What is the Effect of Autism on Social Skills?

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  • Written By: Laura M. Sands
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2019
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The effect of autism on social skills varies depending on the severity of this disorder, as well as the autism support received early in life. Different types of autism also play a role in the effect of autism on social skills. For instance, individuals who do not possess language deficits will still experience social difficulties, but to a far lesser degree than a person completely lacking in language skills. Also, the effect of autism on social skills depends on the presence of other disorders that are sometimes paired with this condition, as is sometimes found with ADHD and autism.

There are several different types of autism, which are identified on what is called the autism spectrum. The three main types of autism are classic autism, Asperger’s syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOD). The effect of autism on social skills varies within these three subtypes, as autistic behavior symptoms present differently in each one.

In classic autism, symptoms include a lack of eye contact, repetitive behaviors, repetitive motions, poor or a total lack of communication, speech impairment or a lack of speech development, intellectual deficits and social withdrawal. These signs are found in young children within the first few months of life and the effects of this form of autism on social skills become more apparent as a child matures. Individuals with childhood autism may show some social improvement with autistic behavior therapy, but many with classic autism do not.


Individuals with Asperger’s syndrome will exhibit most of the same symptoms as classic autism, with the exception of possessing normal speech skills and normal intellectual capacity. These individuals also tend to display a remarkable talent or ability in one area and are often labeled as autistic savants. With autism support and behavioral therapy, individuals with this type of autism are often able to function at some level of society and the effect of autism on social skills, though still apparent, tend to be to a lesser degree than that of classic autism.

In PDD-NOS, the effect of autism on social skills may also differ. In this type, an individual may also possess fewer symptoms of classic autism and, thus, social skills may not be nearly as impaired. Individuals with PDD-NOS are considered to have mild autism and may also have fewer intellectual deficits. It is not uncommon to find individuals with adult autism classified as Asperger’s syndrome or PDD-NOS living on their own and laboring in the job market.


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Post 2

A great deal also depends on how much support the child receives early on. If the child is expected to develop good social skills, then frequently, that will be the case. If they are taught these skills and have opportunities to practice them on a regular basis, they are much more apt to be able to interact socially in appropriate ways. It may be mostly parroting for some children, but it appears to be genuine, and it's the expected behavior, so the child does not appear to be unable to function.

Like the article and Grivusangel said: It depends on the individual.

Post 1

Every child with autism is different. Sometimes, a child with otherwise severe autism will have excellent social skills, while another child with a less severe case may have extremely poor social skills. Some nonverbal children are able to smile and nod, while some who have normal verbal skills are unable to do this.

It's one of the mysteries of autism. It's a known fact that the disorder causes people to not pick up on social cues, but the extent to which it affects any individual cannot be predicted. As I said, some really severely autistic people have good social skills.

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