Need that Social Filter

September 25, 2014

Found myself tweeting the other day and getting so angered and frustrated that well, I “tweeted” some things I probably shouldn’t have.  My mother’s voice rang in my head after I posted it. “If you do not have anything nice to say…”.  Easy for you to say mom when I am battling idiots and propagandists who think they are above me and my/our rights.  It is a story for another day.

However, it reminded me what we have been teaching ZAK and how I could likely use a refresher course.  Each individual has a different social filter.  It is different for everyone but for a children with an autism spectrum disorder, it can be an even bigger challenge.  This “invisible” filter lives in the front part of our brain and it is something that lets the “good” stuff through and blocks the “bad” stuff from getting out.  Like I said, I think mine malfunctioned or something but for the most part, I know when not to say something that can be hurtful. “Yes, honey, you look fat in that dress.” or “I would never have done that!  What are you stupid?”.  Most times I know to avoid what could cause problems.  It is a thinking skill that we control without thinking about it.  Not necessarily so for an autistic kiddo.

So, that social filter is there for us to say words and use actions that make people have good thoughts about us.  As we teach ZAK, of course we have unkind thoughts and that is okay.  We all do, but we should keep them in our head to protect other people’s feelings.  You do not always need to say out loud what you are thinking.

We discuss with him that his social filter is there to:

  • Protect a friend’s feelings
  • Saves you from being embarrassed or embarrassing your friend
  • Can keep you out of trouble
  • And most importantly, shows respect for others

When he does say something that could be construed as hurtful or disrespectful, we reinforce it with ask ing him, “Is your (social) filter on?”.  He has been really good about it since we started and began reinforcement but sometimes it sneaks out (it does for all of us and that is the goal right?).

To reinforce, ask your child:

  • Is your Social Filter On?
    • Are you thinking about other people’s feelings?
    • Are you using kind, friendly words?
  • Is your Social Filter Off?
    • Are you only thinking about yourself?
    • Were you trying to protect the other person’s feelings?
    • Could what I say potentially embarrass me?
    • Could what I say potentially get me in trouble?

Again, this is a thinking skill that most of us can control.  Oh, that bad or regrettable sneaks out from time to time but we can control it and know better.  Ultimately, this is teaching the autism spectrum child more social skills and self-regulation techniques to help improve relationships and adjusting to social situations.

Based on my recent twitter rant and my frustration, ZAKSDAD could us a refresher course big time!  To be fair, so could the idiot  person I was tweeting with!

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