Autism & Effects on Socialization

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental condition that affects the perception, socialization skills and language skills and development. The symptoms usually start to become noticeable around the time a child enters their toddler and is increasingly more noticeable as the child grows. The long term issues that an autistic person experiences depends on a number of factors which is primarily based on the age the child is in which it is diagnosed and the level of intervention that is implemented.

Lack Of Eye Contact

One of the very first signs that a parent may notice in a child on the autism spectrum is that they avoid eye contact and if they do make eye contact it is very fleeting and the child looks away quickly. This is one of the most common traits of the disorder. This lack of looking a person in the eye deeply affects the ability of the autistic individual to enjoy appropriate socialization with other human beings, as eye contact is innate in human communication for the neurotypical individual. The lack of eye contact when in a social situation can be interpreted by the neurotypical person as a lack of interest.

Unaware of Body Language

People on the autism spectrum are usually not aware of how to read a person’s body language. Because of this fact, a neurotypical person can communicate in ways that an autistic person cannot, nor cannot understand. For example, a neurotypical person can be bored with a conversation and show it in their physical stance, yet the person on the autism spectrum will not read these cues and will continue to talk beyond what the neurotypical person deems as appropriate in a given situation.

Difficulty in Starting A Conversation

It is common for people on the autism spectrum to have a very difficult time in initiating a conversation. This is due to the fact that they simply do not know what to say, or they are afraid to say anything. Additionally, they may end up getting off the topic of conversation without realizing that it is not socially appropriate to do so.

Obsessing Over Interests and Repetition

People with autism tend to become extremely interested in different subjects to the point that one topic of conversation is all that they talk about. This is to the point of obsession. The autistic individual will go on and on and on about one thing and repeat things that they have already said.

Tendency to Literalize

People on the autism spectrum have a very strong tendency to literalize everything that is said. Unless they are taught about figures of speech, they will not recognize the true meaning of what a neurotypical person is trying to communicate. As an example, a neurotypical person may say “Joe was pulling my leg”, in which the person with the autism may respond to the effect of “did Joe hurt your leg?”.

Although these are very common traits for people on the autism spectrum, the autistic individual can be taught these skills and can eventually gain an understanding of what is appropriate in social situations. What are innate social behaviors for a neurotypical person must be taught through repetition to an autistic one.

Resources

http://www.autismspeaks.org/