Social Interaction

Most of us are such social animals that we probably never stop to think about all the complicated social messages that our brains process automatically. We can look at a face and recognise complicated feelings from it. We can guess people’s intentions in an instant. We understand without thinking about it, and without anyone telling us, how close to stand to other people.

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What if we had to consciously think about all this social stuff?  How exhausting would it be?  Would we have capacity to think about anything else?

Well, that’s what it’s like for someone with autism. They don’t instinctively understand what to do in social situations, and have to consciously work it out. No wonder then that many children with autism find social situations difficult.

The implications of having difficulties with social interaction are many, and include:

  • Not understanding unwritten social rules, e.g. around friendship
  • Appearing to be insensitive because they have not recognised how someone is feeling
  • Preferring to spend time alone
  • Being aloof, distant or uninterested in others
  • Not seeking comfort from other people
  • Appearing to behave strangely or inappropriately – as they are not always able to express feelings, emotions or needs

Remember that most everyday activities have a heavy social element to them, e.g. your child spends much of their day in schools, with lots of other children, and many, many social demands. When they get home they may be exhausted from it all. It can be very helpful to give your child a chance to have some quiet time, without any demands.