Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Transition Toolbox—Theory of Mind and Perspective-Taking

As we discussed in our past two blogs regarding Transition Toolbox and Transition Planning (Transition Toolbox—How Does ASD Affect Transitions? and Transition Toolbox—Organization & Central Coherence) we are continuing to address core features that have a significant impact on individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the transition process.

There are significant differences for individuals with ASD in understanding facial expressions, body language, actions, and words to determine another person’s thoughts or perspective. Our ‘social world’ values the skill of recognizing another person’s thoughts and actions and using that information in leisure and work activities. Acting considerately towards customers is but one example of how theory of mind and perspective taking is expected within work environments. An inability to recognize the behavior of co-workers and to adapt personal behavior often leads to misunderstanding and to the opinion that the individual with ASD is rude or hurtful. In our culture, getting along with co-workers and supervisors are required behaviors to be successful on the job.
Picking out the important social details in an interaction, and adjusting personal behavior as a result, are the skills of social problem-solving. Individuals with ASD may not see the importance of adjusting personal behavior, may not know what to do instead, or may not remember what to do when the social situation arises that requires the adjusted social behavior.
Individuals with ASD need systematic practice in applying specific social communication skills in multiple settings. The JobTIPS Transition Toolbox provides multiple tools to address these social issues as they impact one’s efforts to find and keep a job. Specific social communication goals are outlined in the Job-Seeking Unit and the Job-Keeping Unit. Specific instructional strategies and hands-on visual supports to assist practice of social communication skills are provided. Also, the tools within the Self-Assessment Unit may assist the individual in identifying areas of improvement and determining social aspects of work environments that may better fit the individual.

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