Children with autism can make friends easily. Here is how.
Making new friends can be challenging for any child. You tend to become anxious and excited when you get to meet someone new. This can be even more challenging for a child with autism. If you are a parent to a child with autism or a teacher, here are some ways to make them understand how to make friends easily.
Children with autism tend to be poor with social skills. They don’t even want to look at another person into their eyes. So having group sessions where children gets to meet new people will always be nice. Teach them to share and care. Also, if they do something well, make sure to reward them with a small gift. - Himabindu Gattu, Co-founder, Abhilasha Research Centre for Children with Special Needs.
Here are some ways to help your child with autism make friends
- Practice social skills - Firstly, your child needs to understand what friendship is all about. Since they lack social skills, they might not want to go introduce themselves like how a child without a disability does. Try and make them practice social skills at home. For instance, you can make them discuss things with you, play and read together and so on. These are things that friends do together. So by practicing these social skills at home, they will get used to it. So when they make a friend, they are comfortable and know just what to do.
- Look out for your child’s interests - Parents of children with or without disabilities always look out for their child’s interests and help them join communities and clubs. This needs to be done for children with autism as well. For example, if they love basketball, help them join a basketball club where they can meet people with similar interests. That way, they can bond better and will have a great time spending time with people who have similar interests.
- Help them understand what a friend is - Children with autism are extremely loving, caring and above all, innocent. Most of the times, they do not even realise if they are being bullied. It is your duty to help the child differentiate between good and bad friends. Tell them in detailed how good friends are and how awesome it is to spend time together with a friend.
- Be patient - Children with autism are unique in different ways. They look at the world differently as well. Hence, being a parent or teacher of a child with autism, you need to be extremely patient and loving. Let them explore things on their own. So even if they end up in some embarrassing situation while meeting new people, they will learn on their own on how to handle it. Being patient is the key to helping out a child with autism.
“Since my son is only seven years old, I explain things to him through pictures and stories. So for instance, I tell him story about animals and how they look after each other. Then I connect that to how he can make friends and do the same”, says Pallavi Durvasulu, parent of to a child with autism.
Remember, making friends and adjusting to new social situations is hard for many people. So, be patient with the child as he or she works through the social anxieties. Avoid comparing with other kids and give them plenty of time.
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