Speech Therapy

Groups for Autistic Children Help Remove Barriers

The development of social skills is a deficit common among children and teens with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). However, this challenge doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t wish to socialize with their peers and other people around them. The goal of autism social groups is to provide autistic individuals with the tools and support they need to develop the ability to interact with others in a meaningful way. 

Common Social Challenges

Social skills are essential for everyone, including people with autism. Failure to develop these skills early can lead to consequences that range from poor academic performance, peer rejection and depression. 

Those that facilitate social skills groups can attest that children and teens with ASD benefit from peer-to-peer groups. Some common social challenges that autistic youngsters face: 

  • Initiating conversations and taking turns
  • Processing others’ thoughts, emotions, facial expressions, and body language
  • Addressing disagreements
  • Recognizing and understanding unwritten rules of various social situations
  • Sharing interests with other people within their age range

Ways To Learn

Today, many social skills groups for autism exist to help children and teens with ASD acquire or hone their social skills. A typical intervention strategy begins with understanding someone’s current social functioning level and identifying which skills they lack or they have but don’t exhibit or perform well. These assessments allow facilitators to choose and implement the most suitable intervention strategies. Because social skills can’t be developed overnight, continuous evaluation, monitoring, and modifications (whenever needed) are essential. 

Here are some of the strategies used to remove social barriers among autistic children and teens: 

Peer-mediated interventions. Autism social groups provide a specially structured environment where participants can experience successful social interactions — from initiating talks to responding to conversations. Experienced and trained mentors facilitate these interventions to oversee activities appropriate for the participants’ age group and level of social functioning. 

Thoughts and feelings activities. One key to successfully having social interactions is by having the ability to understand and process the other person’s thoughts and feelings. These activities are designed to enhance these very skills. Besides helping participants identify different emotions (e.g., happy, sad), mentors also teach the “why” behind them. 

Social stories. Storytelling is one of the most effective ways to impart social concepts and rules. But for it to be effective, it must be done in a way that matches the audience’s ability and comprehension level. 

Role-playing. Also referred to as behavioral rehearsal, role-playing activities provide autistic youngsters with opportunities to practice the social skills that they’ve previously learned. In this type of intervention strategy, the scripts can be pre-developed, impromptu, or a combination of both. 

Video modeling. Considered by occupational therapists in Princeton who closely with kids with ASD agree this is the most effective strategy, this involves letting the participants watch a particular behavior-demonstrating video. After it is shown, the child or teen must mimic the behavior displayed by the character in the video. 

If you’re a parent or a guardian seeking social groups for high functioning Autism, know that there are many ways you can help your autistic child learn social skills. Apart from finding trustworthy groups that offer social skills intervention programs, you should be a role model and show them how to act in social situations appropriately.

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