Children with autism have a complex nature that is hard for most professionals, parents and teachers to understand, so imagine how hard it is for children to understand the proper way to interact with, and build relationships with children who have been diagnosed with autism. Due to the lack of awareness by peers, teasing and bullying have become major problems at school and affect many children who have been diagnosed with autism. It is important to help your child learn the best ways to react to unkind words and criticism and to know the difference between constructive criticism, teasing, bullying and play. Remember to keep your child’s temperament, age, and their level of communication in mind when working on strategies to help them through difficult interactions in order to build successful relationships and be part of positive social interactions.
Begin by teaching your child self-control to help even out their temperament. Teach them the importance of keeping their cool and reading situations properly. The first thing to focus on is to prevent them from the urge to lash out physically when confronted with a difficult situation. It is important for them to learn how to use their words and to control their energy level.
Teaching your children that it is important to take time to think about a response and to assess their situation is a valuable lesson and will allow them to truly process the situation. Work with them on how to differentiate possible situations and how to read social ques. They should ask themselves questions like: Was the comment they heard truly provoking? Was it a joke? Are they in danger or being bullied? There are many ways that social interactions occur and being able to read the situation properly is very important. Sometimes a simple “Excuse me” or “that wasn’t very nice” is a great responses to social situations that mean no harm. Telling a teacher or parent about a situation where they are getting teased or bullied before starting a fight or reacting in a temperamental way is a good way to handle a potentially more harmful situation. It is very important to understand and determine what an appropriate response to any situation would be and to discuss these responses and possible scenarios with your child.
A great way to showcase several different situations is to role play. This allows you to show your child examples of situations that may happen and practice different scenarios when your child is calm and able to process information. Social stories with visuals are also great tools to showcase different types of social interactions and how they can play out. Making a game out of your social stories can be fun as well. Create several versions of the same scenario and allow your child to pick from a list of options how they would respond. Depending on what they pick, you can change the ending to reflect the consequences of their answers. This will show them both verbally and visually how their actions can affect how others respond. In the end you want to make sure that your child is well rounded, happy and safe and able to interact appropriately with others.