Monday, September 5, 2016

Autism and Socialising

Welcome to AuSumness.

We are finally back from a very long vacation and are ready to share some more tips to help readers cope with the symptoms of Autism as well as help others understand what it's all about.

A few days ago, some friend's of my oldest son came by, unannounced.  I was listening with half an ear from around the corner while working in the yard.  There was not a lot of conversation going on, so I joined in to see if I could help move things along.

Here is the assessment of the situation:

My son was in the middle of a game on his tablet.  His friends had come without warning and neither party knew how to address the situation that had arisen.

Like many people who have Autism, socialising is a challenge if at all possible for my boys. I could go on for days explaining our experiences with this, but will stick with the situation at hand.  My son barely took his eyes off of his tablet, he had no idea what to say to his unexpected visitor and had no regard to the discomfort of his guest.

From my son's friend came incomprehension at my son's behaviour, which tore at my heart a bit because we understand the importance of socialising, his friend's rarely come around any more since he moved schools and I really want to encourage them to visit more often.

Here are some tips that might help you with the same situation from both stand points.

From the visitor:

Alert your Autistic friend of your visit before hand, if possible and for the most productive result.  Also be aware of the often very literal comprehension of many people with Autism.  Meaning, if you say you are going to be there at noon.  Then be there at noon.  More minute later or even earlier can cause problems.

If you do come unannounced, wait until your friend has finished whatever he or she may be busy with before attempting conversation so that they really are listening.

Make sure that your visit is ok with them if you come without warning, by directly asking.  What one may consider being rude or blunt is actually the only or at least the best way for some Autistic people to even comprehend.  Plainly state the reason for your visit for the best result.

Give your friend time to take in your presence.  It may take a while and it would not be considered rude to ask them if they need this time or more time to get used to that fact that you are indeed, standing in their house wanting to communicate with them.  It may sound odd to some, but it is just what some people need.

Before leaving, ask if it is ok that you come unannounced in the future.

For the host:

Stop doing what you are doing when someone visits or at least ask them into your house and request that they wait until you can properly pay attention to them or ask if they could come back at another time and be sure to set up that time.

If the the guest has not plainly stated their reason for the visit, plainly ask.  Be aware that many people stop by just because they like you and they may want to talk or play because they like your company.

As a parent, I don't want to jump in for everything.  These are important life lessons, however.  If your children, friends or family do not have these skills or perhaps the ability to initiate socialisation then there may not be a choice.  Jump in and assist where necessary so that socialisation is encouraged because it really is necessary.

I asked that my son stopped playing his game and that he should listen to his friend. I know he likes this friend and I'm certain he had not thought of the consequences of ignoring his friend reaching out. It would be a different story if my son really didn't want this guy around.  Keep that in mind.  I certainly wouldn't force my children to accept guests that they do not want there.

**The next step was to figure out why his guest was there.  His friend probably thought it was obvious because he was holding his phone and talking about Pokemon, but my son didn't pick up on those social cues.  I pointed out those two facts and the lights came on with a bit of time.

The last thing you want to do is arrange another time for a meeting or at least request that they give a heads up before their next visit.  You may feel it necessary to explain some of the tips mentioned, like speaking plainly and giving time for the new adjustment or change by their visit.

Here is my FB group.  I'd love to have you join us there!

I hope this has helped.  

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Thanks so much for stopping by and best of luck!

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