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Training adults on how to react to social cues.

Training adults on how to react to social cues.


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I was researching social cues and stumbled upon this article, which concludes that:

results suggest that implicit learning is context-dependent and can be influenced by the cue type, e.g., social and object cues.

Now, that is not surprising at all, the findings that learning is context-dependent, meaning that relevant social cues improve it. However, what if the subject has to learn how to react to social cues? Say we are talking about individuals that for various reasons, (let's say, social isolation growing up or as one symptom of a disorder or other) do not know how to react to most social cues, or to more complex ones? How do you train them, given that, as adults, exposure in a cvasi-controlled environment (like school) is not possible?

I guess my question is: In adult learning, would it be possible to train people to understand or react to social cues, taking into account that you need to make the training context-dependent? *


Yes. The first step in teaching others to recognize and how to respond to social cues is to help them learn self-awareness. They need to become aware of how they feel and naturally respond to stimuli. People with ASD often struggle with having a detached look of themselves- ToM. That too someone can overcome through self-awareness. Google scholar self-awareness and social competence.


Introduction

Crying is a powerful communicator of infant need. Parents’ capacity to perceive and respond to infant communication is an important determinant of the quality of early care (Parsons et al., 2010). This is important because there is good evidence that early caregiving shapes infant development across a range of domains including cognitive, social, and emotional functioning (Raviv et al., 2004 Sohr-Preston and Scaramella, 2006 Stein et al., 2008). Of all of the typical infant behaviors, crying presents a substantial challenge to parents. Hearing the sound is associated with a cascade of neuroendocrinal events, most notably autonomic arousal and brainstem activity (Parsons et al., 2012, 2013c) Crying can cause parents substantial distress, especially when perceived as excessive or difficult to sooth (Miller et al., 1993) and is associated with parental sense of competence (e.g., Stifter et al., 2003).

The capacity to respond appropriately to infant crying depends on basic perceptual abilities. A number of acoustic parameters within infant cries have been identified that provide information as to the infant’s current physiological and affective state. These include pitch, duration, onset, and pauses (for review, see Soltis, 2004). Of these, pitch has been identified as the key acoustic factor affecting caregiver perceptions and responses (LaGasse et al., 2005). Evidence for the role of pitch as a marker of infant distress comes from studies examining adults’ perception of infant emotion in natural contexts (e.g., Zeskind and Collins, 1987), studies that experimentally manipulate pitch and measure adults’ responses (e.g., Zeskind et al., 1995) and studies of infant pain responses (e.g., Porges, 1995).

Pitch and Infant Distress

While much of the evidence for pitch as a marker of infant distress comes from studies manipulating cry acoustics, there is some work examining naturally occurring crying. For instance, in one study of caregiving behavior in a daycare setting, adults were found to respond with greater urgency and make additional efforts to soothe high pitched crying when compared to lower pitched crying (Zeskind and Collins, 1987). Another study found that the cries of high medical complication infants were characterized by a higher pitch compared with low complication infants and rated as more urgent, aversive, grating, sick, distressing, piercing, and 𠆍iscomforting’ by adult listeners (Zeskind and Lester, 1978). Finally, one study examined a number of acoustic parameters of infant crying and found that pitch was the best predictor of adults’ perception of distress (Zeskind and Marshall, 1988).

A body of laboratory studies have provided clear evidence that experimental manipulations of pitch result in cries being perceived as increasingly arousing, urgent, aversive, and sick sounding as pitch increases (Zeskind et al., 1995 Dessureau et al., 1998). Some studies manipulated the infant cry pitch by specific frequency amounts (e.g., 100 Hz Zeskind et al., 1995), or specific semitone amounts (Young et al., 2012) or percentage of overall pitch (Protopapas and Eimas, 1997), but all have yielded consistent results.

There are clear physiological mechanisms linking pitch, and changes in pitch, to infant affective state (Soltis, 2004). The association between pitch and distress is mediated by the vagus, in particular the branch of the vagus linking the nucleus ambiguous to the larynx. During acute stress (e.g., pain or fear), the sympathetic nervous system is activated and the parasympathetic nervous system is attenuated. As part of the parasympathetic withdrawal, vagal tone is lowered, eliciting a number of physiological adaptations (Porter et al., 1988 Porges, 1995, 1997). Among these adaptations, muscle tension is crucial, resulting in changes in the pitch of vocalizations. Greater infant arousal and distress is associated with increased tension in the vocal chords, producing higher pitched vocalizations (Porter et al., 1988 Porges, 1995).

Observational studies of infant pain response and arousal provide further confirmation of this physiological link. For instance, cry pitch has been shown to directly relate to parasympathetic activity in the child (Porter et al., 1988 Green et al., 2000). In addition, pitch is higher when infants cry in response to painful medical procedures (injection) compared to non-painful procedures (alcohol rub Grunau et al., 1990). Finally, cries during invasive circumcisions are higher in pitch than cries during less invasive circumcisions (Porter et al., 1986). These converging lines of evidence underline the significance of pitch as a marker of infant distress. It would seem important, therefore, that adults be able to perceive and respond to cry pitch. Recent work has attempted to identify factors that might negatively impact infant cry perception generally, and also specifically in relation to pitch. There is some evidence for the effects of illegal drug use (Schuetze and Zeskind, 2003), teenage motherhood (Giardino et al., 2008), and depression, with depression being the most studied factor. Several studies have reported that mothers with depression are less likely to initiate appropriate caregiving responses to their infant’s cries than healthy mothers (Bettes, 1988 Murray et al., 1993 Schuetze and Zeskind, 2001). While there are a number of plausible features of depression that might impact on a mother’s response to her infant, it has been suggested that mothers with depression might have decreased sensitivity to basic perceptual features of these sounds, particularly pitch (Zeskind et al., 1995 Donovan et al., 1998) which may impair initiation of responding. This suggestion is supported by work showing decreased ability to discriminate distress, as manipulated by pitch, in adults with depression and no music training (Young et al., 2012). Perceptual difficulties, which may be linked to other core features of depression such as motivation and biased information processing, might be important in mother-infant interactions in depression.

Parental Status and Responding to Crying

There has been a general assumption that becoming a parent might positively impact adults’ responses to infant cries. Studies to date have yielded somewhat divergent results. For instance, there is some evidence that parents rate infant crying as less distressed (Irwin, 2003) and less aversive than non-parents (Zeskind and Lester, 1978), and respond with less cardiac reactivity (Out et al., 2010). It has also been reported that mothers tend to respond with greater sympathy and alertness to infant cries compared to non-mothers (Stallings et al., 2001).

However, other studies have reported no difference between mothers and non-mothers on measures of mean heart rate in response to infant crying (Hall and Morsbach, 1989), and that non-parents are more similar in cardiac response to experienced parents than new parents (Boukydis and Burgess, 1982). Another study reported that parents and non-parents did not differ in their ratings of infant distress, empathic concern, caregiving intention (Lin and McFatter, 2012) or motor movements in response to infant cries (Parsons et al., 2012). Furthermore, brain imaging studies have not yet provided a clear picture (Parsons et al., 2013a,b). One fMRI study reported stronger activation to infant crying in the amygdala and limbic areas in parents compared to non-parents (Seifritz et al., 2003), but another recent study reported no such difference (De Pisapia et al., 2013).

Empathy and Caregiving

The reasons for these discrepant findings are unclear, but may be related to individual differences in the participant groups included in these studies. For instance, individual differences in adults’ own early life experiences have also been shown to moderate responses to infant cues (Bhandari et al., 2014a,b). Furthermore, it has been argued that individual differences in dispositional empathy might moderate caregiving responses to distressed others (Lockwood et al., 2013). However, studies of the effects of parenthood have not yet addressed individual differences in empathy directly. This seems important because recent models of empathy have emphasized its role in motivating parental caregiving behavior (Decety and Cowell, 2014). There is substantial overlap in the neurochemical underpinnings of caregiving behavior and empathic responding. Oxytocin, in particular, has been strongly linked to both caregiving (Rilling and Young, 2014 Bakermans-Kranenburg and van Ijzendoorn, 2008 Gordon et al., 2010 Feldman et al., 2013 but effects are not necessarily straightforward, Voorthuis et al., 2014) and empathic responding in humans (Rodrigues et al., 2009 Hurlemann et al., 2010).

Musical Training: An Advantage in Emotion Processing?

Another plausible factor that might impact on the perception of infant crying is musical experience. Emotion perception in vocal sounds and music depend on shared acoustic and neural mechanisms (Nair, 2002 Scherer, 2003). Numerous studies have shown that musicians have heightened sensitivity to emotion in speech compared to non-musicians (for review, see Kraus and Chandrasekaran, 2010) and emerging evidence suggests that this sensitivity extends to non-speech vocalizations also (Strait et al., 2009 Young et al., 2012). Indeed, pitch processing is one acoustic component where musicians show clear advantages over non-musicians (Magne et al., 2006 Musacchia et al., 2007 Vuust et al., 2012), which may be especially helpful for responding to infant crying.

In the current study, we aimed to examine the effects of parental status, empathy, and musical training on the perception of distress in infant cries. While previous work has tended to examine factors such as parental status in isolation, we tested whether individual differences in dispositional empathy and years of musical training might also be important. While one previous study demonstrated the importance of musical training in adults experiencing current psychopathology (Young et al., 2012), we tested whether it might be of relevance in healthy adults. Using a two-alternative forced choice (2AFC) task, we asked participants to identify the more distressed of two infant cries. The two sounds differed only with respect to their pitch, which was systematically altered by varying amounts (as described in Young et al., 2012). We expected that (i) parents would show greater sensitivity to infant distress compared with non-parents, (ii) musicians would show greater sensitivity than non-musicians, and (iii) dispositional empathy would correlate with sensitivity.


The Social Thinking Methodology

With the Social Thinking Methodology, you gain evidence-based strategies to help people age 4 through adult improve their social competencies, including:

  • Self-regulation
  • Social-emotional learning
  • Executive functioning
  • Perspective taking
  • Social problem solving

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Related wikiHows

  1. ↑https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/autism-spectrum-disorder/index.shtml
  2. ↑https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/social-anxiety-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20353561
  3. ↑https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/social-anxiety-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20353561
  4. ↑https://www.additudemag.com/autism-spectrum-disorder-in-adults/
  5. ↑https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/social-anxiety-disorder-more-than-just-shyness/index.shtml
  6. ↑ George Sachs, PsyD. Licensed Psychologist. Expert Interview. 9 October 2020.
  7. ↑https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/social-anxiety-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20353561
  8. ↑https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/social-anxiety-disorder-more-than-just-shyness/index.shtml
  9. ↑https://childmind.org/guide/social-anxiety-disorder/
  1. ↑http://www.icare4autism.org/news/2012/01/difference-between-autism-and-social-anxiety/ (Contains puzzle piece imagery)
  2. ↑https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/social-anxiety-disorder-more-than-just-shyness/index.shtml
  3. ↑https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/autism-spectrum-disorder/index.shtml
  4. ↑https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/social-anxiety-disorder-more-than-just-shyness/index.shtml
  5. ↑https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/autism-spectrum-disorder/index.shtml
  6. ↑https://www.additudemag.com/autism-spectrum-disorder-in-children/
  7. ↑https://www.additudemag.com/autism-spectrum-disorder-in-adults/
  8. ↑https://autisticadvocacy.org/about-asan/about-autism/
  9. ↑https://www.bbc.com/news/health-26750786
  10. ↑http://theydiffer.com/difference-between-aspergers-and-social-anxiety/ (Content note: ableism)
  11. ↑https://childmind.org/guide/social-anxiety-disorder/
  12. ↑https://www.additudemag.com/autism-spectrum-disorder-in-children/
  13. ↑https://www.verywell.com/how-is-aspergers-related-to-social-anxiety-disorder-3024753
  14. ↑https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/screening.html
  15. ↑https://www.spectrumnews.org/news/disparities-in-autism-diagnosis-may-harm-minority-groups/
  16. ↑https://sites.psu.edu/aspsy/2018/09/24/6077/

Why Are They Important?

Overall, research reveals time and again that students with social and emotional skills perform better academically, have stronger relationships with peers and teachers, experience greater well-being, and engage in less risky behavior. In addition, SEL skills positively impact education, employment, and mental health outcomes into adulthood.

More specifically, several components of social awareness and relationship skills show the following outcomes:


The Smoky Room Experiment

If you saw someone in trouble, do you think you would try to help? Psychologists have found that the answer to this question is highly dependent on the number of other people present. We are much more likely to help when we are the only witness but much less likely to lend a hand when we are part of a crowd.

The phenomenon came to the public's attention after the gruesome murder of a young woman named Kitty Genovese. According to the classic tale, while multiple people may have witnessed her attack, no one called for help until it was much too late.

This behavior was identified as an example of the bystander effect, or the failure of people to take action when there are other people present. (In reality, several witnesses did immediately call 911, so the real Genovese case was not a perfect example of the bystander effect.)  

In one classic experiment, researchers had participants sit in a room to fill out questionnaires. Suddenly, the room began to fill with smoke. In some cases the participant was alone, in some there were three unsuspecting participants in the room, and in the final condition, there was one participant and two confederates.

In the situation involving the two confederates who were in on the experiment, these actors ignored the smoke and went on filling out their questionnaires. When the participants were alone, about three-quarters of the participants left the room calmly to report the smoke to the researchers.

In the condition with three real participants, only 38% reported the smoke. In the final condition where the two confederates ignored the smoke, a mere 10% of participants left to report the smoke.   The experiment is a great example of how much people rely on the responses of others to guide their actions.

When something is happening, but no one seems to be responding, people tend to take their cues from the group and assume that a response is not required.


Training Basic Visual Attention Leads to Changes in Responsiveness to Social-Communicative Cues in 9-Month-Olds

This study investigated transfer effects of gaze-interactive attention training to more complex social and cognitive skills in infancy. Seventy 9-month-olds were assigned to a training group (n = 35) or an active control group (n = 35). Before, after, and at 6-week follow-up both groups completed an assessment battery assessing transfer to nontrained aspects of attention control, including table top tasks assessing social attention in seminaturalistic contexts. Transfer effects were found on nontrained screen-based tasks but importantly also on a structured observation task assessing the infants' likelihood to respond to an adult's social-communication cues. The results causally link basic attention skills and more complex social-communicative skills and provide a principle for studying causal mechanisms of early development.

© 2017 The Authors. Child Development © 2017 Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.


Millennials’ Achievement Orientations, Parental Communication, and Leadership Aspirations

In the popular literature, one of the characteristics commonly attributed to Millennials, especially those with higher socioeconomic status, is a strong achievement orientation (Howe and Strauss 2003 Luthar and Becker 2002 Pew Research Center 2007). Although this may sound like a contradiction—that Millennials are willing to volunteer their services and they feel rewarded by recognition—it is not. Millennials want to be valued either as volunteers or in their work. They have relied on financial freedoms and material goods provided by their parents, but eventually will require salaries to maintain their high standards of living (Pew Research Center 2007). Thus, many parents of Millennials (mostly Boomers) are preparing their children for financially rewarding career paths. Driven by intense vocational socialization from parents (Myers etਊl. 2009), Millennials are focused on personal achievement and success (Pew Research Center 2007). In particular, many parents place pressure on Millennials to succeed (Howe and Strauss 2003). Some empirical sources indicate that these parents have high standards for their Millennial children, insisting they take advanced college prep classes, helping them to prepare for college placement exams, and encouraging them to apply to prestigious colleges (Luthar and Becker 2002). Many parents continue their close supervision and pressure as their children enter the job market. For instance, employers cite increasing parental involvement during job recruitment (Gardner 2007). For both parents and Millennials, the first job is expected to be the “initial payoff for all the planning, stress, and shared ambition” (Howe and Strauss 2003, p. 133) they have endured so parents take an active role in their children’s lives and continue to push them to achieve personal, material success. As previously mentioned, Millennials are eager to develop close relationships with their supervisors whom many consider to be their workplace parents, according to the popular literature (Alsop 2008).

Although previous generations may have significant career ambitions, most Millennials strongly agree that they are pressured to achieve (Ramey 2008). As a result of this perceived intense socialization from parents, Millennials place a high value on and expect personal achievement. According to one Pew study (2007), 64% of Millennials say that getting rich is the most important goal in life for their generation, and another 17% cite it as their generation’s second most important goal. What is not yet known is whether and how this pressure will affect Millennials’ career strategies and interaction with coworkers.

Sadaghiani and Myers (2009) proposed that socializing communication from parents about leadership also might emphasize personal achievement and extrinsic (i.e., material) success. Messages such as, “Leadership experience looks good on résumés,” and “Leaders get special recognition from their followers,” are examples of self-centered discussions about leadership promoting extrinsic success. Parents’ and Millennials’ potential self-oriented messages focusing on extrinsic benefits associated with leadership, when combined with employers’ expressed interest in hiring leaders (NACE 2006), might influence Millennials to place more value on egoism in leadership and to be motivated to lead for selfish, materialistic reasons rather than out of a desire to benefit followers, or for the intrinsic satisfaction of being a leader (Sadaghiani and Myers 2009). If an individual is motivated to lead only for personal benefit, he or she will likely not be able to effectively work for followers when most needed.

Based on their survey of 130 college juniors and seniors, and contrary to their expectations and to what is suggested by popular press reports, Sadaghiani and Myers (2009) found that parents did not emphasize egoism over altruism (i.e., selflessness and a concern for followers) in socialization communication about leadership. “Parents of Millennials do talk about and encourage egoism and valuing extrinsic benefits, but they also talk about and encourage altruism in leadership” (Sadaghiani and Myers 2009, p. 24 italics added). The researchers found that while there is a positive relationship between leadership socialization and altruistic leadership values, there is also a positive relationship between leadership socialization and both the value one places on extrinsic rewards and the expectancy that leadership will provide extrinsic rewards. It is likely that Millennials will actively seek leadership opportunities. As these young people become leaders, they will communicate altruistic values, but like previous generations, they are also likely to seek rewards for leadership roles. Future research should seek to understand Millennials’ sources of leadership socialization more thoroughly, and the values Millennials communicate once they have achieved leadership roles.

Future research also should examine the potential connection between socialization about leadership and socialization about volunteerism, which is, as noted earlier, a common activity among Millennials. While some analysts contend that Millennials are self-centered, others argue that Millennials value community, civic duty, and volunteerism. For instance, some popular literature authors observe that Millennials are civic minded and collaborative (Jacobson 2007 Raines 2002), and have been bombarded with messages that they should serve their community. Similarly, a study by the Harvard University Institute of Politics (2008), found that 60% of Millennials report an interest in public service to help the country. The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (2009) also reports that Millennials are volunteering at historically high rates. Their volunteerism might be linked to parents’ leadership socialization if, as Sadaghiani and Myers (2009) found, parents are encouraging values related to altruism and helping others (at least from leadership roles). Future research should investigate the role parents play in instilling Millennials’ civic values and motivations toward volunteering. Are Millennials who are socialized toward volunteerism more likely to volunteer, and are they more likely to hold altruistic leadership values? In turn, how do these values affect Millennials’ leadership aspirations and leadership behaviors (including their discourse) when they enter the workplace and ascend to higher levels? Answers to these questions will be useful for understanding and anticipating Millennials’ leadership behaviors, and for developing leaders.


Asperger's Syndrome: Problems Interpreting the Social and Emotional World

Like people with autism, people with Asperger's syndrome have a dreadful time understanding what is going on, socially. They do not always pay attention to the social scene in which they find themselves, and even when they do, they are often not able to make sense of what they see, or to respond appropriately.

There are some claims that what makes them different from people with autism is a greater desire to interact. Unlike more classically autistic children, who may be described as “aloof” or “passive” in their social interactions, children with Asperger’s tend to be “active but odd.” 1 Not content to be alone all the time, they long to form friendships (as they understand them) with others. Unfortunately, they have very little idea how to make friendship work. Their approach is awkward and one-sided, and reflects a lack of understanding that the other person in the exchange has needs and wishes that have to be taken into account, too. Because they cannot read social or emotional cues well, they come off as insensitive, pushy, or strange, yet have very little insight into how they are perceived. One group of clinician-researchers commented:

These social deficits, which may be somewhat masked at home where all is familiar and adults bend to a child’s unique style, stand out in sharp relief once the child is placed into a group context with typical peers, whether at informal play groups or pre-school. It is around this pre-school period that many parents first become concerned about how their child is functioning. 3

Emotion is another realm that befuddles people with Asperger's. It is often said that they lack empathy. If, by empathy, you mean a deep understanding of other people’s specific emotional states and how to respond appropriately, this is true. What it does not mean, however, is that they lack all compassion. They are more “self-centered than selfish," 4 with an attitude towards others that may range from indifference to deep concern, but is rarely malicious.

Because people with Asperger's are intelligent but “lack empathy," fears have sometimes been raised that they may be sociopathic. This is absolutely not the case. A true sociopath is a ruthless manipulator with an uncanny ability to read and utilize others’ emotions against them for his own gain. 5 People with Asperger's are, in sharp contrast, clueless:

One result of their naiveté is an unedited, complete and utterly honest approach that can be both refreshing and alarming. People with Asperger's tend to say what they are thinking without the social filter “neurotypical” people employ. They might comment on somebody’s race, beer gut, or disability without any awareness that such a comment could be negatively received. On the positive side, this is something valuable they have to offer in the area of friendship: a relationship devoid of double meanings, manipulation, or little white lies.

The more aloof individuals with Asperger's have been likened to Mr. Spock of Star Trek – the logic-bound Vulcan who saw human passion as distasteful and barely comprehensible. 7 The warmer ones resemble Mr. Data, 8 also of Star Trek fame – the android who, like Pinocchio, wanted to be a “real” person, but struggled with understanding emotion, humor, and romance. Both characters provide an opportunity for insight into what it might be like to have Asperger’s syndrome: to be so bright in some ways, so lost in others.


Autism Treatment: Adults

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that creates difficulties in social interaction and communication. For example, individuals have a hard time interpreting body language and facial expressions.

Autism also is characterized by rigid, repetitive patterns of behavior, such as arranging and rearranging objects. The smallest changes can be incredibly stressful for someone with ASD.

Autistic individuals might have intense interests in one or two subjects (such as science), and when harnessed, these interests can be a great strength.

Autism is a widely heterogeneous and complex condition that ranges from very mild to severe. Individuals also have varying degrees of intellectual disability, ranging from above average intelligence to significantly below.

Autism commonly co-occurs with other conditions. The most common is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Also prevalent are anxiety disorders and depression.

No two autistic individuals are alike. This means that different people will need different kinds of support for their different abilities, challenges, needs, and strengths.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)(American Psychiatric Association, 2013) separates autism into three levels depending on the type of support a person needs, their social communication challenges, and the severity of inflexible behavior. For example, level 1 includes high-functioning individuals who require “support.” Level 2 includes individuals who require “substantial support,” and individuals under level 3 require “very substantial support.”

Consequently, treatment will depend on the severity of autism. For many autistic adults, therapy can be tremendously helpful. Some individuals who have significant challenges will require 24-hour care. Medication may be helpful, but there’s a paucity of data on its effects in autistic adults.

There hasn’t been much research on psychosocial interventions for adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), so there isn’t a clear-cut best treatment.

Also, psychotherapy can be particularly tough for autistic adults because it’s inherently a social process and communication difficulties are at the core of the condition. Other challenges to therapy include rigid thinking, difficulty completing homework, and not identifying or understanding emotions.

These challenges highlight the need for therapy to be adapted to autistic individuals. For instance, an article published in Research in Autism Disorders suggested incorporating both written and visual information emphasizing behavior change (instead of cognitive approaches) thoroughly explaining therapy rules taking breaks using concrete language and involving a loved one.

The authors also noted that therapy must be adapted for intellectual disabilities, when present. This might include using simpler language with visual materials and repeating key points.

Therapy should take a concrete, skills-based approach. For instance, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help with decision making and problem-solving skills. It’s also important for therapy to address emotions. According to the same article, “If a psychological therapy does not include training in identifying, labelling and scaling the intensity of emotions, this could result in poor treatment outcomes.”

Another promising intervention is social cognition training, which helps individuals with ASD interpret and respond to social cues. This training includes computer programs and even virtual reality. The latter provides participants with real-life social interactions in a safe, controlled setting. For instance, Charisma is a social cognition virtual reality training at the Center of Brain Health at University of Texas. You can learn about it here and here.

A 2015 review found that group social skills interventions “may be effective for enhancing social knowledge and understanding, improving social functioning, reducing loneliness and potentially alleviating co-morbid psychiatric symptoms.”

UCLA offers an evidence-based social skills intervention called the program for the education and enrichment of relational skills (PEERS) for young adults, ages 18 to 35. It teaches individuals with ASD the skills to make and keep friends and develop romantic relationships. (Here’s a list of mental health professionals and educators that are trained in implementing the intervention.)

Research suggests that CBT and mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) are effective in diminishing anxiety and depression symptoms, decreasing rumination, and improving overall mood. MBSR trains individuals to be mindful by incorporating exercises such as walking meditation and yoga.

In general, when looking for a therapist, the key is to find someone who specializes in helping autistic individuals—or at the very least is sincerely interested in doing so.

The research on medication for adult autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been scarce. Serotonergic drugs might be helpful for reducing repetitive behaviors in adults. Fluoxetine (Prozac), a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI), appears to be the best tolerated, but there aren’t any head-to-head studies comparing it with other medication.

Also, some data suggest that the atypical antipsychotic medications aripiprazole (Abilify) and risperidone (Risperdal) might help with reducing irritability and repetitive behaviors. (Both drugs have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat irritability in kids and adolescents.) Common side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, weight gain, movement disorders, and tremors.

Doctors might prescribe medication to someone with autism for a co-occurring disorder, such as an SSRI to reduce symptoms of depression or anxiety. However, the research on medication for anxiety disorders and depression in adults with ASD is very limited.

Overall, guidelines from the British Association for Psychopharmacology concluded that “current evidence does not support the routine use of any pharmacological treatment for the core symptoms of ASD.” They recommend that treatment decisions be made on a case-by-case basis, including for the medications above.

Sadly, services for adults with autism are limited. It really depends on where someone lives and the severity of their condition. Some autistic individuals have part-time or full-time jobs. Some attend day programs. Some require round-the-clock care.

Some clinics, located within research hospitals around the country, provide case managers and coordinate medical care, which includes a yearly physical check-up and weekly psychiatric appointments. This is vital because in addition to anxiety and depression, adults with autism also have co-occurring medical conditions (e.g., asthma, diabetes, heart disease). Two examples of these clinics are Mount Sinai’s Adult Autism Clinic and University of Utah’s Neurobehavior Healthy Outcomes Medical Excellence (HOME) program.

The Emory Autism Center at Emory University in Atlanta offers myLIFE social engagement groups, which helps adults with autism participate in fun, age-appropriate activities, interact with peer mentors, and build and practice social and daily living skills.

The nonprofit organization Autism Speaks includes a tool kit that outlines the different types of housing and residential services for autistic adults, along with providing links to housing resources. You can download the kit at this page.

Easterseals also offers services for adults with autism, including workforce development services, day programs, and in-home services.

Read books that resonate with you. You might check out the below resources, some of which are written by autism experts or autistic individuals. Some are self-help titles, while others are essays.

This page also features a comprehensive list of all kinds of resources on autism.

Check out online forums. Wrong Planet is the largest forum for autistic individuals to communicate. Another resource is #AutChat, a “Twitter hashtag by and for autistic and similarly neurodivergent people. It is used both for unscheduled conversations and weekly scheduled chats…”

Help doctor visits go smoother. Researchers have created the Autism Healthcare Accommodations Tool (AHAT), which generates a customized report to give to your healthcare provider. It includes information to foster effective communication between you and your doctor, and help you better tolerate an exam. That website also includes helpful checklists, worksheets, and tips for your appointments.

Reconnect to your inner artist. Art can be a powerful way to communicate and express yourself on your own terms. Consider participating in online or in-person programs. For example, The Art of Autism is a non-profit organization that features art, poetry, photography, video, and blog posts created by autistic individuals. The Miracle Project, which is based in Los Angeles, is an inclusive theater, film, and expressive arts program for kids, teens, and adults with autism and all abilities.

For inspiration, check out The Art of Autism: Shifting Perceptions, which features the artwork and poetry of 77 artists on the autism spectrum.

Check out autism organizations. Autism Speaks, for example, has an Autism Response Team (ART), which you can call or email to learn about different resources. This link includes 10 ways that the team can help. Also, this link features resources for adults.

The Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative created an editorially independent and super informative publication called Spectrum, which features news, articles, and webinars.

The Autism Society of America offers information on autism, along with a National Contact Center (800-3-AUTISM) for service referrals. They also host an annual conference.

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) is a nonprofit organization “created to serve as a national grassroots disability rights organization for the autistic community, advocating for systems change and ensuring that the voices of autistic people are heard in policy debates and the halls of power.” In collaboration with the Autism NOW Center, ASAN provides this excellent guide with information and resources.

The Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network (AWN) focuses on providing “community, support, and resources for Autistic women, girls, nonbinary people, and all others of marginalized genders.”


The Social Thinking Methodology

With the Social Thinking Methodology, you gain evidence-based strategies to help people age 4 through adult improve their social competencies, including:

  • Self-regulation
  • Social-emotional learning
  • Executive functioning
  • Perspective taking
  • Social problem solving

14th Annual Global Providers' Online Conference

Explore some of the most important topics for our time. Expert speakers provide insight to help build social competencies and inspire hope!


Introduction

Crying is a powerful communicator of infant need. Parents’ capacity to perceive and respond to infant communication is an important determinant of the quality of early care (Parsons et al., 2010). This is important because there is good evidence that early caregiving shapes infant development across a range of domains including cognitive, social, and emotional functioning (Raviv et al., 2004 Sohr-Preston and Scaramella, 2006 Stein et al., 2008). Of all of the typical infant behaviors, crying presents a substantial challenge to parents. Hearing the sound is associated with a cascade of neuroendocrinal events, most notably autonomic arousal and brainstem activity (Parsons et al., 2012, 2013c) Crying can cause parents substantial distress, especially when perceived as excessive or difficult to sooth (Miller et al., 1993) and is associated with parental sense of competence (e.g., Stifter et al., 2003).

The capacity to respond appropriately to infant crying depends on basic perceptual abilities. A number of acoustic parameters within infant cries have been identified that provide information as to the infant’s current physiological and affective state. These include pitch, duration, onset, and pauses (for review, see Soltis, 2004). Of these, pitch has been identified as the key acoustic factor affecting caregiver perceptions and responses (LaGasse et al., 2005). Evidence for the role of pitch as a marker of infant distress comes from studies examining adults’ perception of infant emotion in natural contexts (e.g., Zeskind and Collins, 1987), studies that experimentally manipulate pitch and measure adults’ responses (e.g., Zeskind et al., 1995) and studies of infant pain responses (e.g., Porges, 1995).

Pitch and Infant Distress

While much of the evidence for pitch as a marker of infant distress comes from studies manipulating cry acoustics, there is some work examining naturally occurring crying. For instance, in one study of caregiving behavior in a daycare setting, adults were found to respond with greater urgency and make additional efforts to soothe high pitched crying when compared to lower pitched crying (Zeskind and Collins, 1987). Another study found that the cries of high medical complication infants were characterized by a higher pitch compared with low complication infants and rated as more urgent, aversive, grating, sick, distressing, piercing, and 𠆍iscomforting’ by adult listeners (Zeskind and Lester, 1978). Finally, one study examined a number of acoustic parameters of infant crying and found that pitch was the best predictor of adults’ perception of distress (Zeskind and Marshall, 1988).

A body of laboratory studies have provided clear evidence that experimental manipulations of pitch result in cries being perceived as increasingly arousing, urgent, aversive, and sick sounding as pitch increases (Zeskind et al., 1995 Dessureau et al., 1998). Some studies manipulated the infant cry pitch by specific frequency amounts (e.g., 100 Hz Zeskind et al., 1995), or specific semitone amounts (Young et al., 2012) or percentage of overall pitch (Protopapas and Eimas, 1997), but all have yielded consistent results.

There are clear physiological mechanisms linking pitch, and changes in pitch, to infant affective state (Soltis, 2004). The association between pitch and distress is mediated by the vagus, in particular the branch of the vagus linking the nucleus ambiguous to the larynx. During acute stress (e.g., pain or fear), the sympathetic nervous system is activated and the parasympathetic nervous system is attenuated. As part of the parasympathetic withdrawal, vagal tone is lowered, eliciting a number of physiological adaptations (Porter et al., 1988 Porges, 1995, 1997). Among these adaptations, muscle tension is crucial, resulting in changes in the pitch of vocalizations. Greater infant arousal and distress is associated with increased tension in the vocal chords, producing higher pitched vocalizations (Porter et al., 1988 Porges, 1995).

Observational studies of infant pain response and arousal provide further confirmation of this physiological link. For instance, cry pitch has been shown to directly relate to parasympathetic activity in the child (Porter et al., 1988 Green et al., 2000). In addition, pitch is higher when infants cry in response to painful medical procedures (injection) compared to non-painful procedures (alcohol rub Grunau et al., 1990). Finally, cries during invasive circumcisions are higher in pitch than cries during less invasive circumcisions (Porter et al., 1986). These converging lines of evidence underline the significance of pitch as a marker of infant distress. It would seem important, therefore, that adults be able to perceive and respond to cry pitch. Recent work has attempted to identify factors that might negatively impact infant cry perception generally, and also specifically in relation to pitch. There is some evidence for the effects of illegal drug use (Schuetze and Zeskind, 2003), teenage motherhood (Giardino et al., 2008), and depression, with depression being the most studied factor. Several studies have reported that mothers with depression are less likely to initiate appropriate caregiving responses to their infant’s cries than healthy mothers (Bettes, 1988 Murray et al., 1993 Schuetze and Zeskind, 2001). While there are a number of plausible features of depression that might impact on a mother’s response to her infant, it has been suggested that mothers with depression might have decreased sensitivity to basic perceptual features of these sounds, particularly pitch (Zeskind et al., 1995 Donovan et al., 1998) which may impair initiation of responding. This suggestion is supported by work showing decreased ability to discriminate distress, as manipulated by pitch, in adults with depression and no music training (Young et al., 2012). Perceptual difficulties, which may be linked to other core features of depression such as motivation and biased information processing, might be important in mother-infant interactions in depression.

Parental Status and Responding to Crying

There has been a general assumption that becoming a parent might positively impact adults’ responses to infant cries. Studies to date have yielded somewhat divergent results. For instance, there is some evidence that parents rate infant crying as less distressed (Irwin, 2003) and less aversive than non-parents (Zeskind and Lester, 1978), and respond with less cardiac reactivity (Out et al., 2010). It has also been reported that mothers tend to respond with greater sympathy and alertness to infant cries compared to non-mothers (Stallings et al., 2001).

However, other studies have reported no difference between mothers and non-mothers on measures of mean heart rate in response to infant crying (Hall and Morsbach, 1989), and that non-parents are more similar in cardiac response to experienced parents than new parents (Boukydis and Burgess, 1982). Another study reported that parents and non-parents did not differ in their ratings of infant distress, empathic concern, caregiving intention (Lin and McFatter, 2012) or motor movements in response to infant cries (Parsons et al., 2012). Furthermore, brain imaging studies have not yet provided a clear picture (Parsons et al., 2013a,b). One fMRI study reported stronger activation to infant crying in the amygdala and limbic areas in parents compared to non-parents (Seifritz et al., 2003), but another recent study reported no such difference (De Pisapia et al., 2013).

Empathy and Caregiving

The reasons for these discrepant findings are unclear, but may be related to individual differences in the participant groups included in these studies. For instance, individual differences in adults’ own early life experiences have also been shown to moderate responses to infant cues (Bhandari et al., 2014a,b). Furthermore, it has been argued that individual differences in dispositional empathy might moderate caregiving responses to distressed others (Lockwood et al., 2013). However, studies of the effects of parenthood have not yet addressed individual differences in empathy directly. This seems important because recent models of empathy have emphasized its role in motivating parental caregiving behavior (Decety and Cowell, 2014). There is substantial overlap in the neurochemical underpinnings of caregiving behavior and empathic responding. Oxytocin, in particular, has been strongly linked to both caregiving (Rilling and Young, 2014 Bakermans-Kranenburg and van Ijzendoorn, 2008 Gordon et al., 2010 Feldman et al., 2013 but effects are not necessarily straightforward, Voorthuis et al., 2014) and empathic responding in humans (Rodrigues et al., 2009 Hurlemann et al., 2010).

Musical Training: An Advantage in Emotion Processing?

Another plausible factor that might impact on the perception of infant crying is musical experience. Emotion perception in vocal sounds and music depend on shared acoustic and neural mechanisms (Nair, 2002 Scherer, 2003). Numerous studies have shown that musicians have heightened sensitivity to emotion in speech compared to non-musicians (for review, see Kraus and Chandrasekaran, 2010) and emerging evidence suggests that this sensitivity extends to non-speech vocalizations also (Strait et al., 2009 Young et al., 2012). Indeed, pitch processing is one acoustic component where musicians show clear advantages over non-musicians (Magne et al., 2006 Musacchia et al., 2007 Vuust et al., 2012), which may be especially helpful for responding to infant crying.

In the current study, we aimed to examine the effects of parental status, empathy, and musical training on the perception of distress in infant cries. While previous work has tended to examine factors such as parental status in isolation, we tested whether individual differences in dispositional empathy and years of musical training might also be important. While one previous study demonstrated the importance of musical training in adults experiencing current psychopathology (Young et al., 2012), we tested whether it might be of relevance in healthy adults. Using a two-alternative forced choice (2AFC) task, we asked participants to identify the more distressed of two infant cries. The two sounds differed only with respect to their pitch, which was systematically altered by varying amounts (as described in Young et al., 2012). We expected that (i) parents would show greater sensitivity to infant distress compared with non-parents, (ii) musicians would show greater sensitivity than non-musicians, and (iii) dispositional empathy would correlate with sensitivity.


Autism Treatment: Adults

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that creates difficulties in social interaction and communication. For example, individuals have a hard time interpreting body language and facial expressions.

Autism also is characterized by rigid, repetitive patterns of behavior, such as arranging and rearranging objects. The smallest changes can be incredibly stressful for someone with ASD.

Autistic individuals might have intense interests in one or two subjects (such as science), and when harnessed, these interests can be a great strength.

Autism is a widely heterogeneous and complex condition that ranges from very mild to severe. Individuals also have varying degrees of intellectual disability, ranging from above average intelligence to significantly below.

Autism commonly co-occurs with other conditions. The most common is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Also prevalent are anxiety disorders and depression.

No two autistic individuals are alike. This means that different people will need different kinds of support for their different abilities, challenges, needs, and strengths.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)(American Psychiatric Association, 2013) separates autism into three levels depending on the type of support a person needs, their social communication challenges, and the severity of inflexible behavior. For example, level 1 includes high-functioning individuals who require “support.” Level 2 includes individuals who require “substantial support,” and individuals under level 3 require “very substantial support.”

Consequently, treatment will depend on the severity of autism. For many autistic adults, therapy can be tremendously helpful. Some individuals who have significant challenges will require 24-hour care. Medication may be helpful, but there’s a paucity of data on its effects in autistic adults.

There hasn’t been much research on psychosocial interventions for adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), so there isn’t a clear-cut best treatment.

Also, psychotherapy can be particularly tough for autistic adults because it’s inherently a social process and communication difficulties are at the core of the condition. Other challenges to therapy include rigid thinking, difficulty completing homework, and not identifying or understanding emotions.

These challenges highlight the need for therapy to be adapted to autistic individuals. For instance, an article published in Research in Autism Disorders suggested incorporating both written and visual information emphasizing behavior change (instead of cognitive approaches) thoroughly explaining therapy rules taking breaks using concrete language and involving a loved one.

The authors also noted that therapy must be adapted for intellectual disabilities, when present. This might include using simpler language with visual materials and repeating key points.

Therapy should take a concrete, skills-based approach. For instance, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help with decision making and problem-solving skills. It’s also important for therapy to address emotions. According to the same article, “If a psychological therapy does not include training in identifying, labelling and scaling the intensity of emotions, this could result in poor treatment outcomes.”

Another promising intervention is social cognition training, which helps individuals with ASD interpret and respond to social cues. This training includes computer programs and even virtual reality. The latter provides participants with real-life social interactions in a safe, controlled setting. For instance, Charisma is a social cognition virtual reality training at the Center of Brain Health at University of Texas. You can learn about it here and here.

A 2015 review found that group social skills interventions “may be effective for enhancing social knowledge and understanding, improving social functioning, reducing loneliness and potentially alleviating co-morbid psychiatric symptoms.”

UCLA offers an evidence-based social skills intervention called the program for the education and enrichment of relational skills (PEERS) for young adults, ages 18 to 35. It teaches individuals with ASD the skills to make and keep friends and develop romantic relationships. (Here’s a list of mental health professionals and educators that are trained in implementing the intervention.)

Research suggests that CBT and mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) are effective in diminishing anxiety and depression symptoms, decreasing rumination, and improving overall mood. MBSR trains individuals to be mindful by incorporating exercises such as walking meditation and yoga.

In general, when looking for a therapist, the key is to find someone who specializes in helping autistic individuals—or at the very least is sincerely interested in doing so.

The research on medication for adult autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been scarce. Serotonergic drugs might be helpful for reducing repetitive behaviors in adults. Fluoxetine (Prozac), a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI), appears to be the best tolerated, but there aren’t any head-to-head studies comparing it with other medication.

Also, some data suggest that the atypical antipsychotic medications aripiprazole (Abilify) and risperidone (Risperdal) might help with reducing irritability and repetitive behaviors. (Both drugs have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat irritability in kids and adolescents.) Common side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, weight gain, movement disorders, and tremors.

Doctors might prescribe medication to someone with autism for a co-occurring disorder, such as an SSRI to reduce symptoms of depression or anxiety. However, the research on medication for anxiety disorders and depression in adults with ASD is very limited.

Overall, guidelines from the British Association for Psychopharmacology concluded that “current evidence does not support the routine use of any pharmacological treatment for the core symptoms of ASD.” They recommend that treatment decisions be made on a case-by-case basis, including for the medications above.

Sadly, services for adults with autism are limited. It really depends on where someone lives and the severity of their condition. Some autistic individuals have part-time or full-time jobs. Some attend day programs. Some require round-the-clock care.

Some clinics, located within research hospitals around the country, provide case managers and coordinate medical care, which includes a yearly physical check-up and weekly psychiatric appointments. This is vital because in addition to anxiety and depression, adults with autism also have co-occurring medical conditions (e.g., asthma, diabetes, heart disease). Two examples of these clinics are Mount Sinai’s Adult Autism Clinic and University of Utah’s Neurobehavior Healthy Outcomes Medical Excellence (HOME) program.

The Emory Autism Center at Emory University in Atlanta offers myLIFE social engagement groups, which helps adults with autism participate in fun, age-appropriate activities, interact with peer mentors, and build and practice social and daily living skills.

The nonprofit organization Autism Speaks includes a tool kit that outlines the different types of housing and residential services for autistic adults, along with providing links to housing resources. You can download the kit at this page.

Easterseals also offers services for adults with autism, including workforce development services, day programs, and in-home services.

Read books that resonate with you. You might check out the below resources, some of which are written by autism experts or autistic individuals. Some are self-help titles, while others are essays.

This page also features a comprehensive list of all kinds of resources on autism.

Check out online forums. Wrong Planet is the largest forum for autistic individuals to communicate. Another resource is #AutChat, a “Twitter hashtag by and for autistic and similarly neurodivergent people. It is used both for unscheduled conversations and weekly scheduled chats…”

Help doctor visits go smoother. Researchers have created the Autism Healthcare Accommodations Tool (AHAT), which generates a customized report to give to your healthcare provider. It includes information to foster effective communication between you and your doctor, and help you better tolerate an exam. That website also includes helpful checklists, worksheets, and tips for your appointments.

Reconnect to your inner artist. Art can be a powerful way to communicate and express yourself on your own terms. Consider participating in online or in-person programs. For example, The Art of Autism is a non-profit organization that features art, poetry, photography, video, and blog posts created by autistic individuals. The Miracle Project, which is based in Los Angeles, is an inclusive theater, film, and expressive arts program for kids, teens, and adults with autism and all abilities.

For inspiration, check out The Art of Autism: Shifting Perceptions, which features the artwork and poetry of 77 artists on the autism spectrum.

Check out autism organizations. Autism Speaks, for example, has an Autism Response Team (ART), which you can call or email to learn about different resources. This link includes 10 ways that the team can help. Also, this link features resources for adults.

The Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative created an editorially independent and super informative publication called Spectrum, which features news, articles, and webinars.

The Autism Society of America offers information on autism, along with a National Contact Center (800-3-AUTISM) for service referrals. They also host an annual conference.

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) is a nonprofit organization “created to serve as a national grassroots disability rights organization for the autistic community, advocating for systems change and ensuring that the voices of autistic people are heard in policy debates and the halls of power.” In collaboration with the Autism NOW Center, ASAN provides this excellent guide with information and resources.

The Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network (AWN) focuses on providing “community, support, and resources for Autistic women, girls, nonbinary people, and all others of marginalized genders.”


Asperger's Syndrome: Problems Interpreting the Social and Emotional World

Like people with autism, people with Asperger's syndrome have a dreadful time understanding what is going on, socially. They do not always pay attention to the social scene in which they find themselves, and even when they do, they are often not able to make sense of what they see, or to respond appropriately.

There are some claims that what makes them different from people with autism is a greater desire to interact. Unlike more classically autistic children, who may be described as “aloof” or “passive” in their social interactions, children with Asperger’s tend to be “active but odd.” 1 Not content to be alone all the time, they long to form friendships (as they understand them) with others. Unfortunately, they have very little idea how to make friendship work. Their approach is awkward and one-sided, and reflects a lack of understanding that the other person in the exchange has needs and wishes that have to be taken into account, too. Because they cannot read social or emotional cues well, they come off as insensitive, pushy, or strange, yet have very little insight into how they are perceived. One group of clinician-researchers commented:

These social deficits, which may be somewhat masked at home where all is familiar and adults bend to a child’s unique style, stand out in sharp relief once the child is placed into a group context with typical peers, whether at informal play groups or pre-school. It is around this pre-school period that many parents first become concerned about how their child is functioning. 3

Emotion is another realm that befuddles people with Asperger's. It is often said that they lack empathy. If, by empathy, you mean a deep understanding of other people’s specific emotional states and how to respond appropriately, this is true. What it does not mean, however, is that they lack all compassion. They are more “self-centered than selfish," 4 with an attitude towards others that may range from indifference to deep concern, but is rarely malicious.

Because people with Asperger's are intelligent but “lack empathy," fears have sometimes been raised that they may be sociopathic. This is absolutely not the case. A true sociopath is a ruthless manipulator with an uncanny ability to read and utilize others’ emotions against them for his own gain. 5 People with Asperger's are, in sharp contrast, clueless:

One result of their naiveté is an unedited, complete and utterly honest approach that can be both refreshing and alarming. People with Asperger's tend to say what they are thinking without the social filter “neurotypical” people employ. They might comment on somebody’s race, beer gut, or disability without any awareness that such a comment could be negatively received. On the positive side, this is something valuable they have to offer in the area of friendship: a relationship devoid of double meanings, manipulation, or little white lies.

The more aloof individuals with Asperger's have been likened to Mr. Spock of Star Trek – the logic-bound Vulcan who saw human passion as distasteful and barely comprehensible. 7 The warmer ones resemble Mr. Data, 8 also of Star Trek fame – the android who, like Pinocchio, wanted to be a “real” person, but struggled with understanding emotion, humor, and romance. Both characters provide an opportunity for insight into what it might be like to have Asperger’s syndrome: to be so bright in some ways, so lost in others.


Training Basic Visual Attention Leads to Changes in Responsiveness to Social-Communicative Cues in 9-Month-Olds

This study investigated transfer effects of gaze-interactive attention training to more complex social and cognitive skills in infancy. Seventy 9-month-olds were assigned to a training group (n = 35) or an active control group (n = 35). Before, after, and at 6-week follow-up both groups completed an assessment battery assessing transfer to nontrained aspects of attention control, including table top tasks assessing social attention in seminaturalistic contexts. Transfer effects were found on nontrained screen-based tasks but importantly also on a structured observation task assessing the infants' likelihood to respond to an adult's social-communication cues. The results causally link basic attention skills and more complex social-communicative skills and provide a principle for studying causal mechanisms of early development.

© 2017 The Authors. Child Development © 2017 Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.


Millennials’ Achievement Orientations, Parental Communication, and Leadership Aspirations

In the popular literature, one of the characteristics commonly attributed to Millennials, especially those with higher socioeconomic status, is a strong achievement orientation (Howe and Strauss 2003 Luthar and Becker 2002 Pew Research Center 2007). Although this may sound like a contradiction—that Millennials are willing to volunteer their services and they feel rewarded by recognition—it is not. Millennials want to be valued either as volunteers or in their work. They have relied on financial freedoms and material goods provided by their parents, but eventually will require salaries to maintain their high standards of living (Pew Research Center 2007). Thus, many parents of Millennials (mostly Boomers) are preparing their children for financially rewarding career paths. Driven by intense vocational socialization from parents (Myers etਊl. 2009), Millennials are focused on personal achievement and success (Pew Research Center 2007). In particular, many parents place pressure on Millennials to succeed (Howe and Strauss 2003). Some empirical sources indicate that these parents have high standards for their Millennial children, insisting they take advanced college prep classes, helping them to prepare for college placement exams, and encouraging them to apply to prestigious colleges (Luthar and Becker 2002). Many parents continue their close supervision and pressure as their children enter the job market. For instance, employers cite increasing parental involvement during job recruitment (Gardner 2007). For both parents and Millennials, the first job is expected to be the “initial payoff for all the planning, stress, and shared ambition” (Howe and Strauss 2003, p. 133) they have endured so parents take an active role in their children’s lives and continue to push them to achieve personal, material success. As previously mentioned, Millennials are eager to develop close relationships with their supervisors whom many consider to be their workplace parents, according to the popular literature (Alsop 2008).

Although previous generations may have significant career ambitions, most Millennials strongly agree that they are pressured to achieve (Ramey 2008). As a result of this perceived intense socialization from parents, Millennials place a high value on and expect personal achievement. According to one Pew study (2007), 64% of Millennials say that getting rich is the most important goal in life for their generation, and another 17% cite it as their generation’s second most important goal. What is not yet known is whether and how this pressure will affect Millennials’ career strategies and interaction with coworkers.

Sadaghiani and Myers (2009) proposed that socializing communication from parents about leadership also might emphasize personal achievement and extrinsic (i.e., material) success. Messages such as, “Leadership experience looks good on résumés,” and “Leaders get special recognition from their followers,” are examples of self-centered discussions about leadership promoting extrinsic success. Parents’ and Millennials’ potential self-oriented messages focusing on extrinsic benefits associated with leadership, when combined with employers’ expressed interest in hiring leaders (NACE 2006), might influence Millennials to place more value on egoism in leadership and to be motivated to lead for selfish, materialistic reasons rather than out of a desire to benefit followers, or for the intrinsic satisfaction of being a leader (Sadaghiani and Myers 2009). If an individual is motivated to lead only for personal benefit, he or she will likely not be able to effectively work for followers when most needed.

Based on their survey of 130 college juniors and seniors, and contrary to their expectations and to what is suggested by popular press reports, Sadaghiani and Myers (2009) found that parents did not emphasize egoism over altruism (i.e., selflessness and a concern for followers) in socialization communication about leadership. “Parents of Millennials do talk about and encourage egoism and valuing extrinsic benefits, but they also talk about and encourage altruism in leadership” (Sadaghiani and Myers 2009, p. 24 italics added). The researchers found that while there is a positive relationship between leadership socialization and altruistic leadership values, there is also a positive relationship between leadership socialization and both the value one places on extrinsic rewards and the expectancy that leadership will provide extrinsic rewards. It is likely that Millennials will actively seek leadership opportunities. As these young people become leaders, they will communicate altruistic values, but like previous generations, they are also likely to seek rewards for leadership roles. Future research should seek to understand Millennials’ sources of leadership socialization more thoroughly, and the values Millennials communicate once they have achieved leadership roles.

Future research also should examine the potential connection between socialization about leadership and socialization about volunteerism, which is, as noted earlier, a common activity among Millennials. While some analysts contend that Millennials are self-centered, others argue that Millennials value community, civic duty, and volunteerism. For instance, some popular literature authors observe that Millennials are civic minded and collaborative (Jacobson 2007 Raines 2002), and have been bombarded with messages that they should serve their community. Similarly, a study by the Harvard University Institute of Politics (2008), found that 60% of Millennials report an interest in public service to help the country. The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (2009) also reports that Millennials are volunteering at historically high rates. Their volunteerism might be linked to parents’ leadership socialization if, as Sadaghiani and Myers (2009) found, parents are encouraging values related to altruism and helping others (at least from leadership roles). Future research should investigate the role parents play in instilling Millennials’ civic values and motivations toward volunteering. Are Millennials who are socialized toward volunteerism more likely to volunteer, and are they more likely to hold altruistic leadership values? In turn, how do these values affect Millennials’ leadership aspirations and leadership behaviors (including their discourse) when they enter the workplace and ascend to higher levels? Answers to these questions will be useful for understanding and anticipating Millennials’ leadership behaviors, and for developing leaders.


The Smoky Room Experiment

If you saw someone in trouble, do you think you would try to help? Psychologists have found that the answer to this question is highly dependent on the number of other people present. We are much more likely to help when we are the only witness but much less likely to lend a hand when we are part of a crowd.

The phenomenon came to the public's attention after the gruesome murder of a young woman named Kitty Genovese. According to the classic tale, while multiple people may have witnessed her attack, no one called for help until it was much too late.

This behavior was identified as an example of the bystander effect, or the failure of people to take action when there are other people present. (In reality, several witnesses did immediately call 911, so the real Genovese case was not a perfect example of the bystander effect.)  

In one classic experiment, researchers had participants sit in a room to fill out questionnaires. Suddenly, the room began to fill with smoke. In some cases the participant was alone, in some there were three unsuspecting participants in the room, and in the final condition, there was one participant and two confederates.

In the situation involving the two confederates who were in on the experiment, these actors ignored the smoke and went on filling out their questionnaires. When the participants were alone, about three-quarters of the participants left the room calmly to report the smoke to the researchers.

In the condition with three real participants, only 38% reported the smoke. In the final condition where the two confederates ignored the smoke, a mere 10% of participants left to report the smoke.   The experiment is a great example of how much people rely on the responses of others to guide their actions.

When something is happening, but no one seems to be responding, people tend to take their cues from the group and assume that a response is not required.


Related wikiHows

  1. ↑https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/autism-spectrum-disorder/index.shtml
  2. ↑https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/social-anxiety-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20353561
  3. ↑https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/social-anxiety-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20353561
  4. ↑https://www.additudemag.com/autism-spectrum-disorder-in-adults/
  5. ↑https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/social-anxiety-disorder-more-than-just-shyness/index.shtml
  6. ↑ George Sachs, PsyD. Licensed Psychologist. Expert Interview. 9 October 2020.
  7. ↑https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/social-anxiety-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20353561
  8. ↑https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/social-anxiety-disorder-more-than-just-shyness/index.shtml
  9. ↑https://childmind.org/guide/social-anxiety-disorder/
  1. ↑http://www.icare4autism.org/news/2012/01/difference-between-autism-and-social-anxiety/ (Contains puzzle piece imagery)
  2. ↑https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/social-anxiety-disorder-more-than-just-shyness/index.shtml
  3. ↑https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/autism-spectrum-disorder/index.shtml
  4. ↑https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/social-anxiety-disorder-more-than-just-shyness/index.shtml
  5. ↑https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/autism-spectrum-disorder/index.shtml
  6. ↑https://www.additudemag.com/autism-spectrum-disorder-in-children/
  7. ↑https://www.additudemag.com/autism-spectrum-disorder-in-adults/
  8. ↑https://autisticadvocacy.org/about-asan/about-autism/
  9. ↑https://www.bbc.com/news/health-26750786
  10. ↑http://theydiffer.com/difference-between-aspergers-and-social-anxiety/ (Content note: ableism)
  11. ↑https://childmind.org/guide/social-anxiety-disorder/
  12. ↑https://www.additudemag.com/autism-spectrum-disorder-in-children/
  13. ↑https://www.verywell.com/how-is-aspergers-related-to-social-anxiety-disorder-3024753
  14. ↑https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/screening.html
  15. ↑https://www.spectrumnews.org/news/disparities-in-autism-diagnosis-may-harm-minority-groups/
  16. ↑https://sites.psu.edu/aspsy/2018/09/24/6077/

Why Are They Important?

Overall, research reveals time and again that students with social and emotional skills perform better academically, have stronger relationships with peers and teachers, experience greater well-being, and engage in less risky behavior. In addition, SEL skills positively impact education, employment, and mental health outcomes into adulthood.

More specifically, several components of social awareness and relationship skills show the following outcomes:


Watch the video: Social Skills Training for Adults (June 2022).


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