Do You Ever Have These Thoughts About Social Life?
(These thoughts come from Michelle Garcia Winner’s and Pam Crooke’s book, Socially Curious and Curiously Social: A Social Thinking Guidebook for Bright Teens and Young Adults.
- “Everyone else seems to know what to say and do when they’re around each other—how do they figure that out?”
- “It doesn’t matter if I have friends…I like being alone.”
- “Why do people care so much about fitting in?”
- “Dating is a mystery to me.”
- “Hanging out is too confusing!”
- “I want to have friends, but I just don’t understand what to do.”
- “What’s the big deal with hanging out? I’m too busy for that.”
- “Why do people my age stand around talking about nothing? It’s a waste of time!”
I’ve driven by a local junior high school in my area. I don’t know why it is, but it’s chaos out there before and after school! Groups of two, three, seven, and eight people. Everyone’s talking. The banter and conversation goes back and forth, in multiple directions. Like ants working to bring food to the Queen Mother, everyone seems to communicate effectively.
Why, then, do many aspergers young people feel like they are grasshoppers surrounded by a bunch of ants? Nothing the ants say or do makes sense to them as a grasshopper!
Is It Worth It For Teenagers With Aspergers To Learn Social Thinking And Social Related Skills?
As a young person with Aspergers, you may wonder really it’s really worth it to make the effort to make friends, to hang out, and to figure out the socially confusing landscape. You may dive into your special interests, finding a safe haven there. You may rebel against all things NT (neurotypical), figuring they are aliens anyway, and totally insensitive. Or you may just avoid it altogether. On the other hand, you may try to fit in so much that you may try to deny you are different at all from other people.
Whatever you choose, try not to sleepwalk through life. What I mean is that all people, regardless of whether they have Aspergers or not, can tend to live unconsciously, unaware of their own thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Or, they can live totally self-absorbed lives, giving no thought to others around them.
Let me encourage you to take a proactive, positive, goal oriented, self-growth approach to the whole matter of the social landscape.
I happen to believe that it’s worth it for you to learn social thinking and social skills.
- Your ability to form friendships will reduce isolation in your life and bring joy and meaning to your life.
- Your ability to think flexibly will help you develop independence as you grow older and become an adult.
- Your ability to connect, on some level, with unwritten social rules around you will help you in whatever form of employment you choose in the future.
And this does not mean that you are giving up who you are! It only means that, like every other person on this planet, you have some things to grow in! You have special abilities that many others do not. You also are average in many respects. And you have challenges to overcome. Welcome to the world! This is how it is for everyone. And the character that you develop by becoming persistent, positive, and socially curious will pay huge dividends down the road of your life.
Here Are Some Suggestions For Your Social Personal Development Plan
First, I suggest that you purchase the following couple books from Michelle Garcia Winner and Pamela Crooke:
Socially Curious and Curiously Social: A Social Thinking Guidebook for Bright Teens and Young Adults.
Here’s the description of this resource from Amazon.Com:
This anime-illustrated guidebook is written for teens and young adults to learn how the social mind is expected to work in order to effectively relate to others at school, at work, in the community and even at home. Since there is relatively little information on how to talk about social information, this book redefines what it means to be social and it is likely not what you think!
The book is written in the language of teens as a get real discussion about what really goes on inside the minds of people as we share space together. There are many practical strategies to help the reader figure out what impression they are making on others, how this affects their own emotions and what they could work on to make living in the increasingly complex social world more personally rewarding. Who doesn’t think they could improve in these skills?
From discussing the ins and outs of what it means to be a social thinker to figuring out texting, dating, the different levels of friendship and the many and varied emotions we experience as we relate to others, the authors describe the real world of being with other people. This includes knowing how to sometimes just fake it better! The authors are not trying to get every reader to find a group to hang out with; instead, they are providing information to help each person find his or her place and be appreciated by others at whatever level he or she feels comfortable with.
Social Fortune or Social Fate: A Social Thinking Graphic Novel Map for Social Quest Seekers
Here’s a description of this book from the editors:
Utilizing the graphic novel with anime illustrations concept to capture the attention of teens, we have developed this book to teach the core concepts related to Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Behavior Mapping (SBM). SBM’s teach how our own behaviors, expected and unexpected, impact how others feel about us, ultimately treat us which then affects how we feel about ourselves. The core of the book consists of 10 social scenarios, each one scenario is played out through the lens of Social Fortune or Social Fate by demonstrating visually how a situation can change quickly based on how someone reacts within it. Every scenario begins with a mini-story told through a four pictured comic strip which then leads the protagonist to a decision making point. If the decision made leads to others feeling good and ultimately the character feeling good about him or herself, this will be represented as “social fortune.” However, if the protagonist makes a decision that traps him/her and peers/adults in an uncomfortable or frustrating situation, this leads to “social fate.” The social fortune and social fate decisions are depicted through unique four-pictured comic strips.
Second, I suggest that you become an expert in the social thinking mindset, and in social thinking skills.
I recommend that you check out the Social Thinking website of Michelle Garcia Winner and Pamela Crooke. Absorb as much as you can there.
Third, check out my articles in the category of Teenagers With Aspergers and Adults With Aspergers
I’m personally going through the above two books, and I will periodically be posting social thinking concepts and strategies for you as I go along.
I leave you with my favorite quote from the introductory chapter to Socially Curious and Curiously Social: A Social Thinking Guidebook for Bright Teens and Young Adults:
Even if you think you’re not ready to learn everything (about being social) right now, give (this article and the above books) a chance. As you start reading, just keep this in mind: social thinking and related social skills don’t just develop overnight. They take thought, practice, and more practice. You’re bound to make some mistakes along the way—we all do—so don’t let that get you down. Just keep walking the social road.
Fourth, gather some inspiration from this video, put together by my friend Steven Aitchison, At Change Your Thoughts blog:
photo credit: brad_bechtel