I wish all "social skills" classes put it this way.



I pulled this out from the Navigating College Handbook sponsored by ASAN. This is the best social advice anyone could give to autistics. Without a single patronizing word, the manual covers many basic rules which some autistics may miss for a variety of reasons.

Be very careful not to violate anyone else’s personal boundaries. Pay special attention to definitions of sexual harassment, and scrupulously avoid doing anything that falls within or even close to those definitions.

Be equally careful to protect your own personal boundaries. Autistic people who are desperate for acceptance and friendship, or who are simply naïve about social expectations, often fall prey to people who manipulate and exploit them by pretending to be friends.

If people ask you why you are doing something they may consider weird, this is one of the circumstances in which it can be helpful to disclose your autism and explain how the “weird” behavior is functional for you.

To avoid distracting the class with too many questions or comments, limit your in-class participation to two or three brief questions/comments per class session. If you have more questions or comments than that, write down your ideas. Email them to the professor later, or ask to meet with the professor during his or her office hours to discuss them.

Although the college experience is different from grade school in many ways, there is no reason why younger autistic children cannot be taught using this same respectful tone. I have heard too many instances when social skills instructors would often talk down to their students, use vocabulary below their grade level (in assumption we ALL take EVERYTHING literally), or yell at them if they do something inappropriate. Or give them the lecture of why “no one wants to befriend people if they do x.” It singles us out, teaches us that we are inherently rude and dislikable people, and only through a lot of faking will we ever be able to make friends. I know many autistics who have taken it to heart. They end up having little self-esteem and confidence as a result, from a system that is supposed to improve those things.

I really hate that “no one will like you if you do X” stuff. Sometimes, it’s wrong. I have been told so many times that no one would like me because I’m quiet, but several people have been drawn to me for that very reason. Some people, who are quiet themselves, see my quietness as a good quality.