Text Box: An Umbrella for Rain Man: Social Navigation for Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders

In the classic film, Rain Man, Dustin Hoffman portrays a man with Autism. We laughed at the repetitive rocking and phrases like “Gotta go to K-Mart” and we were saddened by the initial mistreatment by the character’s own brother. The movie allowed us to get a glimpse of the hardships that persons with developmental disorders endure every day. Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects of the film was Dustin Hoffman’s struggle to function in a social world he was not accustomed to. Confused, misunderstood, and lonely, the character learns to integrate his world with that of our society.
Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD is a diagnostic term that includes a range of neurodevelopmental disorders with varying degrees of severity. ASDs are marked by difficulty or impairments in communication skills and social interactions, and the presence of repetitive or stereotypical behaviors like hand-flapping. Autism disorder is the term for a severe form of autism on this spectrum. Autism spectrum disorders include autism disorder, Asperger syndrome, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegration disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS). The term “autism” is usually used to describe disorders included on the autism spectrum
	Recent studies have shown that social skills training in youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders can be quite beneficial in improving the youth’s mood, self-confidence, and overall interactions with others. Social skill deficits are a pervasive and enduring feature of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). As such, social skills training (SST) should be a critical component of programming for youth with ASD. A number of SST strategies exist, including those employing social stories, video modeling interventions, social problem solving, pivotal response training, scripting procedures, computer-based interventions, priming procedures, prompting procedures, and self-monitoring
Individuals with these disorders often have problems understanding “unspoken rules” and social norms of society. Many of these people do not have the neurological capabilities to understand abstract concepts such as metaphors. Their world is of one of literal meaning and concrete thinking. Imagine how frustrating and difficult it must be not to communicate in the same social language as everyone else around you. If you have ever traveled to a foreign country without a translator, you can relate.
Social skills training consists of teaching children and youth more effective ways of communicating and processing social cues.  Learning how to overcome these deficits can be life altering for these children and adolescents. These years are already enveloped with physical and emotional awkwardness, peer pressure, identity confusion, and much more.  Adolescents with autistic disorders have an increased likelihood of developing co morbid psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety. Often times, this population is under-served by the medical, educational, and social communities. A lack of training and funding are often to blame. A comprehensive team approach should be an integral part of the child’s autism treatment. Carolina Center for Counseling and Behavioral Interventions is pleased to now offer social skill straining for youth with ASD. Please contact our office for more information.


Text Box: February Thought of the Month

February 2009

Issue 3

Carolina Center for Counseling

& Behavioral Interventions, LLC

Contact Information

304 A North East Main Street

  Simpsonville, SC 29681    


Phone: 864 - 963 - 4028

Fax: 877-201-4878


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