Below we list 10 sessions that we can deliver to autistic or neurodiverse individuals, for example, those with dyspraxia or adhd. We can deliver these sessions as a course to one or more people. Alternatively individuals can pick and match the ones they are most interested in. It is also possible to do a few to start with and then choose more at a later date. Please note, training is adapted to be age appropriate. The below provides an overview. The actual content will depend on several factors such as age range of participants, participant goals and prior understanding and knowledge.
If you feel that you or someone you are supporting needs something that is not listed here, please get in touch: it may be that we have actually developed what you need for other purposes.
Basic Social Skills
This session is for individuals with autism. It will take participants through the fundamentals of non-autistic communication. This is to help put participants on more of a level playing field when it comes to effectively interacting at school, at work or at home. It also provides an understanding of why non-autistic people act in the way they do when it comes to social interaction. Thus reducing frustration and improving tolerance and acceptance of non-autistic quirks.
For example, we explain that the question ‘how are you?’ is often just code for hello. The strange rituals non-autistic people have around social interaction actually have an important purpose and knowing about this is likely to benefit autistic people. We also consider autistic ways of doing social interaction.
Different ways of thinking
Somebody with autism or aspergers, or who is neurodiverse may have an extreme way of thinking in comparison to family, peers and colleagues. In this session, we teach participants about various different ways or styles of thinking. We help participants identify their own ways of thinking. The purpose of doing this is so participants become aware that they think differently to the norm so that they can adapt thinking and communication styles to achieve better communication with others. It also helps participants to explain how they think so that key others can better adapt to them.
This is an extremely enlightening session and it may help in understanding why certain social interactions may have gone wrong in the past and how to prevent it happening in the future. Being better able to communicate with peers, teachers, family members and co-workers is key to being successful in life. It is also key to getting the autism, aspergers or neurodiversity accommodations that you need.
Executive functioning is a technical term for the higher control functions of the brain. It includes things like planning, problem-solving, organisation, inhibition of behaviour, and working memory. Some with autism or other neurodivergent conditions might have quite extreme strengths and weaknesses in certain areas, which can impact on daily functioning at home, school and work.
We work with individuals to identify their ‘profile’ of executive functioning. We then share knowledge about relevant aids or techniques to improve any areas of weakness, and also how to use strengths to mitigate against any weaknesses. This should enable participants to feel less stressed, more in control, confident about their skills profile and even help them become more productive in education or at work.
This is a fascinating session where we help get to the bottom of participants sensory issues. Some may learn about sensory issues that they didn’t realise they had, and how they interact with each other. It is not uncommon in autism or aspergers for an individual’s senses to work very differently to those of family, peers or co-workers. But how is one supposed to know unless somebody points that out? There are more than 5 senses and we assist in working out how participant’s senses play a part in how the world is experienced through building a sensory profile.
This enables participants to choose the right sensory environments at home, school and work. If this is not possible, we advise on coping mechanisms that could be put in place. This will improve wellbeing, lower anxiety, improve behaviour and increase productivity.
Just as senses may be extreme compared to the general population, ‘perceptual styles’ may be too. In addition, we help work out how participants best learn information (i.e. auditory, visual) to enable finding a better way of fulfilling learning needs in education and at work.
Overcoming barriers to social interaction part 1
An autistic person is likely to experience unfair barriers to engaging in ‘non-autistic’ social interaction. For example, this could be due to autistic traits such as delays in processing,which can result in agreeing to things that are later regretted. It could also be due to different ways of thinking and different interests, with the result that the usual topics of social chit chat in education and work social activities drive many autistic people some up the wall. Some people may have a form of anxiety which means that revealing anything personal about is highly uncomfortable.
These are common social skills issues and we teach participants how best to overcome these barriers to ensure ability to participate when needed without becoming stressed, overloaded or unwell. It is not uncommon for people to have defects in understanding of the social world, which we can help correct through exploring how the rest of the world thinks. We can also help participants develop a personal ‘mental model’ of the world. This is better than teaching ‘social rules’ which non-autistic people often break! The point of this session is to aid integration into education or the workplace, which can only be good for future prospects.
Overcoming barriers to social interaction part 2
This is an extension of the Overcoming Barriers Part 1 session for people with autism and aspergers. We teach participants what emotional intelligence is and how this differs in the autistic and non-autistic populations. This will improve self-awareness which is a very useful skill.
We go through how to build meaningful relationships in all spheres of life. Some people on the autism spectrum have felt at some point that the world is not interested in them or their interests. We debunk this myth and help participants to view it differently so they can move forward with relationships.
We show the differences between shallow relationships (i.e. generally expected at work) and deep relationships (i.e. expected with a close friend), so that participants can feel safe when making decisions regarding how to act or react to different people. We go through some of the strange and not so strange ways that people (especially non-autistic people!) can be put off from pursuing or continuing a friendship or relationship with participants at work or at home.
Social Interaction: what to do when things go wrong
Inevitably, things will go wrong socially. It is not just autistic people who get social interaction wrong, non-autistic people do too. However many autistic people tend to ‘beat themselves up’ about it. This session helps increase understanding of the best way to go about mending things after making a social mistake or having a misunderstanding with someone. This is also a vital skill for team work as well as for living a fulfilled life.
We highlight what types of misunderstandings can happen between autistic and non-autistic people, what the risks of ‘masking your autism’ are and how to use ‘masking’ to an advantage (rather than to the detriment of one’s health). We show participants what unhealthy social behaviours to avoid (even if other people are doing them) and explore motivations (or lack thereof) around ‘fitting in’ and connecting with other people. The aim is to help participants feel able to fulfil (social) needs at home, school or work – despite getting it wrong sometimes.
Assertiveness is a very useful skill to get what you need and to prevent people from forcing you to give them what they want (for example pushy salespeople). It is important to be careful when using this skill and ensure it is used only when it is appropriate to do so. We help teach participants how to be more assertive and when and when not to use the various techniques.
Assertiveness is particularly helpful when dealing with organisations who are trying to fob you off and not give you what you are entitled to. However, it is important to establish entitlement first, as otherwise you will be doing nothing more than annoying people who will make life even harder for you in future!