Teaching Social Skills to NEUROTYPICALS

Social skills training for neurotypical people who don’t seem to know how to properly and positively engage with Autistic and ADHD people. Please educate yourselves as, despite your neurotype being the majority neurotype, you actually don’t possess the right to dictate social norms for all other neurotypes 😊 

Are you struggling to connect with your Autistic child, sibling or friend?

Have a read through this training sheet on Autistic and ND social skills training FOR neurotypical people. We would love to help neurotypicals become more educated in how to socialise in a way is more acceptable to Autistic and ADHD people.

There is also some specific tips and strategies for Teachers to use in an educational space throughout this list.

For ease of communication, Autism and ADHD is collectively referred to as “AuDHD’er”

Note (Definitions):

PDA – Pervasive Drive for Autonomy (or Pathological Demand Avoidance)

 RSD – Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria

 RDS – Reward Deficiency Syndrome

 NT – Neurotypical

 ND – Neurodivergent

 Monotropic – The theory of mind regarding autism. Polarised thinking, best achieved by focusing on one thing at a time.

  1. Have a deep interest in our passions and topics of focus. Surface level interests won’t be enough, and you will appear bored to us. Most AuDHD’ers will NOT feel you’re worthy of sharing this interest with you any further in those circumstances.


  1. Stop being offended when you’re corrected or have information explained to you, that you were poorly informed about. It actually hurts us inside to not be able to correct a wrong and new information that’s interesting burns an actual hole in our brains if we can’t share it.


  1. Don’t slow us down with pleasantries like hello, goodbye, introductions etc, when we have something we want to tell you, or do. It’s quite rude to expect us to withhold and wait, while you humour yourself with talking about things that don’t matter and have no relevance to the purpose of our meet up / discussion or interaction.


  1. If we do not answer your phone call, it isn’t that we don’t like you. It can be a number of reasons: no spoons left to small talk. Many of us hate the phone and prefer text-based communication. Unless the phone call has a purpose for us, we may just not want to talk to you at that point in time. We are monotropic thinkers and polarise our attention on particular things, one at a time. Requiring our immediate attention is a demand and can bring on an immediate PDA response. If it is urgent. If it is urgent and you need something, please just text. If it does need a call, ask us to call back when available.


  1. Be upfront, say what you mean. We don’t need the fluffing and random information that is irrelevant to the topic.


  1. Try not to take offence to the constant interruptions/talking over you – it means I’m actually engaged and am interested, hence why I’m trying to share my similar experiences/feelings.


  1. Don’t keep focusing on my ‘tone’, pay attention to my words.


  1. If you ask “Are there any questions” (particularly in a group situation) we may have many, but it will take time to put these into words or even feel comfortable speaking up at that moment. Give us a different way to ask later. We are mostly solitary thinkers and learners and often really struggle coming up with fast or clever responses when we are surrounded by people.


  1. Don’t give fake feedback or be condescending. We don’t like fake compliments; they are actually offensive. Most of us struggle with compliments as they make us feel exposed. We love feeling achievement and experience genuine reward from it, but we don’t like the fakery.


  1. Don’t ask us how we are if you are not wanting an honest answer. Most of us answer questions to provide information, not to provide validation.


  1. Take it as a compliment if I’m doodling and fidgeting or swaying or not looking at you. If we ask you to give us accommodations like – slides beforehand, no cameras on, captions, recordings etc. – take it as a compliment that we trust you enough to be asking to lighten our masking. If we sit down and do as we are told without fidgeting, it’s likely because you’ve made us feel scared, or we are worried about not meeting expectations. This is often due to RSD and our overwhelming sensory needs which we’ve been taught to suppress (‘mask’).


  1. Silence does not necessarily need to be filled. We need space often and silence can be a great source of spoon-collecting. Please don’t try to fill every silence.


  1. Not answering a question is a big one to understand. Just because you want an answer now doesn’t mean we are ready to process the question right away. We are probably still listening but are engaged elsewhere. Most of us cannot think clearly in social situations and we need to process your requests in our own space.


  1. Don’t keep asking us (usually kids) to “use our words”. Verbal talk might be the NT preferred method of communication, but it’s not always ours. We may communicate with gestures, with leaving, with remaining and listening, or with switching off. This is all communication. Just because it doesn’t suit your ideal methodology doesn’t make it redundant. If you ignore this communication, then you are the one who obviously cannot communicate.


  1. Be factual or honest with your communication. By that, we mean be congruent with both your words in what you say and what you’re doing because we can feel it when you’re being dishonest. Don’t get cross/angry with us when we call you out on it


  1. If we are silent or are not contributing, it can be for a number of reasons. We might find your talk overwhelming, we may have been triggered by something, we can take a few minutes to process what’s been said, we can overshare, we may hate what you’re talking about or not have anything of value to add. It does not mean that you cut us as friends because we don’t join in with inane chit chat. Your use of ableist terms and functioning labels are too much for us to bear and we may become situationally mute


  1. Don’t pity us/mourn our loss of social friendships, nor feel sorry for our sometimes-limited friends and social interactions (according to your perception – it’s probably not limited in our opinion). Your pity insults us and we actually pity you for constantly needing to be with people like a co-dependent relationship. Most of us find more joy in interest-based engagement, or ‘things’, such as devices, hobbies, passions, we don’t require constant validation from other people all the time and often find this super overwhelming.


  1. If we are seeming ‘needy’ or incessantly seeking clarification, this isn’t because we have a problem with you, or are silly. It’s cause many of us live with RSD and it’s crippling. We often see the worst in situations and perceive rejection when it’s not there. Rather than highlight this more by having a go at us, be clear when you communicate with us, give us time to respond to your requests and allow us time before you expect a response.


  1. Don’t take us to loud, brightly lit environments, which are dense with people and expect us to be able to concentrate on anything. These environments can be super overwhelming for us and really diminish our capacity to listen and take anything in. If you need us to focus, be considerate of the sensory triggers in the spaces you are expecting communication to happen.


  1. Some of us are reward-driven (RDS) and cannot stand to be bored. We can become extremely cranky if we are made to wait and we don’t have a device to stim with, or something we enjoy to focus on. Don’t expect us to be calm and “just chill out” when we have nothing to engage our brain. Our brains go very fast and need stimulation. Help us always have a device or something to engage with, especially if we are children.


  1. Devices…. We NEED them a lot more than you. The fact that you don’t think using devices is a good source of our brain space doesn’t mean they aren’t good for us. If you don’t want to use them, then don’t. But PLEASE don’t stop us, or restrict us using devices. Many of us are RDS and cannot cope with boredom. If you think we are being anti-social, perhaps try to understand that socialisation isn’t important to us, despite how inconvenient that might be to you. When we use devices, we often feel important, heard, clever and valued. We often DO NOT experience these same feelings in social situations.


  1. This whole “sit still, don’t fidget, have quiet hands and mouths, look at me” rubbish is brutal, nasty and unacceptable to expect, ESPECIALLY in a school environment. Teachers who are pushing this agenda need training urgently as they are dangerous for AuDHD brains and will make children believe that their bodies needs are not important and need to be suppressed. If you want us to concentrate – let us move. If you want us to listen, don’t make us look at you. Please, read this again, and again.


  1. A HUGE majority of us have learning impairments such as Dysgraphia (difficulty writing), Dyslexia (difficulty reading), Dyscalculia (difficulty with numbers), or Dyspraxia (difficulty with coordination). Yet, most Teachers don’t even know what these things are. This means we might go for years being unable to do something, yet being GASLIT by Teachers, being told we need to try harder and practice more. If we have any of these learning disabilities, then Teachers around us need to HELP US STOP HAVING TO DO THE THING THAT WE CANNOT DO. Example – if we have dysgraphia, DON’T MAKE US WRITE, instead, provide us an iPad to use. We will never overcome this learning disability and the more you pressure us, the more embarrassed and broken our spirits will become. Help us by finding other ways, NOT making us practice more. This ignorance in identifying learning disabilities and then pushing children to practice is the same as expecting a physically disabled child to just walk.