Most children with autism are very keen to have friends and interact socially, but often have difficulties knowing how to make, and keep, friends. Social graces don’t come naturally to people with autism, so they often need to be explicitly taught the hidden social rules.
Also, compared to typically developing participants, the researchers found that autistic participants reported feeling closer to their social partners. There are multiple possible explanations but one may be that autistic people value social interactions more, especially when given the chance to socialize.
A recent Yale study found that individuals with autism spectrum disorder traits are as good or even slightly better social psychologists than those who do not have traits of autism.
The most striking feature of autism is social disconnection. People with autism may appear neither to be interested in nor able to “read” the social world. It is as though they are blind to the boisterous, complicated, emotionally loaded give-and-take of human interaction.
Many children and adults on the autism spectrum need help in learning how to act in different types of social situations. They often have the desire to interact with others, but may not know how to engage friends or may be overwhelmed by the idea of new experiences.
Strategies for helping autistic children develop social skills
- practice play.
- social skills training.
- social stories.
- visual supports.
Individuals on the autism spectrum often have difficulty recognising and understanding social cues and therefore do not instinctively learn to adjust their behaviour to suit different social contexts. People with autism may well have the potential to learn these skills however.
What are the 3 main characteristics of autism?
The primary characteristics are 1) poorly developed social skills, 2) difficulty with expressive and receptive communication, and 3) the presence of restrictive and repetitive behaviors. Young children who have poorly developed social skills may have inappropriate play skills.
Autism is not being socially awkward
It’s not awkwardness. Autistic people are often excellent at socialising with each other, where they can avoid eye contact, stim, avoid small talk, share information and rely on their own natural communication preferences.
Social Skill Deficits in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Often, their failure is a direct result of ineffectual programs and inadequate resources typically made available for social skills instruction. For most children, basic social skills (e.g., turn taking, initiating conversation) are acquired quickly and easily.
Parents can help to improve social skills in autistic children in these five ways:
- Reinforce positive behavior and celebrate strengths.
- Model and practice desired behaviors.
- Provide structured social interactions.
- Talk through possible social scenarios and use visual aids.
- Set the environment for success.
First, it is likely that some individuals with ASD or autistic traits develop social anxiety over time, as a consequence of repeated difficulties in social interactions (Bejerot and Mörtberg 2009; White et al. 2011).
Can you be autistic and have empathy?
Every person living with autism is unique; some may struggle with empathy while others may feel completely overwhelmed by other people’s feelings, and then there is everyone in between. It seems that autistic expression of empathy may be atypical.