Children with autism take time to express themselves and interact with people. They have different learning needs compared to other children. The parents of children with autism need to be very delicate in handling them.
Social dysfunction is one of the core aspects of Autism-Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Children with autism face difficulty in acquiring verbal communication skills. They suffer from the inability to read non-verbal communication cues.
Other children have a natural process of learning social skills but children with autism have a combination of traits that make it difficult for them to acquire social skills. Some kids may prefer to avoid social interaction completely while others prefer to talk only about a topic they are interested in. There are therapy sessions that can be given to your child to improve his/her social skills. Learning begins at home, so it is better if you can acquire the knowledge so you can help your child’s progress more.
What Social Skills do Children with Autism Require?
Children with autism are required to learn social skills as they do not develop them naturally. These social skills can range from talking effectively, starting a conversation, interacting with strangers, listening, getting along, making friends, and bonding.
A sense of belonging will grow in your child when they learn social skills. You can teach your child social skills in various ways that will be beneficial for their mental growth. Visual support for autism can be the best way to improve your child’s social skills. Visual aids will expand an autistic child’s ability to interact with his/her surroundings. They will express their desires, ideas, and wishes in a better way than before. We have put together 8 ways to help your child learn social skills.
Use Social Scripts and Stories
Our everyday lives consist of different scenarios and situations. Social scripts are written descriptions of those situations and events told from a child’s perspective. Social scripts help children to prepare themselves by rehearsing scripted situations. When those situations take place in real life your child will know how to react to them and this will develop their social skills further.
Social scripts provide your kids with a predefined list of things to say in certain situations and your kids will learn to make small talks in this procedure. You can look for printable social scripts online. But, you should keep in mind that at times your kid might sound too scripted.
Use Visual Cues
Children with autism learn best when concepts are presented to them visually instead of verbally. Visual cues will aid with their communication and this can be in the form of a picture, a drawing, a list of keywords. Parents can make use of first-then cues as children with autism face difficulty in focusing on an activity that they do not prefer. First-then cues will show a picture of activity as writing to be completed first and then a preferred activity such as playtime can start. This will teach the child to engage in writing first and then go for playing.
Use Visual Schedules
When specific parts of a task are shown in a step-by-step procedure, it helps your child to process them in a better way. The task of a visual schedule is to do just that. Visual Schedules can be really helpful as children with autism face difficulty in following multi-step directions. For example, it could highlight how to start your morning routine. From waking up to getting on the bus for school. Visual schedules will help skill carry-over and learning.
Be Active in Social Groups
Social groups are aimed at pairing children with similar abilities together to provide opportunities for them to practice social skills like starting conversations and taking turns talking. Many major cities offer such social groups. These social groups will also enable your child to interact with other children.
There is a misconception regarding children with autism that they like to be on their own. The thing is that they want to mix with people but they do not always know the right way to approach them. Your child wants to play with other kids and have fun. It is your responsibility to organize playdates and invite other kids to your place. This will teach your child how to interact appropriately. You can also involve yourself naturally by organizing activities and games. Your child’s therapist could also be invited and they could teach your kid what is expected of them more effectively.
Teach Them to Cope with Losing
Children with autism often find it difficult to accepting loss. They tend to get upset when they lose in a game. You should try teaching them that losing is not a bad thing and anybody can lose. You could deliberately lose in a game or dramatize your own mistakes so they can see that it happens to others and it is okay.
You can also point out the mistakes or losses of a public figure that your child admires in the news or games so that he learns to accept their losses too.
Model Social Interactions By Role-Playing
Children love to imitate others and they always learn by watching those around them. You could try to model appropriate social behavior for your child as much as possible. An even better way to do it is by role-playing. You can think of fictional situations and act them out in front of your child. This will enable your child to learn social skills by watching them more closely.
Different board games can teach your child to respond to different and changing situations in a better way. You can play board games to teach them turn-taking. You can play musical statues that will teach them to have self-control. There are learning resources conversation cubes games that teach your child to start a conversation.
Your child with autism might take time to acquire these social skills, but your consistent behavior and helpful attitude can help them improve their social skills. The most important thing you can do as a parent is to teach your child to deal with emotions and everyday life situations. Your child will better understand how to read emotions, communicate with others, and understand social rules with the help of games and visual aids. So, try out the tips we mentioned and watch your child develop their social skills.