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Problems with Social Imagination in ASD

Many people with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) have trouble understanding and predicting the intentions and behaviors of others (sometimes referred to as “mind-blindness”).

It’s difficult for them to imagine situations that are outside their usual routine, and they often carry out a narrow, repetitive range of activities.

This is not to say that these individuals have a lack of imagination. Most adults on the spectrum are very creative, and some go on to become talented artists, musicians or writers.

People on the autism spectrum may find it difficult to: 
  • accept changes in routine
  • accept others’ points of view
  • appreciate other people 
  • attempt work if they feel they are unable to do it perfectly
  • avoid talking incessantly about their topic of interest
  • cope in new or unfamiliar situations
  • cope with “mistakes”
  • deal with rules being broken
  • determine and interpret others’ thoughts, feelings and actions
  • discover an awareness of unwritten rules (‘”the hidden curriculum”)
  • engage in imaginative play and activities
  • foresee what will or may occur next
  • identify hazards
  • organize their time and/or equipment
  • plan for the future
  • predict the consequences of their own behavior
  • prepare for change

Without the skill to predict what will happen next, the ability to move from one activity or environment to the next is significantly compromised. This can cause extreme anxiety. Having said that, people with ASD can learn many things quickly and easily. But oftentimes, they must learn by “rote” (i.e., repetition, memorization).

As a result, they may have limited understanding of what they have learned and how to use it in different situations. While these individuals have excellent memories for certain things (e.g., dates, facts, figures, etc.), they often lack a meaningful framework to store and access memories relating to personal experience.

When it comes to interpersonal relationships, it is important to break free from the immediacy of personal circumstances and put things into a wider context, rather than following a routine. Social imagination is the ability to shift from one perspective to another, to pull away from the situation and think from an alternative point of view.

In other words, it is a skill in which the person places himself outside of everyday routines and views his actions or life from a third party perspective.

Resources for Neurodiverse Couples:

==> Online Group Therapy for Men with ASD

==> Online Group Therapy for NT Wives

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples 

==> One-on-One Counseling for Struggling Individuals & Couples Affected by Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism  

==> Online Group Therapy for Couples and Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder

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