The social skills that most people take for granted just do not come naturally to those on the autism spectrum. Many aspects have to be taught in a way that, for the longest time, many experts did not understand. As more is learned about autism, teaching social skills to those with autism becomes easier and more methodical.
OUCARES offers several social skills classes for those on the spectrum. On Wednesday, I stopped by Social Skills one, which taught skills to young children in early elementary school. One thing that was taught to me by my parents was just because I had some trouble learning social skills, did not mean that no effort should be taken to teach the skills to me. Through a disciplined environment where rules were maintained, I was able to learn the skills I needed to function in school and work environments.
The same thing was being done here in this social skills class. One thing I have learned both through living on the spectrum myself and observing others on the spectrum is that it is difficult for someone to tell if we are really listening. I could avoid eye contact, be preoccupied with something, give no signs of listening when really absorbing every word. The problem is, these are the same exact signs that people give when they are not listening at all.
During the twenty minutes I observed the class, I noticed how Rebecca Anders, the instructor for this social skills class, was very consistent with her directions and rules. By creating a stable environment, young children with autism can learn to function in a world that contradicts his or her instincts regarding acceptable behavior.
As an individual on the autism spectrum myself, I would definitely recommend this camp to any parent who has a child on the autism spectrum. It is hard for a child with autism to learn the social skills they need to function in school and eventually the work place. Some of the skills I witnessed the kids learning here were skills that I could have used at age seven. I was not diagnosed with autism until I was twelve.
For more information about OUCARES Social Skills classes, visit the OUCARES website at http://www.oakland.edu/?id=19728&sid=156.