Comfort in Our Skin

I've been watching season 3 of the British show Skins, a drama about the lives of a group of teenagers struggling to negotiate conflict and relationships. One of the main characters is a boy with high functioning autism who describes himself as in the 97th percentile with math and language development, but in the bottom five percent for social skills. The interesting aspect of his character is the way in which the writers normalize his autism. It is a piece of who he is, but is not used for comic effect, or to highlight his quirks. His friends, for better or worse, accept him how he is and include him as a full part of their circle without trying to change him.

This leads me to an important point to remember as we look for the most effective ways to teach children on the autism spectrum skills to foster postive social relationships. We must start from a place of unconditional acceptance of who they are and their way of being in the world. Only from here can we nurture the confidence to build rewarding and mutual relationships. It's a paradox. In order to be a part of the process of growth, we first must accept where the child is at, unconditionally. 

Aaron Weintraub, MS runs child-centered social skills groups with a focus on children and teenagers withPervasive Developmental DisorderAsperger Syndrome, High Functioning Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and Shyness. Strengths-based approach in a community based setting. Groups available in Tolland, Mansfield, Willimantic, Hartford, Vernon and Coventry Connecticut.