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Following my recent smugness, today I am celebrating a new achievement. Or rather, a series of small achievements.

I wonder if any of my fellow Aspies have been watching the new detective drama, Strike? I’ve really enjoyed it,┬ábut in the last episode, Strike and Robin went to a very formal party, and Strike used two words that send fear into the heart of anyone like me, “Let’s mingle”.

If someone took me to a party and said that, I’d head straight for the bar or the toilet to hide. Because Robin is nothing like me (glamorous, confidant, socially secure), she was fine. She subtly managed to attract the one man in the room they most wanted to talk to, and easily, casually, led him back to Strike.

I know this will never be me,┬ábut there are thousands like me and probably not so many as self-assured as Robin. So no, I haven’t been going down a storm at any parties, but I have been making small talk and getting to know new people.

At yoga class, I have for the last few weeks been gradually talking more and more to the woman next to me. And today, I spoke to a woman I’d never met while dropping my daughter off at school. Perhaps the baby bump makes me appear more accessible? It certainly provides an obvious topic of conversation.

It’s a strange feeling to leave the house for something almost every day of the week, and know that there will be an expectation for you to talk to someone, even if it’s only for five minutes while collecting my daughter. I feel more competent, and more like a ‘real mum’, whatever that means.

Even writing this down feels weird. I suppose most people do expect to have conversations with other adults every day. Acquaintances, colleagues, friends, etc. But I’m an Aspie and I work from home. I don’t even need to use the phone for my job, normally. I communicate with most people online, and nowhere else.

So you see, these fragments of humanity are a big deal.

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I have this vague recollection of hearing that pets, and especially dogs, can help develop children’s social skills. If the pet is something stroke-able it also helps to soothe children and adults. Today I read that robots have also been found to help children with autism learn and develop.

The robots model good behaviour and, because autistic people feel more comfortable with technology than with other humans, they’re easier for the children to interact with and learn from. As someone who has wanted an Asimo from the moment I first saw one I imagine this must be a wonderful thing for children on the autism spectrum.

I go though phases of thinking it would be nice to get a dog but I always decide I don’t want one. A robot on the other hand… what’s not to love? Next to Asimo my favourite is the cycling robot. I love the way it puts its feet down and then struggles to balance as it starts cycling, just like a person.

One day I hope Asimo-style robots will be cheap and prolific enough to be used in hospitals and to help provide companionship to old people who struggle to get out. I also hope there will be more in schools, because these are extremely difficult to deal with for children who have autism.

You can read the full article here.