Children with autism (ASD) often have difficulty socializing with people in general. This can have a significant impact on these children being able to make friends at school and be accepted by their peers. There is substantial evidence to suggest that social skills groups may help children with autism.
Children with autism benefit from social skills groups as these groups help teach them how to:
• Make friends
• Take turns / share
• Understand the rules to games
• Keep themselves safe
• Listen to other conversations
• How to choose topics to speak on
• ‘Read’ whole body language and personal space
• Manage their emotions
• Manage their behaviour
Playing games with each other gives them opportunity to learn how to follow the rules, and how to win and lose at games. Some suggested games families can use with their children with autism are:
1. Simon Says
2. “Go Fish”
3. Connect 4
5. Musical chairs
Social groups allows children with ASD to practice the targeted skills and be provided without immediate feedback. This gives the children reinforcement of appropriate behaviour which hopefully increases the likelihood of the skill being used in other settings.
By attending Social Groups a Speech Pathologist will provide direct, explicit instruction as to how to interact / follow rules etc. The children are then given ample opportunity to practice the skills. REAL LIFE EXPERIENCE is a powerful tool and if practiced often enough, the new skills will hopefully generalise into other settings.
Westmead Hospital has programs to help kids with autism:
Barry et al (2003) reported that social skills groups were effective in improving greeting and play skills; Chung et al (2007) reported that social skills groups were effective in improving social communication skills; and Yoo et al (2014) reported, ‘significant improvement in social skills knowledge, interpersonal skills, and play/leisure skills, as well as a decrease in depressive symptoms and ASD symptoms.”