Our 7 Autism Myths

7. People with autism don’t want friends and like being alone. Yes, early on this appeared to be true. But it’s hardly the case now. Evan really likes having friends and enjoys the company of others. The problem is that he lacks the ability to spontaneously develop effective social interaction skills.

Mostly, we have to teach him these skills. As an example, he does not always know how to get people’s attention, so he will make silly noises in an attempt to engage others. We tried to teach him to look at someone and smile. He followed our advice exactly as we told him. He caught the attention of a teenage boy in a crowded elevator by smiling at him. What we failed to teach him was what to do next. He held his gaze and smile for a good 10 seconds or more. The teen shifted uncomfortably and Evan shouted, “Look, I got his attention!”

His playdates – which he asks for frequently – may look a little different because he’s often satisfied with the mere presence of a friend and does not need the interactions seen among his typically developing peers. While he still often chooses to play alone, he very much craves social interactions – but often on his terms.

Socialization is one of Evan’s biggest challenges, but he tries. Often it’s by asking people if they have spider webs in their basement or what kind of lights they have in their house. But that’s why there are social skills groups and activities we do at home to teach him the “rules” of socialization that the rest of us inherently know. But, a lack of social skills does not mean a lack of interest in socializing.

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