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Autism Awareness Month – Social

ASO – Social

 

It’s National Autism Awareness Month! This week, the ASO is focusing on sharing information and resources related to SOCIAL SKILLS/RELATIONSHIPS with our community members.

 

We live in an interconnected world where our ability to communicate our positions in social situations is very important. However, many individuals with Asperger Syndrome (AS) find these crucial interactions to be frustrating and stressful due to difficulty reading and navigating social cues. Specifically, those living with AS may find the following challenging: sarcasm, metaphors, perspective-taking, empathy, social cues and overall appropriateness within the context of social situations. This in turn leads many individuals with AS to become introverted and lonely. New research and expertise allows us to gain insight into how to explicitly teach and model these social conventions for those with AS, and provide them with an array of social tools.

 

The exposure to intense and varying social situations are introduced early in a child’s life and are amplified during events like their first day of school. In an earlier post for Autism Awareness Month (click here), we highlighted challenges that can arise throughout a child’s journey through education, while living with AS. The post also provided critical resources and strategies for children and families during these times. It is necessary that we give students chances to develop self-awareness and build resiliency through education.

 

As a child with AS moves into higher grades, social situations can become even more challenging as peers can reinforce stigmas, leaving the individual feeling increasingly isolated. With the right tools, however, young adults can become more aware of their differences and equip themselves with coping strategies. Autism Ontario provides meaningful statistics and suggestions for parents and individuals to develop the social skills needed for success as a child transitions from preschool to adulthood.

 

Intimate relationships present various struggles for those living with AS. Sensory issues can make intimacy difficult and a lack of empathy can cause emotional tension, as Regina Boyle Wheeler describes in her brief article on the subject of marriage. Her article outlines a number of prominent challenges in a marriage, including the addition of children, by introducing readers to a couple experiencing them first-hand.

 

Social skills groups can have positive effects, as Lynda Geller outlines in her research article. When individuals with AS are explicitly taught social skills through controlled situations, it can help them navigate some of the aforementioned challenges by broadening their array of experiences. The earlier that these situations are introduced, the better. Lynda also finds that many of the strategies that are being implemented within schools have been largely ineffective, so outside social skills groups that are more targeted to each individual can be valuable. However, Mary Riggs Cohen has found that social skills training programs that only focus on the basic skills, for example eye contact, are usually ineffective. The individuals must know and understand the more intricate motives behind the basic skills to truly make a difference.

Some of the ASO’s many social skills/relationship resources include:

The Asperger Syndrome diagnosis in Adults: http://www.aspergers.ca/media-library/article-asperger_syndrome_in_adulthood_does_diagnosis_matter-jpg/

Teaching Social Literacy: The Social Skills Seminar

 

The Asperger’s Society of Ontario Adult Social Group meets monthly at various locations in the GTA. The focus of the group is socializing, establishing relationships and enjoying a variety of recreational activities in the community. The group participates in a wide variety of activities, for example; bowling, dining out, going to movies, etc., The number of participants at each meeting varies depending on location, planned activity, availability, etc., but there are typically 20 or so participants.  The group provides a great opportunity to network with other individuals who have Asperger Syndrome.  Activities usually fall within a $25 price range.

Anyone interested in attending this social group should email us at info@aspergers.ca and we will forward their contact information to our social group coordinator to be added to the notification list. Emails are sent out once a month to the group with details about the next meetup. You can also keep an eye on our calendar of events: http://www.aspergers.ca/events/

 

ASPIRES – http://www.aspires-relationships.com/

 

 

AANE: https://www.aane.org/about_asperger_syndrome/living_asperger_syndrome_partners.html

 

 

14 Strategies for Marriage: http://www.aane.org/asperger_resources/articles/adults/marriage_14_strategies.html

 

 

Different Together: http://www.different-together.co.uk

 

 

Autism Hangout is a great resource as it hosts a number of articles and media materials related to Asperger Syndrome. There, you will also find a number of interviews in the “Ask Dr. Tony” section relating to Asperger Syndrome and relationships. Autism Hangout: http://www.autismhangout.com/

 

 

Experience Project: http://www.experienceproject.com/groups/My-Spouse-Or-Partner-Has-Aspergers-Syndrome/168826

 

Asperger Adults: http://aspergeradults.ca/assuiteadultchallengerelationships.htm

 

 

YourLittleProfessor: http://www.myaspergerschild.com/2011/01/married-to-aspie.html

 

 

AANE: http://www.aane.org/about_asperger_syndrome/living_asperger_syndrome_partners.html

 

 

Healthzone: http://www.healthzone.ca/health/newsfeatures/article/1021434–aspergers-looms-over-many-marriages

 

 

This book by David Finch can be very helpful for individuals with newly diagnosed spouses:  http://davidfinchwriter.com/book.

 

 

Autism Teen Partnership in the York Region:http://stong.yorku.ca/autism-teenage-partnership/

 

 

Project Autism was offering a Gaming Club (PA Gamerz) in York Region. You can read more about it and reach out to the organization to inquire about the club here: http://projectautism.ca/events/gaming-club-pa-gamerz-york-region/

 

 

There are some private agencies that offer interest or skill-based programming. As an example, in Toronto, the following two organizations offer programming:

Improvability: http://www.improvability.ca

DreamWeavers: http://www.dreamweaverscollective.com

 

Autism Ontario offers a number of social recreation opportunities for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. While they aren’t established as social skills programs, they do provide an opportunity to interact socially with other individuals on the spectrum (and their families). You can contact them directly for more info at (866) 925-9969 or by email at toronto@autismontario.com

 

PEERS Social Skills intervention for Teens with ASD. This is a is a 14 week evidence-based social skills intervention for motivated teens with Autism Spectrum Disorders in the 7th-12th grade who are interested in learning ways to help them make and keep friends. During each group session teens are taught important social skills and are given the opportunity to practice theses skills in session during real play activities (e.g. playing sports, board games, etc).  Parents are taught how to assist their teens in making and keeping friends by providing feedback through coaching during weekly socialization homework assignments: https://www.2.semel.ucla.edu/peers

 

 

Social Stories: http://carolgraysocialstories.com/social-stories/

 

 

Isabelle Henault’s book: Asperger’s Syndome and Sexuality: From Adolescence through Adulthood: https://www.amazon.ca/Aspergers-Syndrome-Sexuality-Adolescence-Adulthood/dp/1843101890

 

 

Tony Attwood: Relationship Problems of Adults with Asperger’s Syndrome: http://www.mindsandhearts.net/images/newsletter/April2012/The_Relationship_Problems_of_Adults_with_Aspergers_Syndrome.pdf

 

 

Mentorship Programming

Many families find a great deal of success through the Big Brothers/Big Sisters programming. You can explore these programs via the Big Brothers/Big Sisters website here: http://www.bbbst.com/en/Home/default.aspx

 

 

Want to ensure resources like these remain freely available and accessible to people across Ontario? Please donate today: https://secure.e2rm.com/registrant/FundraisingPage.aspx?registrationID=3783990&langPref=en-CA#&panel1-1

 

 

 

Click here to check out last week’s article and resources related to HEALTH/MENTAL HEALTH http://www.aspergers.ca/blog/autism-awareness-month-mental-health/
Click here to check out the previous week’s article and resources related to EDUCATION: http://www.aspergers.ca/blog/autism-awareness-month-education/

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