A network to share best practices for children with special needs
Social skills and pragmatics are a major area of difficulty for children with autism. Children with autism can lack understanding, judgement and prediction of social cues and situations, making it difficult for them to interact and maintain friendships. These children want to relate and connect with peers just as others do. However, they find it difficult to bridge the gap between what they experience in social situations versus what they understand to be communicated verbally and non-verbally between themselves and others. For many children, social cues are intuitive, while others require an explanation. For children with autism they especially require an explanation along with visual/verbal feedback, and experiences/examples to gather a deeper understanding of the social interactions with people.
Something we may think is simple, such as asking a peer for a crayon, requires many aspects of social communication, language and pragmatics that one may not normally consider. Teaching a child with autism this task may require someone to explain each social cue, watch someone else do the task, ask them to act out what to say/do, and then actually execute the task.
The following includes some of the social cues that one would need to focus on to teach the task of asking for a crayon from a peer:
- How to approach a peer in their social space; proximity to peer.
- Initiate conversation correctly (not inappropriately “I’m taking a crayon,” but, “Hi, David, can I take a crayon?”)
- Give proper eye contact to peer so they know to whom the question is directed (suggestions here).
- Close conversation with, “thank you,” and walk away.
How do you teach social skills?