Teaching Social Intake Skills

Look at the photo to the right and answer the following questions:

1. Are these two people mad at one another?

2. How can you tell?

If a person has difficulty picking up on key social skills he will likely struggle in school and later in the working world as he interacts with classmates, teachers, supervisors and others.

When most of us see a man with a scowl on his face and his arms crossed, we can sense he is upset. Likewise, if we see a boy smiling happily and skipping down the street, we can deduct that he is happy. We often use verbal and non-verbal clues to tell how a person is feeling.

If a person looks mad and answers, “Everything is fine,” in an angry tone when asked about the situation, we interpret that things aren’t actually fine. However, the signs that we take for granted are the type of signs that a person with autism will miss completely. These are the kind of social skills a person with autism must be directly taught. How? One way is to start exactly like above. Explain how you can tell if someone is happy.

“The girl is smiling. The woman is smiling, too. They are sitting close together and looking together where the woman is pointing. When people act like this, they are happy.”