Children who are affected with Asperger’s Syndrome, high-functioning autism, and PDD-NOS are intelligent and usually do well academically. Their greatest challenges are social and communication deficits. Seeing a perspective other than their own poses a major issue.
Other communication difficulties stem from not understanding body language, facial expressions, and acceptable, appropriate behaviors. Social skills can be improved and effective training must be ongoing. Social skills training at school or in a group setting can help, but it is crucial that you reinforce learned skills at home.
Social Skills: Conversation
Practice conversational skills with your child. Autism affected children who are verbal often tend to solely talk about their interests, and their speech sometimes sounds like a lecture or monologue. Help your child learn how to begin a conversation and how to initiate small talk. Ask your child questions, and encourage him to ask you questions too.
Social Skills: Humor
Children affected with high-functioning autism do have a sense of humor. Perhaps they don’t understand sarcasm; this may require extensive explanation. However, joking with your child is important, and if she doesn’t understand the joke, explain it. She may not understand all the subtleties of humor, but she will get better at understanding when someone is joking-rather than being mean, hurtful, or malicious.
Social Skills: Perspectives
In various settings, talk about what you see and what your child sees, then discuss the differences. One of the difficult aspects of high-functioning autism is not comprehending another person’s perspective. Talk to your child about what others are feeling and how individuals have different perspectives regarding the same situation or event. Discuss how you feel, how others feel, and how your child feels.
Social Skills: Facial Expressions
Teach your child the meaning of facial expressions. Using photographs that depict different facial expressions can be helpful. Many high-functioning autistic children have a flat affect (dull-looking facial expression), and their internal feelings may or may not be reflected on their face. Yet, it’s important that they recognize facial expressions. By doing this, they can learn how to regulate their own facial expressions.
Social Skills: Personal Space
Define personal space for your autism affected child. Using the example of a “bubble” that surrounds each person may be helpful. You can also lovingly let your child know when he is invading your or other family members’ personal space and refer to it as “bursting a bubble.”