How to Teach Social Skills to Your Child on the Autism Spectrum

"I would like to know how to advise my son with ASD [level 1] on social skills, such as relating to friends without being insulting to others and driving them away."

One of the behavioral traits seen in kids with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a lack of "demonstrated" empathy (i.e., they can empathize, but may not show it). They don’t realize that other people have thoughts and interests that are different from theirs.

They’ll interrupt a conversation and start churning out facts about their pet interest (e.g., medieval history, Star Wars’ trivia, Math, etc.) even if it has nothing to do with what the other kids are talking about.

This and their lack of other social skills (e.g., looking others in the eyes when conversing, responding appropriately to greetings and questions, understanding fads and the interests of peers, etc.) makes making friends very difficult for ASD kids.

With some of these children, social abilities remain intact or aren’t really noticed until around age eight. It is around this time that their peers begin perceiving them as “different.” The autistic is singled out for teasing. In addition, he may be seen as oppositional because kids with ASD take words and gestures very literally. Communication with ASD kids must be “concrete” (i.e., brief and easily understood).
 
==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism

Your son can be taught most of the same social skills that youngsters without ASD learn on their own. You can work with your son’s school to produce cards or posters with facial expressions that define feelings. Also, full-length mirrors can be used to make these kids aware of their facial expressions and overall body language. You and his teachers can role play social situations with him to help him learn appropriate responses and actions.

On a related note, it is critical that schools become fully equipped to help children with ASD. The number of schools with diagnostically appropriate services will increase when parents, doctors, and social service practitioners lobby educational institutions for assistance in teaching these students.

Until the school provides more assistance with your son, there are a number of things that you can do at home. For example, surround your son with friends and family so he will have familiar people around on a consistent basis. If your son is intimidated by a large number of people, just have one friend over at a time.

In addition to friends, you can train your son in appropriate social and perceptual skills. He can learn to perceive and interpret nonverbal behaviors, process visual and auditory information, and become aware of social/behavioral conventions.

To help you help your son, go on the internet and look for ASD support groups. Also, look for a group in your area. If there is none available, there are people who stay in touch via the internet. Whether in person or over the internet, they can give you advice and support which will help you help your son.
 
==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with High-Functioning Autism

When attempting to share information with schools about ASD, help teachers and other staff to understand the following. ASD is not:
  • mental retardation. Some autistic people may be very intelligent — there is a lot of evidence that Albert Einstein may have been autistic
  • "savant" syndrome. Some autistic people are "savants," (e.g., instant calculator, etc.) but most are not. Other autistic people are "gifted," however, and have high "general" intelligence. Many autistic people have normal intelligence, and some may be retarded
  • an emotional problem. ASD is a neurological condition which people are usually born with. Psychological trauma doesn't cause it
  • a psychosis or lack of reality contact
  • "a fate worse than death." Autistic people have some disadvantages, but some live very happy and rewarding lives. Many autistic people wouldn't want to be "cured," as this would be like erasing them and replacing them with different people
More resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 




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