Help an Autistic Child Develop Social Skills with These Proven Strategies

If you have a child that’s on the spectrum, then there’s no need to remind you (since you already know that) that the life of kids with autism can frequently be very challenging, for various reasons.

They often struggle to fit in society and adapt to a variety of social norms and expectations, which is hard for every parent to witness, because, after all, they want their little one to always be included and lead as normal life as they can.

Although it won’t always be easy to stimulate your kiddo to interact and engage with their peers, it’s definitely not impossible. In fact, there are numerous steps that you can take that will help them enhance their social abilities. Want to uncover them? Keep reading then!

Always Make Sure To Reinforce Good Behavior 

Positive reinforcement is a strategy that has been utilized by many parents who have autistic children to reward good behaviors in an effective way. This is generally a great way to encourage your child to become even better, and that’s something that can be implemented not only on the kids who are on the spectrum but on any other child.

What you need to remember is that, at times, your kiddo won’t be able to understand what is expected of them to do. However, if you praise them often (when they deserve it, of course) and practice reinforcement, you’ll undeniably shape their behavior in the most positive sense, and concurrently, cultivate their social skills. Although improving social skills in autism may not always be easy, by reinforcing positive behavior, you’ll surely make some positive changes. So what can you do to reinforce it and, at the same time, boost their social skills?

  • Be sure to select a reinforcer that your little one may benefit from. It can be anything that’s tangible, edible, visual, or perhaps any activity that your child generally enjoys.
  • Do not wait for too long to reward positive behavior. Within five to ten seconds is the most optimal time.
  • Do not stick to one reinforcer, but instead, make sure to alter them.
  • If you notice that a particular reinforcement no longer works, then you should replace it with a different one.
  • If you’ve achieved success with a specific behavior because of the reinforcement you’ve been employing, it’s time to back down on it for a while. Why are you supposed to do it? The point is to set a particular behavior without the need to constantly rely on reinforcers.
  • Arm yourself with patience. Nothing occurs overnight.

If you want to further improve the social skills of your kid, then you need to focus on their strengths. Just like every other child, autistic kids also have certain areas of interest and talents they excel in.

If you work on accentuating these positive traits in a social setting, you are going to stimulate your little ones to connect and engage with their peers.

Educate Yourself As Much As Possible

When you’re a parent of a child who’s on the spectrum, it means that you always need to work on expanding your knowledge. This just goes to show that it’s of huge importance to educate yourself on various methods and strategies you can employ to enhance the social skills of your kiddo.

For starters, you can get familiar with the SST. What does it represent? Namely, it is a form of training that’s going to help your little one better understand how they are supposed to behave when they are in a particular social setting.

And what’s even better is the fact that it’s going to provide you with different ways you can help your kid. Furthermore, SST is here to help your child recognize various emotions and expressions, and simultaneously, teach them what’s appropriate and what isn’t when interacting with other children and adults.

Don’t Forget To Include The Adults

If you notice that your child is struggling with certain skills, then it would be advisable to first practice them at home, before you encourage them to practice them with their peers. Oftentimes, it’s much better for autistic kids to work on their social skills when interacting with adults before they start practicing them with other children.

You can start by practicing social skills in smaller increments, and, of course, do not forget to offer verbal praise when your kiddo completes them. Below, you’ll be provided with an example that’s going to show you how it is supposed to be done:

  1. If you want to teach your little ones to take turns, then start by sitting with them on the floor while they are entertaining themselves with their favorite toy. Hold out your hand and just say that it’s your turn. If your child doesn’t give you the toy, then encourage them to do so. Play with the toy for a few seconds, and then give it back to your kid, followed by praise such as “Thank you for giving me your toy”, or “Thank you for taking turns.” Keep doing this, but just make sure to prolong the time you play with the toy before you return it.

Structure Is Extremely Important

Kids who are autistic normally thrive in structured and stable environments. That’s because, for them, constant changes aren’t perceived as something positive. On the contrary. They prefer when routines are established.

Therefore, if you want to enhance their social skills (or any other for that matter), then it would be advisable to set a specific structure. For instance, you can set up a small, structured social interaction that’s going to help your little ones boost their social skills before they start practicing them in bigger settings, like school.

During this process, you should express your expectations immediately, so that everyone who participates in it knows exactly what’s expected of them.

It’s essential for every child (refers also to the ones who are not on the spectrum) to develop social skills because they are going to help them properly function, and improve the quality of their life. Consequently, if you want your child to have meaningful connections with others, then you should consider implementing some of these strategies.