Having Social skills deficits may mean the autistic pupil fails to recognise subtle cues, maybe unable to read body language or facial expression and misunderstand language such as wit, humour, jokes and slang etc.
Probably the hardest thing for the autistic pupil to deal with is the social rules that affect everyone in the classroom, for example it is not appropriate to shout out and thus disturb the rest of the pupils in the class. Education providers, teachers and assistants can play a vital role in helping the autistic pupil to understand the social rules within school.
Typically developing children learn social and communication skills naturally by people watching, observing how those around them do things and handle social situations. They listen and take on board what is expected of them in given situations and circumstances.
However this is not the case for a child with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).
What are Social Skills deficits and how can you help an autistic pupil to overcome these?
For a child with ASD learning social and communication skills naturally is not easy, due to social skills deficits which are common to all individuals with autism.
Individuals with autism do not people watch and fail to recognise many nonverbal communication skills such as gestures and signs, for example waving goodbye, a thumb’s up or shhhhhh etc.
Generally the autistic pupil will need directions that are to the point and easy to follow, they will not understanding directions such as ‘wait a minute’ and ‘just a second’. They may also fail to understand jokes and synonyms. Teachers must therefore try and avoid these.
Educators of autistic pupils are therefore encouraged to use visual strategy tools such as social stories to help the autistic pupil to understand what is expected of them.
Children with autism are normally visual thinkers and learners, meaning they think in pictures and images, which makes using visual supports for autism such as social stories beneficial.
Using visual strategy tools is going to help you teach appropriate social and communication skills. A social skills story is a visual framework that is effective in teaching social and communication skills.
A social skills story breaks the skills or situation down into relevant key points giving explanations of the “wh” questions – who, where, why, when and what as well as giving an insight into nonverbal communication such as the thoughts, feelings and emotions that may be felt by others.
By using visual images and first person text a social story allows the child on the spectrum to visually identify with the skill or situation making it predictable and routine.
Individuals with autism prefer to stick rigidly to routines and can become stressed if routines are altered or changed, social skills stories are ideal for this, they can prepare the autistic pupil for upcoming changes.
Social skills stories follow specific patterns of sentence types, are editable and printable making them convenient and easy to use. The social skills story can be used to teach most social and communication skills.
For example raising your hand to speak, using a toilet, how to act in an art lesson, what is expected of them during P.E. time, sharing, taking turns, respecting personal space, not interrupting, asking questions, making friends and so on…
By breaking the skill or situation down in to understandable pieces, removing all fluff and irrelevant material etc the social skills story can act as a role model or visual step by step plan allowing the child to feel more in control and comfortable. Removing all fear or dread of the unknown, the social story makes the skills or situation predictable just how a child on the spectrum likes things to be.
To learn more about social skills stories and how they are used to help teach social and communication skills to the autistic pupil visit:
Where you will learn more about… What are social skills deficits and how can you help an autistic pupil to overcome these? As well as getting downloads of social skills stories used to teach social and communication skills to children with autism.