Ian has been taking social skills classes this fall. Unlike some of the kids in the class, Ian's main problem isn't saying inappropriate things. He just doesn't talk enough. We're using the class as an advanced speech class. It's been great. He comes running out of the class with a Pokemon reward card and a big smile. The teacher then tells the parents what they worked on during the session and how we can do similar activities at home.
The lessons are usually about how to keep a conversation going. Or how to talk about Topic A, which you really don't care about, and not to talk about Topic B, which you have a deep and abiding passion. Or how to ask questions of a potential friend.
Now, if the health insurance company pays us even a portion of the $1,400 bucks that we've laid out for this necessary therapy this fall, that would be a good thing. And no, I'm not going to stop talking about health care reform.
Penelope Trunk has written several posts for people with Asperger Syndrome to help them better navigate the business place. Her advice is really good for everybody. I've been to so many parties with people with bad social skills.
People, you have to assume that the stranger standing next to you has something that makes them interesting. Everybody is weird in some way. Your job is ask them enough questions to find out what makes them fascinating. If you just talk about yourself, you're never going to figure it out, and you'll just have bored everyone.
Trunk also refers to a book by Tyler Cowen, Create Your Own Economy: The Path to Prosperity in a Disordered World, that I've been meaning to check out. It's about how people with autism fit in so well in the Information Age.