Many kids with autism struggle with understanding social cues and learning social skills because they may not naturally learn them. Instead, children with autism often need additional help learning social skills. Learning and applying these skills appropriately can be especially difficult during periods of transition, like when your child goes back to school after a break. Whether you’re preparing your child to return to school, or simply want to help them sharpen their skills, read our 5 tips for helping children with autism improve their social skills.
Start In A Safe Environment
When you teach your child a new skill, social or otherwise, it’s important to choose an environment that’s free from stressors and distractions. A safe environment will help your child feel less anxious about practicing a new skill, and a distraction-free environment will help your child focus on the lesson at hand.
Break It Down
To help your child fully understand a social skill, it’s essential to review even basic social cues and teach new skills in parts. For example, something like greeting a friend could be broken down into a few key behaviors, such as maintaining eye contact, waving, and saying hello. Going slow will help your child feel more confident in the skills they’ve learned, and you’ll help them create a solid foundation to build other social skills.
Model The Behavior
Simply telling your child what to do won’t be effective for many children with autism. To help them understand the skill, model the behavior. Just as in the previous tip, start by modeling the basics first, and then combine them to form complex behavior chains. This gives your child a concrete example to refer back to when they attempt the behavior themselves.
Practice In a Variety Of Environments
Even if your child is demonstrating a skill at home, your child may still struggle to apply it to different settings. Once your child demonstrates the skill in a safe, calm environment, and with familiar people, begin practicing the skill in a variety of situations with different people. This will help your child generalize the behavior to multiple settings.
Consider Social Skills Groups
Social skills groups allow children and teens to practice learned social skills and develop new ones within a group and with peers. These kinds of groups are typically less intimidating than peer groups at school, since each child is practicing the same skills.
At Trumpet, we know that developing social skills can help children with autism make and maintain friendships, participate in class and afterschool activities, and more. We offer one-on-one and group teaching formats to suit your child’s needs and help them thrive. For more information on our social skills program, contact us today.