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Understanding Socializing Benefits for Children with Autism

Autism is a developmental disorder that affects one in 69 children. People with autism find it difficult to socialize, interact and communicate with others due to the nature of their condition. For us humans, socializing is a vital part of life that helps us to form bonds, friendships and makes life better. Children with autism can also benefit by being in company of others and learning to cope with their limitations to socialize.

Autism spectrum disorder affects the nervous system and has impact on the cognitive, emotional, social and physical health of a person. People and children with ASD find it challenging to respond to social cues, emotions, social setups etc.

M Kriti is a parent and feels that socializing can make a lot of positive difference in life of children.

Socializing is an area where kids have difficulty. They tend to learn more from what they see than what they hear. Even though they want to socialize, they might not know how to handle. With a help of some leads they slowly learn to expand their circle. Inclusive school is a playing a vital role, as kids with special needs and the rest of kids are allowed to blend and that little support is making a big difference.... If a kid with special needs is able to socialize well, I might consider them closer to near normal people, and me as a parent is hoping for one of such a day with hope. -M Kriti, parent

Although they may like being around other children, kids with autism may not be able to share the feelings. It is therefore hard for them to make friends as they may seem aloof, shy or not interested.

Here are a few things to consider.

  1. Due to their communication related limitations, kids with autism are very often misunderstood. However, parents, teachers, special educators should make efforts to help children learn about interactions with others.

  2. Not being with friends may have an adverse effect on the mental health of children and also impact their academic and social life.

  3. Being with friends and peers has a positive effect on the health of children as they are happier and less stressed.

A parent from Ernakulum, Deepthi Mathews says, "Children learn faster when they find the lesson interesting. Parents, educators can use a variety of creative and fun ideas for children. What the children learn depends on their abilities and this varies from child to child."

  1. The learning process is also improved when they learn in a group instead of alone.

  2. Children feel confident and accepted when they have friends or are a part of a social set up.

  3. Therapy can help a child with autism feel less anxious around people.

  4. It is vital to remember that every child is unique and reacts differently and so it is crucial to understand the needs and limitations of the child.

  5. Parents, teachers can slowly introduce children to other kids and not rush things.

  6. Children with autism should be allowed to socialize at their own pace and not be pushed into doing things they hate.

  7. It is important to understand that behaviors or social cues that may seem simple to others, may be very confusing for children with autism.

  8. Joining a play group, activity group such as drama, dance can help the child learn to work with others.

  9. Setting examples, telling stories, role plays, videos etc. can be used to teach children about social behaviors.

  10. Timely praise and appreciation can keep the children motivated to learn.

  11. A child with autism deserves love, affection and care even if he or she refuses to socialize and prefers to stay away from others. They have the right to live the way they feel most comfortable in.

Children with autism can be encouraged and guided to be a part of the mainstream world but they should not be forced to be like others just for the sake of social acceptance. What matters the most is their mental and physical wellbeing.

ALSO READ: Understanding Teaching Nonverbal Children

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