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Social Skills

In order to behave socially we need certain pragmatic skills which are:

Autists have none of these

Personal Space – Proxemics

Have you ever had someone stand too close to you or have someone tower over you? If so you’ll know it is an uncomfortable feeling.

Generally, people require a 3ft circle around them to feel comfortable and more if outdoors. Noticeably when people are squashed together (i.e on the underground, in a lift) no-one looks at anyone else. They avoid eye contact.

Face to face contact can appear confrontational so in general it is better to sit or stand at right angles to someone if you want to discuss something on a 1:1 basis.

Autists find this very difficult and the proxemic skills others learn naturally have to be taught.

One author who has written some really useful books on this subject is Dr.Jed Baker. He identified that people with Asperger's syndrome (a high-functioning form of autism) display a real lack of social skills and find it difficult to interact with others.

His book The Social Skills Picture Book demonstrates through pictures many critical social skills including conversation, play, emotions and empathy - all areas autistic children find difficult.

I know from experience with Jodi that he learns by example and likes visual clues as well as verbal instructions. Of course that generally applies to all children so it would be a good book for any child as it breaks down skills into basic components.