5 Strategies to help your Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder develop Social Skills
5 strategies to help your Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder develop Social Skills
Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) take longer than other children to learn social skills. You can use strategies like role-play, story books and even discussing scenario’s on video, DVD’s or TV to help your child learn the skills he needs to make friends and have a positive social life.
What skills does my child with Autism spectrum Disorder need?
- Play skills – for example, taking turns in a game or sharing a toy
- Conversation skills – for example, choosing what to talk about or what body language to use
- Emotional skills – for example, managing emotions and understanding how others feel
- Problem-Solving skills – for example, dealing with conflict or making decisions in a social situation.
What are some strategies I can use to help my child?
- Emotional Skills
Help your child to read emotions
Practice looking at faces and body language of others and ask your child “what do you think that person is feeling?”and what is he doing with his body to also show his feelings?….
i.e. happy, sad, angry, scared………he has folded arms, his head is staring at the ground etc
What do you think that person is thinking?……..
2. Practice ‘Big Picture’ thinking
Read stories together and discuss what might happen next….
Share a book together and discuss possible outcomes from a scene of the story
e.g. Tommy took Sam’s toy car…what could Sam do?
Why do you think Tommy took the car?
or Emma can’t find her kitten Charlie ……what do you think has happened to him?
Children with autism often struggle to see the ‘big picture’ of a social situation and by practicing right brain activities using imagination and comprehension we can exercise improved social interactions.
3. Practising play
Practice play skills with your child by using toys to act out a scene. For example, you could hug a teddy, then feed teddy and put it to bed, have a tea party with a few teddies, or create a story using a play set like a farm a school or a dolls house.
Playing games together allows your child practice turn-taking, coping with winning and losing, and following rules.
Younger children might like movement games like red Younger children might like movement games like red light/ green light, ‘Simon says’ , hide and seek, ‘Whats the time Mr Wolfe?’ .Older children might like games like Connect Four, Trouble, Snakes and Ladders, Jenga or card games.
4. Practice Social scenarios and conversations
Children with autism often struggle to understand the non-verbal cues of others, practice social conversations:
If someone says hello to you, what should you do? Let’s practice that……
If other children are playing a game, how do I get to join in?
If Nan and Granddad come for dinner…what can I talk to them about?…….practice using eye contact, asking questions and listening to the other persons responses…
5. Role playing and problem-solving
Role play can help your child learn and practice skills needed to play with others. For example, before another child comes to visit, you and your child could:
- do a role play where your child suggests what to play with her friend
- practice playing the games that your child and her friend might play
- practice possible solutions if there is a conflict i.e., they both want to play with the same toy at the same time….
- practice conversation like what your child’s favourite movie or book is at the moment or what he is doing on the weekend…
Social skills can help your child make friends, learn from others and develop hobbies and interests. Social Skills are also important for family relationships and ensuring a sense of belonging, optimising mental health and quality of life.