As a person with autism, I have always struggled in social situations to understand others needs and desires.
One thing that I really enjoy doing has offered me a lot of help in this area the game Sims 2 Pets for the PC or the PS3. When I am playing this game, I watch the health meters of the characters that I have created. I learn what activities help them to be satisfied socially, in their environment, or in areas of fun. I knew, for instance, that when their fun meter went down, they would be stressed out. In those moments it would be difficult for me to get them to do what I wanted them to do (such as homework.)
How this transfers to real life for me is that when I am visiting people, if I have been playing this game a lot, I can actually see their health meters in my mind.
When I was visiting my brothers children across the country, for instance, there was one morning that they were gathered around me. They were each playing their guitars for me, while they were eating their breakfast, and talking to each other. I could at that time see their fun, social, and hunger meters going up as they were doing these activities before school.
While I did want to visit with my nephews and niece while I was there, all of this focus on me was a bit overwhelming. Because I could see their “health meters” in my mind, however, I felt this was important for their success at school. I could see how this was good for them, and not just how it was a bit overwhelming for me. I allowed it to continue, and enjoyed the fact that I was able to see things from their perspective as a result of playing a game that I very much enjoyed.
Although this game is a solitary activity for me, I believe that such things can be used as tools for people with autism to help them to develop their social skills and perspective.