Fostering Social Skills in Autistic ChildrenSep 05, 2023
Social skills are extremely important for navigating life. They enable us to communicate, empathize, and engage in social interactions. They play a pivotal role in forging friendships, fostering self-confidence, and even influencing academic and professional pursuits. For autistic individuals, grasping the nuances of social interaction can be a journey that requires patience and learning, as we know that social communication is one of the core challenges of autism.
Although there are many structured social skills groups and therapies, parents can also do many things at home to support social skill development.
For example, parents can create structured play sessions where they focus on specific social skills. They can choose activities that naturally lend themselves to social interaction, such as board games, arts and crafts, or pretend play. Parents should break down each skill into manageable steps and provide clear instructions. For example, if you're practicing turn-taking, you can use a timer to signal when it's the child's turn and when it's yours. Then parents can gradually increase the complexity of the interactions as the child becomes more comfortable.
As part of social skill development, parents can also role-play. They can model social behaviors and interactions through role-playing scenarios. Parents can use toys, puppets, or even themselves to demonstrate appropriate ways to greet, share, or engage in a conversation.
Consistency, patience, and a positive attitude are essential when parents are helping their autistic child learn social skills at home. They should tailor their approach to their child's interests and preferences, and celebrate their progress, no matter how small.
Dr. Sabrina Mitchell offers some advice on this topic in an article she wrote for Autism Advocate Parenting Magazine. This article is especially useful because it gives many commercially available games that parents can use to help build perspective-taking skills and conversation skills in their autistic children.
Access Dr. Mitchell's article in our article directory by clicking here.
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