To better understand autism, picture yourself in a room filled with people, yet you are struggling to communicate effectively. You have something to say but are not sure when it is appropriate to speak and how you should phrase your thoughts.
You find it difficult to make eye contact and have received feedback that you’re not friendly enough. Despite frequent suggestions to improve your social skills, you're uncertain about where to begin.
You want to contribute to the conversation but are sometimes told that you are "too blunt" or say the "wrong things". Ultimately, after many failed attempts, you may leave saying nothing at all.
What is Social Communication?
What does it mean to struggle with social communication? In general, peope with autism often do not pick up on the typical social cues the way neurotypical (not-neurodivergent) people do. For instance, consider a common scenario for neurotypicals: a friend is sharing a story that doesn't particularly interest us. However, adhering to social norms, we often nod and simulate excitement to maintain the flow of the conversation and support the friend.
A person with autism might candidly express their boredom or disengage from a conversation, often without recognizing the social repercussions of such actions. They may not realize that even if a conversation becomes uncomfortable for other people, the conversation may continue even when the context is inappropriate. Conversely, many conversations considered "normal" may be awkward and uncomfortable for those with autism, especially if they struggle to grasp the conversation's purpose or the neurotypical partner's intent.
When individuals with autism do find a topic they enjoy, they may become preoccupied and obsessed with it. This intense focus can sometimes restrict their ability to maintain friendships, particularlty if they are unable to find others who share their interest or are willing to engage with it. Additionally, people with autism often find it challenging to decipher nonverbal cues, such as reading facial expressions, and may feel uneasy with the neurotypical expectation of maintaining eye contact during conversations.
People with autism may struggle to moderate their tone when sending emotional messages to neurotypicals in a manner they will understand. This can manifest in unintentionally speaking in a monotone voice or speaking too loudly or too formally for the setting they are in, such as using a classroom-style of communication while interacting with friends at a party.
Furthermore, those with autism often rely on routines and dislike change, partly due to heightened anxiety and lack of understanding in new situations. They may also experience hyposensitivity and hypersensitivity to sensory input such as sounds, lights, and textures, a trait attributed to the unique characteristics of the autistic nervous system.
These differences, coupled with a lack of support or understanding for how those with autism experience the world, can affect relationships, employment, and general health. Daily activities can become challenging, confusing, and occasionally overwhelming. People who are neurodivergent, such as those on the autism spectrum, work hard to better understand the confusing social world around them. Professional support can play a vital role in aiding them in this continuous endeavor.
Individuals with autism often possess a variety of positive skills and traits. These characteristics include an increased ability to focus on details, the capacity to persevere without being swayed by others’ opinions, the ability to work independently, recognition of patterns that may be missed by others, heightened perception of some sensations, determination, and an original way of thinking. Remembering and valuing these unique abilities is crucial, as they can be instrumental in achieving success in various aspects of life, whether for yourself or for your child.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Test
We offer testing for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at the Sachs Center. The Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) test is two hours long and consists of a clinical interview, where we learn about your past and current traits. We also offer specific evidence-based ASD tests from third-party researchers.
The Sachs Center provides specialized groups for autistic adults and children with autism, creating safe spaces and custom-designed group experiences. These groups are designed to allow teens and adults to connect and share their unique neurodiverse perspectives.
The Sachs Center offers online support groups specifically for autistic adults. For more details about these groups, call or email us.
We provide a unique group for autistic African-Americans called BASE - the Black Autism Spectrum Experience.
Adults with autism frequently face significant challenges in social interactions, a difficulty further intensified by feelings of exclusion from the African American community, which has historically dismissed mental health issues and neurodivergence. The BASE group therapy sessions are designed to provide African-American individuals facing similar challenges a space to connect and acquire skills for more effective social engagement. The sessions cover various topics, including:
- Navigating the experience of feeling different.
- Working with and mitigating pressures from family and societal expectations.
- Strategies for dealing with the anxieties associated with dating and seeking a partner.
- Setting healthy boundaries with friends and family.
- Engaging discussions on popular social topics such as movies and video games.
The Sachs Center also maintains connections through the Birch Family Services of Manhattan to help clients find supportive and engaging employment opportunities.
Reach out to us below to learn more.
Contact the Sachs Center in Manhattan, New York to learn if you or a loved one may be neurodivergent.