"When you are the parent of someone with autism, the regular give and take is different. You may go days or weeks without eye contact or a smile in your direction, but those hugs and words of love that you do receive are more precious than diamonds." – Quote from LoveToKnow.
With each child being unique in their own way on the spectrum, the challenges they face also vary. Whiles some may have issues with motor skills, others may lag behind in terms of social skills. If therapy and imparting of special skills begin at an early age, then course correction can be achieved. In this blog, we have presented 6 ideas on how to get children on the spectrum to learn valuable social skills.
Here are some ideas for teaching Social Skills to Autism Children:
Be the role model that the child can observe and emulate. Children are like sponges that soak up everything they are exposed to, directly or indirectly. If as adults / parents or caregivers you display consistent & positive social behavior in front of the child, it will become easier for the child to emulate the same. Thus interact with everyone in a positive, happy and open way. It could be with a neighbor, the staff at the grocery store, or an elderly relative who lives on their own. Light hearted conversations, cheerful small talk, and camaraderie with everyone you meet are excellent ways to teach children social skills that will hold them in good stead in the future.
Enact role playing with the kids. This is a good way to teach kids on the spectrum. This could take the form of playing out fictional scenarios or reliving past incidents and discussing how they could have been handled better etc. “ Practice makes a man perfect “ goes the old adage and it definitely applies in this context too. Practice role play often so that the child gets the hang of it. Be consistent in the role play so that the principles & ideas you are trying to pass onto your child stick with them over time.
Social stories and scripts. Create video or social stories (using words and images to explain a social situation) to help your child develop social skills. Turn to the internet for such stories or get creative and make your own. Social scripts are more common by their nature with responses defined for social scenarios / situations. They need to be used sparingly as they may not work in all social situations and may sound clichéd when used by the kids.
Let your child interact with social groups. Social groups (online or offline) in your community or county may exist that allow children on the spectrum to interact with others with similar abilities and so on. These groups provide kids with the opportunity to practice social skills. The medium of interaction is play and has many benefits.
Play dates. This entails getting kids from the school over for a regimented and supervised play date. It could be with one kid, to begin with, and can be expanded over time with more kids joining in.
Books. Plenty of books are available on this topic with great tips and learnings. They provide ideas and advice on the different types of social skill activities.