Friday, November 6, 2009

Social Skills Training for Chilren with Autism Part 1

Unfortunately one the things parents will find themselves doing is trying to teach their child social skills. Remember this is the same child who sees the world in black and white. It is possible, but parents need to remember that the trick is to use those quirks of autism to their benefit.

One of the ways to use the quirks of autism to your benefit when raising a child with autism is to teach them rules. If you can teach them a rule which will ‘fit’ into their black and white version of the world you can have some measure of success. Initially you will need to teach 3 stages of meeting people and becoming some level of friends with people.

The first stage is the “Do I want to know this person?” stage. Adults have learned over years that making a good first impression is critical. This is not always the case in social skills training for children with autism. Your child may be able to make a good first impression and then not be able to keep the impression up through the other stages. Initially we should teach our children not to make a bad first impression.

The third stage is the stage that children try to figure out how the other person might be useful to them. This can be a conscious or unconscious process. As parents we need to get over the feeling that this process is self serving or calculating. Our children need us to teach them in black and white terms that they can understand. The child with autism will spend their time better cultivating a variety of skills that maybe helpful. Preferably with your help they can cultivate two or three areas they really like.

The third stage is the stage our children actually form the different levels of friendships. We need to teach our children that typical children will form closed groups. We should make every effort to teach our child with autism to stay away from becoming a member of a group. Our children should do their best to remain friendly enough with all of the groups to be able to get regular invitations to join them in an activity but not become a member.

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