I'm a speech-language pathologist whose primary focus & passion is helping adults and young adults with autism prepare for the social demands of the workplace through both individual and group therapy sessions. This is a blog of my experiences working with adults with autism and using different therapy resources.

Monday, November 17, 2014

"But...you asked..."

As a speech-language pathologist working with adults on the spectrum to help them prepare for the workplace, I focus heavily on teaching my clients to develop a "social filter."

As humans, we are constantly bombarded by lessons of "don't lie." Easy peasy, right? Not so much!

Neurotypicals take for granted that we naturally learn the many nuances of honesty. As we mature, we learn unspoken rules that help us gauge when lying is socially appropriate.

A friend excitedly walks over to show you her new shoes. The first thing that pops into your mind is, "those are better suited for Lady Gaga," but before the words slip off your tongue, within a split-second, you have already activated your "social filter."  "Nice new shoes" you manage to say. Or, if they are really outrageous, maybe you muster, "interesting new kicks."

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Supernatural

During the first session of every social training group, I introduce the course by letting my clients know they are in the group because they have a diagnosis of autism. I also introduce the term "neurotypical," a word that refers to individuals who are not on the spectrum.

I make it known that I am a neurotypical, whose purpose is not to change anyone. My role is to provide a safe environment where everyone can learn and practice the social skills needed to navigate and be successful in the workplace.

I intentionally avoid using the word "normal." "Autistic" versus "normal" is misleading and offensive. How many neurotypicals do you know who are "normal"? If they are "normal," I imagine they are duds. I digress...

I have found that creating an environment where my clients are encouraged to embrace their identity as someone on the spectrum leads to better understanding of the general differences in thinking among individuals with autism and neurotypicals.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Facing My Own Discomfort in Communicating

My upbringing as a "Girl Raised in the South" (G.R.I.T.S. as we jokingly prefer to be called) has made me adept at revealing my opinions through a lengthy series of words, each word softening any abrasiveness in my message.

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"My neighbor, I love her to death, has got to mow her grass!"

Take a moment to think of the above example through the lens of a literal thinker.

Love someone to death...can that really happen...if so, what the heck does it have to do with mowing a yard???

Let's not "beat around the bush" (huh?), entering the profession of speech pathology and working with adult individuals with autism made me quickly realize that my style of communication was in need of some major adjustments.