Common to individuals with autism are social skills deficits. Having social skills deficits can make communication difficult for a child with autism.
As typical beings we communicate both verbally and non-verbally daily. Communication is a major skill, we naturally learn. For individuals with autism however the ability to communicate is affected, having ASD can make an individual react and interact in a very different manner to typically developing beings.
For a child with an ASD expressing their needs or wants, can quite often be misunderstood. For example: In the classroom; A child with autism may not typically ask for a drink when they are thirsty, they may for example snatch the drink from another person, simply take the drink without asking or maybe they will shout out etc., this is typical to autism.
Normally all adverse autistic behaviour will happen for a reason an internal or external factor, not simply out of mischief or the desire to be awkward or naughty.
Research shows us autistic children are generally visual thinkers and learners, which means they think in pictures. Therefore when teaching or caring for a child with autism it is usually best to use visual tools and supports when you are trying to get information across or tackle an adverse autistic behaviour.
Research shows a child with autism will be less confused when the information presented to them is visual.
Understandably many teachers especially those teaching in mainstream education are little prepared to teach a child with autism. The English language is predominantly verbal, and this is the main focus in mainstream education. However with an autistic student this method of teaching is not always going to be affective.
With a poor attention span and communication difficulties with both verbal and non-verbal communication the autistic student may struggle with lessons which are primarily verbal or written.
A lack social skills and communication difficulties can make it problematic for autistic children to make and maintain friendships, and generally “fit in” socially.
Using visual support tools for autism such as social stories; WILL help to improve communication difficulties in a child with autism.
Using visual supports tools for autism within the classroom and at home can help the child with an ASD focus on the skill or situation that they are struggling with. A social skills story can show the child with an ASD a visual step by step plan or framework of what is expected of them and what they can expect from others.
The social skills story answers the “wh” questions (who, where, when, why and what) helping the autistic child feel more comfortable with and in the situation.
Developed almost twenty years ago by therapist Carol Gray to help her communicate with the autistic children she was working with, the social story has now evolved into a significant tool used by parents and teachers to help them improve communication difficulties and social skills in their child with autism.
To find out more about social stories and how they help improve communication difficulties in a child with autism visit: http://www.autismsocialstories.com
Other sites offering social stories to improve social and communication skills for the autistic student can be found at: