One thing that is very important to me in my journey with autism is to get social skills coaching. I once used college financial aid money to pay for a social skills coach and it was very helpful in helping me to meet people and especially with getting girls to notice me.
One of the greatest challenges that autism presents me is in dating and relating to the opposite sex. Social skills coaching was very helpful with that and they worked on things like body language and non-verbal communication. These are the type of social skills that we do not work on in counseling.
One big component of social skills coaching to was in going to bars to meet people. This is something I feel that a lot of people do in their 20’s and 30’s. As you might imagine the social dynamics of the bar are not very comfortable for me sensory wise and with everything going on there it can become a bit overwhelming. None the less it has always been one of my goals to become an expert socializer in the social context of the bar.
I find social context is one of the most important things with autism and just with social skills in general. It is one thing to sit in a counseling session in someone’s office and talk about social skills, but it is an entirely different thing to actually generalize and apply those same social skills in different settings and within the context of the bar.
The way I learn is by learning social skills in the highest functioning social context first and then try to generalize them down to begin learning them at a lower functioning level of context. I think learning the hard stuff is easier than learning the easy stuff. It is also way more interesting.
So for me, in order to learn how to apply a social skill at a library I feel I would first need to learn how to apply it in a bar or dance club. I find it is much easier to generalize down from a higher functioning level of skill to a lower functioning level of skill than it is to generalize up from a lower functioning skill to a higher functioning skill.
The same is true for the context in which the skill is being used. It is easier for me to generalize down from a higher functioning social context than it is for me to generalize down to a lower functioning social context.
In my life the one thing I want is independence. I have tried many jobs but I find them difficult socially without being able to be a master at the highest level social context of the bar setting. I feel like everything socially revolves around the bar and being able to be a master socializer in the context of the bar. Once I am able to achieve that then I think all of the other social skills in other contexts will be unlocked and easier for me to learn.
It frustrates me that I cannot keep a job because I do not have a good understanding of how to generalize and apply social skills in the social context of the bar. When I try to tell people on my team this they just do not understand and think that I am crazy. I feel that no one really understands how important being able to become an expert socializer in the social context of the bar really is.
My funding source Medicaid and the Autism waiver I get does not even have any interest in helping me learn this social context so I feel I am pretty much left out to dry on my own. It is overwhelming because my ability to get a job and be 100 percent happy in life relies upon being able to master the social context of the bar setting and be an expert socializer in the bar.
I would like to be able to save up my own money so that I can pay for my own social skills coaching where they do not have silly rules that actually prevent me from getting help in the right social context but every job I try I feel I fail and have to quit because I am not an expert socializer in the social context of the bar.
To me social context is the most important thing in autism and in life. I just wish I knew someway how to get everyone to understand how important social context is for me. If I was getting autism services in the right social context of the bar I would be able to keep a job and be successful in employment. I would even be able to make enough money on my own to come off of social security disability benefits and actually contribute to society.
How can a person with autism get others to understand how important social context is?