Helpful Book – Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships



                                          Unwritten Rules

The book we review today is ‘Unwritten Rules of Social relationships – Decoding the social mysteries through the unique perspectives of Autism’ written by Temple Grandin and Sean Barron. This book offers the distilled wisdom of two very successful people on the autism spectrum, two very different people, one driven by intellect and another by emotions. They share their experiences on how they learned to navigate the social life and in the process offer priceless suggestions for parents and caregivers of children with autism.

Dr. Temple Grandin shares her story of how growing up in the 1950’s helped her develop social skills as in those days, kids were not glued to TVs and laptops but instead played together a lot. This provided Temple Grandin ample opportunities and with her mother’s guidance, learned many aspects of social skills and continued learning from various experiences in life which she shares with us. She concludes by saying how romantic relationships are a strict No for her. Then we move onto read Sean Baron’s story which starts with his childhood crush on his teacher and how very angry he was when she was getting married! I genuinely wasn’t expecting this vast spectrum in the range of emotions, probably because this is the first time I am reading Sean’s Story. He shares his experiences about growing up coping with his sensory world and trying very hard to navigate the social world. While Temple Grandin feels comfortable when corrected by her mother about social etiquette, Sean Barron, on the other hand, feels depressed and  how he always felt he would never get anything right. This forms the Act one of the book where the authors offer their perspectives on social thinking.

Act Two talks about Two minds  – two paths  and how the Autistic way of thinking affects the Social understanding. Here the authors share their views on various aspects like the three R’s – Rules, Repetitions and Rigidity, Black and White thinking and its impact, Thinking affects Behavior, etc.

Act Three is all about the ten unwritten rules of social relationships, where the authors suggest various ways teach this skills to children with autism from their own personal experiences. I really loved this section as it offers wealth of information from two very different perspectives. The ten rules are :

1) Rules are not absolute. They are situation- based and people – based.
2) Not everything is important in the grand scheme of things
3) Everyone in the world makes mistakes. It doesn’t have to ruin your day.
4) Honesty is different than Diplomacy
5) Being polite is appropriate in any situation
6) Not everyone who is nice to me is my friend
7) People act differently in public than they do in private
8) Know when you are turning people off
9) “Fitting in”  is often tied to looking and sounding like you fit in!
10) People are responsible for their own behaviors.

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