It can be challenge sometimes for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) when it comes to meeting and communicating with other kids. Some children may experience serious attacks of anxiety, and these situations can be hard for everyone.
There are several strategies to help develop and improve social skills for children with autism. Here are five excellent ways to help parents and their children to feel more comfortable when socializing.
Provide a Supportive Environment
There is nothing better than providing your child with a comfortable and familiar environment. That is why parents are often advised to take their children to classes for children with ASD. There are special classes that focus on social skills and techniques in order to promote positive behaviors.
Modeling Social Interactions
Kids with autism often require more detailed and repetitive explanations. Unlike children without ASD who typically learn by watching and imitating those around them, kids with ASD often do not notice or pay attention to the people around them. That is why children with special needs require explanations of the intricacies of social interactions.
Discuss what happens in the classroom, how other kids behave, and highlight some social behaviors that your child struggles with. By modeling a certain social behavior and providing a systematic guide for interacting with other kids, your child will have a better and clearer understanding of how social interactions happen.
Practicing Interaction Activities
Since reading and understanding social cues are difficult for many children with autism, special social interaction activities should be practiced every day. For example, a simple but effective activity, such as keeping eye contact for a certain amount of time, will make your child friendlier. Another important activity is learning to interpret emotions. Instead of using movies or cartoons, it would be much more useful to write down a list of emotions and express them in front of your child or a group of children with ASD.
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Attending Social Skills Training Programs
Nowadays, you can find various educational programs in your city for children with autism; for example, Emotion Based Social Skills Training specializes in teaching social skills so that special needs children can end their difficulties with making friends, understanding the behaviors of others, and interact with other children without getting stressed or angry. Case studies have shown that such programs bring about excellent results when children with special needs attend them consistently.
Find a Parent Support System
It is very important for parents with autism to be patient and understanding and to find support for themselves. Sometimes adults can find it frustrating to be patient with and understand their children, and that is why parents need to find support groups that offer them a platform for communication where they can share their thoughts, approaches, discuss problems, and find effective ways to overcome problems. Parent support groups provide various and effective strategies for finding ways to help parents. Look for parent support groups on the Internet and on social media. You will most likely find one within driving distance of where you live.
There are a lot of methods and strategies that can be applied when trying to improve social skills for children with ASD. Special programs that can help such children with practicing social skills and developing positive behaviors will certainly result in better social outcomes for you and your child. All of the above-mentioned methods will help autistic children to communicate with their peers and feel more comfortable in society.
This article was featured in Issue 87 – Building ASD Awareness and Communication