When a child is born, he/she develops a sense of self and learns to trust, and develop an emotional bond with people around. A secure bonding with parents and siblings, help them develop emotionally and socially. Social development is interacting with others to form a secure relationship. Whereas, emotional development is the way the child expresses emotions and feels about others. To develop normally in society, a child must be apt in social-emotional functioning.
Unlike their peers, children with autism take a longer time to learn social skills. Parents can involve social skill training through strategies like play and visual support to help them learn the skills needed for a positive social life.
Social Skills For Emotional Development
Social skills help a child with autism to act appropriately in social situations, right from talking to their parents or peers to waiting for their turn at the playground. Social skills help them in making friends, enjoy the company of others, take an active part in a conversation, and develop an interest in other activities. This also helps them in developing strong social-emotional functioning, family bonding, and a sense of belonging. Good social skills improve mental health and overall quality of life in children with autism.
Some Of The Essential Social Skills
Children with autism lack social skills. They do not share toys and other belongings with their siblings and classmates. Parents can coordinate with the teachers in using the same prompts to induce the needed skills. They can develop:
- The play skills: Sharing toys and waiting for their turn in a game.
- Conversation skills: Talking and discussing meaningfully on a chosen topic. Understanding the use of body language.
- Understanding emotional skills: Interpret the feelings of others.
- Problem-solving skills: Making a decision.
Perfecting The Play Skill
Perfecting play skills is a form of social skill training. Parents can refine the child’s social and emotional skills by taking an active part in games. They can use the child’s favourite toy and create a story. Playing games together helps them to learn to wait for their turn and cope with ‘lose-and-win’ situations. Playing movement games like hide-and-seek and kicking the ball together provide social bonding between parents and children.
Prompting the child to follow the game rules and saying a few words of praise, like ‘good boy/girl’, ‘Well done’, also helps.
Visual prompts or supports help a child to learn new skills or those that he/she has already mastered. These prompts are in the form of pictures cards and videos.
Visual strategies and cues are tools that give information using photographs, words, and objects. Visual support with photographs is a set of coloured pictures that indicate how a certain task is to be accomplished in the right way. This visual step-by-step demonstration prepares a child to know all the activities to be done in a single day, like brushing teeth, taking a bath, wearing new clothes, combing hair, having breakfast, and all the activities.
The Benefits Of Visual Supports
Visual support and strategies help children on the spectrum in understanding information, letting them know what (daily) activity comes next, and also help them to do tasks without being prompted by a grown-up. For example, a picture of a dog reminds them to feed the dog, or a pic of a night -suit reminds them to get ready for bed.