Beautiful Minds Blog

How To Make Friends and Improve Social Skills

We all want the best for our children. We want them to grow up surrounded by friends, always happy and having a good time. For some, building friendships is easy , but for many children who have been diagnosed with autism making friends can be difficult. Children who have been diagnosed with autism may struggle with making friends and maintaining relationships. Here are some helpful ways for them to build friendships and improving social skills.

Remember that friendships are built from shared interests, so help your child get involved in community sports, art programs, and special events. These activities are wonderful ways to meet new people and engage in structured events with peers. Also it would be a good idea to look into specialty camps and classes geared towards your child’s special needs. Reach out to professionals and support groups for information and recommendations.

Role playing different skills with your child will also help them get used to socializing. Work on specific aspects of social interactions. For example, if you see that your child is standing to close to peers when speaking to them, teach them about personal space. If you notice your child asking the same questions over and over, practice communication skills. By working with your child on these skills at home, he/she will learn to improve on social skills and apply these skills when interacting with others.

It is also a good idea to provide examples of both good and bad social interactions while reading a book or watching TV/movies. It helps to point out how someone is helping others or using kind words when friends are talking to them. It’s also important to point out when a character is being harmful or hurtful to someone. One way to point out examples of unfriendly behavior is to focus your child’s attention on situations where a character is doing something unkind to another person and explain to them why that particular behavior is considered unfriendly. Then teach them the correct way to act in order to be a better friend.

Modeling good behavior and demonstrating kindness is also very important. Your children follows your example, so whether you are at the store, talking to a neighbor or interacting with a stranger, point out when they do something thoughtful and let your child know how it makes you feel. Also, if your child does something complimentary, let them know how happy their actions have made you.

Lastly, teach your child not to force friendships. Friendships happen naturally. They are relationships that grow from common interests and understandings. It’s important to teach your children to be kind to others and to involve them in activities, but it’s also important that your child knows that although it is good to be friendly to everyone, they don’t have to be friends with everyone, just those they want to build relationships with.



Beautiful Minds Center celebrates Varya Trunov for her passion and commitment to helping other


Varya Turnov, Behavioral Therapist, Beautiful Minds Center

In the month of April, Beautiful Minds Center would like to honor Varya Trunov for being our Shining Star. Since starting with Beautiful Minds Center in 2006, Varya has been a vital part of our behavioral therapist team and constantly strives to help our patients excel and live life to their fullest potential.

Varya has been part of the Beautiful Minds Centers team for almost a decade. She started working with us in 2006 and has become part of the Beautiful Minds Center’s family. Since she was a child she loved being around kids and grew up wanting to help special needs children live a more fulfilling life. When she joined the Beautiful Minds Center team as a behavioral therapist, it gave her the opportunity to make that dream a reality.

Her favorite part about working with Beautiful Minds Center is meeting new families and helping her clients, their parents and siblings significantly improve their lives by teaching them effective behavior strategies and techniques. She believes that being of service to others is the biggest accomplishment that a person can achieve and feels that the team at Beautiful Minds Center truly cares about each family they work with.

Varya considers her biggest accomplishment to be helping families stay motivated and not give-up on ABA therapy when there are no immediate results and improvements. She pushes them to stick with their programs and helps them through the difficult stages to get to the visible advances. Varya did admit that her greatest challenge is to be as present and motivated at home with her son as she is at work. She believes that practicing yoga, spending time with friends & family and being surrounded by her animals keeps her balanced and helps her excel in life.

Congratulations Varya Trunov for being Beautiful Minds Center’s Shining Star in the month of April. We are thrilled to have such an incredibly caring and dedicated therapist on our team and we truly appreciate all your commitment and hard work.

We Promote Autism Acceptance. Do You?

With April just around the corner we are gearing up for Autism Awareness month with Light it up Blue on April 2nd, where we encourage everyone to Light it up Blue to support Autism Speaks and spread awareness of autism spectrum disorder. We are also participating as vendors in the pavilion at the Autism Speaks Walk for Autism on April 18, 2015 at the Pasadena Rose Bowl from 8:00 am – 1:00 pm. We are big advocates in the work that Autism Speaks does and spent 2014 pushing for autism awareness.

Now, in 2015 we have noticed that awareness is reaching new levels. Autism events, news, and programs are growing and people are more and more aware of what autism spectrum disorder is, so this year we want our focus to be on autism acceptance. It’s important to not only be aware of the growing rate of autism diagnosis, but to also spread acceptance of those who are diagnosed with autism. So what is the best way to spread acceptance?

  1. Remember that autism does not define a person. It is merely a condition that they have. They are not autistic, they HAVE autism, but they are first and foremost a person, a child, a family member and a friend.
  2. Remember that each person, both typical and someone on the autism spectrum are all individuals. Having been diagnosed on the autism spectrum does not make them the same as everyone else on the spectrum. They have their own interests, their own strengths and their own weaknesses, so get to know them and don’t just assume you know who they are because of their diagnosis.
  3. Remember that children who have been diagnosed with autism deserve to be with other children, they have the right to interact with their peers. Do not separate or segregate them because you don’t know how to handle them. Allow them the support they need and let them learn from their peers and teach others, as all children do.
  4. Remember that each child deserves to be part of society, to work, to build relationships and grow up to be educated and motivated enough to make the world a better place; and to live to their fullest potential.

Most of all remember that autism acceptance means valuing people who have been diagnosed on the autism spectrum instead of being afraid of them. Be kind, be open-minded and know that we are all people learning and growing at our own pace. Some of us need a little added support, so be the support that someone needs, open your minds and your hearts , stop categorizing those that are not like you, and honor human diversity by making sure that everyone is valued, included and contributing what they can to society.