The Impact of Social Skills on Everyday Life
Social skills are an essential part of life even beyond the obvious implication that with good social skills a person can form meaningful relationships.
If a person lacks social skills, it will be difficult to even know how and when to approach someone or even ask for a drink of water much less play board games with peers, participate in sports, get accepted to college, have and maintain a career or be an active part of the community.
Forming meaningful relationships
Individuals with autism usually require extra help when it comes to "reading people." Facial expressions and moods aren't so obvious to them, which is why it's important to teach them at an early age how to identify someone who is sad, happy, angry, surprised, and so on. They need to know that generally speaking they probably should not approach someone who is angry because that person might need some space and time to calm down. They should also learn to have empathy for someone who is feeling sad because in this situation laughing would not be appropriate.
Reciprocal conversation should also be taught because even for individuals with high functioning autism or Asperger's who do initiate conversation with others, sharing the conversation can be difficult. They tend to talk only about their favorite subject rather than asking the other person questions. After all, quality relationships are not one-sided.
Social skills at school
Eye contact, listening, following instructions, and giving and receiving feedback are all vital to being successful in a school setting. Even simple things such as being able to ask to use the restroom or get a drink of water are very important. Teachers have an easier time with children who have had social skills training so that they know what is expected in the classroom such as raising their hand and waiting to be called before answering a question and sitting quietly while the teacher is talking.
Out in the community and at work
Getting to know people in the neighborhood and at the place of worship can affect success at work. Individuals with developmental delays who have the social skills necessary to engage with people in their community and workplace are viewed more positively by those who lack those skills. The ability to meet and have a conversation with people can open doors to a career and higher education opportunities so that people with autism can prosper.