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Social Skills Training for Children with Autism- Overview
Most of us haven’t undergone any kind of special training in social skills, since for most of the population this comes in within our developmental stage of growth. Things such as social cues of body language, eye contact, and tone are things that we inherently read with no issues. Other more complicated things such as sarcasm, idioms, metaphors, etc. help us better understand the conversation. These are not, however, things that individuals with Autistic Spectrum Disorder can pick up on, which can lead to communication gaps. They don’t ‘get’ what is being conveyed, which often leads them to be isolated (either self-imposed or by others) and this can cause them to develop depression and other associated mental health disorders. Individuals need social skills training for autism to help their development.
What is Social Skills Training (SST)?
Social skills development training consists of early-intervention behavioral treatments designed to foster ‘correct’ behavioral development. The main idea is to establish a reward & motivation-based system to teach children within the Autism Spectrum about normal socializing. Each child will have their own problems, therefore each will also require a unique set of treatments, which is the kind of training that is taught.
Strategies for helping autistic children develop social skills
There are means of learning social skills, and these are some of the ideas used in these sessions that focus on Social skills in autism activities:
- Practise Play- consists of play-acting out situations, where you demonstrate something and then the child can copy you. If you wanted to play a card game with them, showing them step by step, and saying things like “Okay now it’s your turn” or “Now it’s my turn” or “Don’t show your card” and following it up with a motion or a gesture can help.
- Praise- is essentially words of encouragement used when you see that they are engaging in positive ways with other people. The idea is to give positive reinforcement so that they repeat what they are doing in the future.
- Role-play- is of course also a sense of practice, but with specific instances, such as acting out what a play date might look like, playing the games that kids their age play, or practicing talking about what they watch on tv, etc. The idea is to familiarise them with some of the basic concepts of socializing.
- Social skills training- to develop social skills in a structured way. This might be available around the child’s school, or talking to a counselor, psychologist, speech pathologist or occupational therapist can help get pointed in the right direction.
- Social stories- can help teach children skills like communicating properly and joining in with others. This teaches them habits without directly teaching them those habits. You can tell them stories that involve certain social skills, and praise individuals who follow those skills in said stories so that they can learn from them indirectly.
- Visual support- can involve things like pictures, checklists, prompt cards, and videos. Use these to start or to keep certain conversations going, and to make games and prompts out of them.
Social Skills Groups
Social skills training programs are usually conducted through support groups that help in recovery. These are places where individuals with autism (of all ages) can practice their social skills on a regular basis. Think of it as a support group for them. There are some characteristics that are part of social group activities for autism:
- Working in pairs or groups to promote cooperation and partnership
- Simplify language, group them by their level of language comprehension
- Providing a structure
- Simplifying abstract concepts to make them more palatable
- Provide varied learning opportunities
- Promote self-awareness and work on self-esteem
- Most importantly, practical usages of these things so that they can use them in their lives
Autistic children have a tougher time than children who don’t. They find it difficult to be able to use their social skills properly, even if they have acquired them previously. Their skills often are situation-specific, and they get muddled when they change. Try and talk to the counselor, and make sure you’re both on the same page and use the same methods of treatment for the child. It not only helps them practice the same social skills in different situations but also creates the space for them to able to exercise their learned skills. Help them to become better versions of themselves.
How do I teach my autistic child social skills?
It can be a challenge for parents to teach social skills to their children with autism. They might not always respond properly to your advice and recommendations. And when things don’t go accordingly, it could be another challenge to encourage them and instill confidence. This is why it’s recommended to get help from specialists.
With years of experience, experts know what works and what doesn’t. They have the right understanding of how to progressively teach autistic children the needed social skills that are easy and comfortable for the latter. So, if you’re really looking to teach your autistic child the needed social skills, consider opting for social skills therapy for autism.
Can you have autism and still have good social skills?
Yes, it’s possible. In fact, many individuals with autism are quite good at socializing. But it’s important to note that it requires practice and the right mindset. This is especially true for children. They must be taught from the beginning how to socialize effectively so that they grow up to be more social. Parents must ensure their autistic kids are properly trained to have good social skills.
What is social skills training for autism?
Social skills training for autism, as the name suggests, are sessions where a specialist teaches individuals with autism how to be effective in communicating and better at socializing. ASD poses several social, communication, and behavioral challenges. Such training ensures individuals learn a way to bypass these challenges and stride towards a normal life where they can communicate and socialize better.
Can a child with Autism be very social?
Yes, an autistic child can be very social. They are keen to make new friends and talk to different people. However, at times, the challenges they face in communicating and socializing limit their confidence, which eventually deters them from making such attempts again. This is why they need social skills training wherein they know how to communicate and socialize in an effective manner.
How effective is Autism Spectrum Disorder treatment?
The effectiveness of ASD treatment depends on many factors, including the type we’re dealing with, along with its severity. Plus, a lot depends on the treatment measure that has been adopted and who is treating them. In general, though, Autism Spectrum Disorder treatment can be quite positive for everyone. In the long run, it can be a big difference-maker in enabling people with autism with a better and more fulfilling life.