Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships:
Decoding Social Mysteries Through the Unique Perspective of Autism
by Dr. Temple Grandin and Sean Barron, edited by Veronica Zysk
BOOK REVIEW

Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships: Decoding Social Mysteries Through the Unique Perspective of Autism was written by Dr. Temple Grandin and Sean Barron, edited by Veronica Zysk, and published by Future Horizons, Inc.  If you are on the autism spectrum and you have ever wondered, “What is it with these NTs (neurotypicals) and their inexplicable unwritten rules?” then you’ve got to read this book. If you love, teach and/or live with anyone on the autism spectrum, then you’d better read this book, too.  Grandin and Barron tell it like it is, giving two perspectives on social thinking and how the autistic way of thinking affects social understanding.

The book includes Ten Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships.  I’ve listed them here, but in the book both Grandin and Barron go into each rule in depth, using illustrations from their own experiences.

Rule #1
Rules are not absolute.  They are situation-based and people-based.

Rule #2
Not everything is equally important in the grand scheme of things.

Rule #3
Everyone in the world makes mistakes.  It doesn’t have to ruin your day.

Rule #4
Honesty is different than diplomacy.

Rule #5
Being polite is appropriate in any situation.

Rule #6
Not everyone who is nice to me is my friend.

Rule #7
People act differently in public than they do in private.

Rule #8
Know when you’re turning people off.

Rule #9
“Fitting in” is often tied to looking and sounding like you fit in.

Rule #10
People are responsible for their own behaviors.

Don’t these rules sound like great advice for anyone, on or off the spectrum? The list alone would be enough to make this book worthwhile, but there is so much more. Grandin and Barron each describe eloquently and in detail the way their minds work, how they see the world, how they take in and organize new information. If you are an NT (neurotypical) then your thought processes are probably very different from theirs, and each of them differs greatly from each other. You really need to read the book to get Grandin’s and Barron’s complete advice, wise insights, and unique perspectives for each one of these rules.

It is worth the read.

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