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Awkward Review by Sheila Quach

The Social Dos and Don'ts of Being a Young Adult
Katie Saint, LPC, BCBA and Carlos Torres, B.S.
Future Horizons, Inc
800-489-0727
721 W Abram Street
Arlington, TX 76013
https://www.FHautism.com

One thing I didn’t think about after my son was diagnosed with Autism when he was four was that he would one day be an adult with Autism. My life was just so overwhelming at the time I couldn’t truly think of the future and what that may look like. Now, he is almost 12 years old and adulthood is right around the corner. And no matter how much I want to ignore that fact it’s coming up quickly. Getting him prepared for that future is so important to us that we incorporate some sort of self-care, social skills, or life skill training every single day in our homeschool. I can teach him how to successfully complete tasks and follow rules, but one thing that is still tricky for us is teaching him social skills. Mainly this is a struggle because he only leaves the house a few times a month. The amount he is out and about is something we are looking to change drastically in the next few months. That said I can use all the help I can get and luckily, I have discovered a book that has literally taken a load off my shoulders. It’s called Awkward, The Social Dos and Don’ts of Being a Young Adult.

The title is brilliant, but what’s inside is even more valuable for parents. I have to quickly jump to the back of this book where the resources are. There the first thing you see is an explanation of tone of voice, voice variation exercises, and a chart. This is something we struggle with because we can be in a store and if he overhears someone speaking in a tone that sounds scary to him, he will run and hide. This happens almost every single time we go out. We sat down with this exercise and I realized he is so confused with tones to the point he is shutting down before even knowing what’s going on. For the past month we have sat down 2-3 times a week and worked on this and we are seeing some improvement. There is also fantastic facial expression, body language, and socially appropriate attire examples along with an assessment that can be taken throughout the book after completing each section.

The sections are divided into family, non-family, work, and community. I found that in our homeschool it worked best to get comfy and go through the book together one section at a time. We went basically from the front to the back and loved every single minute of it. What were so interesting were the conversations that came out of it. Each section has several two page spreads that has a question followed by an illustration and a list of do’s and an illustration with a list of don’ts. Next is a short relatable script, 3-6 discussion questions and an easy self-assessment. So far we have gone though almost all of the family and non-family sections and a few of the community. 

Some of our favorite ones in the family and non-family sections was the questions do people feel I’m a good listener, and do I realize when my friends are bored? Some of the do’s for the first question was to nod your head, make related comments and to make eye contact. And a few of the don’ts were to not give advice unless asked, don’t interrupt, multitask while listening or walk away before the conversation is over. The discussion questions for this one led to a great conversation. Like what should you do if you do get bored in a conversation? What if the topic offends you or they share something serious that could be dangerous? These questions provided me the roadmap to talk about some serious stuff that I may not have needed to go over in depth with my other children without Autism. The other question in the non-family section’s do’s were to read facial expressions, give others a chance to talk and ask questions about themselves. For the don’ts it suggests not to ask your friend if they are bored, don’t give up and leave or totally leave them out of what you are doing. The discussion questions for this one I thought was informative, like at what point is it okay to end hanging out or what if you really weren’t interested in the activity everyone is doing? And the scripts for these were fantastic, we role-played with each other and even got dad and his sister involved too.

The non-family relationships section had a few questions that were not age appropriate for him right now such as: “Do I know how to get a boyfriend or girlfriend?” Other inappropriate covered topics regarding texting, social media, and roommates. We skipped them. At some point these will be right to go over and we will at that time. We also skipped over the questions in the work portion, but they revolved around great topics that will be important in my son’s future. Like do I know when people need space, how to manage my emotions, use the internet responsibly, and talk well to my boss? Since right now we are not actively in the community using the community section was helpful to prepare him for the next few months as we reach out further then the backyard. Every question we have done so far has opened a giant window to his future: everything from going to the movies to talking to a bus driver as well as how to get help in public and speaking to the police. One that is so important is do you follow the social rules in a public bathroom or locker room?

Honestly this is a terrific resource; I think every parent with a pre-teen and older child with ASD should be given one of these. He was totally onboard to read and participate which surprised me because I was afraid, he may be embarrassed. I feel his self-confidence has grown and I suspect his resistance for leaving the house will lessen even more with these tools under his belt. Part of being socially awkward is not understanding naturally how to be social. Simply having these questions, illustrations, and scripts is changing that for him and I’m able to be a part of that change which makes me truly grateful.

-Product review by Sheila Quach, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November, 2018

Awkward

The Social Dos and Don'ts of Being a Young Adult

Katie Saint, LPC, BCBA and Carlos Torres, B.S.

Future Horizons, Inc

www.FHautism.com

800-489-0727

721 W Abram Street

Arlington, TX 76013

As a teen and young adult, I would have benefited from a book like Awkward: The Social Dos and Don'ts of Being a Young Adult. Authors Katie Saint and Carlos Torres have taken what can be a difficult time of life and a trying skill to master and broken it down into bite sized chunks that are easy enough to put into practice. While many children learn social skills by watching parents, siblings, and peers, other children need direct instruction and plenty of practice.

One of my boys is currently involved in a group meeting that is meant to help him learn and practice these same skills. Because of Awkward, he now has a way to reinforce the lessons his group is learning. Issues covered include being a good listener, talking too much about yourself, handling a secret, talking to your boss, interacting with police, and using locker rooms. The shear variety of topics is impressive.

Awkward is a 123 page paperback, including the 16 page reference section in the back. This area of the book discusses tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language. Self-assessments are also in this section. The main book content is broken into four areas of relationships; family, non-family, work, and community. Each of these requires similar basic skills, but can also call for more specific communication abilities.

Each of the topics in the main book is given a two page spread. On the left is a question with a black and white do/don't illustration, acting as visual cues for the scenario depicted. Each illustration has a brief bulleted list. It is quick and simple to read and understand these lists. The right side of the page consists of a brief scripted exchange, three to six discussion questions, and a self-assessment area for recording improvement over a period of time.

A couple of topics were handled in a manner I disagreed with, but that opens up more discussion opportunities. I would have liked more direction with the discussion questions. With just two of us talking about the topics, I'm sure there were a lot of points we didn't even think about, especially because we live in the same house and have similar experiences.

All preteens, teens, and young adults would gain advantages from reading and working through this book. It's a great reference to practice communication skills and also to understand what others might think or feel in a certain situation. Awkward: The Social Dos and Don'ts of Being a Young Adult retails for $12.95,

Product review by Jodi Galland, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November, 2018

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