If your child has autism and is struggling to excel in social settings with their peers, Allcare Therapy Services can help with proven techniques to help them feel more comfortable in those environments, but you can help at home too!
Social Skills To Look For in Young Children
Try to pay attention to your child communicating with peers when you can–many children begin to notice others lacking social skills around age 7, far before parents usually begin to notice.
Some signs that your child may be lagging behind their peers in social skills include:
- Acting bossy and controlling during playtime
- Can make friends easily, but has difficulty keeping them
- Shows little to no interest in what other children have to say in conversation
- Has difficulty relating to children the same age, but seems fine talking with younger children and adults
- Has no perspective of how they might come across to others in conversation
Strategies To Practice At Home For Social Skills
Children who struggle in social situations sometimes just need some help at home to understand how people interact.
This can be done in a number of ways. One of the most effective ones is to openly share your internal dialogue to illustrate to your child how to think about others, and in turn, help them develop their own self-talk. Something like, “I’m feeling bored because you’re talking to me about your favorite video game. Maybe we could talk about something we are both interested in.” or “I can’t believe that person is being so rude to the waiter! He should be more understanding.”
An essential social skill that everyone recognizes, but not everyone realizes they do is the practice of feigning interest in others’ hobbies and the things they say–also known as a “social fake”. Many children with autism don’t understand that showing attentiveness, even if it’s a social fake, is a crucial building block of relationships. Make sure they know how to fake interest, ask questions, and keep friends.
Practice “reading the room” together. Give your child a common social situation and ask them how they would react to it. For example, ask them what they would say or do if a classmate wanted to stop what they were doing and play a different game than the one they were enjoying. Give them grades based on their response and make it a game!
When you witness your child do or say something correctly in a social situation, be sure to praise them immediately! Reinforcing positive behavior with positive feedback is a great way to get them to continue acting appropriately with their peers.
Remember, there is bound to be resistance and inconsistency when practicing these social situations at home. Be patient with your child and continue to reward them as they progress.