What Are Some Strategies for Fostering Friendships in Children with Autism?

Some children are naturally shy and introverted, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with this. But children with autism face added challenges, such as not knowing how to start or maintain a conversation, or how to play cooperatively with a friend. A child’s socio-emotional development is crucial for his or her well-being. Structured autism therapy in a group setting can help these kids overcome social challenges.

Making Eye Contact

There are so many complex nuances that go into a successful social interaction, and most people follow unspoken social rules without giving them a second thought. But children with the symptoms of autism need some extra help to learn and practice these social rules, such as those regarding making eye contact. Kids need to be taught that making eye contact lets the other person know he or she is listening. However, making eye contact for too long without briefly looking away is considered rude. Parents can help their kids practice this skill in one-on-one interactions and conversations that involve multiple people.

Entering a Conversation

Children with autism might not realize that entering a private conversation is generally frowned upon. There are social cues that can indicate to a child that he or she is welcome to join in a group conversation. One speaker might smile at the child, call over to him or her, or wave a hand. Kids can also learn socially appropriate ways of capturing the attention of the speakers to see if it’s alright to join in.

Learning About Emotions

Facial expressions can be tricky for many kids who are developing atypically. Therapists and parents can help children understand how to interpret different emotions through the use of visual aids. For instance, flashcards with faces with different expressions can help kids differentiate between happy and sad faces. This can lead to practicing appropriate social responses to these emotional indicators.

The Behavior Exchange uses evidence-based practices to teach critical social skills to children with autism in the Plano area. We invite parents to explore the benefits of our social skills groups, which include making friends, playing cooperatively, and engaging in age-appropriate play. You can reach us at (888) 716-8084.

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