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Literal Thinking is in my Bones: Social Motivation Trumps Social Skills

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One of the first things many people think about when discussing neurodiversity is  intervention with social skills. And it’s true — social skills are teachable.

(In fact, for years, I’ve had a joking monologue about my own fictional social skills coach, every time I find myself in an awkward situation).

Still, for me and many others, one aspect seems to matter more than anything: What is the drive for social interaction, and where is the motivation?

In this episode of Literal Thinking is in my Bones, I propose that social motivation underlies the need for social skills. What’s the point of learning to make eye contact if I don’t expect I’ll have a good time?!

Check it out…

What do you think?

I imagine that some people are already highly motivated to improve their social skills. To them, I still suggest assessing for fun and enjoyment (more than appropriateness and behavior) as you try out different situations.

In the comments below, let me know if any part of this discussion was useful to you. Anything else to explore here?

And until next time, keep on rocking in a neurodiverse world!

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Anita Schnee July 3, 2014, 1:32 pm

    Makes so much sense, Bob. Motivation: Fun. Purpose: Function.

    • byamtich July 3, 2014, 9:07 pm

      Anita! Instead of being given a functioning-based label, such as “Occasionally near optimal but with surprising gaps in functioning,” I’d like to be known as consistently fun and kind.

  • James F July 3, 2014, 6:17 pm

    Bob, one of the things that I have noticed over the last three years, as a result of becoming a member of three different Aspie groups at Meetup.com in the San Francisco bay area, is that when you get a bunch of Aspie adults together, either in a self-help discussion group or socially over dinner, is that, for the most part, once they have been around each other for awhile they really open up and it hard to tell the difference between them and NTs. In this regard, here are my personally observed differences punctuated by comments made by others: 1) When first joining, I felt, my wife felt, and several others have expressed a feeling of immediate kinship, something we had never experienced before in our lives when hanging out with other friends, family, or coworkers – a feeling of this is where I belong, these are my kind of people. 2) Whereas most will start interacting vocally to some degree in their first encounter, many will take a few meetings before they become really comfortable and become very talkative. 3) The conversation level is typically at a deeper level than typical NT conversations, though it can be on “fluff” topics such as types of food, movies, music, and games.

    I think that a lot of the reason for this is the feeling of comfort being around other Aspies and realizing that these other folks are going to be accepting and not ridicule them for things they want to talk about or otherwise bully them.

    Will you consider joining our facebook group? I think you might find our insights interesting. We are not the typical group.


    • byamtich July 3, 2014, 8:59 pm

      Hi Jim,

      I’m glad to be a part of your group. I’ve also benefited from some of the SF area Aspie meetups, particularly when the diagnosis was new to me. Social media has also helped me interact- so interesting to think that there are real people reading our words!


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