Sunday, 2 August 2015

Are you speaking a different language?

Have you ever been somewhere that everyone speaks a different language?  What if you could speak the language but you didn't know what you were saying?  What if you said things that got you into trouble?  How could you get yourself out of trouble if you didn't know what you said?

This is a common problem for people with "social skill challenges" and for one of my daughters it is a huge issue.  My daughter is an extremely attractive, charming, naive young lady who does not present, on the surface like she has any special needs, yet the special needs she does have are getting her into serious trouble.

When hanging out with friends, in groups with peers, watching tv or movies people say things and everybody laughs.  This is one way we learn what kind of reaction we will get when we say something, and then we typically judge whether or not it's something to be said in other situations.  People also use slang phrases or idioms that can mean something completely different than what is being said.  For a lot of people with social challenges they take things very literal and may not understand what is being implied in many circumstances.  My daughter will hear a phrase or joke and then repeat it in another situation because when she originally heard it said everyone laughed, so it must be funny.  Too many times she will say something, in a family situation and we will need to take her into another room and tell her what she just said acutally means.  In the family situation she is fortunate because we know her challenges and try to help her through these social blunders.  In public, at school, at work or with peers people frequently don't realize that she doesn't understand what she says or hears and then they have differing views of her.

Most recently one of her olders sisters had to try and clear up a huge misunderstanding from something that was said.  An adult gentleman from an organization our girls are involved in approached our adult daughter, obviously feeling very uneasing saying he needed to speak with her regarding something said by the younger daughter.  This man felt our daughter had offered him sexual favours, in front of the entire class (which was a relief, keeping both parties safe but also extremely embarrassing for both) our daughter (after discussion) felt she had told a joke, ONLY A JOKE.  We used this situation to educate the gentleman about her special needs and I am hoping others can learn that just because someone says something doesn't mean they know what they are saying.

Our daughter has been working on social skills her entire life and we will continue educating her while trying to keep her safe.  Unfortuanetly with social skill challenges there isn't a list of, learn a,b and c and you will be fine.  Social situations are ever changing and never ending which presents more opportunities for social blunders.