As a parent, it goes without saying, that you would want your child to be as socially happy and accepted as academically successful. If your child has been diagnosed with autism, you must have already realized that his/her way and preferences around social interaction might be slightly different.
Your child probably views social interaction in a negative way, which is something that may need to be addressed from your end. However, this should not make you worry too much, for it can be molded.
With the implementation of a few research-backed strategies, you can help your child develop socially and feel comfortable among others around. Here are 7 ways to improve social skills for your child –
Inducing Communication through Social Scenarios
Social interaction is the most accessible source of social learning for a child. It might be a little challenging for your child to understand merely by observation. It can be easily addressed if you take the time out to explain the scenarios to your child verbally.
Whenever something happens or someone behaves in a particular way, you can talk about it and highlight the facial expressions, voice tone and body language of people that your child just saw/heard. You will be surprised that by following this, how quickly he/she can understand different social behaviors and also remember them. The better you are able to explain, the more socially aware your child will become.
Also, you must encourage your little one to ask questions/reasons behind your behavior and give a proper rationale answer for that.
Compile a Video Clip
Children usually learn social behavior by watching and imitating those around them. Compiling a video clip is yet another way of reinforcing social interaction through created scenarios. Through these video clips, your child will be able see the desirable behavior and eventually imitate it in new circumstances. As a fact, videos have been found to create a greater and long-lasting impact among children with autism.
Introduce a Pet
Research reveals that children with autism develop social skills more easily when they have a pet. A pet can actually help your child in more than one way.
First, your child can form a deep emotional bond and grasp or respond to emotions without even talking. Second, a reason why your child doesn’t interact much with his/her peers could be the lack of a relevant subject. With pets and their activities throughout the day, the child will get something to talk about and share with his/her friends. This can help induce further social interaction.
Allow Your Child to Lead
In order to enable your child to engage in social interactions, the situation must be made favorable. If your child is in a group where too many people are talking at the same time, the scenario can become overwhelming for him/her. As such, in this situation, you may find a tendency for your child to drift away and stay quieter.
It is, therefore, that to promote socialization, you must let your child engage in games and group activities where he/she gets a chance to lead. When children are responsible for certain activities, they are able to judge their own limits and eventually learn to interact effectively.
Emphasize on Role-Play for Particular Situations
Often, your child might be struggling with specific interactions with their friends or peers. You can try to find out the matter through steady communication and act out the difficult situation he/she is unable to handle.
You could make him/her play the part of the peer and then reverse the roles. Role-play is a very efficient way of garnering social skills in a child through real-life conversations. It also allows him/her to practice interactive skills in a low-risk environment before facing the problem head-on. This way, he/she gets the chance to think about the reactions and choose the most pro-social response.
Take the Help of Technology
These days, there are several apps that are particularly meant for helping children with special needs develop social skills. They are programmed to convert text to sound, so that the child can immediately identify and relate. Certain other symbols are also utilized for the betterment of communicative skills.
You could use these apps and let your child practice verbal communication in an environment as safe and reliable as their home.
Patience is the key to dealing with any child. So, it is better not to rush into things. Whenever you speak to your child, you must sit close to him/her and look straight into the eyes lovingly.
You must also give your child the opportunity to trust you completely and say anything that comes to his/her mind. And of course, do not forget to reward them whenever you find signs of improvement in the way he/she interacts socially.
All the above ways can effectively make your child more interested in social communication in any situation. All it needs is some effort and love from your side.