Autistic Spectrum Disorder is a common neurological disorder which affects the way a person interacts, thinks, behaves and communicates with other people.
Research into this common neurological disorder shows four times more boys than girls are diagnosed autistic, with the majority being diagnosed autistic by the time they reach the age of three.
The term “Autistic Spectrum Disorder” is an umbrella term which covers a wide variety of spectrum disorders, from low functioning autism where the child will almost certainly have other difficulties such as seizures and in most cases educational difficulties.
To those individuals on the other end of the Autistic Spectrum Disorder scale with conditions such as Asperger’s syndrome or high functioning autism. This set of autistic individuals tend to be of average or above average intelligence, this set of autistic individuals are normally schooled in mainstream education and generally go on to lead relatively “normal” lives.
As with typically developing children no two children with an autistic spectrum disorder will ever be the same. However, common to all spectrum disorders are deficits with social, imagination and communication skills and behaviours, known as the triad of autistic impairments.
The triad of autistic impairments or more commonly referred to as social skills deficits make social interactions difficult for children on the spectrum, which can make a child on the spectrum appear rude and aloof, which is not the case, autism may be referred to as “social blindness”.
Having social skills deficits can cause communication difficulties for kids with autism, which can hinder friendships and can cause stress and misunderstandings.
For kids with autism social skills are difficult to learn and for many parents teaching their child on the spectrum social skills can become a primary focus.
Social skills are necessary for independent living, as typically developing beings we naturally learn social and communication skills. This ability is missing in children with autism; therefore social skills need to be taught directly.
Typically children with autism are visual thinkers and learners, meaning they think in pictures. Consequently, visual information (visual intervention strategies) is better understood rather than spoken or written information.
Visual intervention strategies can help the child with ASD understand the social and communication skills that they are struggling with.
Probably the most popular visual intervention strategies ARE social stories. Developed around twenty years by therapist Carol Gray, social stories are significant treatments of autism which need no formal training to use and can be implemented easily and effectively.
Social stories are short descriptive stories much like a comic script with visual images showing a skill or behaviour in a manner that is easily understood by a child with ASD.
The social skills story breaks down the skill or behaviour into small easy to understand sections.
Using images and first person text the social skills story acts like a visual plan or role model for the child with ASD.
By answering the “wh” questions – who, where, why, when and what, as well as “HOW” and by providing the child with ASD an insight into emotions, thoughts and feelings of those others involved, and suggest possible outcomes.
As well as detailing what to expect from others and in return what they expect in return from the child, all helping to make the child with ASD more comfortable with and in the situation.
For kids with autism social skills are difficult to learn, BUT social stories ARE shown to help significantly with social and communication difficulties, giving positive results.
To learn more about how social stories can be implemented to help your child with ASD learn the social and communication skills they may be struggling with visit: http://www.autismsocialstories.com/social_skills