What is the NORMAL amount of socialization?

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Our son Ethan does not like to socialize, even with us or with his brothers. He prefers to do his own thing and is actually very happy being on his own. He sometimes will swim and play with his brothers and actually enjoys going shopping with us.  He is generally easygoing but he does prefer his own company.

playingtalkingWhenever he is punished for misbehaving, (he loses his  iPad privileges) he suddenly becomes very social, nudges us, and is all lovey-dovey. At that point, he is motivated to be social even though he is completely nonverbal.  
When we think of socialization, we think of the interaction of several  individuals. 

The dictionary defines socialization as :                                       

  1. to make fit for companionship with others, make sociable or
  2. to convert or adapt to the needs of society. 

The amount of socialization a shy introverted computer geek needs is  usually a lot less than the amount of socialization a gregarious car salesperson needs. Observe the amount of socialization between a group of men at a football game to the amount of socialization of a group of woman at a dinner party. Just how much socialization is normal?

The dictionary defines autism as a disorder that is characterized by impairment of the ability to form normal social relationships, by impairment of the ability to communicate with others, and by stereotyped behavior patterns. So what is the correct amount of socialization for a person who has an impairment to form normal social relationships?

We know that Ethan chooses to be social whenever he wants to, but is that the normal amount?

If we were to compare the amount of time an autistic is social to a gregarious salesperson, they would appear to have a severe social impairment. However, when we compare them to a computer geek, we may find the social impairment to be rather mild. So what is the normal amount of socialization?

In our rush to “cure” our kids of their autism, the measure of success is how well they can socialize. The problem is defining the right amount of socialization that is            considered the norm. Do we push our kids too hard to socialize because the normal we are measuring them against is too normal? As the eldest kids in the current cohort   of autistic children have started aging out of the school systems, we are finding research that shows that those autistic kids that were included in regular education are the ones that are struggling the most with the transition to adult living.

Are we setting our kids up to fail by  measuring them against the wrong  N O R M A L  amount of  socialization?

By Dalia Shkedy – Ethan’s Mom

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