Social Health Class

“Doctor, doctor! I think I’ve got a social disease! Can you help me?”

A common response I get from people is, “I would never have guessed you have autism.” I assume this is because people expect those with autism to barely be able to function in public.

I don’t have anything wrong with me mentally. It’s the social part I admittedly have trouble with. You wouldn’t notice this about me unless you took the time.

A social life is considered healthy when you have a good number of meaningful connections with real people. According to that definition, I am socially dead. Most of my days are spent not talking to anyone. And the number of people I consider myself close to can be counted on one hand with fingers to spare.

I would like to focus on two components to having a healthy social life:

  1. Communication

Those who are able to express their ideas in a clear and interesting way are easy to interact with. More work is created when one person in a group does not know how to effectively share their thoughts and feelings. The goal of communication in our social lives is to get across to others what makes us an individual. If we are not an individual, then what do we really have to say at all?

Being socially awkward isn’t limited to those with behavioral disorders. Place anyone into an unfamiliar social setting and you will definitely see room for improvement. Some people are better at one-on-one conversation while some excel at talking in group settings. Wherever you can talk like yourself is where you communicate best.

  1. Relationships

Social skills are useless unless you have someone to use them on. The skills we can use in a given situation depend on who we are currently with. A different approach is necessary when in public compared to personal moments or even online interactions. You could say we become different people with different people.

Simply interacting with another person doesn’t mean you have formed a meaningful bond with them. Relationships are formed by people’s mutual needs. We find playmates when we need someone to play with. We become coworkers when we need each other’s work ethic and abilities. The most meaningful relationships are forged when we find people who need us to be ourselves.

The Prognosis

You can’t say your social life is healthy if you are not doing anything with it. It’s kind of like exercise in how your work is never done. We need to improve the quality of our communication with people and be constantly forming new relationships to consider ourselves socially fit.

I’ve had people suggest to me I should make friends with some of the other Asperger people I know. How can that be good? I can understand a common background provides for conversational topics, but putting two people with social issues together and expecting magic to happen is ridiculous. Do people think combining Asperger’s with Asperger’s will cancel it out? I don’t have any desire to “be with my own kind.” Try using that reasoning with anthropophobia. Do you think people with social anxiety should get together and form a club?

I’ve worked hard to find friends I can depend on. I try to be polite and cordial with everyone I meet, but the bonds that matter most are the ones that give back. The best people you can find for a healthy social life are the ones who consciously care about your social health. No point in curing Asperger syndrome if no social life is waiting for you afterwards.

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