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Teach Social Skills As Values, Not Like Computer Programs

Photo © 2C2K Photography | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: Black-and-white photo of two young embracing Black children, one with a shaved head, light button up shirt, and dark pants, the other with a  white horizontal-striped tank dress and long box braids.] Finn Gardiner expectedly.org Applied Behavioral Analysis’s simplistic definition of social skills does both autistic people and the general public a disservice. Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) taught me that social skills were context-free rules I had to follow: forcing my hands to be quiet, staring back at eyeballs that bored into mine, contorting myself to make myself look less autistic at the expense of my happiness and overall well-being. I wasn’t allowed to be who I was, so I didn’t see the benefit in making a good impression on other people.  I easily understood abstract concepts such as justice and equality as a child, but I didn’t understand social skills…