Social skills are a complex system of behaviours that determine how well we communicate with others. Our ability to do this is just one of the many life skills that can be affected by brain disorders such as traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Social skills are the foundation for getting along with others. When they are lacking, it becomes difficult to maintain friendships and make new ones. It is also harder to relate to others in the workplace, learning environments and the wider community. People with an acquired brain injury need help in identifying and rebuilding lost social skills.
Those who have sustained frontal lobe damage can lose self-awareness and insight. At the same time, orbitofrontal damage (injury to the very front of the brain) can disrupt an individual’s ability to inhibit unwanted responses such as inappropriate anger or sexual expression.
Social skill deficits may be related to the following:
- impulsivity, both verbal and motor
- poor visual perception of facial and body language cues
- poor auditory perception of vocal cues
- invasion of the personal space of others
- inappropriate touching
- disorganisation or untidiness
Social skills are something we learn and develop with social reinforcement from the people around us. It is important that those with brain injury have feedback from others in order to relearn the skills they have lost. Bear in mind that the learning process can be a challenge when a person is also experiencing mood swings, depression or overreaction as a result of an acquired brain injury.