Social skills are an important part of a child’s development. They help children gain confidence and help them feel comfortable in social situations. However, children with autism spectrum disorder can find developing social skills challenging. Preschools, daycares, and parents at home all play an important role in helping children with autism learn social skills. Children with autism can experience significant gains in social skills, but they do not happen immediately. It can be frustrating to see your child struggle to be sociable and connect with other children as a parent. Here are some ways to help develop your child’s social skills at home.
Children with autism sometimes have difficulty with taking turns and reading nonverbal cues. Pretend play or role-playing is an excellent way for children to actively practice their social skills. Encouraging your child to take turns and follow rules, and praising your child when they do, will help your child learn. For example, you can say ‘My turn’ and ‘Your turn’. When your child lets you have a turn or follows a rule, you could praise them for following directions.
Social stories can also be an effective way to teach your child skills like communicating and joining in with others. Social stories help children learn the social scripts that go into conversing and interacting with others. In addition, they are a great way to explain the intricacies of situations, such as sharing toys before your child is faced with an actual sharing experience.
Structured Social Time
Children with autism work best with routines and structured activities. As a result, it can be easier to teach new skills and enhance social skills when working within a structure that is expected. You can set up small, structured social interactions to work on social skills before children need to carry these skills into a larger setting, such as a classroom. Activities such as organized play dates or quick trips to the park are perfect ways to help your child improve their skills.
Always validate your child when they show signs of improved social behavior when interacting with others. Positive reinforcement can be as simple as praising your child, like saying, “Good job waiting your turn!”. You can also incorporate prizes for good behavior in, particularly difficult situations. Always be consistent with praising and encouraging your child to develop their skills.
The Connections Therapy Center
The Connections Therapy Center serves families of children and adolescents with disabilities and special needs. We are a team of experts in the fields of pediatric speech, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and behavioral sciences. As a team, we offer intensive hands-on therapy for children and adolescents, as well as informative and useful resources for families. If you are interested in learning more about what we can do to help your family, visit us online or give us a call at (301) 577-4333. Want to get more information on how to help your child thrive? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.