Autism can sometimes be characterized by a person’s inability to connect with people, even their own families in a constructive and relationship-building way. The National Center for Learning Disabilities promotes that “guiding your child through various social scripts will enable him or her to navigate such situations with greater ease and less apprehension, especially when he or she is interacting with other children. Research has shown that adolescents with learning disabilities have difficulty in making and keeping friends, spend lots of free-time alone, especially watching television or on their computers.
Here are some activity ideas for helping your child prepare for certain types of social interactions they are likely to face throughout their lives:
- Read storybooks with themes on family and friendship and try to engage your child in storyline to help them understand the interactions between the characters.
- Identify specific social situations that are challenging for your child and role-play how to handle them one-on-one
- Give your child a scenario that he/she can understand and ask them to help you finish the story. Afterward, talk about their ending and other possible endings.
- While watching TV or a movie, point out social cues that may not be so obvious and talk about them with your child
- Make playdates for your child so they can get comfortable with interacting with other children. Supervision is an important part of helping your child along at first.
- If your child seems to have a particular interest, enroll them in an activity that can build on that interest and put them with other kids who have similar interests.
In helping them through these interactions, make sure to be actively listening at all times. For children who have a hard time communicating, you have to also try to understand their emotions, which can be expressed in a variety of ways including but not limited to: outbursts and repetitive behaviors. Also make sure to work with your child’s school and other professionals to make sure your child is having their needs met and that they are receiving appropriate services.
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