The importance of reciprocal skills in achieving life goals and relationships for Autistic people
One of the key developments in my twenties was the realisation I didn't really understand reciprocation. I thought I had the basic understanding of what friendship was from the outside, and what relationships were as a concept. But I haven't had true reciprocal friends, and I realise now this wasn't purely down to other people as people had tried to be friend with me growing up but this not retained due to my input.
The desire to have these was mainly based on a general expectations, I felt that you aught have friendships and relationships, and to some extent I was missing out from the lack of experience. My expectations and goals are different now but the whole experience was so valuable, that even in my fairly asocial lifestyle currently, I know I can make use of this knowledge
This is not about about having the emotional state necessary to socialise, that is a topic in its own right. This is more about if you have life goals that require social interaction either as a social goal or a necessary evil. This is topic about understanding what reciprocation means in practice and how to develop a rhythm for social interaction.
I had a good therapist who encouraged me to meet people though context based activities. Of the space of 2-years, and then I slower built up my skill independently over my twenties
If you are mostly happy with your lot and you level of social interaction then is not for you.
The skill that are important in all relationships are:
- experience of the full range of social relationships be it acquaintances, professional, context buddies fiend and romantic. Working you way up with small meaningful steps. All of these are important to understand even if you are not ultimately going maintain all of them. Focus on the most difficult type of relationship at the exclusion of the other is not a good way to get off the ground, even if that is you ultimate goal
- the importantace of a focus of helping others as an aid to developing social skills, such as through volunteering, to practice focusing on other's need and wants rather than your immediate needs and desires, and how this makes a powerful impression on other relationships
- the importance of patience in accommodating other people's needs, and for the nurturing of relationships
- The importance of understanding progression of a relationship and why taking things slowly can be better for for stronger enduring bonds
- understanding how or when not to jump to conclusion or pre-empt failure
- understanding the "call and response" of reciprocation, both in person and through communication over the course time, with strategies like setting reminders.
- reciprocal conversational skills (formal and informal) that play to your advantages and using strategies such as humour, natural complements, balance of interests
- eye contact strategies that work autistic needs such as direct gaze aversion or overly fixed gaze, as well as eye contact myths such as "maintaining" eye contact
- strategies to make things easier, by being smart playing to your abilities rather than through total imitation of others
- how to avoid being taken advantage of/exploited
- basic understanding of personality types and human behaviour
- targeted approaches to focus on specific groups or contexts that make thing easier for you, and in order to have time out for recovery
- techniques to help you get outside your thoughts/ruminations when you need to
- the importance of learning independent life skill such as planning, cooking, cleaning, washing, safety, first aid, supplies, utilities, maintenance, finance and budgeting
- understanding the practical implications of long term relationships, and the implications of possible "alternative" relationships
- understanding that stable relationships, especially romantic relationships, are a creative process based on co-operation and continuous maintenance
- understanding that all experience is valuable especially the failures, and how to process that failure in a way that is not self-destructive.
- the importance of developing emotional maturity, but still being bale express yourself in a non serious way.