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  #1  
Old 06-22-2012, 08:30 AM
Palo Verde Palo Verde is offline
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How can I get my socially awkward son to learn social skills?

Ben is 12. He talks about weird topics others aren't interested in and won't drop them even with very clear signs that the other person wants him to. He tells jokes others don't find funny, over and over and over. He'll talk long after people want him to be quiet.

Part of the social awkwardness is he has no idea that he annoys people, and doesn't recognize how he comes across to others.

How can I increase his awareness and get him to learn social skills?
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  #2  
Old 06-22-2012, 09:03 AM
Jman Jman is offline
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Good luck with that. Speaking as a person who sounds very much like your son, it's not something I think you can force him to change. Over time (after he gets some negative feedback from his peers), he'll improve, but don't expect it all to change. When I was a kid, I talked non-stop (still do), annoyed people (still do, but not nearly to the extent I used to), was brazenly arrogant about my intelligence (thank goodness I toned this down a LOT over the years, but occasionally it can peek out, but I don't like it when it does), and I always took a little bit longer to realize that I was boring/annoying/insulting people than I probably should have. It has been frustrating for me, as I am genuinely a friendly, deeply caring person, and it would hurt when the lightbulb would finally go on and I realized that the things I said had either annoyed someone or worse, insulted them or made them feel small by either bragging or relating a story that at first seemed like it would be helpful, but in hindsight made things seem much worse (I did that one recently and felt absolutely awful for a week).

I'm much better at controlling these aspects of my personality than I was when I was a kid, but it still happens occasionally, especially in a situation where I'm genuinely trying to help someone understand something and they suddenly decide they'd rather not know about it, with no interest in learning it. I am just now (I'm 34) starting to recognize this when it's happening, but it's a disconnect for me, as when I find out I'm wrong on something, or I've misunderstood something, I have an absolute thirst to understand that thing completely.

Anyway, the only things you can do is remind him that these behaviors are socially unacceptable and try to, over time, tone it down. But don't expect a miracle. Do realize that he very likely truly doesn't know that what he's doing is causing other people to feel annoyed/hurt/frustrated, etc.

Last edited by Jman; 06-22-2012 at 09:04 AM..
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Old 06-22-2012, 09:04 AM
SubaRhubarb SubaRhubarb is offline
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Has he always been lacking in ability to read social cues, or is it a new thing?

When you say "weird topics " do you mean droning on about the makeup of the concrete used to construct a platform, or weird like gross blather about the taste of boogers? Intelligent conversations or attention seeking ones?

How good is he with eye contact?

Last edited by SubaRhubarb; 06-22-2012 at 09:05 AM..
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  #4  
Old 06-22-2012, 10:20 AM
Senegoid Senegoid is offline
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Sounds like Asperger syndrome maybe. Consider reading everything you can find about that.
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  #5  
Old 06-22-2012, 10:24 AM
MichaelEmouse MichaelEmouse is online now
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Originally Posted by Senegoid View Post
Sounds like Asperger syndrome maybe. Consider reading everything you can find about that.
Upon reading the description, I thought of the very same thing.


Still, even if he does have AS (or some equivalent), there must be ways to help him.

Last edited by MichaelEmouse; 06-22-2012 at 10:25 AM..
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  #6  
Old 06-22-2012, 10:30 AM
zoid zoid is online now
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Shit I'm him at 45. I'll let you know just as soon as I figure it out.
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  #7  
Old 06-22-2012, 10:33 AM
Justin_Bailey Justin_Bailey is offline
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Sounds like Asperger syndrome maybe. Consider reading everything you can find about that.
Can't he just be weird? Why does it have to Asperger's?
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  #8  
Old 06-22-2012, 10:33 AM
Babale Babale is offline
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I don't think diagnosing people with things is always the right way to go. When I was younger, I couldn't sit through a class. I'd always talk with my neighbors or be disruptive in other ways. Eventually, some genius decided I had ADD. Of course, it later turned out that no, I did not have ADD, I was just a hyper 7 year old. And then I was a less hyper 8 year old, even less hyper 9 year old, and so on, until now I'm not hyper at all.

With regards to your son... Could it just be that he's 12? Lots of guys are awkward at that age, and most of them grow out of it. I think what he needs is a role model. Is there anyone he can look up to who is as far from socially awkward as possible?
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  #9  
Old 06-22-2012, 10:42 AM
Living Well Is Best Revenge Living Well Is Best Revenge is offline
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Originally Posted by Justin_Bailey View Post
Can't he just be weird? Why does it have to Asperger's?
Didn't you know? Every maladjusted boy has some form of autism.
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Old 06-22-2012, 10:51 AM
Justin_Bailey Justin_Bailey is offline
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Originally Posted by Living Well Is Best Revenge View Post
Didn't you know? Every maladjusted boy has some form of autism.
So I've heard. It's actually starting to piss me off actually.
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  #11  
Old 06-22-2012, 10:55 AM
Azeotrope Azeotrope is offline
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Like Jman, I was an annoying little intellectual wannabe twerp at that age. I used big words, read comics like Bloom County and Doonsberry which were WAY beyond my ability to comprehend at the time to impress people with my political savvy, declared that popular music was crap and I only liked classical... I have mercifully blocked out the rest and am glad that time is forever carrying me forward away from those days

I had no idea I was the annoying one, I just thought the other kids were hopelessly common and that I was the cat's ass.

One of my sisters, god bless her, tried to stop me acting like that and be more "normal" which only had the effect of making me resent her for trying to make me act like the common folk, instead of the special snowflake I (thought I) was.

Unfortunately, anything you try to do to change him will probably work about as well as my sister's efforts. Thankfully, time and survival instinct (jr. high is NOT kind to anyone different/nerdy) did the trick.

Last edited by Azeotrope; 06-22-2012 at 10:57 AM.. Reason: it makes more sense if the words are there
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  #12  
Old 06-22-2012, 11:09 AM
Lynn Bodoni Lynn Bodoni is offline
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Is he aware of this tendency? If he's aware, does he want to change? If he's aware and wants to change, then counseling MIGHT help him, if he likes and trusts the counselor.

If he's not aware, or doesn't think he needs to change, then maybe you can get him involved with a group who likes the same things he likes. If he wants to discuss manga and anime, but other people shut him down because of his skills, he might get motivated to try to change.

Nothing's going to happen unless HE wants to change, though. And he won't want to change until he realizes how he comes across to other people, and how he's annoying him. You might try filming him in various social settings, and have him watch the films with you. For the most part, don't nag about his behavior, but answer any questions he might have.
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  #13  
Old 06-22-2012, 11:17 AM
WordMan WordMan is online now
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Originally Posted by Palo Verde View Post
Ben is 12. He talks about weird topics others aren't interested in and won't drop them even with very clear signs that the other person wants him to. He tells jokes others don't find funny, over and over and over. He'll talk long after people want him to be quiet.

Part of the social awkwardness is he has no idea that he annoys people, and doesn't recognize how he comes across to others.

How can I increase his awareness and get him to learn social skills?
Sounds like a big brain he hasn't grown into. Hence Dopers chiming in with "sounds like me."

It does sounds like me, and now my teenaged son. As I try to do the Parent Thing - see if I can help my kids avoid some of my issues - I am trying to do two things: have explicit discussions about his behaviors right after it happens, with much love and support - to help him connect dots earlier, knowing this will take years but no time like the present to get started. And the other is just to expose him to more experiences - travel, community service, Scouts/camping, etc. I find that the more New stuff he is exposed to, the more he realizes he has to think about his interactions.

Again looking at the long game here - putting spin on a ball taking years to trace its path. Good luck, PV - it's not one of the fun parts.
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  #14  
Old 06-22-2012, 11:27 AM
shiftless shiftless is offline
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He's a 12 year old boy, this is par for the course.

Is the OP male or female? I listened to my sister go on and on for years about how her son wasn't sociable enough. She worried that he didn't have a girlfriend at 15 for example, or that he didn't want to go to parties . So she forced him to do all the things she felt were the right social moves for a child of whatever age, the things she did as a girl 30 years before at those ages . Now he is very unsociable, still a nice young man though, and she just can't figure it out. She forced him to be sociable, why didn't it stick?
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Old 06-22-2012, 11:28 AM
RickJay RickJay is offline
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Asperger's, Asperger's, it's always about Asperger's. Asperger's is the new ADHD.

"Some kids are good at some things are some are good at others" is the first place I'd go, the Occam's Razor answer, before deciding on a clinical diagnosis. It should also be borne in mind that a lot of 12-year-old boys are weird.

That said, it could be a legitimate weakness. What I'd suggest is something we have to do with our 6.5-year-old-girl, who lives in her own head a lot and can miss out on the other kids getting pissed at her, especially in group situations; we just watch, listen, and VERY gently guide her to being more attentive.

One thing we find helps the Small One is talking her through it intellectually. When she cries that Melissa was mean to her, I walk her through it; what happened? What happened then? That's interesting... was she turning away from you? What did she say? Do you think maybe she was trying to show you that she didn't like you taking the Pokemon cards? And I gently do the same thing in my interactions with her; "honey, I love playing Zoobles with you, but it's more fun if I get to decide some things about the story too." And you know what? She's gotten better at it. No Asperger's, she just had to learn.

Kids can be taught. Just don't make it a "Stop being weird" thing. Guide him through how to interact with people, gently and in a manner that teaches him how people react and what signals they're sending.
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Old 06-22-2012, 11:36 AM
Palo Verde Palo Verde is offline
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Originally Posted by SubaRhubarb View Post
Has he always been lacking in ability to read social cues, or is it a new thing?

When you say "weird topics " do you mean droning on about the makeup of the concrete used to construct a platform, or weird like gross blather about the taste of boogers? Intelligent conversations or attention seeking ones?

How good is he with eye contact?
He's fine with eye contact. By weird topics, I mean one week he'll try and turn every conversation to being about llamas, and the next week he'll just want to talk about cheez-whiz.
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  #17  
Old 06-22-2012, 11:38 AM
Palo Verde Palo Verde is offline
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Originally Posted by Babale View Post
I don't think diagnosing people with things is always the right way to go. When I was younger, I couldn't sit through a class. I'd always talk with my neighbors or be disruptive in other ways. Eventually, some genius decided I had ADD. Of course, it later turned out that no, I did not have ADD, I was just a hyper 7 year old. And then I was a less hyper 8 year old, even less hyper 9 year old, and so on, until now I'm not hyper at all.

With regards to your son... Could it just be that he's 12? Lots of guys are awkward at that age, and most of them grow out of it. I think what he needs is a role model. Is there anyone he can look up to who is as far from socially awkward as possible?
His older brother (he's 15) and his younger sister (10) are both very social, popular kids. They try to give him social pointers (not always kindly) but he is just oblivious to them.
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  #18  
Old 06-22-2012, 11:49 AM
Jman Jman is offline
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I wouldn't worry too much. The odd topics are likely his way of learning about things that he is discovering and finds interesting. I was very much this way.

While I was never popular, and often picked on as a younger kid, by the time I got to high school, most of the major issues had been figured out. And while I wouldn't call myself a ladies man, I have never really had a problem in that area either. In fact, it sounds sort of odd, but from February of 1996 (my senior year in high school) to now, I have spent exactly 3 months without some sort of relationship (High school girlfriend...we were not compatible as a couple, but broke up early in the summer but continued to date for 'fun' because we were compatible that way, just not as companions...then my college girlfriend, who I met the second week of college and dated for 5.5 years. Then I dated some random girl for a few months, then had a few months with nothing, then started dating my wife, and well, that was a decade ago.)

More than likely he'll be just fine.
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  #19  
Old 06-22-2012, 11:57 AM
shiftless shiftless is offline
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Originally Posted by Palo Verde View Post
His older brother (he's 15) and his younger sister (10) are both very social, popular kids. They try to give him social pointers (not always kindly) but he is just oblivious to them.
Ah, the middle child. That was me too, even the age gaps. When they gave me pointers I felt the need to do the exact opposite. I didn't want to become a clone of my brother (Mr. perfect) and I sure as hell wasn't going to take advice from a girl younger than me (little Miss perfect). It just wasn't worth it to worry about competing with them in the popularity contest, especially when mom and dad pointed out that I was already losing.
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  #20  
Old 06-22-2012, 12:09 PM
Maeglin Maeglin is offline
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Is this actually making him unhappy?
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  #21  
Old 06-22-2012, 12:32 PM
DSeid DSeid is offline
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Originally Posted by Justin_Bailey View Post
Can't he just be weird? Why does it have to Asperger's?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Babale View Post
I don't think diagnosing people with things is always the right way to go. ...
Well the advantage of recognizing that it "sounds like" Asperger Syndrome (AS) is that labelled or not finding out how parents of those kids best handle those issues may give some good ideas, whether this kid is or should be labelled as such or not. It suggests a set of potentially useful tools, if intervention is warranted.

If it is impairing his function (for example, if as a result he has few friends and is getting upset over that) then it is worth intervening.

Does he, like those kids with AS, do very well at memorizing information and rules? If so then the technique of explicitly teaching a set of rules for social interactions for him to memorize and practice, be it at home with you, or in an official "social skills group" (and that is where a label can help, a label, if appropriate, can get you access to such services) will be useful. The general concept is teach the rule, demonstrate a model of the application of the rule, have him practice applying it in as-if circumstances and then in real life under observed conditions. Some parents also have a code word or signal to let their kid know it is time to let someone else talk or let the subject change.

Does he have a hard time reading other's non-verbal cues, like facial expressions? If so, this can also be practiced in a game context at home (and is a standard part of the Asperger treatment toolkit).

If not then don't use those tools.
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  #22  
Old 06-22-2012, 12:41 PM
Acid Lamp Acid Lamp is offline
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Just treat him like a young adult and tell him the truth. " Son, I agree that llamas are cool, but not everyone is into them. Chill with the llama stuff." Let him know that he is expected to participate in conversations, not re-direct them to seek attention. The rest is probably just 12-year old boy weirdness. It will work itself out. Ensure that he has opportunities to explore a lot of different social events including sports and intellectual pursuits.
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  #23  
Old 06-22-2012, 12:51 PM
DSeid DSeid is offline
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One more comment - workbooks like this one have skill building exercises for children and teens whether the cause of the social difficulty is AS or just a relative weakness. You are potentially intervening for the difficulty that your child is having, not to a label.
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  #24  
Old 06-22-2012, 12:52 PM
Deegeea Deegeea is offline
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You can send him to social skills classes. Whether or not they will help, I can't say for sure. My son has some of the same issues (but not all) and put up with several rounds of social skills classes. It helped in some ways, not in others - he is making progress but I wouldn't say he's exactly any good at it. The suggestion RickJay made is along the same line. If you know how yourself, you can teach these things to him yourself (I have no idea, hence the classes). I took some parent-oriented social skills classes myself to try to help him too, but when I attempt to discuss it with him he always changes the subject or refuses to talk anymore at all to me.
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  #25  
Old 06-22-2012, 01:08 PM
Rachellelogram Rachellelogram is offline
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Originally Posted by Justin_Bailey View Post
So I've heard. It's actually starting to piss me off actually.
But how is it bad advice to at least look into the possibility? A persistent inability to read social cues can be more than just run-of-the-mill cluelessness. Of course none of us know the kid and can say anything more than "get this checked out." But some people would rather advocate doing nothing, it's just a phase, that's just how he is. Maybe that IS just how he is, and it's not a big deal. But none of us are qualified to make that call on the internet.
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  #26  
Old 06-22-2012, 03:38 PM
akennett akennett is offline
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Forget all the Aspie stuff. Just sit him down and tell him you'll buy him a new car at age 16...but only if he gets laid before then. That'll motivate him to learn his social skills.
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  #27  
Old 06-22-2012, 04:29 PM
An Arky An Arky is offline
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I'm not sure there's anything you can or should do (other than offer encouragement). It doesn't sound like anything too serious, really. Plus, within a couple of years, puberty is going to hit and everything will change. I've seen a lot of dorky kids hit puberty and after the initial awkwardness, turn into surprisingly well-adjusted teenagers.
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  #28  
Old 06-22-2012, 04:51 PM
Kevbo Kevbo is offline
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I didn't realize you were my parent. Oh, you also have my age wrong by about 4X.
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  #29  
Old 06-22-2012, 04:55 PM
Freudian Slit Freudian Slit is online now
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Originally Posted by Palo Verde View Post
He's fine with eye contact. By weird topics, I mean one week he'll try and turn every conversation to being about llamas, and the next week he'll just want to talk about cheez-whiz.
I don't know, he sounds pretty awesome to me.
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Old 06-22-2012, 07:14 PM
Sparky the Wonder Spirit Sparky the Wonder Spirit is offline
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Originally Posted by Palo Verde View Post
His older brother (he's 15) and his younger sister (10) are both very social, popular kids. They try to give him social pointers (not always kindly) but he is just oblivious to them.
I would be willing to bet that he's not oblivious. Who's going to take unkind advice from jerky siblings?

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Originally Posted by shiftless View Post
Ah, the middle child. That was me too, even the age gaps. When they gave me pointers I felt the need to do the exact opposite.
I am also a middle child, and I concur.

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Originally Posted by Maeglin View Post
Is this actually making him unhappy?
... and this is a question that merits careful consideration.
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  #31  
Old 06-22-2012, 07:46 PM
overlyverbose overlyverbose is offline
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You could gently talk about it, which would probably be best. Also, does he have self-esteem issues? Sometimes kids come across as really weird and awkward when they're trying too hard to impress people.

I worry when people bring up autism and Aspberger's. If you're concerned about it, do some research. But unless he's unhappy or having trouble functioning, I'd have to wonder whether having him officially tested might make him feel like something's wrong with him.

And for what it's worth, I was ridiculously awkward until I was in college. Mostly it was in an effort to impress people - what they don't tell you is that when you try too hard you can really put people off.

My son is the same way and he's only 6. His teacher originally suggested that he had ADD; we saw a counselor and talked to his pediatrician, both of whom felt he was absolutely fine, though pretty bright and very insecure.
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  #32  
Old 06-23-2012, 12:46 AM
Arabella Flynn Arabella Flynn is offline
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Does your son care? If he doesn't care, you can't teach him. You seem acutely aware of the awkwardness, as do his siblings, but you mention he doesn't know how he looks to other people. If nothing about the situation bothers him, there is absolutely no way you or his sibs (or his teachers or the other kids at school or...) can make anything stick.

If he's frustrated by how other people treat him, but doesn't seem to be able to pick up on the smaller negative reactions that come before the really big ones that upset him, then you might be able to do something.

It's possible he just doesn't pay enough attention to other people to pick up on their reactions. This problem is likely to be self-fixing as soon as he discovers girls (or boys, or both, as the case may be). If he's also known as a particularly bright or talented kid, there may also be an element of resentment, as he recognizes that when he and the rest of the world come into conflict, the rest of the world blithely insists that he learn their social language, while they make no effort to learn his. He probably thinks that's deeply unfair, and he is correct, but it doesn't excuse him from having to go along with the plan anyway. When he wants to get someone's positive attention badly enough, he'll learn.

If he's always been awkward, and the other kids have consequently always treated him the same way, then he might be stuck in a self-perpetuating cycle: His cohort sees him as the "weird kid" and interprets anything he does as "weird" no matter what it is, and since everything gets the same reaction from the other kids he has no opportunity to learn socialization the normal way, i.e., by making boneheaded mistakes and learning how to fix them. He may just need someone to spell it out for him, since the lack of feedback makes it very difficult to figure out the rules inductively.

If that's the case, it might be a good idea to find him a particularly nerdy counselor who specializes in working with autistic kids, whether your son is actually on the spectrum or not. Most people learn how to get along with others pretty much by trial and error. Do this and people are happy, don't do that and people get ticked at you. Consequently, they've never had to develop conscious awareness of what social signals look like independent of their meaning. You ask, "How did you know he was bored with what you were talking about?" and they say, "Because he looked bored," without being able to tell you what exactly bored looks like. The people who work with kids on the autism spectrum have experience taking these things that most humans interpret instinctively and translating them into descriptions that can be interpreted analytically instead.

I wish I could get more specific with resources -- I do a lot of writing about people-reading and trying to put social skills into words -- but I don't know your son, and without more details I'd just be spitballing kind of at random.
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  #33  
Old 06-23-2012, 05:56 AM
Khadaji Khadaji is offline
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Originally Posted by Palo Verde View Post
Ben is 12. He talks about weird topics others aren't interested in and won't drop them even with very clear signs that the other person wants him to. He tells jokes others don't find funny, over and over and over. He'll talk long after people want him to be quiet.

Part of the social awkwardness is he has no idea that he annoys people, and doesn't recognize how he comes across to others.

How can I increase his awareness and get him to learn social skills?
This young man is destined to be a programmer! Get him some software books.

(Sorry I can't help, I'm a programmer, if I knew how to be less socially awkward I wouldn't be alone now... )
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Old 06-23-2012, 07:00 AM
Justin_Bailey Justin_Bailey is offline
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But how is it bad advice to at least look into the possibility? A persistent inability to read social cues can be more than just run-of-the-mill cluelessness. Of course none of us know the kid and can say anything more than "get this checked out." But some people would rather advocate doing nothing, it's just a phase, that's just how he is. Maybe that IS just how he is, and it's not a big deal. But none of us are qualified to make that call on the internet.
People that weren't nerdy 12-year old boys never understand this part: we were all like that and we just wish people would stop making a big deal out of everything.

When I was 15, my mom did the same thing that shiftless' mom did. She was very worried that I didn't seem to like girls and that if I didn't fix that now, I'd be alone forever, or some nonsense.

Do you have any idea how stressful that is when the reason you don't "like" girls yet is because you know you're a weird geek and it's really fuckin' hard to talk to them about anything, let alone something that would make them want to talk back?

And don't even get me started on the siblings offering "helpful" advice.
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  #35  
Old 06-23-2012, 09:13 AM
Ca3799 Ca3799 is online now
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To some degree, all kids is weird, so try to not get too upset or worried.

I used, among other things, "Social Skills Activities for Special Children" by Mannix (which I always like to add is good for 'not-special' children, too). http://www.amazon.com/Activities-Spe...ecial+children


This book is very useful in outlining and articulating the subtle cues that most people just seem to learn through experience or are trained to use. Some folks do not pick up on these cues easily and need help. You have seen folks train their kids to do things such as "Shake hands, look them in the eye and say 'hello'." But you probably have not seen anyone train a child to do things such as pay attention or when to time jumping into a group conversation.

This book may have an exercise on "Paying Attention". (My copy is out on loan so I'm using my memory here and making up an example. This example may not be entirely accurate.)

It might ask "Why is paying attention important?" "How can you show you are paying attention?" "How can you tell if people are paying attention to you?"- with answers. Every lesson ends with an activity- a role play or a visual, etc. Each lesson is only one page (front and back). The book has maybe 150-200 topics. I found it extremely useful.

Even if the particular behavior you need to address is not present, you will easily learn how to set it up yourself using their simple format and you can design the teaching yourself. I did not find it necessary to sit with the kid and 'do lessons', I just found that I could find the topic I needed to address and 'do the lesson' is a casual, conversational way.

My child had lots of other support- physical and occupational therapy, speech and language therapy and formal social skills training from professionals, many therapies beginning shortly after his birth (because of other problems- the autism was not diagnosed until years later). I tried to supplement these trainings at home and he has done very, very well. Today, he is more likely to be described as quirky, rather than autistic. We have been very fortunate on many levels to have has such a good outcome and we love our unique and quirky kid just as he is! Social skills training helps smooth over the rough parts when dealing with non-family.

Last edited by Ca3799; 06-23-2012 at 09:16 AM.. Reason: typo(s)
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  #36  
Old 06-23-2012, 09:22 AM
Quartz Quartz is online now
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Originally Posted by Palo Verde View Post
Ben is 12. He talks about weird topics others aren't interested in and won't drop them even with very clear signs that the other person wants him to.
If he's not dropping the subject then the signs aren't clear.
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  #37  
Old 06-23-2012, 01:31 PM
Sunspace Sunspace is offline
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Originally Posted by Quartz View Post
If he's not dropping the subject then the signs aren't clear.
...to him.

As a geeky, unattractive, sometimes obsessed kid, I could have used social-skills training. I had no idea of what I was missing, or its depths; I just knew that something was wrong, and I was desperately-unhappy. In high school, I couldn't connect with people, or walk into a room and just start conversing, or anything like that. I couldn't get a date to save my life. And this didn't help my confidence, which was fragile-to-nonexistent to begin with.

It wasn't until counseling many years later that I started to learn some social skills. And such things still don't come naturally.
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  #38  
Old 06-23-2012, 02:53 PM
Guinastasia Guinastasia is offline
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You asked this same question before, and the impression I'm getting is that you want Ben to be less of a nerd, and more popular, somehow. Like you said last time, he does have a few friends, or at least one really good one, and a few casual friends. That's a good thing. Maybe you could talk to him about his "quirks", but I don't think he's going to change into the "ultimate popular kid".
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  #39  
Old 06-23-2012, 03:08 PM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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Maybe the people around him are just lame. I mean, who doesn't want to talk about llamas?
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  #40  
Old 06-23-2012, 04:17 PM
Lakai Lakai is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Palo Verde View Post
How can I increase his awareness and get him to learn social skills?
Have you tried positive reinforcement? Ignore the bad behavior. Point out and compliment the good behavior.

In this case, when he talks about something awkward, don't engage him in a conversation. Whenever he talks about something normal, then you engage. Ask the whole family to do the same thing.

This might seem harsh, but this is what might happen to him as soon as he goes to college, or soon after his first job. When careers depend on conforming to social norms, the awkward people tend to be viciously ignored.

It's also possible that he'll get over it once he becomes interested in girls. So you can wait about two years to see if the problem will go away on its own.
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  #41  
Old 06-23-2012, 04:25 PM
grude grude is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lakai View Post
This might seem harsh, but this is what might happen to him as soon as he goes to college, or soon after his first job. When careers depend on conforming to social norms, the awkward people tend to be viciously ignored.

It's also possible that he'll get over it once he becomes interested in girls. So you can wait about two years to see if the problem will go away on its own.
^This was about what I was going to say, it happened to me and the OP could have easily been me. Not only that I was a real stubborn immature ass about it too, I likely would not have accepted help or just blown it off.

The "real world" taught me pretty quickly and harshly, BUT there was a purity in it that you can't find when you are butting heads with someone trying to change you. That kind of pure education is like being dropped in the Sahara with little water, you will learn pretty quick to conserve water and there is no one to blame for failure but yourself eventually.

At that point I decided ok I want more out of life, lets learn and play this social game. Girls helped too, you want to be laid you play the game. It got easier and easier with practice, I still have oh crap akward moments but I can mostly pass as a human being.....mostly

Everyone is different, and I am not advocating harsh treatment. Just that eventually your son WILL want more out of life and to get it he will have to swim.
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  #42  
Old 06-24-2012, 12:16 AM
Arabella Flynn Arabella Flynn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunspace View Post
As a geeky, unattractive, sometimes obsessed kid, I could have used social-skills training. I had no idea of what I was missing, or its depths; I just knew that something was wrong, and I was desperately-unhappy. In high school, I couldn't connect with people, or walk into a room and just start conversing, or anything like that. I couldn't get a date to save my life. And this didn't help my confidence, which was fragile-to-nonexistent to begin with.

It wasn't until counseling many years later that I started to learn some social skills. And such things still don't come naturally.
I more or less taught myself by reading way too much Sherlock Holmes. I had to get old enough to understand why Holmes thought it was useful to read the agony columns before it really clicked, but it turns out that the combination of paying attention to details and learning about past situation which are similar to the one you're stuck in for the present really does work. Some people seem to have an inborn knack for it, but you can learn a lot of it as an academic skill.

There's also an element of showmanship, which most people don't realize. Right answers count, but so does presentation.
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  #43  
Old 06-24-2012, 09:52 AM
DSeid DSeid is offline
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I wish our op would return and answer the now several times asked - how much does this bother him?

The discusion seems really to hinge on that. There are quite a few posters here who can easily identify with having had different interests than kids around them growing up; that was not something wrong with them that needed fixing. They perhaps could have benefited from parents who appreciated them and their less common interests and who helped them find others who shared them. Some of the posters here were also socially awkward kids and had to grow into themselves, which many then did, and by self-report, some are still waiting to accomplish. Less of a need to remediate and more often some acceptance will be more useful. But there are kids who really are not reading the social cues (both verbal and non-verbal) that are obvious to everyone else around them, who really do not only fixate on one subject at a time but drive others away wanting to make every conversation about it and only it, and who are sad, frustrated, and lonely as a result.

Is this kid one of the latter or one of the former? Is this his problem or more his parent's? The what to do really does depend on that. If the issue is that he is a round peg who is placed in a school of all square holes that's one thing, and the response of a parent is one thing. If he really is lacking in an ability to recognize the rules of social engagement and is sequentially fixating obsessively on various narrow interests that he cannot get that others do not share, that's another, on both counts.

Palo Verde, which do you feel it is?
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  #44  
Old 06-24-2012, 10:22 AM
monstro monstro is online now
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I've been trying to figure out how the comment to the OP.

I was a dork and a doofus when I was 12. I was the kid who'd sit in the corner and pick paint off the walls, singing to herself. My hair was always wild. I didn't socialize enough to be that annoying, but I didn't try very hard to fit in. Intellectually I knew how I was weird, but I didn't care enough about other people to change myself. I was resistant to both familial and peer pressure. Social skills training would not have helped me, if my parents had been inclined to get me that kind of help. I didn't want to be social. The trade-offs involved with not being social were not that serious to me.

I do not look back on that time proudly, but honestly I can't see how anyone could have intervened.

It sounds like the kid in the OP is kind of like how I was. Weird but not unhappy about it. Probably aware that his thought processes are more non-linear than the norm and probably glad about it. He probably does NOT like the harrassment that he gets from his peers, but it's not enough to make him change. Just like being called crazy wasn't enough to make me stop singing to myself.

That doesn't mean the OP has to encourage him in all his ways. I used to ask my mother bizarre questions that I KNEW were bizarre; I just wanted to engage with her on something that wasn't serious and was on my level. (I still do this, by the way). Sometimes she'd be a good sport and we'd have a good conversation. And then sometimes she'd say, "You keep asking me silly questions, girl!!" And I'd know I needed to back off and be "normal." You can be direct with someone without squashing who they are OR making a big deal about their personality flaws.
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  #45  
Old 06-24-2012, 12:05 PM
Sunspace Sunspace is offline
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I agree that a lot of this revolves around whether Ben is unhappy, and whether he wants to change. Showing a happy Ben the new advantages he can get from learning social skills would seem to me to be very different from helping a desperately-unhappy Ben who knows something is wrong but has no idea what to do to fix it.
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  #46  
Old 06-24-2012, 12:19 PM
Tamex Tamex is offline
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Personally, I am glad the OP is recognizing that this could be a problem. I work with an adult who acts much like her son. She regales us with endless chatter about topics that generally only interest her, or only interest others for a short while (her daughters, her daughter's school, the weather, her motor scooter, Bigfoot, etc.) She seems to not be able to recognize the social cues which indicate that a person is no longer interested or that the topic of conversation has gone on to something else. You can avoid eye contact, turn away, or actually start talking to other people and she just keeps going.

Where I work, we often eat lunch together as a big group, and someone in our group felt sorry for her sitting alone one day, so they invited her over to our table. She has sat with us absolutely every day since. We're all too chicken to "be mean" and just tell her to go away (telling her to shut up has not worked very well...works for a day at best). Basically, my workplace is like high school, and people make fun of her behind her back. It's really made lunchtime rather uncomfortable sometimes. She has been placed in an area where she largely works alone because no one could possibly stand working with her for eight hours a day.

One of my coworkers actually went to school with her, and said that she was like that in school, too, and was ostracized for it. If there is some way to help your son now recognize that awareness, I believe it will help him so much in life. Maybe he's oblivious to the teasing...but you can't really be that oblivious, can you? And how terrible is it if your career options are limited because no one can stand to be around you?
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  #47  
Old 06-24-2012, 12:37 PM
Justin_Bailey Justin_Bailey is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monstro View Post
It sounds like the kid in the OP is kind of like how I was. Weird but not unhappy about it. Probably aware that his thought processes are more non-linear than the norm and probably glad about it.
And on that note, when I finally embraced my nerdiness/weirdness during senior year, I realized how unhappy worrying about being weird was making me.

Palo Verde, it's very possible your desire for your son to be "normal" will just make him angry. He very likely is normal and it's you who has to get over it.
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  #48  
Old 06-24-2012, 12:45 PM
Hello Again Hello Again is online now
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Originally Posted by Justin_Bailey View Post
Palo Verde, it's very possible your desire for your son to be "normal" will just make him angry. He very likely is normal and it's you who has to get over it.
He can be normal and annoying. Monopolizing conversations and rambling about inane topics is like someone who chews with their mouth open. It doesn't make you abnormal, just annoying. It can be fixed, and should be fixed. Pausing to let others speak does not change who you are. If you think so, get over yourself.

Eventually, with luck, he'll become an attorney and get paid for being bossy and interested in extremely obscure and boring knowledge. It worked for me.
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  #49  
Old 06-24-2012, 12:54 PM
monstro monstro is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tamex View Post
Personally, I am glad the OP is recognizing that this could be a problem. I work with an adult who acts much like her son. She regales us with endless chatter about topics that generally only interest her, or only interest others for a short while (her daughters, her daughter's school, the weather, her motor scooter, Bigfoot, etc.) She seems to not be able to recognize the social cues which indicate that a person is no longer interested or that the topic of conversation has gone on to something else. You can avoid eye contact, turn away, or actually start talking to other people and she just keeps going.

Where I work, we often eat lunch together as a big group, and someone in our group felt sorry for her sitting alone one day, so they invited her over to our table. She has sat with us absolutely every day since. We're all too chicken to "be mean" and just tell her to go away (telling her to shut up has not worked very well...works for a day at best). Basically, my workplace is like high school, and people make fun of her behind her back. It's really made lunchtime rather uncomfortable sometimes. She has been placed in an area where she largely works alone because no one could possibly stand working with her for eight hours a day.

One of my coworkers actually went to school with her, and said that she was like that in school, too, and was ostracized for it. If there is some way to help your son now recognize that awareness, I believe it will help him so much in life. Maybe he's oblivious to the teasing...but you can't really be that oblivious, can you? And how terrible is it if your career options are limited because no one can stand to be around you?
I have a coworker who is exactly like this. I can turn my back to her, put earbuds in my ears, and start singing Broadway musicals at the top of my lungs while rocking side to side like Stevie Wonder and the girl will continue talking to me about Boring-Ass Shit I Don't Care About.

And she's clueless about this annoying tendency of hers. The other day she remarked that she was glad she and her fiance are on the same page about quiet time. "Silence is good", she said. I almost choked.

Last edited by monstro; 06-24-2012 at 12:55 PM..
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  #50  
Old 06-24-2012, 12:54 PM
Justin_Bailey Justin_Bailey is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hello Again View Post
He can be normal and annoying. Monopolizing conversations and rambling about inane topics is like someone who chews with their mouth open. It doesn't make you abnormal, just annoying. It can be fixed, and should be fixed. Pausing to let others speak does not change who you are. If you think so, get over yourself.
He's 12 for crap's sake. Have you ever hung around a 12 year old for an extended amount of time? It's a nightmare. Even the "normal" ones have topics of conversation they want to spend hours discussing that would make an adult's eyes bleed.
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