Archive for the ‘autistic children’ Category

Autistic spectrum disorder social difficulties

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Children with autistic spectrum disorder will have social difficulties regardless of their age or ability; this is thought to be due to the ‘triad of impairments’ which are common to autism.


What is the triad of impairments?


Are social skills deficits in three main areas, social skills, communication skills and imagination skills; all children with autistic spectrum disorder will have varying degrees of social skills deficits.


Methods of addressing autistic spectrum disorder social difficulties in communication skills.


All children with an autistic spectrum disorder experience communication difficulties. Although language itself may not be affected the way the child expresses themselves and uses language will almost certainly be affected. As will the way the child uses non-verbal language such as gestures and signals.


For many children with an autistic spectrum disorder understanding language is problematic and is one of the major causes of autistic social difficulties.


Imagine being dropped in a foreign land with no means of communication, where everybody talked in a way you could not totally understand, this is what it can be like to be autistic and have communication difficulties.


What we do know for certain is that the vast majority of autistic children are visual thinkers and learners, which means they think and digest information easier if the information is visual.


Therefore, visual strategies which can enable autistic children to understand what is happening around them, what is expected of them or that they can use to express themselves should always be visual.


With autistic spectrum disorder social difficulties the most common visual strategies used are social skills stories, PECS, flash cards and other visual strategies such as visual timetables, choices boards and mini schedules etc.


Developed twenty years ago social skills stories ARE a major tool for autism that can be implemented and used to address many social skills deficits.


Social stories are a major tool for autism which needs no formal training to use, can be edited and personalized.


A social skills story is a simple description using first person text and visual images or pictures of an everyday social situation, activity or event shown visually from the child’s perspective, much like a visual plan or framework and acting as a role model to the child.


For example, a social skills story can be used to help a child prepare for upcoming changes to routines, or learn appropriate social interactions for situations that they encounter.


The goal of the social skills story is to give the autistic child a chance to rehearse the skill, change to routine or behaviour making them feel more relaxed and less anxious. Then, when the situation actually happens, the autistic child can use the story to help guide his or her behaviour.


Research shows that using social stories can have a positive affect on autistic spectrum disorder social difficulties, giving simple and clear descriptions of social cues and appropriate behaviours.


Generally social skills stories should follow a set pattern of sentence type. All social skills stories should be flexible and be editable, as we all use different language and expressions.


To learn more about how social stories can help address autistic spectrum disorder social difficulties visit:




Autism and play in preschool children

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

In a study of preschool children with autism spectrum disorder it was found that this set of children were disadvantaged in the way they play.

Characteristically preschool children with autism spectrum disorder find it difficult to play as a normally developing child would. This lack of play skills can aggravate the child’s social isolation from their peers, and only underline their differences from other children.

So what is play?

  • Play should be fun and enjoyable.
  • Play should have no set goals imposed on it from outside influences; it should be imaginative and sometimes impulsive.
  • play should be spontaneous and voluntary
  • play should involve some kind of active involvement on the part of the player
  • play can be solitary or enjoyed with friends

The Development of play

Children’s play should go through a number of developmental stages

  • Sensory motor play, stimulation from objects, for example a baby gym.
  • exploratory and manipulative play, for example Lego
  • physical play including rough and tumble
  • social play, playing with their peers, playground play
  • pretend play or make believe

Why do children need to play?

Play allows our children to learn new skills and practice them in safe supportive surroundings.

Sensory motor play teaches babies and young infants about their own bodies and about objects in their immediate surroundings. The bright colored toys stimulate the babies mind and he/she will reach out to grab and explore the toy.

Manipulative and exploratory play teaches older infants about various objects, what they do; sound like, how they react together and how they influence the world they are living in.

Physical play, rough and tumble play, teaches toddlers and pre-school children some gross motor skills, which will provide them with the experiences of whole body interaction with others.

Social play is vast right from the mother and baby interactions to children’s make believe play, for example, playing mummy’s and daddy’s, which teaches children about social relationships in the world they live in.

Typically the autistic child on the other hand likes repetition and things to stay the same, and may display stereotypical, repetitive and stimming behaviors, mostly their play will be solitary.

Preferring their own company to that of others, an autistic child will find interactive, make believe play strange and may not understand the reasons for this kind of play.

So how do you help your Autistic child play?

One method it through direct teaching, typically children on the autism spectrum do not learn play skills naturally and like social and communication skills direct teaching is often needed.

One method of direct teaching for children on the autism spectrum is the use of social stories for autistic children.

Significantly social stories for autistic children can be implemented to help teach and re-enforce play skills and other skills the child with autism struggles with.

Social stories are short explanations using visual images, much like a comic script to detail the skill or situation from the child’s own point of view and in a manner that they will understand.

Social stories for autistic children follow set patterns, are generally easy to use and implement need no training to use and will be editable making them ideal for all.

To view and learn more about how social stories visit:

Having Autism and finding friends

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

For most children with autism lacking social interaction skills is common. Many children with autism will want to make and have friends but will find this process confusing and stressful.

Lacking social interaction skills is often referred to as the autism triad of impairments but those autism triad of impairments will vary from child to child.

The actual degree a child is affected with the autism triad of impairments will generally depend on the individual’s social development.

Some children with autism on the lower end of the autism scale may have little or no language and may have other related disabilities. On the other end of the autism scale those children with asperger syndrome will often be schooled in mainstream schools and be of average to above average intelligence. This set of individuals will probably desire friendships.

Those children with asperger syndrome or mild autism will probably want friendships but making and maintaining those friendships will be a struggle, unfortunately it is believed around 40% of autistic children in mainstream education will at some point be a victim to bullying.

For most typically developing children recess and break times are a time of fun and a chance to run around and interact with their peers, this is “normal behavior”

However this is not the case with an autistic child, often the sound of the bell can fill them with fear and dread. Autistic children prefer structure, routine and dislike surprises, noises and the unstructured chaos of free time. They find choice making difficult and can sometimes be overwhelmed by recess and break times.

A lot of autistic children find recess confusing, there are a lot of choices to be made, what to play with, who to play with, what to do, so many choices a “typical child” will take for granted and enjoy, this is not the case with an autistic child.

For example a simple game, the autistic child may choose to join in with their peers, but may find comprehending the rules confusing, they may not understand the need for the rules, and then just as they start to understand the rules may change or the game may stop.

The other end to this is those children with autism that will stick rigidly to the rule and this can sometimes take the fun out of the game for the other normally developing children, they may loose interest and unfortunately the autistic child may not understand why this is and become distressed.

Some autistic children can become overwhelmed by noise, which can make recess or break time a painful and stressful time, you may find them pacing up and down in their own little world until recess is over and they can return to the routine and structure of the classroom.

All these factors can make autism and finding friends difficult to say the very least.

So how can you help with the problem of autism and finding friends?

Generally as we discussed earlier kids with autism prefer structure and routine, this can be achieved by the use of autism visual supports such as autism visual schedules and social skills stories, these resources are used in the classroom to add structure and routine the child’s day.

These autism visual supports can also be used to help kids with autism cope with recess and break times taking away some of anxieties they may feel around this time of the day.

The autism visual supports can also be used to help autistic children understand how to maintain friendships, by teaching the autistic child how to use conversation, how to pretend play, how to be kind, respect peoples feelings and personal space, how to share and make choices and so on, all social skills we take for granted, but an autistic child will need to be taught these social skills directly.

Therefore the perfect place to start with autism and making friends is with autism visual supports such as autism visual schedules and social skills stories to teach the autistic child the social skills necessary for making and maintaining friendships and dealing with recess and break times.


You can find appropriate social skills stories and other autism resources for kids with autism for download at:

Enhancing social skills in autistic children

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

For the vast majority of autistic children social skills ARE either missing or NEED improving.

This is due to the triad of autistic impairments or social skills deficits, which ARE common to autism to varying degrees

The triad of autistic impairments or social skills deficits affect how the child on the spectrum acts, re-acts, thinks and behaves.

Methods for enhancing social skills in autistic children ARE generally visual. This is because most children on the spectrum ARE visual learners and thinkers and will tend to use language secondary.

Visual supports for autism such as: social skills stories, picture communication cards, visual schedules and flash cards etc ARE visual supports which can be introduced simply and need NO formal training to use.

Characteristically children on the spectrum find visual supports for autism beneficial. Social skills stories ARE short descriptive visual supports which describe a skill or situation in terms of the relevant social cues.

The social story looks much like a comic script, using images/pictures and short precise pieces of text. The social story is always from the point of view of the child on the spectrum, using first person text in short sentences.

The social story answers the “wh” questions: who, what, Why, where, and when as well as “HOW” and should also offer an insight wherever possible into the thoughts, feelings and emotions of others which is an area of marked weakness in most autistic children.

Social skills stories CAN be used for a wide variety of situations or skills such as: asking questions, calming down, hygiene issues, self-help skills and so on…

For many children on the spectrum visual supports for autism ARE invaluable and can be treated like visual plans or frameworks to help them cope with and learn skills and behaviours which cause stress and anxiety.

To learn more about visual supports for autism like social skills stories, picture communication cards, visual schedules and flash cards as well as other visual supports visual