Levels of Social Skills

1) Script-based: A set of instructions (similar to a computer program) instructs the learner on what to do at every step of a social interaction. Prior experience of the learner is not required.

2) Rule-based: A set of generalized rules (similar to Artificial Intelligence heuristics) instructs the learner on what to do in terms of different categories and contexts of social interaction. Learners must draw upon their past observations and experiences to create the appropriate social scripts. Social interaction is rigid and slow due to heavy mental processing. Because they are just performing the roles that society expects of them, learners also feel that they are pretending to be ‘normal’ and not being allowed to express their authentic self.

3) Intention-based: The learner infers the intention of people based on their speech, choices and behaviors. These inferences provide the context regarding which types of rules are to be used. This breakthrough significantly reduces mental processing and makes it possible to hide one’s autistic behavior.

4) Personal-based: The learner makes an internal model of each individual person based on their beliefs, perspectives, personality, background and observed behavior. Where there are gaps, the learner will use generalized profiles to build their model. This internal model supplies the predictions of how the person will think, feel, intend and choose. It is constantly updated based on new information regarding each person. Fluid and natural social interactions become possible at this stage.

5) Relational-based: Learners create a model of the entire world that they are experienced, in which they are connected to everything and everyone else via meaningful relationships. The nature of the relationships provides the context, while the internal model of the person provides the method, in terms of what should or should not be done. At this point, reasoning no longer follows linear logic, and the learner can be said to truly understand other people.

6) Strategy-based: The learner learns and applies generalized social strategies that builds on their understand of people. This is where most NeuroTypical self-help books focus on.

7) Redefinition-based: Masters redefine existing social contexts and create new ones, in order to change the social situation to their favor. These masters are able to convince both powerful people as well as the general public to support their causes.

At the moment, there is a gap of awareness and materials for levels 3, 4 and 5. I am developing my own social skills training system to cover this gap.