One of the hallmark symptoms of children with a diagnosis on the Autism Spectrum are deficits in social skills. A child’s difficulties with social skills has a huge impact on their ability to be accepted socially. Specifically, children on the Autism Spectrum, whether the diagnosis is Autism, Asperger’s, or PDD NOS, they struggle with understanding social cues and the thoughts and feelings of other children. They typically have difficulty as well in modulating their emotions, which for adults often translates into inappropriate behaviors. Children with Autism often do not take turns, can not hold a conversation with another child, and do not make eye contact with those with whom they are speaking. In addition, a number of kids with Autism lack an ability to understand the consequences of their own behavior and how their behaviors affect those around them.
Those working with children with Autism, whether it is the child’s teacher, parent, other familly members or professionals, a child with autism needs to be taught specific social skills. Social skills will not come naturally for a child on the Autism spectrum and need to be modeled for them. Social skills are best taught through role playing the appropriate behaviors. For example, model with the child taking turns, sitting and waiting while someone else is talking, and through playing childhood games. In addition, explain the meanings of specific facial expressions, gestures, and personal space/boundaries to them. Model what is appropriate and what is inappropriate making sure to convey that everyone has feelings/emotions that are different than their own.