Creating genuine connections can be a challenge, especially for children on the autism spectrum. The ability to develop friendships relies heavily on possessing appropriate social skills, an area where many autistic children may face difficulties. Imagine navigating the complexities of social interaction while grappling with deciphering non-verbal cues such as body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. Consequently, it’s unsurprising that around 52 percent of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) struggle to form friendships at school.
Nevertheless, friendships are vital for children with autism, just as they are for all kids. Fortunately, there are strategies you can employ to assist your child in forging new friendships:
Help your child grasp the concept of friendship:
Simplify the idea by asking direct questions like, “Do you enjoy spending time with people who are kind to you?” or “How do you feel when someone says something nice to you?”
Use straightforward language to explain that friends are supportive and say things that uplift them during tough times.
Utilize visual aids such as social stories:
Children with autism often benefit from visual learning tools. Social stories the incorporate both images and text can effectively guide them through social situations.
Create scripts or illustrations depicting conversational scenarios to help your child comprehend the fundamentals of interacting with friends.
Children with autism typically require additional time and repetition to master new skills. Engaging in practice sessions with your child can enhance confidence and address any challenges encountered.
Focus on various aspects of friendship-building, such as initiating and responding to questions, sharing belongings, or suggesting activities.
Encourage practice sessions with patient and familiar individuals like siblings or neighbors who understand your child’s needs and preferences.
Encourage involvement in shared-interest groups:
Shared interests serve as a foundation for fostering and sustaining friendships. It’s easier to connect with others who share similar passions.
Enroll your child in activities aligned with their interests, whether it’s art classes or science clubs, to ensure they interact with peers of similar age and interests.
Adopt a long-term perspective:
Remember that acquiring social skills is a gradual process that evolves over time. Friendships at age four differ significantly from those at fourteen.
Continue to support and practice social skills with your child to facilitate ongoing development.
Keep it enjoyable:
Making friends shouldn’t feel like a chore. If the process becomes stressful, children are likely to avoid social interactions.
Maintain a positive and supportive attitude, making the learning process as enjoyable and lighthearted as possible for your child.
Explore innovative approaches:
Stem cell therapy has shown potential in improving social behaviors in individuals with autism. Investigating this option could provide additional support in enhancing your child’s social skills and fostering meaningful connections. Be sure to consult with healthcare professionals to explore safe and effective options tailored to your child’s needs.
Read more about these struggles of friendship and social interaction in children with ASD.
At WSCC, we offer support for autistic families and their children with Stem Cell Therapeutics that can transform autistic conditions by healing the gut, decreasing inflammation, and improving brain function. We also created an on Facebook that is dedicated to offering support and companionship for ASD parents and their families on their journey.
Remember, you are not alone!