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Alli Frazier and Joe from Good Company standing at a hightop table decorated for St. Patricks Day.

Ask Alli: Learning Hidden Social Rules

March 20, 2023, WKYC Good Company

CLEVELAND, Oh. (WKYC)-Hidden social rules occur in everyday situations including at home, in school, and in the community. For individuals who are neurodiverse figuring out those hidden social rules can be challenging. Joe joins Alli Frazier, CEO of Frazier Behavioral Health, to talk about hidden social rules that neurodivergent people have to learn that others may not think about.

What are hidden social rules? Hidden social rules are things we aren’t taught in school, but are expected to know. Things such as when we get on a bus that’s not full we know not to sit really close to the other person. Or indirect spoken or body language such as leaning in to talk when someone else leans in close or smiling at someone when someone smiles at you. “Think about an instance when someone is starting to look at their watch, or they’re starting to yawn, or they say ‘it’s getting late’- they’re indicating to you it’s time to wrap up without using the direct language to say I’m done,” Alli states.

Someone who is neurodiverse has extra challenges in learning these skills. In a neurotypical individual, their brain naturally mimics another person, but a neurodiverse person has to learn all the rules. “So sometimes in a social interaction, you may see a little pause or a little processing speed because their brains are using a rule-based method instead of a natural-based method,” Alli says. 

The benefits of social skills instruction are you can learn all those rules. You can learn to skip a seat and you can learn to respect a personal bubble, but learning it in a clinic doesn’t necessarily generalize to the natural environment. This is a limitation to social skills instruction without the generalization to the community. Alli tries to educate parents that there is no pot of gold or magical answer to social skills instruction, but rather a lifelong skill that we have to learn over and over. 

That’s where Frazier Behavioral Health comes in. Frazier Behavioral Health has a multidisciplinary team that can teach these skills in a step-by-step fashion. With their clinic in Mayfield Heights, they are able to bring patients into the clinic and learn the rules with our speech-language pathologists. From there patients can generalize those rules with our behavior therapists who can go into the home or the community with them. Our special education teachers can take it a step further to generalize those skills on the playground or at recess or at the lunchroom at school. Our psychology team can work closely with parents to give them the skills so they can continue these social skills instructions lifelong. 

To request a consult or connect with the experts at FBH, give them a call at 216-446-2944.

You’ll find them at 5885 Landerbrook Drive, Suite 310, Mayfield Heights, Ohio.

To watch the full segment on WKYC’s website please click here.