On an earlier post, I discussed why it is hard for children and teens to make friends. Relationships are important, but difficult for many on the spectrum. With help they can learn some social skills that will allow a connection with others to be made on which to form a friendship. Here are some autism parenting tips on how to help them in this area:
- Connect with the child by playing with what he wants to play with, and in the way he is playing with it.
- Teach him turn taking skills using the toys or objects he is interested in, and then try some simple games.
- If the lack of eye contact is getting in the way, suggest that the person on the spectrum focus on the ear of the person they are conversing with. To the conversation partner, it will look like they are making eye contact.
- Teach social skills to the level possible. Teach about body language and social cues. Think of how foreigners in a strange land don’t understand the local customs and have to learn them: it is the same for a person with Asperger’s and neurotypical body language and social cues.
- Teach wherever possible beginning and ending conversations and what kind of topics to bring up. Practicing them in a small group with peer tutors or buddies is a great way to get used to using them.
- Find special interest groups where they can discuss the topic they are passionate about at length. For example, if they are into Legos, trains, or Star Trek, find a local club that is based on that interest. Then limit the conversation on that topic to specifically scheduled times and to the club, by reminding them they can talk about it then.
For more information and autism parenting tips on teens and relationships, read my book Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum, or sign up for my course on Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum.