How to Help Autistic Children Improve Their Social Skills?

Social skills are crucial to becoming a part of society, learning more, building relationships and making friends. Social skills also help you express your emotions and behave or respond accordingly when it comes to understanding someone else’s sentiments. 

If you are a parent or loved one of an individual with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), you are familiar with the different responses of autistic kids or adults on the autism spectrum in social situations. 

But the major and common questions of most parents are:

Why does my autistic child struggle with autism?

Can kids with autism improve their communication skills?

Equally important, are there any strategies to help autistic children develop social skills?

Do Kids with ASD end up with loneliness?

Studies have shown evidence of higher levels of loneliness among autistic adults, which also depicted the absence of intimacy and desired relationships. While depression, anxiety and the frustration of not being able to express themselves can be the reason for this loneliness, there is no confirmed research that proves the same. 

Autistic individuals have also come forward and exclaimed that socialising is not easy since it comes with its own barriers, such as noisy surroundings. While some autistic kids find socialising unnecessary, others get bullied into believing that socialising isn’t their cup of tea. 

“Autism can’t define me. I define autism.” – Kerry Magro.

Why Are Social Skills Important? 

Some parents might not understand that along with varied other aspects of autism, social skills are equally crucial for their child on the autism spectrum to excel in society. Some of the social skills, such as understanding facial expressions and body language, the response when you disagree with someone, adjusting to any or new situations, sharing interests with their peers, recognising other people’s feelings and what they are thinking, help your autistic child to make friends, maintain healthy relationships and how to act in social situations.  

It is important to understand that autistic children who avoid social interaction or can’t respond to social cues end up being anxious and agitated in social situations. They also frequently have tantrums and occasional meltdowns when social demands are introduced to them. 

But again, to answer the main question, “why social; skills are important for autistic children” – Social skills are vital for autistic individuals to reach their full potential, nurture the positive relationships around them, and develop in social situations with the goal of leading a productive and independent life. 

How Does Autism Affect Socialisation?

By looking at autistic individuals, people judge them on the way they behave in a certain way, for example, not having eye contact while conversing with someone. What these people don’t understand is that the person on the autism spectrum might be avoiding eye contact to concentrate on the words coming out of his/her peers. The need to look away while communicating can be a coping mechanism for that particular autistic individual. 

Hence, it is crucial that parents recognise and understand the reasons why autistic children or individuals struggle with friendships or maintaining any relationships. 

  • Struggle to recognise their own emotions.
  • Struggle in disclosing their autistic condition. 
  • Struggle to feel confident even in their own abilities. 
  • Struggling in communicating or figuring out what to say or how to behave. 
  • Struggle in accepting or coping with changes in routine.

Common social skills that your kid might be lacking are conversational skills, play skills, emotional skills and problem-solving skills. ASD affects or impacts the ability of your child to maintain eye contact, understand sarcasm, idioms, or metaphors, make any kind of contact with touch, confront crowds, or recognise someone else’s point of view, among others. 

But again, it will be a mistake to assume that the lack of social interactions can lead to anxiety or loneliness. For several autistic individuals, staying by themselves, enjoying their own company and not caring much about what society thinks about them is how the autistic people keep up with the outside world. 

“I am actually very proud that I am me. I don’t mind my own company at all and have nothing in common with most other boys.” — Luke Jackson, Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome; A User Guide to Adolescence.

Strategies to Develop Social Interaction Skills Among Autistic People

When you find an autistic child, it is typically assumed that the kid cannot make friends since he/she lacks social skills. Understand that kids on the autism spectrum want to socialise and make friends, the only difference is that they don’t know how to do it properly. 

While you shouldn’t force children with autism to socialise or engage with someone else, early social skills interventions can help them cope with common social situations. While several experts believe in this, others say that social skills are important as well to develop life skills and learn the discipline to lead a responsible life as an adult. But this is not achieved just through autism programs or autism therapy. The ultimate goal of overcoming social difficulties and achieving an independent life also requires reinforcement from parents and caregivers. The Tomatis professionals have curated a list that includes the strategies for developing social skills among kids or people with autism. 

Strategies that help autistic children to develop social skills:

  • Roleplay
  • Watch videos together or observe others.
  • Self-management techniques 
  • Visual support, such as pictures or prompt cards showing varied social situations or emotions. 
  • Help your kid practice.
  • Explain how to take turns in a conversation. 
  • Develop play skills. 
  • Reinforce positive behaviour.

Developing Social Skills for a Quality Life

When it comes to your autistic kid, there is no such thing called right or wrong. This gives direct and specific instruction, which makes the child want to always be right. Now, this might help your kid or set off a child with high-functioning autism. When you converse in ‘expected’ and ‘unexpected’ terms, your child will try to understand what is expected and the things that aren’t expected in a social situation and respond accordingly.

Studies have suggested that the music of Mozart, even for 10 minutes, can enhance the feelings and thoughts of the ASD individuals into words. Sound and music therapies have a different impact on the brain. Not many know that the ear serves as a sensory gate to the brain. The modified or filtered music through the high-quality headphones retrains the brain and re-patterns the nervous system. The Tomatis® Method helps in developing social and emotional interaction and renders improvement in physical, cognitive, and interpersonal skills. 

While parents might think how the Tomatis® Method can help in communication and social skills, sound healing, music healing and sound training promote auditory stimulation and enhance learning skills, improves focus, develops communication, and reduces anxiety and stress. 

Help Your Autistic Children with The Tomatis® Method

There isn’t a definitive cure for autism. While therapies and varied other autism treatments can help your autistic children to lead a responsible life with discipline, they are not the ultimate cure to this disorder. But it’s a start!

When you meet our Tomatis® professionals in Australia, you work with experienced therapists and autism specialists who also conduct spectrum assessments to recognise the difficulties and challenges experienced by your kids or loved ones with ASD. This helps our experienced team to render the solution, the knowledge on services and support they need. Contact us today to make an appointment with our Tomatis® professionals in Australia or engage with Françoise Nicoloff, Tomatis® International Trainer and Speaker, to help your loved ones during the early signs of autism. 

However, understand that “The world needs to get used to autism – it’s not that autistic people need to get used to the world” – Professor Simon Baron-Cohen.

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