Social skills for the autistic child
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Social skills for the autistic child

At the core of ASD lies a difficulty with social functioning.  Some of the typical social skills deficits children with Autism battle with include:  initiating social interaction with others, appropriately responding to the invitation to play, sharing, turn taking, understanding the unspoken rules of the game, reading the non-verbal cues of others on the playground and taking another person’s perspective into consideration.

For a parent it is not easy to see your child excluded from group activities or even meaningful small social interactions.  Knowing that your child has so many wonderful qualities to offer others, but having to cope with the fact that their disability or more precisely, their poor social skills more often than not preclude them from establishing meaningful bonds with others is heartbreaking. 

So we have compiled some “give your child a jump on social skills – activities you can do a home” tips! 

  1. Using the child’s strengths and affinities to teach social interaction – engage in play session with your child at home as often as possible but be sure to include their favourite items in the sessions. 
  2. Use technology / videos – by allowing your child to “see” what they need to learn via watching other children complete activities will help your child gain a better understanding of what it expected of them. 
  3. Visual cues or social stories – social stories are a great way to introduce your child to the “rules of the game”. 
  4. Introduce new people to your child – when new friends are introduced to your child do so one at a time and realize that it is easier to explain to the friend how they can help your child play then trying to get your child to play appropriately from the offset.
  5. One step at a time – start small.  Start with close family games and people that the child sees often. 
  6. Keep it familiar at first – when teaching social skills make sure you start by getting your child’s social skills strengthened in a place they know.  Invite people to play at home before you venture out. 
  7. Role Playing – play it like it is.  If you role play often enough your child will learn their “role”
  8. Work on imitation skills – teaching your child imitation skills is important because children learn to model behaviours and requests from peers.
  9. Teaching the child to identify good and bad behaviour – behaviour charts can be very powerful when it comes to teaching a child with autism “what good or bad behaviour is”.  In order for the child to learn the rules of the game they need to be able to establish between right and wrong.
  10. Transitioning skills and “change” skills lessons – by introducing visual schedules at home you eliminate anxiety associate with transitioning problems.  These schedules can be used whenever you leave the house or find yourself in a different situation. 

In closing remember that repetition is at the heart of it all– nothing that you do with your child once a week or on the odd occasions is going to help.  Repetition is the key to helping a child build on a new skill.

Amazing K is a registered ECD and Partial Care Facility in Johannesburg. We are a private autism school and therapy centre for children from age 2 years. Our learners receive the best of both the schooling and therapy world. We offer Individualized Education Programs involved, ABA, Speech- and Augmentive Alternative Communication (AAC) therapy as well as a full and adapted Academic Curriculum. Read more about this Johannesburg Autism school here.

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