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: http://www.autismsocialstories.com/behavior