Why we MUST teach social reciprocity in small manageable doses!

Sorry for the blue hue off the white board! In this video, I discuss SOCIAL RECIPROCITY. What is it and why must we help people with autism build the foundations!?

Here is a summary of what I talk about on the video (above):

  1. What is social reciprocity? It is the back and forth sing song between people. You feel it. You have a relaxed back and forth without awkward silence. You don’t talk over one another or if you do, you both think its funny. When it is there, it’s when you “click” with someone. When it is there, you create bonds of parent-child, friendship, and love.
  2. Deficits in social reciprocity are required for someone to receive a diagnosis of autism. it is one of the core deficits/challenges of autism.
  3. Imagine development of social reciprocity like merging on a freeway with the freeway representing daily adult social engagements. You have to know how to drive first in a parking lot or similar (a quieter, less busy situation) before then you can start driving on a side street then more major streets before then merging and being successful driving on a freeway.
  4. The infant engages in simple, quiet, distraction low engagements with trusted caregivers in a back and forth engagement (social reciprocity) that leads to such games as peek-a-boo.  Then the caregiver and infant start naturally adding distractors, locations, and more while the infant/child learns how to prioritize the social engagement with exploration.
  5. The dynamics increase exponentially in the coming months and years but the social engagement remains the foundation for safety and understanding of the world. The child starts exploring objects and this adds what we call “joint attention” into the mix… but the social reciprocity remains key.
  6. Imagine the playground in elementary school or the hallways in middle or junior high school…. the dynamics are astronomical for someone who may not be able to prioritize the social reciprocity and use it effectively. When we ask someone with autism to learn turn taking in a game out on the playground without ensuring a solid foundation of social reciprocity, it is akin to asking someone who has rarely or never driven to jump in a car and get on the freeway.
  7. Ensuring the foundation of social reciprocity ensures a person’s abilities in many areas: prioritizing, decision making, and social engagement. Not ensuring the foundation ensures a person feeling chaotic, out of control, and unsuccessful in social and decision making situations.

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All my best,