Social Issues & Autism Disorder: 3 Strategies for Managing Social Interaction

People who have been diagnosed with autism disorder often struggle with the complexities of social interaction.

That’s because social skills develop intuitively for most people, but that’s not the case for those with autism.

However, even for someone with autism, there are ways to better manage social interactions and learn these skills.

Social Issues and Autism Disorder

Autism disorder is a developmental disorder that affects a person’s ability to interact with other people. These issues begin when still an infant and can last throughout one’s life.

Some of the ways these problems manifest themselves are, for example:

  • Not making eye contact or looking at faces
  • Unable to turn towards sounds
  • Not answering to their name
  • Can’t respond well towards other’s emotions
  • Not interested in simple games

As these children grow older, social dynamics become more complicated. There is a whole unwritten rule book for how to interact with other people. Unfortunately, those with autism never got that book. Instead, they have to work harder to understand these interactions.

What strategies are available to help them learn these rules and improve their social skills?

Strategy #1: Practicing

One way to help children with autism disorders to better understand social interactions is practicing. You and your child can pretend-play social situations that they may encounter. It will help your child rehearses what they should do and how to respond.

For example, if they are at school, how they should address their teacher. As your child practices, you can coach them on what they did right and how to improve their interactions.

Strategy #2: Technology

One way technology can help children with autism learn social skills is through videos. These introduce characters and social situations that the characters must navigate. To learn, your child watches the characters and how they cope with these situations. You can watch these videos with your child and ask them how these relate to their own life (making friends, looking at people when talking, etc.).

Another area where technology is helping those with autism is the use of tablets. For example:

  • Some people with autism don’t speak
  • A tablet can aid in communication, especially when stressed
  • It is easier to use pictures and images on a tablet
  • The touch interface is more helpful than typing or writing
  • Technology can help with sequencing problems

Of course, your child or teen will need to be coached as to how to use this technology. However, young people are very comfortable with digital technology. Thus, it can be easier for them to integrate these tools into their lives.

Strategy #3: Providing the Dialogue

A third strategy for helping those with autism disorder is having pre-made responses for social situations. The child either memorizes or has on hand a card that reminds them to ask a question. For example, “How are you doing today?”

For many with autism starting a conversation can be a daunting task. That’s why having pre-made questions can be so helpful for getting the ball rolling. As they develop mastery of these questions, they eventually won’t need the cards anymore.

What Should I Do If My Child Is Still Struggling Despite My Help?

If your child is still struggling with mastering social interactions consider having them work with a trained coach. A coach will be able to help guide them to better understand these social situations, teach them more strategies for managing the situations, and provide access to the necessary tools. This can add extra support as your child navigates this process.

Additionally, consider seeing a counselor for yourself. Seeing your child struggle is never easy. That’s why having someone with whom you can talk to about these things is so helpful. It will put you in a better place to support your child.

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