I've always thought that it was sort of a strange thing that when lacking conversation topics, we turn to the weather. Is it just because it's something everyone experiences, because its effects are immediately assessable, or is there something else? While I'm sure it's a combination of these things, I maintain that often conversations about the weather are short-lived. Totally not a good way to make new friends.
I read an article recently on NPR about how we teach kids with autism spectrum disorders to communicate and have conversations (which reminded me a lot of how Gabby deals with Max on Parenthood, so kudos to the writers for doing their research). The article prompted me to look into the subject some more and what's really interesting about this is that all the research seems to point to one of the main struggles being too much "scripted-ness" in conversation. When a lot of these kids faced conversational territories that fell outside of those they had learned, they became uncomfortable and often responded inappropriately, trying to read for signs of a situation they knew.
It seems that in essence, they are being taught to act in a manner they don't always feel. So, I naturally wandered onto the topic of how improv and drama therapy could be helpful, and it was fascinating to read some of the much more dramatic improvements that had been seen using improv therapy over "scripted" behavior!
The main problem I see with these therapies though, is that they aren't enough to allow for adaptation to new social behaviors by learning. Sure improvisation seems to do this, but essentially, one is assessing a social situation based on learned characteristics and acting accordingly, but only so many characteristics of a situation can be learned. Going back to my previous example, the weather, while once a decidedly normal conversation opener seems to be becoming more of a sign of social awkwardness (as viewed in it's emergence in "ironic" use {which is a whole other story}). These kinds of situations would be increasingly hard to adapt to, but I'm not sure how we would go about solving that. Cognitive neuroscience and neurobio, get to it!
Meanwhile, I think it's important (in light of this interview), to learn how to talk to people. Charisma and confidence go a long way, but ultimately content makes a difference and if we can't figure out how to turn our charms into something meaningful, communication becomes essentially useless.

Note: I realize this is different from my usual stuff, but sometimes I have the urge to express that I actually have an interest in things that are not related to consumerism and scarves. Okay. I might have also read excerpts out of David Sedaris's Me Talk Pretty One Day recently, so...that might have had something to do with this.


  1. Sizzling hot chocolate
    and coffee with a dash of liquer.
    A snowfall
    winter in paris
    chocolate chaux en hiver
    ballet slippers hanging from
    the ballet bars
    a grammophone left playing
    while no ones in the room.


  2. This post has a lot of depth. Ever since I started watching Parenthood (which was from the day of it first aired) I look at kids with learning disabilities/or disabilities in genereal, so much differently. The improv therapy seems like a genius idea to deal with things. I would have never thought of that! Great post!

  3. My little sister has Down Syndrome so my heart is huge when it comes to children with learning disabilities. Great post. communication is so key and vital for our lifes.


  4. This was a very interesting post! I loved it and I learned something. Perfect.

  5. Interesting post. We learned about aspergers and autism in medical school, and it's so true that a lot of their communication is stereotyped- they aren't good at adapting to unfamiliar situations. My cousin is high functioning autism, and he's 11- I'm really nervous about how he'll adapt in junior high next year because it'll be such a different social environment.


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