Posts Tagged ‘social skills’

I am a 26 years old with autism and many attention-seeking behaviors. What causes them? I am verbal.

January 13, 2012 6 comments

Today’s “Got Questions?” answer comes from Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Geri Dawson, PhD

Thanks so much for your question. There are many reasons why a person with autism would engage in many attention seeking behaviors. Perhaps you would like to socially interact and make friends with others, but aren’t quite sure the best way to do this. If you are being ignored by others, this might lead you to repeat your attempts to interact again and again.

If you are engaging in a behavior that is ritualized (exactly the same each time) and repetitive, it might reflect a general tendency to engage in repetitive behaviors, which is a symptom of autism. With appropriate guidance, you can learn more appropriate ways of seeking attention and this will help you develop more satisfying relationships with others. Seeking the help of a psychologist or behavior analyst may be particularly beneficial.

For more information and resources, you can follow these links to our pages on Applied Behavioral Analysis, Adults with Autism and Adult Services.

Got more questions? Send them to, and join Dr. Dawson  for her next “Office Hours” webchat with co-host, Joe Horrigan, MD, Autism Speaks assistant vice president and head of medical research (first Thursday of every month at 3 pm Eastern)

LIVE Chat with Jed Baker

October 12, 2011 2 comments

Please join us on Friday, October 14 for a LIVE Chat with Jed Baker at 12 pm EDT. Jed will be here to discuss several topics including social skills training as we honor the U.S. Department of Labor’s National Disability Employment Awareness month.

Jed Baker, Ph.D. is the director of the Social Skills Training Project, an organization serving individuals with autism and social communication problems.  He is on the professional advisory board of Autism Today, ASPEN, ANSWER, YAI, the Kelberman Center and several other autism organizations. In addition, he writes, lectures, and provides training internationally on the topic of social skills training and managing challenging behaviors.  He is an award winning author of five books on social skills training and managing challenging behaviors. His work has also been featured on ABC World News, Nightline, Fox News, the CBS Early Show, and the Discovery Health Channel.

Books and Resources available at

Social Skills and Frustration Management DVD This dynamic presentation is extremely valuable to all family members and professionals working with individuals with autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit disorders, learning disabilities, mood and anxiety disorders, and other issues that impact social-emotional functioning

Preparing for Life: The Complete Handbook for Transitioning to Adulthood for Those with Autism and Aspergers Syndrome. A comprehensive book to create plans to transition to adult life. Practical information on applying for college, vocational training, residential programs, and financial assistance is provided along with guidelines for helping students understand their strengths and challenges so they can advocate for themselves. The book contains over 70 skill lessons pertaining to friendship, dating, employment, transportation, finances and managing frustration and anxiety, allowing students to prepare for all aspects of adult life.

Social Skills Picture Book for High School and Beyond This fully illustrated book includes real photographs of teens and adults demonstrating many of the skills from Preparing for Life in picture form

Social Skills Training for Children and Adolescents with Aspergers and Social –Communication Problems This comprehensive social skill manual has 70 skill lessons, behavior management strategies, and peer sensitivity lessons to be used at home or in school

The Social Skills Picture Book: Teaching Play, Emotion and Communication to Children with Autism This book displays real pictures of children demonstrating over 27 different skills. It is meant for younger students who learn better by seeing skills than hearing an explanation of skills.

No More Meltdowns: Positive Strategies for Dealing with and Preventing Out-of-Control Behavior This new release provides tools to de-escalate meltdowns, understand your child’s triggers and prevent problems situations, and improve the relationship with your child.

No More Meltdowns is now an App!
A Companion website and mobile app to the book No More Meltdowns. Record behavior while it happens: Use a PC to enter behaviors and triggers online, or use an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or touch-based smartphone. Analyze triggers to behaviors and use the quick prevention plan guides to help manage and prevent challenging behaviors. Available at

Be a Friend Music CD ( 16 songs to reinforce social skills for children 2-9.

Upcoming workshops

All Kids Can Succeed!

Wednesday, Nov 30, 2011

JCC-Rockland, 450 West Nyack Road, Nyack, NY

Sponsored by Jewish Family Services of Rockland County, NY. email info@bossyfrog.​com.

For Dr. Baker’s complete schedule of workshops, go to

Social Skills and Autism

March 28, 2011 36 comments

Welcome to this installment of ‘Topic of the Week.’ These topics stem from submissions from our community. If there is anything in particular that you would like to see featured, please contact us!

People on the autism spectrum often have issues with social interactions. Often, a person on the spectrum has difficulty with basic social skills. How do you work on your social skills or the skills of your child? What tips do you have and what strategies do you use to improve this skill set?

For more information on social skills, including information from experts, teachers, and families, along with useful resources to help enhance your family member’s opportunities to be part of the community please visit this installment of Community Connections.

In Their Own Words – If He Really Knew Me

September 14, 2010 30 comments

This “In Their Own Words” is by JR Inman, who has a teenage son with high-functioning autism.

My son is now 14 years old and is considered now to be high-functioning. As all of you can imagine, he definitely did not start out that way. We have worked very hard on giving him the social skills that he needs to fit into society. He has learned them so well and has such a big heart that he tends to be much more forgiving of others’ bad behavior than most of us.

He was attending a public school in Southern California and he rode a bus specifically for special needs children. However, because of budget cuts, they slowly began to add typical children to his bus in the afternoon. He had complained to me that there were boys on his bus that he did not understand. I asked him what he meant and he said they were the boys from the “other side” of the school who talk fast. I called the school to ask what was going on and they explained that because of the cuts in the budget they were forced to adjust the routes and add children to some buses. I told my son to try and avoid these boys. He said that he was, but I was still very nervous.

About a week later, I received a call from the transportation department telling me that my son had an “accident” on the bus. As it turned out, they added a child in a wheelchair on the bus. As the driver left the bus to help the child, one of the typical boys got up and began to say very unpleasant things to my son. My son is a very loving boy and has never said anything unkind to anyone on purpose. He does repeat sayings; but as soon as he learns that what he just repeated it is not nice, he never says it again. As this boy was talking to him, my son just smiled at him because he did not understand what was being said to him.

To make a long story short, my son ended up with a black eye and a swollen nose.  When I got to the school office and saw him, I was so angry. I began yelling at the head of transportation, asking him what in the world was he thinking putting a child like that with a busload of special needs children. My son immediately got up, grabbed my arm and said, “Please mom, don’t be mad at them.” I turned to him and asked, “Who should I be mad at?” My son looked at me and said, “It is not that boy’s fault; he just didn’t know me. If that boy really knew me, he would not have done that. He would have been my friend.”

My son never sees the bad side of anyone. He consistently thinks that everyone is nice, and if someone is not, it is just because things have not been explained to that person. He never says anything mean or hateful about anyone, no matter how they treat him. We could all learn a lot from our special needs friends. I sometimes think that we are the ones who need the special training to be nice and tolerant of each other.

“In Their Own Words” is a series within the Autism Speaks blog which shares the voices of people who have autism, as well as their loved ones. If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, please send it to Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.

In Their Own Words – The Club that Saved My Son

August 23, 2010 7 comments

This “In Their Own Words” is by Ileana Morales, who has a teenage son with autism.

I have a 17-year-old boy named David who has autism. David, up until the age of 10, knew very few words such as mama, papa, and toy (I know, all kids’ favorite word). At the age of 11 he became high-functioning; he would not stop talking and we couldn’t be happier. He was no longer shy; he could actually look you straight in the eye and tell you what he wanted, which he never did before. He started doing great in school and at home, but when he turned 16 (and the hormones kicked in) everything changed dramatically and not for the better.

He was desperate for friends, he wanted a girlfriend and when he gets something in his head of what he wants, he will not drop the subject. He was growing more and more frustrated. He started trying harder to make friends at school, but little by little he came to realize that he was different. He was treated differently and that the girls just wouldn’t give him the same attention that they would to another teenager.

He started getting more aggressive every day; David went from my sweet little boy to an aggressive teenager. Things were getting out of hand; I didn’t know what to do or say because anything would cause an outburst. I didn’t know who to turn to, either. The treatments weren’t helping and I didn’t want to result to treatment with drugs. He even started hurting himself with any object he could find, biting himself really hard or smacking his head repeatedly, causing him a terrible migraine. He would kick and punch doors, and throw things all over the house. He would cry to me saying, “Mom, please help me. I have no friends. I’ll never have a girlfriend; I’m a disgrace.” That would just rip me apart inside – he was frustrated and so was I.

I enrolled him in the Best Buddies program at school, but after every outing, he would come home more depressed and tell me that the regular kids didn’t want to talk to him (which honestly defeats the whole purpose of the program). One day, I started talking to the mother of one of David’s classmates, Rosa, and we decided to start a club.

It all began when Rosa threw a Sweet Sixteen party for her daughter, and all the kids were so happy all week – planning on what to wear, how to dance which the teachers at school showed them how to do. David didn’t have one outburst all week, which was a miracle for us, and they ended up having a blast at the party. The following Friday, I picked up seven of David’s high-functioning friends in my van with the other mother, Rosa, and we went to “hang out” at the movies “like the regular kids”(in the words of my son). This was the first time they had ever gone to the movies with friends and they would not stop laughing and talking, just being the teenagers that they so desperately craved to be. Rosa and I came out of the theater bawling our eyes out; we just felt so relieved to be able to do that for them.

Now we go out every Friday. I have the kids calling me all week to see where we’re going and what time I’ll be there to pick them up. David and his friends are no longer the aggressive teenagers they once were, because they’re too busy planning their Friday night outings and it makes me proud to be a part of that.

There needs to be more programs like this out there. Yes, there’s physical and speech therapy for them when they’re adolescents, but what about their social skills, their happiness? Our teens with autism need help; they get lonely, they want attention and they want friends. It’s our human nature to want to be accepted in society. If they suffer, so do we.

I wanted to share this story with every mother going through what I went through. Our little club is working and all of us together can make it grow, where every teen with autism can be a part of it.

“In Their Own Words” is a series within the Autism Speaks blog which shares the voices of people who have autism, as well as their loved ones. If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, please send it to Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.


In Their Own Words – What Not to Wear, Autism Style

July 20, 2010 45 comments

This “In Their Own Words” essay is by Laura Shumaker. Laura is the author of “A REGULAR GUY: GROWING UP WITH AUTISM.” Join the discussion about her book on Facebook.

It was 103 degrees, the hottest July 3 on record for our community in Northern California. My son Matthew, who is 24 years old and has autism, was getting ready to go the local saloon with his younger brother Andy to sing karaoke, one of his favorite activities.

“I’m ready,” he said, and as I turned to say goodbye, Matthew stood before me in a long sleeve winter wool plaid shirt, khaki pants and dress shoes.

To top off the look, he had cut his bangs too short and tried to hide the botch job with a comb over. He had patches of toilet paper soaked in blood all over his face from shaving.

He was beaming.

“Matthew,” I said, “you really should change into something cooler. It’s really hot … ”

“I look good!” he argued.  “”I’ve been planning on wearing these clothes all week!”

He did look pretty good, at least better than his standard shorts, t-shirt, dark socks and sandals.

Andy shrugged with resignation in the back ground, but insisted that Matthew clean up the shaving cuts before they left.

I asked parents on my  Facebook page to tell me which battles they’ve given up fighting. Most, as you can imagine, had a hard time picking just one.

I have struggled for years over Matthew’s clothing choices and grooming routine. Thankfully, he’s embraced the idea of the importance of physical hygiene (though a little obsessed with a close shave) but the clothing battle is one I’d given up on. As Matthew walked out the door that night, it occurred to me that it was time to help him work on his image. He was, after all, looking to meet some nice girls. He was going to need all the help he could get. The challenge would be finding a way to get the message across without lecturing him.

An idea came to me.

I got the Halloween box out of the attic and fished out some cheap wigs that we’d collected over the years. I convinced Andy to help me put together some “regular” outfits and some oddball outfits enhanced by a Sony Bono mullet and the Morticia wig.

“We’ll make it a game!” I told Andy, “We’ll ask him to pick the outfit that looks the craziest and the one that looks the most regular. ”

“You realize this is going to backfire,” said Andy, “and that he’ll want to start wearing the wigs around.”

And of course that is exactly what happened.

So I’m backing off again. You have to hand it to me for trying. The good news is that Matthew and his social skills counselor are going people watching today at the mall. (Her idea, not mine)

Maybe he’ll get some fashion tips there.

“In Their Own Words” is a series within the Autism Speaks blog which shares the voices of people who have autism, as well as their loved ones. If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, please send it to Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.


In Their Own Words – Adults Still Need Help Making Friends

May 20, 2010 23 comments

When people learn that my 23-year-old son, Matthew, has autism, the first question they ask is “is he mild or severe?” Even though I’ve been asked the question many, many times, I have a hard time answering it.

“He’s super quirky and socially inept,” I’ve been known to say, “and he wants a girlfriend in the worst way. It’s nearly impossible to make any kind of friend when you’re socially inept so I guess that makes his ‘case’ severe.”

Then I’ll give them an example. Here is my latest:

I took Matthew on a weekend trip from our home in the San Francisco Bay Area to Spokane,  Washington. He’s been obsessed with visiting every state in the U.S., and after studying his atlas, he figured we could hit Washington, Idaho and Montana all in a day with time for lunch at a place where he could order pizza and fries.

“We could even go to Canada,” I suggested.

“Canada is not a state. Only states,” Matthew replied flatly, “and we’re not going to talk about it anymore.”

As soon as our plane landed, we picked up our rental car and started our journey, listening to Roy Orbison, the Beatles and Jimmy Buffett CDs that Matthew had stowed in his backpack. There was little conversation except for when we saw state welcome signs. “WELCOME TO IDAHO!” Matthew would announce with a face-breaking smile. Those moments alone, along with the breathtaking scenery, made the trip worthwhile. I was struck by how well this trip was going. I was actually looking forward to the fact that we had another entire day to explore the area some more.

After turning around after the Montana border, I asked Matthew where we should have dinner. Idaho or Washington?

“We had lunch in Idaho. We should have dinner in Washington.”

When we arrived at out hotel in Spokane and asked for a restaurant recommendation, the trouble started.

When I planned the trip to Washington, I could never have known that the hotel I picked was also the hotel that a team of female college lacrosse players had also selected, and that they would be bouncing around the pool (right by the front desk) in bikinis. I could never have known that they would mistake handsome Matthew for a “neurotypical” 23-year-old man, and invite him to join them in the jacuzzi later. I could not have predicted that after a quick dinner in the hotel restaurant, Matthew would wait by the jacuzzi for two hours until the girls showed up, and that they would giggle nervously when they figured out that Matthew was not what they expected – and then vanish.

Once back in our hotel room, as I tried to comfort my sobbing son, I thought of all the times I had said “don’t worry. You’ll meet a nice girl someday.” It occurred to me that the only way that if Matthew was going to have any kind of a friendship with a woman, I was going to need to help him.

And I developed a plan.

To learn more about my plan, and to follow its progression, go here.

Will the road ahead be tricky? You bet! But it is worth traveling for the sake of all our kids as they face adulthood.

Wish me luck.

This “In Their Own Words” essay is by Laura Shumaker. Laura is the author of “A REGULAR GUY: GROWING UP WITH AUTISM.” Join the discussion about her book on Facebook.

If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, please send it to Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.


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