Something I am sure we all know about autism is how individuals impacted have challenges with socializing. This can be for various reasons, but I am not going to break down the reasons. Instead, I want to talk about ways we can help individuals with autism improve socially. There are many ways in which we can help them improve, and the best part is that it doesn’t have to all be done with a professional. Sure, there will be the need for a therapist or speech pathologist every now and then, but there are simple things that you and someone you know with autism can engage in daily.
1. Arts & Crafts
I remember as a teenager in high school working with individuals on the autism spectrum as an arts & crafts assistant at a local summer camp. There were various projects the individuals accomplished, from drawing to creating American flag pins using beads and bobby pins. Arts & crafts can help individuals understand the concept of following directions, sharing materials with fellow peers and most important, expressing a point of view you can’t see otherwise.
2. Playing sports
As a child, I remember playing sports. Whether it was playing baseball during the summer or shooting hoops and tossing the football during recess at school, I found playing sports to be a great way to improve my social skills. Playing sports can help individuals learn about the importance of team work and chemistry, taking turns – if necessary, following a set of rules, communicating with their team mates and develop a sense of competitiveness and sportsmanship. In addition, playing sports can help improve motor skills.
This is something that is important, regardless of whether someone has autism or not. Reading is a gift that can pull individuals into a story full of imagination. Reading can help individuals with autism understand social situations and expand their vocabulary. In addition, engaging in discussion about the reading – such as asking what someone thought the moral of the story was, or their thoughts on a chapter or specific dialogue – can encourage individuals to share their viewpoint. Illustrated books can help provide context when words fail to do so.
There are plenty of activities you, your family and friends can do with an individual who has autism that will go a long way in improving their social skills. True that there will always be a need for a therapist and speech pathologist, but it’s doubly important to know that you have the power to make things better for individuals on the spectrum. It isn’t rocket science – it’s quite easy and fun when you think about it.