Social Impairment Can Be Improved by Teaching How to Pay Attention to People Instead of Things

There is a triad of symptoms for the autism spectrum:

  • Social impairment
  • Deficits in communication – different kinds of problems, may not be able to talk, or may have lots of language but have problems with communicating with people in a social context
  • Rigid, repetitive behaviours and interests – less well defined, ranging from repetitive motor movement like hand flapping or insisting on a particular schedule or particular routine
  • Problems in all three areas above are classified as an autism spectrum disorder

Social impairment shapes the development of a person and their expertise of their social world

It is important to understand that an autism spectrum disorder happens in a developing child, so an autism spectrum disorder is not just something that happens, it is something that a person is most likely born with, but then they carry it with them as they grow and develop as a person. An autism spectrum disorder shapes the world that the person lives in so whatever is different about their brain when they are born, also has the affect of creating a different personal perspective in the world that they live in as they develop.

In normal social development one comes into the world paying really close attention to people and one remains that way throughout life. For most of us, people are what make the world go around and what we spend our lives thinking and learning about is people and as a result we become social experts. For people on the autism spectrum, they become experts in things rather than people by paying attention to and learning about things and becoming experts in those things instead of social experts about people. The brain of a person on the autism spectrum can do many complex things but from a social developmental perspective, a person on the autism spectrum has the kind of brain that is paying attention to the wrong kinds of information about things instead of people. Intervention in social impairment then becomes a process of teaching people on the autism spectrum how to pay attention to, understand and apply information acquired about people instead of things.

Social Development of Person on the Autism Spectrum -> Process of Intervention -> Social Development of a Neurotypical Person
Interest in things Giving attention to things Thinking and learning about things
  1. Assess level of social expertise
  2. Choose an intervention, therapy, treatment that teaches (in an associative way) the social skill that needs to be learned
  3. Specifically learn the skills of how to have interest in people, how to interact with people, and how to understand other people’s perspectives
  4. Reassess and measure level of social expertise learned
  5. Continue to teach, learn, reassess until social skills are a part of daily life
Interest in people: 

Looking at people’s faces and eyes when interacting with people

Giving attention to people: 

Being present with people, interacting with people in social situations

Thinking and learning about people: 

Thinking about other people’s perspectives, learning about what other people think and feel

Non-social Expertise Intervene, Assess, Teach, Learn, Reassess Social Expertise

Copyright Autism Spectrum Directory, please request permission to use, All rights reserved.


Other Resources

Article: Assessment Checklist

iTunes App: Look in My Eyes Restaurant

iTunes App: Eye Contact Toybox

iTunes App: How to Talk to Strangers: The Video Guide

iTunes App: Everyday Social Skills

Book: Teaching Children With Autism to Mind-Read : A Practical Guide for Teachers and Parents and Kindle Edition

Book: Teaching Children with Autism to Mind-Read: The Workbook

Software CD: Mind Reading: The Interactive Guide To Emotions (does not work with Vista or Windows 7)

Software CD: Mind Reading: The Interactive Guide to Emotions, Version 1.3

Book: Navigating the Social World: A Curriculum for Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome, High Functioning Autism and Related Disorders

Book: The Hidden Curriculum: Practical Solutions for Understanding Unstated Rules in Social Situations

iTunes App: Hidden Curriculum for Kids

iTunes App: Hidden Curriculum for Adolescents and Adults

Book: Social Skills Training for Children and Adolescents with Asperger Syndrome and Social-Communications Problems

Book: Social Skills Picture Book for High School and Beyond

Book: The Social Skills Picture Book Teaching Play, Emotion, and Communication to children on the autism spectrum

Book: The New Social Story Book, Revised and Expanded 10th Anniversary Edition: Over 150 Social Stories that Teach Everyday Social Skills to Children with Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome, and their Peers

Book: Playing it Right! Social Skills Activities for Parents and Teachers of Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Including Asperger Syndrome and Autism

Book: All About Emotions

Book: The OASIS Guide to Asperger Syndrome: Completely Revised and Updated: Advice, Support, Insight, and Inspiration

Book: Understanding Other Minds: Perspectives from Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

Related Articles:

iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone Apps for Social Skills

Autism Spectrum Intervention/Treatment Evaluation Checklist

List of Treatments, Therapies and Interventions for Social Impairment that Improve Social Skills

Social Skills Activities for Adults on the Autism Spectrum

People on the Autism Spectrum Have to Learn Information That Neurotypical People Already Understand Instinctively

Social Development in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Face Perception in Social Development in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Complete List of All Articles on Autism Spectrum Directory


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