in more ways than acknowledging spatial integrity.