Social skills can be confusing and challenging for many people—this confusion and challenge doubles for individuals with autism. Everything can challenge children with an autism spectrum disorder, from understanding and using nonverbal communication to initiating and interacting with peers.
Social skills lessons are essential for dealing with this critical issue. These exercises and several activities performed under the supervision of a certified autism specialist teach children with autism how to interact in social situations. But no two autistic children are the same in range and intensity of symptoms, so social dysfunction varies among each child. For instance, some kids may find back-and-forth dialogue difficult and would rather talk about a topic only they want to discuss. On the other hand, other children could avoid social interactions altogether.
To an outsider simply observing, they may think children in these cases prefer to play independently. Although this may genuinely be the case for some kids, many autistic children would love to form bonds and create friendships but do not know how to do it. They must deal with various challenges, such as:
Tips To Teach Social Skills
Children with autism have numerous challenges to overcome. Early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI) is highly beneficial in teaching children with autism the necessary social skills to navigate society. The basis of EIBI is on the principles of Applied Behavioral Analysis, focusing on learning readiness skills, communication, imitation, visual-spatial skills, pre-academics, self-help, and social skills.
Parents and guardians can also use tips to teach their kids how to navigate the social world successfully, including:
One of the best ways to teach social skills for autism is to show what appropriate socialization looks like to that child. While conducting the right skills, it is also best to explain what you are doing and why. While this can be uncomfortable for introverted parents or caregivers, it will immensely help the child. Modeling consistent and positive social behavior for your child makes it easier to mimic over time. An experience as simple as greeting those you encounter daily and engaging in small talk, if possible, can have a significant impact on the child.
Roleplay is another way to teach kids with autism the necessary social skills to navigate society. You can make up stories to act together or recreate scenes that have happened and talk about more appropriate ways to deal with such situations in the future. The trick here is to practice consistently and ensure the child’s teachings and principles stick.
Social stories can be an excellent way to instruct children with autism to interact in society. Social stories describe everyday situations and events from a child’s perspective to write. These stories give the child something to work with to prepare better when this happens in real life. Social scripts are a little more generic as they offer the kids a pre-defined list of things to say in certain situations. This method can help teach kids to start conversations and respond to small talk. However, you should caution their usage since this will not work in all situations and might make the child sound too scripted.
Nuances of socialization are essential, like greetings, taking turns while talking, and respecting personal space. If a child fails to understand them, making and keeping friendships can be challenging. You can consider developing a list of “social rules” to live by for your child. These social rules should be kept handy and in a visible spot to help your child navigate social situations. Place them somewhere nearby so the child can easily access them in a social instance. You can also consider a reward system that offers the child a reward or small treat for following rules. You can start small and treat the child by following specific rules daily. As they are more comfortable with the rules, directions increase with each passing day. Specifically, this helps the child to become more proficient in social conventions.