27 June 2018
Strengthening Communication Skills and Friendships – By Interchange Australia Consultant, Amber Hall
As a parent/carer you are the expert on what works for your child/ren and will understand them better than anyone else. You can positively assist in the development of friendships and strengthen communication by:
• supporting the development of effective communication skills;
• increasing the exposure to new experiences; and
• increasing opportunities to make friendships
Some people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) never develop language, while others might have good verbal language skills. Some of the challenges for kids with ASD include:
• body language and facial expressions;
• adjusting to new social situations;
• starting and keeping conversations going; and
• solving social or complex problems
How Can You Assist Your Child with Communication Skills?
• provide a range of communication methods and understand your child’s preferred method, whilst encouraging the development of others. (i.e. visual, written etc.);
• role model different conversations/topics that can enhance communication;
• trial a range of apps/social stories that can assist communication; and
• engage in different animal therapies, e.g. equine therapy
Tony Attwood, the world renowned clinical psychologist, states that “There must be some advantages in having friends. The research evidence suggests that children without friends may be at risk for later difficulties and delay in social and emotional development, low self-esteem and the development of anxiety and depression as an adult”.
• increase a child’s self-esteem and confidence;
• increase enjoyment of activities as they are sharing common interests; and
• increase learning in cooperation, respect for others etc.
How Can You Assist Your Child to Forge Friendships?
• connect with children who enjoy similar things. IA offers a range of activities that you can join (art workshops, music and drama programs etc.) or alternatively you can join special interest groups that cater to your child’s interests, i.e. chess group, PCYC, martial arts etc;
• invite children home to play. Ask teachers who your child is connecting with and arrange for them to meet either in the community (i.e. a park) or at your home, whatever is suitable for your child;
• model and assisting in practicing at home/out in the community– model social skills including listening, showing empathy, problem-solving, and working through conflicts;
• praise and encouragement – rewarding their positive interaction, i.e. sharing toys or playground equipment;
• communication – discuss situations and work through solutions with your child, i.e. bullying at school; and
• understand the importance of down time – some children with autism appreciate ‘a reduction in demands’ or ‘down time’. At our ASDESI Holiday Kids Klub our empathic staff recognise this and factor this into the days.
Exposure to new experiences and time with other children can increase communication and friendships. Taking small steps can achieve long term outcomes.
For more information about the ASDESI Program, including the monthly ASDESI Carers’ Network and ASDESI Holiday Kids Klub, please call 4868 6677.