Ways to help your child with autism improve social skills
Children with autism often find it difficult to be social with others around them. They may experience anxiety and struggle to make connections with their peers. Thankfully, there are research-based strategies to help your child with autism improve social skills. Here are some of them:
Practice eye contact
When you talk, encourage your child to look at your eyes. Seeing your face can lead your child to focus on your expressions. Help her understand expressions by asking your child to maintain eye contact while talking.
Get a pet
According to research, autistic children who have pets develop social skills more easily. It can help them introduce themselves to others, answer questions and also ask others for information. Pets help children in forming emotional bonds and act as valuable talking points – they give children stories to share with others during interactions.
Help them practice at home
If your child is going for therapy sessions, it is important to maintain consistency at home as well. If the therapist or counselor has a reward system for expected behavior, continue doing that at home. Parents must be there as a support system for their children as they interact with others. Also, encouraging them when they recognize an expected or unexpected behavior in themselves is also beneficial.
Point out pitch and tone
Sometimes, kids with autism have trouble noticing changes in voice, known as inflections. In this case, children miss the bigger message because they’re taking speech more literally. By helping them notice the nuances in pitch and tone, you can help increase their confidence in dealing with a social conversation.
Let them lead
In order to develop social skills, children with autism need to learn interaction with their peers. However, if the interaction happens in an unfamiliar environment, it can be overstimulating. To improve social skills, organize games and group activities in an environment where the child has a chance to lead. This helps them to judge their own limits, stop when they exceed those limits and gradually learn to interact.
Whenever your child shows signs of improvement in behavior, acknowledge and reinforce this. It can be done by doing something as simple as praising them. If your child demonstrates good behavior in particularly difficult circumstances, try rewarding them with prizes. This helps to motivate the child to keep trying further.
With the right support from parents and therapists, barriers of social interactions can be easily overcome in children with autism. It also gives them more confidence to succeed in their school lives, work and home.