Research indicates that social impairments ARE a common symptom of autism, and that all individuals with autism will have social impairments of varying degrees dependant on their own personal level of ability.
Commonly, all children with ASD struggle with social skills and need direct teaching using Intervention Strategies designed specifically for this.
Typically developing children learn social skills and behaviours naturally through watching and copying their peers and parents and directly from their environment etc.
Children with ASD need social skills teaching; they will not naturally mimic or interpret and learn social or communication skills. A child with an ASD will have difficulties following instruction unless the instruction or information is presented in a manner which they can readily understand.
We know that the vast majority of children with ASD are in-fact VISUAL THINKERS AND LEARNERS. This means that they think in pictures a bit like a movie script playing, and will not easily understand information that is written or spoken.
Consequently, appropriate Intervention Strategies ARE needed which ARE visual, such as PECS, Flash cards and social stories.
Unlike typically developing children a child with an ASD will not readily accept changes or transition and can become stressed and overwhelmed by tasks, skills and activities the rest of us think of as “everyday” or “normal”, like for example brushing your teeth, visiting a dentist, getting a haircut, recess, respecting personal space, making friends and so on.
Social Stories ARE perfect Intervention Strategies which were first introduced by therapist Carol Gray twenty years ago to help her communicate with the autistic children she was working with. Today Social Stories ARE used not only to HELP autistic children master communication skills both verbal and non-verbal but also to HELP children on the spectrum learn new skills, cope with changes to routines, transitions and encourage positive behaviours.
Social Stories USE visual images LIKE A VISUAL PLAN OR ROLE MODEL to describe a situation or skill in terms of relevant “social cues”, like a comic script conversation.
A social skills story is normally written in first person text and in a manner that children on the spectrum WILL BETTER understand.
Social stories break the skill down in to smaller sections the relevant “social cues” removing the fluff and un-necessary language, in a set formula of 4 main sentence types: Descriptive, Perspective, Directive and Control sentences.
Intervention Strategies such as a social skills story should answer the important “wh” questions – who, where, why, when and what as well as “HOW” and give an insight into the thoughts, feelings and emotions of those around them, which WILL HELP to reduce stress and confusion.
For example a social skills story written to help explain the need to brush your teeth would explain visually and with first person relevant text the “wh” questions why and how as well as what the consequence of not brushing would be – tooth ache etc. This story may start something like this:
It is important that I brush my teeth twice a day, I can brush them every morning and before I go to bed at night.
AND SO ON…
To learn more about HOW YOU CAN HELP Children with ASD need social skills teaching USING methods like social stories visit sites such as: http://www.autismsocialstories.com