DEVELOPING FRIENDSHIP SKILLS IN CHILDREN WITH ASD

DEVELOPING FRIENDSHIP SKILLS IN CHILDREN WITH ASD

TODDLERS

 

PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES TO:

  • Interact socially with a variety of people to increase awareness of others
  • Develop joint attention, which is fundamental to communication, by looking at and talking about the same thing
  • Identify the start and end of play sessions. This helps to develop transitioning skills
  • Use objects or topics of special interest. This holds their attention and provides a context for learning. Join in with what they are playing rather than guiding play
  • Encourage imitation and sensory exploration, e.g. following a finger pointing at pictures in story books
  • Play mirror games, e.g. Make Your Face Like Mine, Do What I Do, Follow the Leader, Simon Says
  • Play repetitive social games
  • Play exploratory games. These are games focused on exploring objects and toys, rather than playing with them. This assists with learning about different shapes, colours, sizes and textures, e.g. touch, squeeze, smell, feel objects.
  • Play with constructional toys
  • Play reciprocal games. These are my turn, your turn games.
  • Play functional games, e.g. dress a doll to learn about how to dress self.

 

ASD Toddler Pic

 

3-6 YEAR OLDS

 

Friendship at this age in mainly focused around toys and activities. At this age friendship is functional. It is based on proximity and/or possessions. Because of this, conflict usually revolves around possession of something, intolerance of others’ ideas and/or who is in control of the environment.

 

ENCOURAGE ASSOCIATIVE PLAY BY:

  • Playing the part of a child their age
  • Teaching the child to take turns and ask for help
  • Inviting a child who knows how to play to play dates
  • Beginning play with a constructional task. Add objects as you go, e.g. add trains, play people, animals to develop the play
  • Supervise play. This allows you to reinforce appropriate play and to help with any difficulties that arise in play before problems escalate
  • Emphasizing sharing of materials and tasks
  • Encouraging exchanging of toys
  • Encouraging copying activities
  • Watching other children playing with the child and comment on appropriate and inappropriate play by those children

 

ENCOURAGE CO-OPERATIVE PLAY BY:

  • Starting with constructional activities with a strong visual structure and a clear goal
  • Initially controlling the materials and guiding the task
  • Teaching scripts for different aspects of game playing (Social Stories and/or Conversation Comic Strips)
  • Using a visual means to count down end of play, e.g. Time Timers or large egg timers.
  • Starting with playing in pairs, then in small groups
  • Encouraging pretend games
  • Reinforcing friendly behaviour
  • Using ‘social signals’ to teach social signs to prevent social accidents

 

TEACH AND MODEL THESE RULES FOR PLAYING WITH OTHERS

 

Talk to each other

Listen to each other

Take turns

Wait for your turn

Look at each other

Check your friend’s face is happy

Have fun.

ASD Toddler Pic 2

 

6-9 YEAR OLD PLAY

 

As children grow older their play becomes more complex. Games often require more than one person to play. Greater reciprocity and mutual assistance is therefore needed in this type of play. Children also tend to develop friends with similar interests at this age.

ASD Toddler Pic 3

ENCOURAGE:

  • Role play to practice cooperation
  • Play with figures or dolls and reading of fiction

HELP THE CHILD:

  • to find children with similar interests
  • to develop a sense of humor

TEACH THE CHILD:

  • social conventions using concentric circles
  • what not to say
  • social customs

ALSO:

  • Encourage enrollment in a social skills group
  • Teach peers to play with children with an Autism Spectrum Condition

 

TEACH AND MODEL THESE FRIENDSHIP SKILLS

 

How to approach others to play

What to say and do when approached by others to play

Appropriate interaction styles for different contexts

Conversational skills – initiating, listening and responding to others (taking turns, giving and seeking feedback), appropriate ending of conversations

Maintaining Friendships

Sharing interests and activities

Showing concern for others (social and emotional empathy)

Accommodating a friend’s preferences, interests and needs

Offering and seeking support (lending, sharing, helping, advising, defending), sharing experiences, feelings, secrets and humor)

Giving and receiving compliments

Recognizing mistakes and apologizing

How to solve problems and resolve conflicts

Dealing with rejection

Mending friendships

Ending friendships appropriately

Dealing with bullying appropriately

 

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