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Is Social Anxiety Holding You Back?

Many people feel socially awkward on occasion when faced with certain situations or people; it’s natural. For those who truly struggle daily, there may be physical differences of the brain that inhibit smooth social interactions.

A study titled, “Overview of Social Cognitive Dysfunctions in Rare Developmental Syndrome with Psychiatric Phenotype”, was just released and offers insights into the specific symptoms and characteristics related to 9 neurodevelopmental syndromes, including Turner syndrome.

The exciting news is that the study offers a solid page on “Interventions and Perspectives”! Thank you, authors of the paper, for providing a discussion section that identifies interventions. As a mom of a daughter with TS and the President of TSSUS, I refuse to give up on researchers who feel that they can’t offer a glimmer of hope, unless the hope has been verified, certified, applies to everyone, tested over time, etc. The TS community needs hope, we know that not every intervention will work with every person and that we are all unique.

Having a list of common struggles that many girls and women with TS deal with daily is helpful. The authors cite shyness, social anxiety, low self-esteem (social acceptance, romantic relationships, etc.), social withdrawal, and being emotionally less mature than others the same age as common social behaviors related to a TS diagnosis. They add that those with TS are motivated to interact and be accepted by others and that they have good social knowledge of what to do, but have difficulties putting the knowledge into practice in real life. They suggest the difficulties may be due to social anxiety. A common definition of social anxiety is “the fear or anxiety of interacting with others because of how they may negatively judge or evaluate you.”

Social cognitive training (SCT) therapies are being used (and studied) to target specific social cognitive learning such as facial recognition and attentional focus for children. The tools are not tried and true but are showing promise. These tools are used in coordination with careful assessments and therapy. I’m not suggesting the TS community will benefit from the programs or endorsing them, I simply am acknowledging that solutions are being actively investigated, which is exciting and hopeful.

I recognize my daughter and so many women and girls with TS work quite hard to say the right things at the right time and to identify when someone is angry with them. They often pretend not to be bothered by the reality that they are socially stressed most of the time.

One young lady called TSSUS and said, “I am in college, I’m smart, I can’t keep up with conversations, I can’t answer questions as fast as others, I feel stupid, what’s wrong with me?” I explained that more than likely her brain takes more time than others to understand information, decide on a response, and then respond.

It’s frustrating that there isn’t a tried and true solution to alleviate the struggles related to social learning dysfunction, but maybe there will be one day soon. In the meantime, I remind myself and others that it’s okay to admit, “I’m not so good at (fill in the blank), but I am good at (fill in the blank)”. My version adds a little humor as I usually say, “My brain doesn’t do math in the cloud, but it’s great with a calculator.”

Please share your experiences. Have you ever used brain games, occupational therapy or other tools to overcome or support social or cognitive needs? We would love to hear about it.


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