Developing social skills in autistic children

Developing Social Skills In Autistic Children

Developing social skills in autistic children

What are social skills?

It is the child’s ability to communicate with others in an acceptable and appropriate manner in social situations, as the child’s possession of social skills will lead him to form friendships and conduct simple conversations.

Social skills and autism spectrum disorder

It is a common misconception in the field of autism spectrum disorder, as children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder do not have the ability to form friendships in various daily lives. The truth is that children diagnosed with autism have a desire to form friendships and talk to others. But the lack lies in how to take the initiative and make friends in the right way. They often struggle with how to maintain eye contact while having a conversation and how to understand social contexts and interactions.

When someone talks about a child’s lack of social skills, It is expected of the child that he does not show appropriate behavior towards other children, which makes it difficult to form friendships.

Example, It is possible for a child diagnosed with autism disorder to take some toys from others without asking the other child for permission. This behavior may be considered inappropriate by others, but a child diagnosed with autism may not understand what behavior is appropriate in this situation.

What are the social skills of children diagnosed with autism?

One of the challenges facing parents, specialists, and the individual himself is teaching a child diagnosed with autism disorder social skills. Because social skills represent one of the core symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in terms of delay or lack of social skills through communication and social interaction.

Some of the symptoms that can affect social skills:

  • Delayed speech development.
  • Difficulty understanding non-verbal gestures.
  • Difficulty understanding other people’s feelings.
  • Difficulty understanding sarcastic jokes across social contexts.
  • Difficulty when having conversations.
  • Repetition of words and phrases (echolalia).
  • Giving answers that are not relevant to the question.

These symptoms represent difficulty in confronting others when interacting socially among children diagnosed with autism and a lack of making friends easily at school. When interacting and playing with his brothers at home or outside the home.

What social skills do children diagnosed with autism need?

Children diagnosed with autism need the same level of social skills as their peers with autism disorder, as social skills are important in a child’s life to develop self-confidence, form friendships, and get along with the individuals around him.

Author Temple Grandin, who was diagnosed with autism at an early age, says that children diagnosed with autism disorder should be taught social skills to help them become more independent.

In an interview with Autism Parenting Magazine, Temple Grandin explains, “It is not permissible to leave a child diagnosed with autism disorder to spend most of his time alone, and because I have a tendency to isolate myself in my room, and this is not permissible, but what I am allowed to do is stay outside for some hours to play in my plane.”

Grandin also says that social skills are not only important in building relationships, but they are also important in developing various skills in daily life that children need as adults, such as: The need to know how to arrive on time and learn discipline and responsibility.”

And on the social level, A child diagnosed with autism disorder should learn:

  • How to play with others (sharing, exchange roles).
  • How to have a conversation with others.
  • How to control feelings towards others.
  • Teach the individual how to solve everyday problems.

Once these basic skills are identified, It may become easier to develop an intervention plan to improve the child’s social skills.

How to develop social skills in autistic children

Scientists and researchers have studied different ways to enhance the social skills of children diagnosed with autism as research has progressed to find that the best interventions were in “group training in developing social skills for children diagnosed with autism disorder at school age from 1985 to 2006.”

Some effective strategies have emerged that allow parents and professionals to work on with children diagnosed with autism to develop interaction in social situations.

Parents can seek help from specialists on how to develop social skills, as teaching social skills is often based on a concept called “social thinking,” which was introduced by speech-language pathologist Michelle Garcia Weiner. She has transformed the concept of “social thinking” into a strategy for improving social skills in children diagnosed with autism. .

Strategies for teaching and developing social skills in autistic children

Applied Behavior Analysis sessions can help improve the social skills of children diagnosed with autism but it is important that parents and caregivers reinforce and train social skills at home as well to achieve the best desired results.

Some of the strategies that can be implemented by parents and caregivers:

Role-playing strategy

Role-playing strategy can help learn expected and unexpected behavior in a given scenario. Example, A child goes to school for the first time. A role-playing strategy can help role-play the actual motivation to go to school.

Role play together

Before sending your child to play with others, The child should be trained to play with a parent or sibling, where the parents can explain the rules of the game and monitor the child’s behavior throughout the playing period.

Some of the games that can be played:

  • soccer ,
  • Hide and seek.
  • Simple board games like, Create four in a row (Connect Four) and form a wooden tower (Jenga).
  • Playing games with a child diagnosed with autism is of great importance in understanding the rules of play and understanding how to wait when role-playing with other children.

Modeling via video

Using video modeling may help the child explain social activities such as going to the dental clinic, where the child can watch some other children during their visit to the dental clinic through video modeling. Parents should explain basic instructions such as greeting the dentist and following instructions given by the dentist.

Social stories

In 1991, The social story strategy was created by author Carol Gray and was created to help children with special needs develop independence and social skills.

A social story is a story with a social element. It shows how other individuals behave when interacting socially and how they solve problems with others.

The social stories strategy works to:

  • Developing social skills among individuals with autism disorder through (active participation, Take the initiative to seek help, Say thank you words like, Thanks).
  • Understanding the feelings of others and understanding one’s own feelings.
  • How to deal with unexpected changes in different daily life.

Parents can also learn how to write their own social stories based on the behaviors of their children with autism spectrum disorder by learning about the basics of creating social stories, including choosing the appropriate types of sentences to be used. and create characters, Determine the purpose of the social story.

Interaction with peers diagnosed with autism disorder

Children diagnosed with autism can learn social skills through peers diagnosed with autism. Also, if the child diagnosed with autism disorder does not achieve social interaction with children who are not diagnosed with autism disorder, parents can work to train the child to play with them.

Developing social skills among autistic children in different environments

When training children diagnosed with autism disorder in social skills, specialists, parents and caregivers must work to generalize social skills in different situations and environments.

Developing social skills among autistic children in the classroom

Children diagnosed with autism disorder may face social challenges on a daily basis at school as well as academic challenges. And how to deal with those among their peers in the classroom. Teachers can provide assistance in developing social skills by:

  • Make the classroom comfortable so that the child with autism can participate in activities comfortably (without loud noises or voices)
  • Encouraging the child with autism disorder to participate in classroom activities with peers, individually and collectively.
  • Choose topics and games that the child with autism is interested in.

Developing social skills for autistic children at home

The home is often the place where children with autism learn basic social skills by reinforcing social skills practiced at school. Games and the use of visual aids can help develop social skills by teaching the child how to show emotions, communicate with others, understand social rules, and solve social problems that they may encounter.

Social skills are essential for daily life, so Children diagnosed with autism may have difficulty acquiring these skills at first. But effective early intervention by parents and qualified specialists may help in acquiring these skills.


Autism Social Skills: How to Enhance Social Interaction – Autism Parenting Magazine