social skills help at sociallysucceeding.com
My daughter, who is 22 yrs., is home for the summer between finishing her undergrad degree and going off this fall for her grad degree. She was teaching my son's age group at our church this last weekend. In the process of asking her how that went, and what the kids were like, etc., I asked how her brother acted in class.
She said "He is really overly-opinionated, and when he spouts his opinions, with little or nothing backing them up, everybody else rolls their eyes at him."
Ever seen this happen with your kid? Have you ever done this yourself?
Often, I think that my son is actually doing better than he really is, socially. I think it's my way of putting my head in the sand -- if I'm not observing it directly, then he must be doing fine. But I know that he is overly opinionated -- especially about politics -- and if people on the spectrum are about 3 years behind socially than their peers, then this kind of lack of social skills makes my son (and others) look childish and borish. I can say this, because I'm pretty sure I have done the same thing in my life -- except I was probably older and should have known better.
So tonight, we had a big talk as a family about NOT spouting opinions, especially when you don't have facts to back up that opinion. We talked about declarative statements, and how they lead to arguments. We talked about how couching your opinion in ways that are not aggressive lends itself to constructive conversation, and doesn't make people think you're stupid, and doesn't make the person you're conversing with feel attacked. I tried to make it clear to my son that I try REALLY HARD to not open my mouth about things like politics unless I've read a lot on the subject, and watched the news, and looked up words or policies that I don't understand [which is often!]. My daughter and I role-played back and forth to show my son the difference between spouting unfounded opinions, and people's response to this -- and couching your opinions in language that is conversational and shows that you're open to learning new things from others, allowing a free-flow of ideas and improving relationships with people of differing opinions. I tried to make him understand that if he is quiet, and waits to talk until he has something legitimate to say, backed up by numerous FACTS from a good source (newspaper, magazine, news program, etc.), people will take him seriously and may even come to respect him.
Tonight I was online looking for possible resources for this type of social problem, and I came across this website:
This is a site that has numerous articles on social skills subjects, written by a guy who used to be shy and socially awkward. He has a background in psychology and counseling, but he says he's no authority on the subject -- he's just observed people a lot, and has improved by making sense of these observations -- and wanted to pass what he has learned on to other people.
I'm going to read these articles, and have my son try reading them as well, to see if it helps him to makes sense of some of his social skills that still need fine-tuning. I have a funny feeling that many of the articles will deal with issues that came up tonight with my son and his "opinion" problems.