Thursday, April 22, 2010

Self Awareness

Of the six “attributes for success” that I mentioned yesterday, I think the most difficult for my son (and others like him with social communications disabilities) to master is self-awareness. So much so, that he is probably not even aware that it might be a struggle for him.

Those who must deal with a nonverbal learning disorder or autism spectrum disorder frequently have a lack of attentiveness to personal hygiene – a smudge of chocolate or toothpaste left on the face, shoes loosely tied or untied, shirt, half-in and half-out and maybe showing signs of a recent snack. So they must develop a self-awareness of their own physicality, their overall appearance.

Self-awareness, or lack thereof, can also be seen in conversations. Sometimes people with social communication deficits are less able to modulate their volume, speaking too loudly or (as is usually the case with my son) not loudly enough; sometimes speaking too quickly or not clearly enough.

In order to achieve success (socially, in a job, in LIFE), there also must be an awareness of oneself as a part of a social group: How close to stand, how to be part of a conversation – contributing to a dialog without commandeering it, making eye-contact, but not staring. Social awareness, even mastered for one situation, must usually be adapted for another situation. The social group is constantly changing. Fitting in and interacting in a class will demand a different self-awareness and self, than a conversation over dinner in the cafeteria. Walking to class with one or two other students will, again, require different skills than sitting in the dorm lobby with a crowd of other resident students. A sense of self-awareness will guide us on what to say, when to say it and – above all – how to become a part of the social group.

If that sense must be learned rather than being intuitive, you can see how much harder it will be to achieve success.

No comments: