4 Strategies To Increase Social Skills In Children On the Autism Spectrum
The very nature of Asperger’s Syndrome requires some interventions around social skill development. This may however prove difficult given the lack of flexible thinking, limited communication and/or impaired social relationships. Given the inherent limitations in children with Asperger’s Syndrome, they may often display an inability to incorporate the perspectives of others, consequentially limiting meaningful interactions. Without this awareness, difficulties ensue around social interactions which can be difficult when interacting with others.
Modeling Target Behavior
If you’d like to demonstrate socially appropriate conversations, model the expected or socially accepted behavior with your child. For example, choose a video clip that illustrates showing empathy or taking turns in a conversation. As the video clip plays, talk your child through each turn while pausing to practice the skills being displayed.
Enlist Help From Peers
Along the lines of utilizing video, enlist the help of a friend or peer to help demonstrate the desired behavior. This peer may be enlisted to demonstrate how to give a compliment, giving one in return when given to them. This elucidates socially appropriate behavior by a peer which they may be able to relate to given similarities in age and interests.
Make It Fun Whose Turn Is It?
Children on the spectrum often lack the ability to recognize social queues which leads to the inability to recognize when to take turns in conversations and/or games. Plan and play a game of chess. This is undoubtedly a fun exercise while teaching the rules of the game which include learning how to take turns while paying attention to social queues.
Social Skills Groups
Given that children with Aspergers are often isolated, social skills groups cover basics, such as starting or ending conversations, keeping eye contact and understanding personal space. These groups allow for a safe space where children can model appropriate behavior and engage in “practice runs” to sharpen their social skills. Managing the behaviors and expectations of children on the spectrum may at times be challenging, but engaging in consistent social skills practice and awareness increases the quality of their social interactions while building self-esteem.