Tuesday, May 21, 2024

How To Help Autistic Child With Social Skills

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Sensory Issues And Social Skills Activities For Autism

Teaching Social Skills to Children with Autism

Kids with hypersensitivity or over-responsiveness to sensory information avoid sensory experiences. You might see them covering their ears when the noise is too loud or wear only loose-fitting clothes. Others resist doing things like brushing their teeth, having haircuts or eating certain types of food.

On the other hand, children with hyposensitivity or under-responsiveness eagerly seek out sensory experience. Most of the time, they are the ones who always look for things to touch. In turn, they constantly move to rub their arms or legs against things. They also sometimes like to tear tight-fit clothes.

Its true that children outgrow sensory issues or sensitivities over time. But children with autism take a longer time to do so. These sensitivities can also worsen when a child gets uncomfortable, anxious or stressed.

How to teach social skills to children with autism

Dont forget practice patience, be consistent, be a role model.

Be Aware Of Their Triggers

The kids with Autism can be both under-sensitive or over-sensitive that depends on their sensory stimuli that many people may not even notice but trust me, which has a huge impact on the way they learn, absorb, or take things. So, for example, some Autism people do not like the smell of perfume or flowers, others may not like typing or buzzing sounds, and it may become the trigger point of the kid.

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So, you should be aware that if the child has some trigger points as it can interfere with their learning as they will not be able to pay attention.

Helping Autistic Children Use Social Skills In Different Situations

Autistic children can find it difficult to use social skills theyve learned in one setting in other situations. For example, your child might be able to share pencils at home with their siblings but not at school with their classmates.

To help your child use skills at school, talk to your childs teacher to make sure youre both using the same prompts for your child. It also helps to practise the same social skills in many different situations for example, sharing pencils with a friend who visits, or sharing pencils with a sibling at a café.

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Strategies For Teaching Social Skills To Asd Children

Whats inside this article: Nine evidence-based strategies that can help children with autism develop or improve social skills. Includes teaching strategies, play strategies, and educational programs developed to aid social development.

If you have an autistic child who is verbal but needs help developing social skills and conversation skills, youve come to the right place. Lets get started with a definition:

Pragmatics: The use and interpretation of language in social situations.

Nearly all autistic individuals struggle to understand pragmatics. Even someone with an above average vocabulary can struggle significantly with social interactions and conversational skills.

These are skills that seem to come naturally to most people but they need to be directly and specifically taught to children with autism.

This post is part of a 7 part series on techniques for improving communication skills. Each part of the series contains this table of contents so you can easily navigate to the other parts of the series.

Understanding An Autistic Persons Communication

Games That Can Help Hone an Autistic Childs Social Skills

Communication happens when one person sends a message to another person. This can be verbally or non-verbally. Interaction happens when two people respond to one another – two-way communication.

Mostautistic peopleexperiencedifficulty with:

  • interacting with others

  • initiating interactions, responding to others, or using interaction to show people things or to be sociable

  • understanding and relating to other people

  • taking part in everydayfamily,school,workandsocial life. These can be harder.

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Remember Its Not About Right And Wrong Behavior

The language you use with your children is important. They learn by example. Calling a behavior wrong tends to set off many children with high-functioning autism, who want only to be right.

Instead, talk about expected and unexpected behavior, which are two terms used in expert Michelle Garcia Winners Social Thinking® system. For example, if youre trying to get your child to focus on a person when having a conversation rather than pacing around and looking elsewhere, explain that people expect attention when they are talking. In other words, give concrete examples of expected behavior that your child can observe and practice.

How To Improve Your Childs Social Skills

Over the years, scientists and researchers have studied different methods of enhancing social skills for children with autism.

Research on social skills interventions in children with autism has progressed in the last decade. A review of group-based social skills training for school-age children on the spectrum from 1985 to 2006 showed that the data is too small to be conclusive, but ideal methods of research were identified.

Today, parents and caregivers have access to new treatments that have been proven to give children with autism the ability to interact in social situations.

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Apples And Actions Game

This object lesson starts with showing your student an apple. Pass the apple around the class and, as you do, have each child insult it and drop it on their desk or the ground. After every child has dropped it and said a mean thing to it, cut the apple in half and show your students all the bruises inside.

Explain to them that our words have consequences and that everything we say can make an impact on someone else. Just like how insulting and dropping the apple can bruise it, being mean to a classmate can have big effects on them. That way, your students will always remember to be kind.

Autism And Social Skills


While no two children with autism are the same, and the range and intensity of symptoms varies from person to person, social dysfunction tends to stand out the most when interacting with a child on the autism spectrum. Some kids find back-and-forth dialogue difficult, preferring to talk only about a topic he or she is interested in, while others prefer to avoid social interactions completely.

To an outsider, it often seems as though these children prefer to play independently, and while that may be the case for some, many kids with autism genuinely want to form friendships with their peers.

They just dont know how to do it!

In the face of communication challenges, sensory processing sensitivities, an inability to express their own emotions and understand the emotions of others, and problems with impulse control and self-regulation, the world is an overwhelming and confusing place for people with autism, and despite their best intentions, they often fall short when it comes to reading social cues and responding appropriately.

The good news is that it IS possible to teach social skills to kids with autism, and we have 25 tips and social skills activities to help.

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Direct Instruction Strategies For Various Conversation Skills:

Understanding and using non-verbal communication:

Gestures, facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, and other nonverbal communications of meaning and feeling can be taught using visuals, role-playing, picture rehearsal, and discussion.


Visual cues such as objects, pictures, and written words can provide concrete information to make the concept of waiting less abstract and more specific to the situation. Visual timers are also a simple and effective way to help children understand the concept of waiting.

Taking turns:

Turn-taking can be taught through the use of social stories and by using a picture or pictograph to cue your child.

You may also need to teach turn taking when it comes to activities, not just speaking. You can practice this by playing games and activities that involve 2 or more players and require taking turns.

For example, the card game Go Fish requires you to take turns playing and speaking but its also is predictable You ask for a card, if the other player has the card, theyll give it to the other, if they dont they will say Go Fish.

Making transitions:

Using social stories and providing change warnings with visual cues , can help them transition from one activity to another.

Transitions can be particularly difficult if your child hasnt finished the activity they may need to be prepared for the possibility of having to finish later.

Changing the topic in conversation

Completing tasks

Initiating an interaction:

Being quiet

Technology That Can Help Autistic Children With Social Skill Development:

Children diagnosed with ASD often lack social skills that build a sense of belonging in traditional classrooms and social groups. Children on the autism spectrum may not follow social norms like waiting their turn, looking the person they are speaking to in the eye, etc. Luckily, these skills can be learned with repetition and patience.

Look in My Eyes Restaurant:

This app engages your child in a series of social skills like practicing making eye contact.

Autism Express:

This free app uses gentle encouragement to help children master everyday social cues. This app will help your child recognize and practice facial expressions.

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Let The Autistic Person Decide When To End An Activity

Once engaged in an activity, carry on until the person indicates that they have had enough. Look out for facial grimaces or the person pushing away the activity. If they do not use language to indicate they have finished, accompany their form of communication with words such as “had enough” and “stop.

Social Skills At Home

Helping Children With Autism Make Friends

Home is where most children spend their time. Often, it is where they learn basic social skills.

Parents and caregivers are expected to reinforce what a child is learning from social skills training or school. Talking to the childs therapist or teacher will help parents create their own ways to teach social skills at home.

Games and visual aids can be used to help a child learn how to read emotions, communicate with others, understand social rules, and solve problems.

Social skills are vital to everyday life. Children with autism may have difficulty acquiring these skills in the beginning. But with the help of qualified experts and educators, it can be done.

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Technology That Can Help Autistic Children With Modeling Behaviors:

Children on the autism spectrum often have more difficulty with novel activities that other children do. They often dont pick up on the unwritten rules that accompany new situations. Parents will find that using technology to model the steps for a new activity can help their child build confidence and reduce feelings of anxiety. Whether your child is preparing for a first trip to the library or an airplane ride, technology can help them develop a better understanding of the process.

Model Me Going Places:

This app provided illustrations and instructions to help autistic children understand the unwritten rules that accompany many everyday situations.

Social Adventures:

This app teaches relationship behaviors in an 8-week social skills awareness program. Designed by parents for children with ASD this app helps your child learn much needed skills like how to initiate a conversation.

What Is Social Interaction

Social interaction means knowing how people are expected to act in certain situations, including interacting with other people.

This involves paying attention to social information, interpreting what is going on in these situations, problem solving in certain situations, and then responding.

A significant number of skills are required to interact successfully with others and these skills typically develop over time, usually until people are adults, and then seem able to interact seamlessly.

From the moment you open your bedroom door, until you close it at night, most people rely on social interaction skills to get through their day.

Learning how to interact with others helps with making friends, building relationships of all kinds, learning from other people and developing new interests.

For parents of children with autism, whoever your child socialises with, its important that their relationships are based on acceptance and understanding.

For children, this might mean learning how to play together, take turns in a game or share a toy. For adults, this might mean understanding emotional and social cues like knowing how to begin a conversation, knowing what to talk about in certain situations, or being aware of unspoken social interactions, like lining up at the supermarket.

Having social interaction skills also means knowing how to manage conflict like when you dont agree with someone or feel angry or how to solve problems in the workplace or in relationships.

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Easy Ways To Improve Social Skills For Autistic Children

5 Easy Ways to Improve Social Skills for Autistic Children:

Autism is a developmental disorder that can impact the way a person communicates, interacts with the world around them, and manages emotions.

Social skills are formed through regular interactions with people. Since children with autism have a hard time understanding and reading others, social skills often need to be taught differently.

The CDC publishes that symptoms of autism related to social skills and interactions include:

  • An inability to read others.

  • Difficulties with back-and-forth conversations and interactions.

  • Poor nonverbal communication skills and behaviors, and difficulty understanding these cues in other people.

  • Trouble adjusting behaviors to the situation, often resulting in inappropriate behaviors.

  • Lack of interest in peers.

  • No desire for imaginary or collaborative play.

  • Inflexibility with routines and schedules.

  • Sensory sensitivities.

  • Difficulty responding to social interactions or initiating them.

1. Model & Practice Desired Behaviors

  • Passing a ball back and forth.

  • Simon Says.

  • Simple card and board games.

  • Hide and seek.

2. Reinforce Positive Behavior & Celebrate StrengthsTo reinforce positive behaviors and social skills:

  • Pictures

How To Support Socialisation

Help with Social Skills – High Functioning Autism – Themes, Games and Activities

What I also observed, however, was that when the autistic children were able to focus on what interested them an issue already understood as crucial in terms of the cognition and well-being of autistic people they needed much less input from a teaching assistant. And as the teaching assistant faded back, other children tended to come forward, keen to get to know this child who was usually monopolised by an adult.

Similarly, some of the autistic adults also explained how they had gained a sense of belonging when they joined groups or clubs aligned to their interests making them feel more accepted, and less stigmatised.

My study also showed how crucial it is to understand and respect the social preferences of individual children. For some, friendships were important for others, they were not. Some preferred to have one or two friends, rather than a large social circle.

So while it might be the case that some autistic children need support to socialise in schools, this doesnt mean its the same for all. Contradictory social rules can be opaque and perhaps need to be explained, but this is not going to be helped by unnecessary segregation being velcroed to the teaching assistant, and setting the child up as being different from the others.

In fact, it may well be that some children, who can be easily distracted by chatting to their friends in class, stand to learn a lot from autistic children, who might be more focused on their work instead.

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Typical Social Skill Deficits For Children With High Functioning Autism

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual , one of the core characteristics of autism is impaired social functioning. This means that children on the spectrum often struggle with peer interactions. Here are a few of the typical social issues you might see in autistic child:

  • Lack of direct eye gaze or eye contact
  • Does not follow others’ eye gaze
  • Does not turn to look when someone points at an object
  • Difficulty understanding jokes or humor
  • Difficulty initiating conversation in a natural way
  • Tendency to repeat phrases or actions of others
  • Non-traditional play routines

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How To Avoid Social Interaction Problems With Peers

Sometimes our children with autism will have social interaction problems with peers.

One way to try to help autistic children make friends and learn appropriate ways to respond to and interact with peers is to review the rules of engagement prior to a playdate or hang out.

Often, children with aspergers and ASD like to know the rules so reminding them of social skills right before they hang out with a friend may help.

For instance, you may review with your child with autism whatever current social skill they have been working on such as taking turns or using appropriate voice tone or volume.

Another tip is to practice social skills one on one with peers so your child does not have to navigate multiple conversations/situations.

This will also cut back on your child with autism having social interaction problems with peers.

While social skills may develop more naturally in typical children, we can use these simple tips to help our autistic child make friends.

Mom blogger, special needs parent, coffee fiend, dog lover, and recovering perfectionist interested in balance, humor and self-care. I help women learn to give themselves grace while they simplify their lives and make the most of their motherhood journey, no matter what unexpected things may come their way.

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