Understanding social cues and having appropriate social skills is incredibly important yet challenging for those with special needs. Just like with any skill, practice makes perfect – check our list of activities you can practice with your child to enhance his or her awareness of social cues and allow your child to run through these actions in a safe and supportive environment.
Not only will practicing these skills be a bonding experience with your child, but it will show him or her that you care while boosting confidence.
No matter where your child goes – home, school, the cafeteria, playground, soccer field, or out at the mall – it’s imperative to be able to pick up on emotions and understand them correctly. By understanding emotional faces and body language, your child will be able to appropriately respond to various social situations.
A simple way to work on emotions is to make a face or show body language associated with a certain feeling; then have your child imitate you. You can start off with something silly and goofy to keep the mood light and fun.
Picking up on idioms can be challenging for children, and for those on the autism spectrum, idioms are downright confusing. To help your child understand the difference between a literal statement and an idiom and to understand what those idioms mean, try some activities with them.
Take a trip to your library and check out books on idioms. Try this list for a great, fun way to teach idioms from The Best Children’s Book site.
Establishing solid eye contact creates interest in conversation and shows confidence. Try these activities to practice strong and appropriate eye contact.
Sticker on the forehead:
This idea comes from Children Succeed. Put a sticker in the middle of your forehead (you can use a sticker of eyes if you want!) and encourage your child to look at the sticker during a conversation. Many people find direct eye contact intimidating, so this is a great stepping stone to train them to look in the right direction in a less threatening way.
When practicing social skills, why not make a game or contest out of it? Have a friendly staring contest with your child, or if he or she is competitive, it could turn into a serious competition! Let the games begin.
How do you practice social skills with your child? What activities or strategies work for you?