April 28, 2015 at 2:35 PM #774
One of the defining features of autism is impaired social skills. People with autism simply lack the full understanding of social interactions that normal people seem to inherently possess. As a result of this they have difficulty making friends, can sometimes be seen as aloof and in some circumstances their social difficulty could lead to a misunderstanding. While these issues are not insurmountable they will make many seemingly normal things an uphill battle. If you want to help your child get out there and make some connections then here are some ideas.
Try and find their interests, see what they enjoy and are passionate about, if nothing comes to mind then try introducing them to various activities and hobbies, like sports, reading or music. Later they may encounter individuals with similar interests and this will provide the initial catalyst for a possible friendship.
Encourage your child to join a club or organizations based on their interests and skills. Birds of a feather flock together, or so the old saying goes, and it applies here as well. Try to find some sort of afterschool activity your child enjoys in order to get them out of the house and socializing. They may be resistant at first and you should not force it but if done right then they will eventually become accustomed to attending such events and start to grow comfortable there. This will again provide an opportunity for socializing and friendships.
Listen to your child, sometimes a person with autism will be presented with a perfect social opportunity but won’t even realize it. In some cases they might begin to enjoy an occasional conversation or the odd interaction with a specific classmate who shares similar interests, yet they will not realize the possibility for a friendship there. Sometime they just need to be pointed in the right direction and given a gentle push in order to get the ball rolling and if all goes well they will have a new friend.
Encourage your child to attend special events but be mindful of their limitations. It may seem like a good idea to insist they attend a party or dance at high school but attending does not mean participating and if they aren’t comfortable enough to take part in the event then they may end up sitting alone and waiting for it to end, this is worse than if they didn’t go as it will make them feel self-conscious and can trigger depression. Do not try to push your child to do too much too fast. Find their boundaries and try to make them step just a little bit further out, keep doing this and eventually they may be comfortable enough to get out of their seat and have fun at one of these events.
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