World Autism Day

Today is World Autism Day. It's been great to see blogs and newspapers lighting up with articles about autism, and I think the exposure will help build awareness and understanding both for the unique challenges and unique strengths of people on the Autistic spectrum. Take a minute today to check out the great stuff that's been written, and perhaps get involved in an event in your area!

To start you off, here's an encouraging article showing that kids with autism can greatly improve their social skills, and a thoughtful look at how different families and individuals have been affected by autism. Feel free to share your favorite article in the comments, or your story of how autism has affected your life.

your daily beautiful (scroll down to the photoshoot)

Ask Me Anything

So over the past few days I did a very successful "Ask Me Anything" interview over on Reddit. Lots of people had good, insightful questions and I did my best to offer a meaningful answer to everyone who asked. The interview is now over, but you can read all of the questions and answers (more than 70 total!) here.

Of course, even though the interview is over I'm still very happy to answer any questions that you have. So if you're curious about social skills, Asperger's syndrome, the guide, or anything else, feel free to ask your questions in the comments of the blog or by emailing me directly. I really do love to hear from my readers, and (as you can see from the interview), I do my best to give good, thoughtful answers.

Thanks to everyone who came out and asked a question, and to those of you who found this site from the interview---welcome! 🙂

your daily beautiful

Dating Guide Coming Soon

Hey guys! I'm currently writing the next section to the Improve Your Social Skills guide. It's going to be about dating, because romantic relationships are such a big deal, and it's important to know how to do them well.

I want to cover both the social skills side of dating (like how to meet potential partners, how to let someone know that you are interested, and how to behave on a date) as well as the relationship side of dating (like how to manage conflict, how to have healthy relationships, and how to have good communication in a relationship.)

I'm very excited, because the dating section will be the first full-length section added to Improve Your Social Skills since the site launched in January. Improve Your Social Skills already has a ton of great content, but I've got ideas for so much more, and it's exciting that some of those ideas are finally coming to fruition.

As always, I'm eager to hear your feedback, so please let me know if you have any thoughts or suggestion for the next dating section. Look for this new section in the next 1-3 weeks, and thanks for your support of Improve Your Social Skills!

your daily beautiful

International Listening Month

So March is international listening month.

I'll admit, the thought of dedicating a month to listening seems a bit silly (and who gets to decide what month is dedicated to what?) But listening is important stuff.

It's easy to think that a conversation is about what we bring to the table. We focus on sharing something that is interesting or funny or exciting, in the hopes that it will draw our partner in.

But you know what? A lot of times, people just want someone to listen to them. And if you prove that you care about your partner by being a good listener, they'll be happy to listen to what you share in return---even if it's not incredibly funny or exciting.

So take the opportunity this month to work on your listening. There's different ways you can do this.Read More

Testing Adsense

So as you might have noticed, there is now a shiny new ad bar along the bottom of the site. I decided to test some Adsense ads on the site for the next 2-3 weeks and see what the results are. Because it's very important that you guys have a positive experience with Improve Your Social Skills, the ads will only appear on the bottom of the site, where they don't distract from you reading the content. If you have any feedback about the ads, let me know. They are still very much an experiment, so I will only keep them if my readers (aka, you!) find them relevant and not distracting.

Oh, and if you are a member, the ads will not show for you. So that's a nice perk 🙂

Update: Nobody seemed to have much issue with the footer ad, so I added a sidebar ad too. I have no plans to put any additional ads on the site, and again, I only want the ads on there if you guys don't mind. So if you have feedback, if you have feedback, let me know.

your daily beautiful

Asperger’s High

Hi guys,

Things have been pretty quiet here recently, but there's a lot going on behind the scenes. I finished the transition to a new, much more stable host, and I've been working on an entirely new section to the guide, as well as some extra member features. I don't have an ETA on those things yet, but stay tuned because Improve Your Social Skills will get some exciting new content soon 🙂 That means that if you have any feedback for what new features or content you want to see, now is a great time comment on the blog or send me an email and let me know.

In the meantime, I thought I'd share an Asperger's satire video that I found quite humorous. Enjoy! Read More

Server Issues

Improve Your Social Skills had significant downtime recently, and I wanted to let everyone know the story.

Over the past few weeks, my host noticed that my shared server was having sporadic slowdowns and timeouts. They found some configuration issues with the server, so they decided to reset the server to fix the configuration issues. The reset did not go as planned (to put it mildly), and Improve Your Social Skills was down from Friday afternoon to Sunday night (Feb 17-Feb 19.)

Needless to say, I'm incredibly frustrated. A few hours of downtime is bad enough, but three days is catastrophic. Many of you have told me how much you benefit from Improve Your Social Skills, and I'm sorry that the site was inaccessible to you for so long. I want to stress that I'm committed to Improve Your Social Skills for the long term, and the site will never go offline permanently.

Because of this, I've moved Improve Your Social Skills to a new host. Please let me know if you notice any slowdowns or downtime. My new host has a very good reputation, but if they don't live up to the hype then I want to know.

The upshot of all this is that the slowdown issues from the past should remain in the past. You should notice the site loading faster now, which should make it easier for you to read through the great content in the guide.

I'm grateful for your support of Improve Your Social Skills, and I'm deeply sorry for the outage. If you have any questions about the outage, or if you have anything else you'd like to discuss with me, please feel free to drop me a line at [email protected]Read More

Better Every Day

So my work just unveiled a new slogan: "Better Every Day."

Normally, company slogans are pretty bland. But there's a powerful idea here.

Greatness doesn't happen overnight. Most things worth doing take persistence and hard work.

But often, we look for a quick fix and fast results. When we put in some effort and don't see immediate improvement, it's easy to give up, or say "I'll take a break and come back later."

Or, we look at the end goal and where we are now, and the distance between them just seems unmanageable. We think "I'll never be able to get there from here", so we never even try.

But here's the thing.

If you're 1% better every day, you are 38 times better every year.Read More

How To Learn Social Skills With Asperger’s Syndrome

I wrote this blog post to share the most important rule I learned for learning social skills with Asperger's syndrome. I've addressed this post to readers who have Asperger's themselves, but these tips can just as easily be used to help a loved one who has Asperger's.

The most important rule I've discovered is this: Learn social skills by understanding the reasons behind social situations, not through rote memorization.

The Problem With Rote Memorization

The most natural way that people with Asperger's learn social skills is through rote memorization. We learn a specific response that works for a specific situation, and so when that situation occurs, we deploy that response.

For instance, we learn through trial and error that if someone tells us their name, we should tell them our name in return or they will be upset. Easy enough.

But if the situation changes, our memorized response doesn't help us. Let's say Bob introduces Joe to us. Do we tell Joe our name, or is that Bob's job? We memorized what to do in one specific situation, but when the situation changes we are out of luck.

Of course, rote memorization is better than nothing. But there's a better way. Read More

How To Make Great First Impressions: The Name Game

Last week, we talked about how you can use body language to make great first impressions. This week, let's talk about something equally important---remembering the name of the person you just met.

People like hearing their names. When you use someone's name, it helps them to feel comfortable, and remembering their name makes it much easier for you to strike up a conversation later on.

Unfortunately, if you want to use someone's name, you need to remember it, and remembering names is hard. Fortunately, remembering names is much easier with one simple trick.

I call it "Playing the name game."

To play the name game, follow these three rules. Read More