Posts Tagged ‘common symptom of autism’

Teaching children on the autism spectrum

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Many people with autism are visual thinkers, this means they think in pictures rather like a DVD running through their imagination, pictures being their first language, and words (spoken and written)  being their second language.


Therefore teaching children on the autism spectrum is made a whole deal easier if the teaching is done pictorially or visually.


Rather than string together long sentences or display written instruction try to use more visual prompts such as diagrams, pictures, graphs and images when teaching.


Avoid long strings of verbal instructions. People with autism have problems with remembering the sequence this a common symptom of autism.


Using visual supports like visual support cards, PECS and social stories are excellent visual supports for children on the autism spectrum. For example children with autism have difficulties with social and communication skills; this is a common symptom of autism and is present in all children on the autism spectrum.


Having difficulties with social and communication skills is referred to as the triad of autistic impairments or social skills deficits.


The triad of autistic impairments or social skills deficits affect three main areas of development: Social skills, Communication skills and Imagination skills.


Using social stories as an Intervention strategy parents, teachers, care givers and other professionals are able to combat difficulties with the individual’s autistic impairments.


For example many children with autism struggle with transitions, changes to routines, reading emotions and expressions, learning skills, behaviours, communication and imagination. A social skills story can target the difficulty and visually show a detailed plan for tackling the situation.


A social skills story is much like a comic strip visually representing the skill or situation being taught, like a role model or visual plan. The social story will break the skill down into easy to understand sections, removing un-necessary language and fluff.


Social stories answer the ever important “wh” questions – who, where, why, when and what as well as “HOW” and will give an insight into the thoughts, feelings and emotions of others which is a marked difficulty for most people with autism.


The social skills story uses visual images or pictures to explain the skill or situations and first person appropriate language always written from the autistic child’s point of view.


Most social stories are written in word format making them easy to edit and personalize, as none of us use the same terminology with our children and no two social story are ever going to be the same therefore social stories should be easy to edit.


Social stories should also be convenient to use, printable social stories for children with autism are available from reputable sites such as


Where you will find printable social stories for children with autism on a wide variety of issues such as: hygiene, for school, at home and for occasions and activities like visiting the dentist, getting a haircut and transitions such as moving school and house as well as for everyday skills like making friends.


To find downloads of social stories for kids with autism visit:

Learning self help hygiene skills in autism

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

For people with autism learning self help hygiene skills can sometimes be problematic. This is due to deficits in social skills which is a common symptom of autism. 


As typically developing individuals we naturally learn hygiene routines from watching our parents, our peers and from our environment etc., this is not the case for individuals with autism and direct teaching is necessary.


Typically people with autism have sensory processing issues also a common symptom of autism, having autism also affects the way individuals with autism process information, think, react also act and behave.


A child with ASD that has developed sufficient self-help skills is more likely to be integrated into a mainstream classroom, and less likely to be teased for inappropriate behaviours.


Research shows us that the majority of children with autism are visual thinkers and learners, meaning they think in pictures. Therefore any Intervention Strategies used for children with autism to provide information or instruction is generally better when presented visually.


For example Intervention Strategies which ARE visual such visual support cards, PECS, and social stories ARE USED with positive results. Probably the most popular Intervention Strategy for learning self help hygiene skills in autism is Social Stories.


Social stories are a tool for improving positive behaviours and skills in a child with ASD. A social skills story is a short descriptive explanation in visual format and first person text used as a visual plan or framework of a skill or behaviour that needs teaching or mastering.


A social skills story is much like a comic strip conversation. The social skills story breaks the skill into smaller easier to understand sections and should focus on the key social cues, answering 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 others.


Social Stories also provide the ASD individual with possible solutions and suggestions as well as showing them what others are expecting of them, as well as what the ASD individual can expect from others.


Learning self help hygiene skills in autism using Social Stories has proven effective. Developed twenty years ago social skills stories can be implemented to help with not only self help and hygiene skills but also other social or communication skills the ASD individual may be struggling with.


To find out more about social stories and how they may benefit people with autism visit:


Alternatively other social stories can be found at:


Children with ASD need social skills

Friday, December 10th, 2010

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. 


To learn more about HOW YOU CAN HELP Children with ASD need social skills teaching USING methods like social stories visit sites such as: