Now that the new school year is upon us, this is a great opportunity for your child on the spectrum to meet new people and build friendships. Since your child with autism spends a significant amount of time in the classroom which is a wonderful environment to build lasting friendships, here are some great tips on how they enjoy a new school year filled with new and old friends.
1. Group Lessons or Activities– Many teachers will build lesson plans that revolve around children collaborating and working together. These are great opportunities to encourage your child on the spectrum to interactive with and be friendly to their group, team or partner. Role play ways to engage in conversation during group lessons, team sports, partnering activities etc. That way, your child with autism will feel more comfortable interacting with hew students, team members, or new participants in their regular activities.
2. Practice Social Skills – Sometimes it is necessary to discuss and outline social skills clearly for a child on the spectrum to understand them. Role plays and group discussions about meeting someone new, having a conversation, sharing, helping, and being a good sport can illustrate aspects of the skills children may overlook. Work with your child with autism at home to rehearse new scenarios, frequent interactions, or a past event to practice real-world situations.
3. Work with Your Child’s Teacher – Parents and teachers should work together to promote an interest in school friendships. Reach out to your child’s teacher to let them know that you are working with your child on relationship skills in hopes of them making new friends in the new school year. Listen to their teachers advise and learn from their teachers who they are close to and how you can help them feel more comfortable building stronger friendships
4. Extracurricular Activities – Your child on the spectrum often see their classmates as c community and may feel more comfortable around them than they do with people or peers outside of their classroom. It is always good to encourage your child with autism to join a new activity, team, or class outside of school to build new friendships. Maybe even join these activities with another friend from school so that they know someone going into a new situation and feel less anxious from the start. This will help them acquire additional interests and meet additional friends along the way.
Teaching your child on the spectrum how to be a good friend is important. Sometimes they will develop close friendships this way, other times they will remain nice to their classmates, but not form the everlasting bond you hoped they would. . Do not force a friendship, but encourage children to share, say kind things, and be good to their classmates, teammates and to peers they meet doing extracurricular activities.
Enjoy the beginnings of a wonderful new school year and we hope it is filled with good times, laughter, and good friendships for your child.