Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health and Safety Guide
ASERT has compiled resources for those with autism and those who care for people with autism relating to the current COVID-19 outbreak.
Everyone has trouble thinking of what to say sometimes. However, when faced with these problems, there are some common topics people rely on to kick-start a conversation. The information below can help individuals learn how to start conversations, end conversations, make “small talk”, interact with new friends, and understand verbal and nonverbal social cues.
When talking to others pay attention to where are you. If something happens around you that is interesting or different, it can be a conversation starter. It’s a known connection between the
two of you. This is a good way to strike up a conversation with a stranger. An example might be
talking about how busy the store is if you’re shopping, or if something funny happens when standing in line at a store
The weather is a good conversation starter for someone you don’t know. It’s a topic almost most
people can talk about. Examples of this are if it has been extremely hot or if you there has been bad weather recently.
If you would like to get to know more about a person you are having a conversation with, ask about their interests. The most basic interests you can ask about are TV, movies, and books. If you are feeling more confident or notice something that the individual said, you can bring that up to.
An example of this is talking about sports if they are wearing a sports team’s t-shirt or hat.
Sometimes asking about someone’s plans can be a great way to start a conversation. You can learn a lot about a person, such as what they like or dislike, their interests, special hobbies, or
even similarities you both have in common. With this extra information you will be able to have a deeper discussion.
If you’re at work or school, asking them questions about work or school can be a great way to know someone. You can ask what they do at their job, if it is different than yours, or talk about a particular task, such as a paper, that you have to complete.
* Note: To continue the conversation at a deeper level you can also bring up another topic.
If you recently read an interesting article, or something exciting is happening in the news, you could start a conversation about that.
*Note: Try to avoid talking about politics, as those conversations can become very intense, especially if your opinions differ.
Sometimes, it is really hard to have a conversation. If you feel uncomfortable or the person doesn’t want to talk, you can politely excuse yourself. However, if the person does want to talk you can mention that you can’t think of anything to talk about and see if they begin to ask questions.
Having a conversation with a new person can be challenging. Knowing how to politely end the conversation is often the most difficult part. However, there are a few simple steps you can follow to make ending conversations easier. Here are some general guidelines and tips that will help you appropriately end conversations with new people.
Small-talk is a brief conversation with someone you don’t know about a general topic. There are many situations where you may want to make small-talk with a stranger. It can sometimes be difficult to start a conversation with someone you don’t know, but these tips for making small-talk will help you feel more confident when interacting with others.
If the other person shows signs of disinterest, they may be telling you that they don’t want to have a conversation.
Cues that the other person may not want to have a conversation:
What should you do?
When meeting a person or group of people for the first time, it’s important to wait for a break in
the conversation to say ‘hi’. Speak clearly,tell them your name and ask for theirs. If you’ve met
before, say ‘hi’ and ask how they’ve been doing. This shows that you are interested in getting to know them.
It’s important for the person to get to know you. If the other person brings up a topic you find
interesting, don’t be afraid to share your thoughts. You can also share funny stories, so they
can get to know more about you. Just don’t get too personal, it may make them feel uncomfortable.
This can be tough, especially if you’re not interested in the topic. However if you want to be friends, you need to listen to what they’re saying and respond to what they’re talking about. Asking questions and relating it to yourself shows you’re interested in them.
If the thought of talking with someone you don’t know scares you, it can help to practice your
conversation skills.Ask a person you trust, like a parent or friend, if you can have a practice
conversation where you will be able to act as if you’re meeting for the first time.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or uncomfortable, it’s okay to excuse yourself. Wait for a pause in the conversation, let them know it was nice talking to them and that you have to leave. A good example is: “It was great talking to you, but I have to go now. Bye!” Don’t feel pressured into staying in a conversation.
If you are having trouble thinking of things to say, look for ideas around you. For example, if they are wearing a sports t-shirt, ask them about the team. For more ideas, check out the resource
“Starter Topics for Conversations”
If you felt the conversation went really well, don’t be afraid to ask to connect with them by setting up a place to meet, or asking for a way to contact them like by email, phone or social media.
|Conversation How-To Guides||Conversation Starters||Download file: Conversation How-To Guides|
|Conversation How-To Guides||How to End Conversations||Download file: Conversation How-To Guides|
|Conversation How-To Guides||Making Small Talk||Download file: Conversation How-To Guides|
|Conversation How-To Guides||Tips for Interacting with New Friends||Download file: Conversation How-To Guides|
|Conversation How-To Guides||Verbal and Nonverbal Cues||Download file: Conversation How-To Guides|
This information was developed by the Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative (ASERT). For more information, please contact ASERT at 877-231-4244 or info@PAautism.org. ASERT is funded by the Bureau of Supports for Autism and Special Populations, PA Department of Human Services.