A normally developing child will go through certain stages of development. Babies typically stare or gaze at things that catch their eyes, will turn towards a voice, grasp fingers and show facial expressions like smiling.
In babies that are autistic autism social development:
Autistic babies prefer objects to faces, lack eye contact and show no interest in social interactions.
Autistic toddlers and children with autism tend to prefer to play and be alone. They may resist cuddles, still lack any interest in others or faces. Lack eye contact and still show no interest in social interactions.
Typically children with autism do not respond or show affection in the same manner as a normally developing youngster. For many parents their child’s detachment can be quite upsetting and stressful.
In autism social development is not learnt naturally and needs direct teaching. Generally all individuals with autism spectrum disorder lack the theory of mind, the ability to see things from another’s perspective, or learn appropriate social and communication skills and behaviors.
As a typically developing being we watch and interpret the thoughts, moods, feelings and emotions of those around us by reading their facial, body language and tone of voice this is the theory of mind, an autistic youngster will not do this.
Generally, individuals with autism spectrum disorder lack these interpretation skills, an inability that leaves them unable to predict or understand other people’s thoughts, actions and reactions.
Individuals with autism spectrum disorder normally prefer structured routines; and can react negatively even aggressively when any routine changes. It is also not uncommon for individuals with autism spectrum disorder to display self-stimulatory behavior, self-injury, withdrawal in overwhelming situations and sensory processing issues.
It is not possible to cure autism, but there are a wide variety of treatments for autism available that can help address the social skills deficits displayed by individuals with autism spectrum disorder.
One of the treatments for autism available is social stories, widely used as a tool for improving autism social development.
Research suggests significant improvements in autism social development with those children with autism where a social story has been implemented.
A social story is a short descriptive story that uses visual images and appropriate first person language, to break down the skills or situation that the autistic person is struggling with.
The skills or situation is broken into small easy to understand stages, the key social cues and images are used to help show the autistic person the “wh” questions (who, where, why, when and what) giving them a clear no frill explanation of the skill.
Like a visual framework helping them see what to expect, and what others will be expecting of them, making them more comfortable and able to cope, thus reducing negative and aggressive behavior.
For more information on social stories and how they can be used to help your autistic youngster visit: http://www.autismsocialstories.com
Alternatively school related social stories for your autistic youngster can be found at http://www.autismsocialstories.com/school
Other sites offering social stories, support and information include http://www.autismsocialstories.com/social_skills