Monday, May 30, 2011

How to become a Jedi

By which I mean learn to use body language.

So obviously, I'm not a doctor, or a psychologist, or any other kind of medical professional, you should use your own judgment, and the judgment of doctors before you use your kid a guinea pig. I just know that these are the things that I found to be helpful. So, yeah, use your judgment and not mine. 

You can't get any better at something if you don't practice it. A lot. Jedi's spend years honing their skills in the academy and they never stop learning. This is totally the same thing.

except ball sports, no amount of practice will make me better at them

But  what do you practice?

Practice Observing

Many non-neurotypicals have the ability to focus for long periods of time on a single task. This is an advantage we may have over NTs. I suggest studying people. The best way to do this is to treat it like a science experiment: create a hypothesis and then go out and test it.

Mixing metaphors.

These experiments are best guided by a parent or other professional. For example: I for many years was not aware of personal space, often entering people's bubbles or yelling at them from across the room. The Matriarch, being a total pro, suggested that we go to the mall and observe how close people stand to each other. Because I was able to use my own observations to inform the my view it felt more like I had "discovered" people's personal space. I was doing original research! If I had just been sent to observe people at the mall, I might not have figured out personal space.

Practice Isolated Observation:

You guys, I love TV. It's pretty much the best thing. And TiVo is also pretty much the bestest thing. If given the choice, I would totally watch TV for hours. Well, TV is also useful for learning about body language.

You see, actors and actresses have to use body language to sell a story. When I was 10 or 11, The Matriarch would watch TV dramas with me and my sister with the sound off. SeaStar and I are both super auditory so removing the sound took away the thing that we most used to gather information from the idiot box. We would watch the TV and try and relate what was going on in the story based only on the actors body language. If we were wrong, The Matriarch would tell us what she thought was going on in the scene. It's also useful because you can rewind the TiVo and pause on specific facial expressions and re-watch certain scenes. TV dramas work best.

Lie to Me is my newest obsession, using body language to solve crimes.

Practice  Research:

Other than parents, I read books. I read books on body language in office spaces and communication in interpersonal relationships. Movie also read books on Evolutionary Psychology, which shows how relationships evolved in humans. So, you know magazines like People, and US weekly, they sometimes run sections on celebrity body language, they show pictures of celebrities and have body language experts analyze them. Pure Gold. The best thing about these, they show body language in a way that doesn't appear in any of the other formats.

I found the best reason to buy one of these
Final Thoughts

The best way to learn body language is the way that you learn best. That sounds unhelpful, but honestly if you find something that works for you, then you should stick with it. I like being able to get my information from lots of different sources.

So, writing about this has made me realize that I have about 10 posts worth of material around body language. Which is crazy, because I think that this is one of the areas that I most struggle with. So, I guess I'll spend some time thinking about it and posting more as I hash the ideas out.

Happy Memorial Day!


  1. I love your blog! As a parent of an NNT, all your posts are valuable insights into my 5 year old son's point of view! Thank you for writing this!


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