I’m grateful for the questions that my friends and readers raise. Here is a question common to many individuals on the autism spectrum:
Hi everybody! Has anyone have some good tips or articles on how to read body language? My friend gave me a homework that I need to learn even a bit of that, because I am going on her nerves with always asking things etc., and wishes me good. I am now curious on how could I, so she wouldn’t be so nuts about that… any tips or recommendations?
Here are some preliminary thoughts I have on this subject. Again, I wish to say that I am writing as an “NT” (neurotypical), so I welcome any thoughts from all of you readers on the autism spectrum:
Learning Social Skills Is A Marathon
My sister and brother-in-law are working full-time in Cambodia, and are committed to living there permanently. Learning a new language and new culture is like riding a roller coaster for the rest of your life. This roller coaster has big dips and bends at times, and other times seems to be going nowhere (very little happening). Like running a marathon, one has to have the mindset that this is going to take a long time, maybe the rest of one’s life! One has to be prepared to practice and train, even hire a coach to get better and better. Just like learning a new language, a new culture, or running a marathon, it’s going to take a lifetime to learn the nuances and culture of “neurotypical” culture. Just read the stories of Leanne Holiday (Pretending to Be Normal: Living With Asperger’s Syndrome) and John Elder Robison (Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s), and you will see that it takes hard work and effort to navigate the social landscape.
Take Pleasure in Your Strengths as an Individual on the Autism Spectrum
In the middle of the journey, it’s so important to remember who you are and the unique strengths you have. When runners train for a marathon, they find it helpful to join training clubs. By running with other members, they don’t feel so alone. Part of celebrating the neurodiversity that is autism is finding a tribe you can call your own.
I suggest checking out some of the great autism aspergers forums online: WrongPlanet.Net This online community has over 35,000 members. It was founded by college student Alex Plank, and has blossomed into a very helpful community that can help you feel supported and encouraged.
Support Groups For People with Autism I wrote this article to help you locate support groups offline. It’s one thing to find encouragement offline, but it can also be helpful to connect with like minded individuals in your local community.
Find An Outlet for the Stress
Let’s face it, it can be exhausting to deal with sensory challenges, misunderstanding the subtle cues of the NT world, and dealing with the overall stress of life.
Rudy Simone, one of my favorite authors on all things Aspergers and beyond (Aspergirls: Empowering Females With Asperger Syndrome, , Asperger’s on the Job: Must-have Advice for People with Asperger’s or High Functioning Autism, and their Employers, Educators, and Advocates, 22 Things a Woman Must Know: If She Loves a Man With Asperger’s Syndrome) talks about writing as a solace for some of the down cycles she has when coping with the stresses of life. She also turns to singing and live comedy as creative outlets that soothe her.
What is your special interest? What are some of your strengths? What gives you peace? One individual with autism I know finds strength in a quiet environment, alone. In this way, I suppose this individual is kind of like introverts in general, who derive energy with ‘down time/alone time.’
Get a Coach
This coach may be a speech therapist, an ABA therapist, or a cognitive behavior therapist. Or this coach may just be a volunteer for a local organization. Or this person may just be one of your good friends.
I did some research to find out some helpful websites to help you with your study of reading body language.
Lance Armstrong’s site, Live Strong, has a series of articles that you may find helpful.
Please don’t judge my website by the name of the website for this recommendation! Businessballs.Com has a series of articles that are helpful for reading body language in the workplace.
Finally, here’s a helpful Wiki How guide for reading body language.
Some Bestselling Autism Social Skills Books
These books are on my wish list of books to order from Amazon.Com. They are among the best-selling books on this topic, based on customer reviews.
The Social Success Workbook for Teens: Skill-building Activities for Teens With Nonverbal Learning Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder, & Other Social-skill Problems, written by Barbara Cooper.
The Hidden Curriculum: Practical Solutions for Understanding Unstated Rules in Social Situations, by Brenda Smith Myles.
Social Skills Picture Book for High School and Beyond, written by psychologist Jed E. Baker. For visual learners, which many individuals on the autism spectrum are, pictures are worth a thousand words. photo credit: Richard on Flickr