Ensuring that our clients are included in the community and have the best quality of life is important to us at BCOTB. Particularly children with autism require formal training in order to pick up these skills that come “naturally” to children who are typically developing. There are a variety of different things that you can do in order to promote peer play and social interaction with your child and/or children.
It is important that you arrange as many opportunities as possible for your child to interact with other peers. Most children have opportunities built into their daily lives such as school, day care, and siblings. Taking your child to other places such as the playground or park where there are children is a great way to start promoting interaction with others. The more opportunities that are available means the more your child can practice those social skills.
Use preferred activities
Practice social skills with items/activities preferred by your child. By using a preferred activity or item, your child will pair the fun qualities of the activity with peers then making peers fun, too.
As mentioned previously, some children require formal training to learn social skills. Behavioral skills training (BST) has been effective in training a variety of different skills including social skills.
These are the steps you can follow to practice this at home:
A. Provide instructions- If you begin to notice that your child is not responding to other peers or initiating interaction with other peers, tell them what to do. Your child might require formal training and this is the first step. For example, “When someone says hello, turn, look at them, and say hello back.”
B. Demonstrate- Model how to do the skill that you instructed your child to do. Your child might not know what it looks like to engage in that skill if he/she has never successfully engaged in that skill before. By doing the skill, the child is able to see/hear exactly what the skill should look/sound like. For example, with your child watching another person will approach you and say, “hello.” You will then turn, look at them and say, “hello” back.
C. Rehearse- Practice the skill with each other. For example, say hello to your child, then see how he/she responds.
D. Tell them how they did- Immediately following the rehearsal of the skill, tell the child what he/she did right, and what part he/she missed. For example, “Good job turning and saying hello, next time make sure to look at me. Let’s try again”.
When your child engages in social skills, praise them for doing so. Praise vary from “good job” to high 5’s and hugs. Congratulate them for interacting with a peer.
If you feel like your child would benefit from a more structured social skills training model, BCOTB can help! We offer various aged social skills groups throughout the year at all three of our clinic locations. Initially, your child would receive a social skills assessment to determine what social skills program they would benefit from. After the assessment, you will have the opportunity to discuss your goals and concerns with our certified staff to help you prioritize your child’s treatment. Give us a call to find out how we can help you child.