Employment Workshops For Adults on The Autistic Spectrum

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1 Employment Workshops For Adults on The Autistic Spectrum 1

2 INTRODUCTIONS GROUND RULES BODY LANGUAGE FACIAL EXPRESSIONS TONE OF VOICE FILM EVALUATION Session 7: Social Skills

3 Ground Rules

4 What? Aim of this session: to improve basic social interaction skills Objectives: Understanding some of the verbal and visual techniques used by non-autistic people in social situations e.g at work Learning of basic conversation skills 4

5 Why bother to develop our conversation skills for work? To fit in better at work and improve your ability to work with your colleagues as part of a team To avoid becoming a target which can be a threat to your job 5

6 Why bother to develop our conversation skills for work? To understand what not to talk about in a work situation To know when it is better to keep quiet To develop confidence when talking to your colleagues and your manager 6

7 Conversations without words Lots of conversation relies on facial expressions and body language Some people will be able to recognise these but others will not It is possible to learn the more obvious by rote, but should you have to? 7

8 Conversations Is it solely the responsibility of the employer and work colleagues to accept the person on the Autism Spectrum as he/she is? Does the person on the spectrum have some responsibility to learn basic social interaction skills? 8

9 Possible Difficulties It may be hard to know what other people are thinking or feeling because they do not tell you, often to avoid hurting your feelings Many people on the Spectrum are not able to read facial expressions, body language or gestures 9

10 Possible Difficulties Many people on the spectrum do not generalise learning and so it may be necessary to practise techniques until they become automatic If you can t read body language, you might misinterpret what the person is saying because body language tends to be truer than words 10

11 Body Language Experimental evidence suggests that people on the Spectrum process visual information differently. This means facial expressions and body language can cause problems. Communication statistics: Tone of Voice: 38% Body Language: 55% Words: 7%

12 Open Body Language Arms not crossed, maybe held shoulder width apart, hands open, not clenched into fists Legs not crossed, often parallel or slightly apart Head directed to other person or looking around from time to time

13 Open Body Language Eye contact relaxed and prolonged (look at mouth or forehead if you can look in person s direction but not at the eyes) Clothes may be loosened eg jacket unbuttoned Body relaxed and facing you

14 Example: Job Interviews Shake hands firmly Smile when you meet the interviewer(s) and, in moderation, during the interview Make eye contact with the questioner. If it is a panel interview make sure that you include each member when you answer by looking at them as well, but spend most of the time directing your answer to the questioner

15 Example: Job Interviews Sit upright, but comfortably, rather than leaning forward or backward. Don t be afraid to shift position from time to time Try not to fidget - keep your hands on your lap but do use them to illustrate an answer where appropriate Keep hand movements under control and don't make them too flamboyant

16 Closed Body Language One or both arms cross central line may be folded or tightly clasped Legs crossed in several different ways Head inclined away or tilted downwards

17 Closed Body Language Fidgeting: implies you are not communicating or focused on what is being said Leaning or turning away Little eye contact

18 Facial Expressions There are approximately 3000 facial expressions They can change from moment to moment Some people on spectrum can read them, some can t

19 Facial Expressions Some can read only the very obvious ones like happy, sad, angry, scared, & others can t read them at all Non-autistic people recognise facial expressions intuitively while people on spectrum sometimes have to analyse them in order to understand them

20 Facial Expressions People may use a facial expression which is different from the emotion felt, e.g. a smile may be genuine or faked It would be useful to recognise smiles and frowns

21 Facial Expressions Smile: upward turning of corners of mouth. Genuine smiles have crinkling around eyes. False smiles are just the mouth Frown: wrinkling of brow

22 Tone of Voice People on the spectrum sometimes have a monotonic voice and may not recognise different tones in other people Generally a smooth, low tone is calm and a louder, higher (and faster speech) may show that the person is excited, angry or in a rush.

23 When can you start a conversation? As a group let s come up with some possible times and ways to start a conversation and some bad times and some wrong ways

24 Conversations There are times when you shouldn t begin a conversation e.g. when being trained, at a meeting, at a lecture, when the person you want to talk to is on the phone, when the person is having a work-related talk to someone else If you get it wrong because the person does not want you to talk, just say Sorry, I didn t mean to disturb you, or Can I speak to you later? or if it s someone you know, Oops, I ve done it again!

25 Conversations If you want to start a conversation, what should you do? Make eye contact (or look at nose or mouth) Smile and if it s a new person to you shake hands Use open body language

26 Conversations First impressions count. People make up their minds about you within just a few minutes of meeting you. Remember that these are what the other person will be doing if they would like to speak to you.

27 Conversations Say Hi or Hello etc, Make a comment about the weather, subject of meeting etc as appropriate Remember Hi, how are you? actually just means Hello they don t want your medical history and what the doctor said. Just say fine even if you aren t.

28 Conversations How do you keep a conversation going? Let the other person talk for about half of the time. A great conversationalist is often really a great listener. Listen to what the other person is saying rather than just preparing what you are going to say

29 Conversations How do you keep a conversation going? Avoid talking about your special interest at work unless it is very relevant to the task, and if you do, keep it short If you want to speak, make eye contact, and ask a question or make a comment, try not to jump in.

30 Conversations How do you know when it is your turn to speak? When the other person s body language becomes more open eg turning towards you When the gestures become fewer

31 Conversations How do you know when it is your turn to speak? When the person s hand(s) points towards you with the palm facing upwards When you are asked a question eg What do you think?

32 Conversations If you want to end a conversation, what should you do? Make less eye contact Look at watch or at exit Start moving away Pack up, and maybe put your coat on Just say e.g. I must go now

33 Conversations If the other person wants to end the conversation they will do the same: Make less eye contact Look at watch or at exit Start moving away Pack up, and maybe put their coat on Just say e.g. I must go now

34 Conversations You need to be aware of these signs in the other person if it is you that is talking. Try to remember how you can tell if the person you are speaking to is trying to end the conversation. A work conversation is usually short, you are there to work.

35 Social Skills Learning the theory is fine, But just one session is not enough. You have to practise again and again in a wide variety of situations until the techniques became automatic. Remember why you need to learn these techniques for work they may well be essential for you to keep your job. 35

36 Social Skills Try to practise with people you know and trust. Don t just walk up to strangers. Ask friends or relatives to help you as they can give feedback and help you. A stranger may be alarmed if you get it wrong. 36

37 FILM TIME FUN WITH FLAGS STARRING SHELDON COOPER

38 Now it s time to try out your new skills! 38

39 Evaluation How has this session gone for you? Did you contribute? Were you listened to? Did you feel comfortable? Have you found out anything new? Is there anything we need to change for next time? 39

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