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aspergers

Can adults with ASD/Asperger’s learn social skills? 

Please note: While Asperger’s Disorder is no longer formally recognized by the American Psychiatric Association, it is still a term that is widely used by both professionals and patients. Therefore, we have decided to use the terminology in this blog.

Social skills don’t come naturally for people with Asperger’s. But you can learn these skills. Generally, the best way to learn social skills is through skills training, and your doctor may recommend medicine and other therapies as well. We will discuss some of these treatments below.

What Is Asperger’s Syndrome?

Asperger’s syndrome is a developmental disability that used to be an independent diagnosis but is now considered a high-functioning part of the autism spectrum. Individuals with this type of autism are able to complete school and can handle a job. However, they may need help or accommodations.

People with Asperger’s have symptoms such as a lack of interaction in social situations, sensitivity to touch, noise, or odors, lack of ability to recognize sarcasm or humor, difficulty making or keeping friends, clumsiness, lack of eye contact, repetitive behaviors, difficulty regulating emotions, a first-person focus, and below-average verbal and nonverbal skills.

How Can Asperger’s Syndrome Affect Daily Life?

People with Asperger’s syndrome may find they have difficulty with relationships for several reasons, such as difficulty recognizing social cues, a lack of empathy, a preference for being alone, and difficulty understanding and expressing signs of affection. All of these issues can cause difficulty in a relationship. Many people in a relationship want regular signs of affection and to spend time with their partners, and they can be left feeling lonely and unloved in a relationship that doesn’t offer these.

Individuals with Asperger’s syndrome may have trouble holding a job because they have difficulty interpreting nonverbal communication such as body language, and they may struggle to learn new tasks or to change tasks. The difficulty understanding nonverbal communication and a desire for repetition and a consistent daily routine can also affect other parts of daily life. If you have Asperger’s, there are steps you can take to improve your quality of life, which we will discuss below.

What Are Some Treatments for Asperger’s Syndrome that Can Help with Social Skills?

The most common treatments for Asperger’s syndrome are therapy and medication. A treatment such as social skills training will directly teach social skills. Some of the other treatments can also indirectly help individuals to improve their social skills.

Medication

Medication will not directly help your social skills, but it could ease your symptoms, which may help you to feel more comfortable in social situations.

Therapy

A number of therapies are recommended for individuals with Asperger’s, depending on their situation.

Speech Therapy

A speech therapist can help you to learn to communicate with others more effectively. People with Asperger’s may have a very good vocabulary but may talk too fast, repeat words, or speak in an unusual pitch, which can be distracting. A speech therapist can work with you to resolve any of these issues, thus helping you to feel more comfortable and confident while improving your social skills. This therapy is generally conducted individually with the therapist, though in some cases, the therapist may choose to have you practice your speech skills in a group setting.

Sensory Integration Therapy

If you are sensitive to certain sounds or textures, you may find it difficult to concentrate on interacting with other people. Sensory integration therapy can help you better tolerate these sensory inputs, which can make it easier for you to concentrate on your social interactions.

Social Skills Training

Social skills are the skills you use when interacting with others. These skills are important to getting along at work as well as to forming friendships or romantic relationships, and social skills training can help you develop and improve them. This training will likely include teaching you to start conversations, understand body language, and maintain eye contact, as well as other common social skills.

Some of this training may occur individually, but much of the training occurs in social skills groups, which allow group members to learn from each other as well as the instructor. Training a person in a group of people with similar skills can allow the instructor to teach skills directly and provide help with these skills as the group practices. Furthermore, interacting with a group will give you a chance to improve the skills you are taught, thus building your confidence in your ability to use these skills outside of the group.

Conclusion

Developing social skills can be difficult for people with Asperger’s. However, social skills training can help you obtain these skills, which can allow you to form better relationships and have a more fulfilling life. One convenient way to obtain this training is to take social skills classes online, such as through the Social Skills Center. These classes can teach you the skills you need and allow you to practice them online with a group of people who are also trying to improve themselves.

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