Social Skills Help Your Child Work and Play with Friends

Developing the critical social skills necessary for children to work and play well together is an important challenge for all children and can be a difficult task for children who have been diagnosed with autism. Here are some ways to make learning social skills less of a challenge for your child on the spectrum.

  1. Following Rules and Directions: All games offer opportunities for learning to understand and follow rules and directions. There will be consequences for not listening to and following the rules, such as disqualification, losing the game, not to mention making your peers angry because of the delay they face when someone doesn’t know how to play the game properly. It is always a good idea to teach your child on the spectrum the importance of following rules and directions and playing games is a fun way to to them the benefits of knowing the rules.
  2. Patience: Games involve waiting and turn taking which can be very difficult for children who have been diagnosed with autism. Be sure to take your turn and include other participants in the game in turn taking when playing games.       Point out the importance of patience. Most activities require practice to develop skills which can be frustrating for children on the spectrum. Teach them the importance of practicing. These skills will not only serve your child in their current situation, but also later in life.
  3. Academics: Games are a fun way to encourage children on the spectrum to learn new words, to read, and to count. If your child on the spectrum is verbal you can either read them the rules and talk about them or have them read the rules to any game aloud. You can also incorporate counting into most games…count aloud the steps you take when playing a board game, count aloud the number of times a ball is thrown back in forth when playing catch…etc.
  4. Problem Solving: Building blocks, board games, and sports all involve a level of problem solving.       Give children on the spectrum an opportunity to try things on their own first, then provide assistance as needed. If a child is struggling in an area, problem-solve ways to improve their skills.
  5. Conflict Resolution: Interpretation of rules, calls on plays, and opportunities for taking turns can all result in conflict. When children on the spectrum disagree during a game, practice skills for managing conflict.   Teach your child with autism to take a deep breath, explain their understanding of the situation, listen to others, and then determine a way to resolve the conflict.

Whether building a tower, playing a board game, or participating in organized sports, children who have been diagnosed with autism can learn a variety of skills through play.