Autism and social skills

By Miranda D. on Fri, 07/19/2019- 9:50pm (PDT) in the "General Discussion" Forum

Hello all.  Mother of 3 here.  My middle son has autism and he really struggles to make friends at school.  Any suggestions on how to connect him with a strong social group?

Comments

Submitted by Authorista on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 10:40

Is your son verbal? Can he talk to other students?

Submitted by Miranda D. on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 10:43

Yes. He is very high functioning, but he's struggling with making friends. It's sad because I know how sweet of a boy he is...

Submitted by Sam on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 10:45

What grade is your son? Maybe he could join a sports team or some other after school activity based on his interests.

Submitted by Authorista on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 10:47

Aw, that is sad! But I agree with Sam! Anything that gets him in to more social settings will help him pick up on some social skills and possible make a good connection with someone!

Submitted by Miranda D. on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 10:48

That's a perfect idea Sam. My son is in the fifth grade so I think that would be a perfect thing to try. Maybe I can find an after school activity. Any suggestions??

Submitted by Authorista on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 10:49

Do you think an activity that is kind of quieter and calm would be best? How about a book club or even chess club?

Submitted by Miranda D. on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 10:49

I think he would love those! Naturally, he prefers a quieter setting so he loves reading and all types of board games. Trouble, Connect Four, Checkers, you name it! He thrives off of anything that has clear and set rules.

Submitted by Sportsonic on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 10:50

Are you opposed to getting your son involved in a more physical sport?

Submitted by Miranda D. on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 10:57

I'm just concerned about getting him into something that was more fast paced. Even though he's high functioning, he gets upset when there's a lot of commotion around. Are there any sports you could recommend?

Submitted by Sam on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 10:58

Would this be completely new to him? Has he tried anything before?

Submitted by Sportsonic on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 10:58

My daughter is autistic too, and for the same reason as yourself, I started looking into activities that would help her make friends and get more comfortable in social situations. I spoke to the guidance counselor and he recommended swimming, bowling, horseback riding, martial arts, and track and field.

Submitted by Miranda D. on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 10:59

Yes Sam, this would be the first major step for him. He has a few cousins we invite over frequently so he's familiar with playing with other kids, but of course they're family, so I think it's easier for him. And those are great suggestions Sportsonic. Is there a reason those are recommended over other sports?

Submitted by Sportsonic on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 10:59

I had originally brought up soccer or even softball for her, but with research, I discovered that a lot of sports, as you mentioned earlier, are more fast paced. And they're also louder, with less predictability. So even though bowling is crazy loud, there's predictability. The pins are suppose to crash, the noise is suppose to happen.

Submitted by Authorista on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 10:59

I'm looking up things myself now for you and I see that even changing weather can be upsetting! Or having to go inside/ outside during one event. So maybe nothing that could be switched to indoors at the last second!

Submitted by Miranda D. on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 11:00

That makes so much sense Sportsonic, thanks! And thanks to you too Authorista. It's so sweet you're looking up extra things. Sportsonic, if you don't mind me asking, what activity did you pick for your daughter? Did it go well?

Submitted by Sportsonic on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 11:09

We got lucky when those activities were suggested for us. Since she was tiny, she had been drawn to water. Bottles of water, puddles, fish tanks, even the toilet. She became so engrossed in just watching the water move and drip that she had a hard time changing her attention to anything else, so we tried swimming, and just as I had hoped, she really thrived.

Submitted by Miranda D. on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 11:09

That sounds like such a great fit for her. That's why I was thinking maybe chess or a book club, because at home, when he feels the most comfortable, those are his favorite things to do.

Submitted by Sportsonic on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 11:09

I'd look for any of those opportunities in his school then. I think he would have an easier transition and have the best chance at developing bonds.

Submitted by Authorista on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 11:10

You're welcome Miranda! I think any of the activities you and Sportsonic mentioned would be a great choice. Not only are they slower paced with more predictability, but I see here that another reason those sports are strongly suggested is because even though they're all team oriented, the absolute need for talking is minimal. Just being a part of the team, having a chance to excel, and not receiving any pressure for him to have to talk for the “good of the team,” will help him to make solid relationships.

Submitted by Sam on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 11:10

If you don't mind me asking, how is your relationship with him at home?

Submitted by Miranda D. on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 11:11

Great find Authorista! And, Sam, I don't mind that question at all. I completely understand that in figuring out how to better his relationships at school, it's important to see how he is at home. And truthfully, I would say both my husband and myself have a close relationship with him.

Submitted by Sam on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 11:12

What helps him connect or bond with you and your husband?

Submitted by Miranda D. on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 11:12

Our favorites are playing catch, baking, board games, and gardening. Just being together, working towards something, helps him feel close to us.

Submitted by Sam on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 11:12

That's precious! I'm so happy that you have found ways to bond with each other.

Submitted by Miranda D. on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 11:13

Welcome to the thread! What are social stories?

They're pretty much a way to tell a lesson through a story. For example the importance of making friends. Hearing it through a story helps them to understand some things better. Same with visuals.

Submitted by Authorista on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 11:14

That's so cool! I've also heard that just staying really positive and encouraging through the whole transition will really help. So when he starts his new activity, just give him a bunch of encouragement!

Submitted by Sam on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 11:14

I noticed you mentioned a couple of times that he really likes board games. I was just wondering if his teacher was supportive and willing to work with you? Maybe it would be a wonderful step to suggest periodic, “Board game hour.” Maybe he would be excited to share something he loved to do so much with his classmates?

Submitted by Miranda D. on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 11:15

Sam, I love that concept. My husband loves telling stories and I think this would be something he'd love to introduce to him. Authorista, thanks for the tip! Summerliketheseason, I cannot believe I haven't thought of that idea at all!!! His teacher is so supportive and is always willing to work with our family. I bet he would LOVE to be able to play his favorite games at school with his classmates.

That's what I was thinking! Then he would see he has things in common with his classmates and his classmates would be encouraged to interact with him more.

Submitted by Miranda D. on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 11:15

What an amazing thought! We've been working on increasing the frequency of time we spend doing things together at home just to get him accustomed to interacting more, and I think it's going really well. He sure does giggle a lot when we're together :)

Submitted by Authorista on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 11:15

Aw! 'm so excited to hear how his new activities go. I think between an after school activity, and being able to share something he loves with his classmates, he'll take steps in the right direction for sure. Especially if you're working with him at home.

Submitted by Miranda D. on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 11:15

I think so too! I really appreciate everyones support. I am full of hope and can't wait to suggest these ideas to him. I'll also email his teacher asap and get her opinion! Thanks again everybody!

Submitted by Authorista on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 11:16

Of course! Good luck!!!

Submitted by Sam on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 11:16

Good luck!

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