Socializing and going to parties help children with autism spectrum disorder improve their social and communication skills. However, most social events can be tough to handle for them. The best way to help your children progressively develop their social skills is by planning everything with time.
Reasons why holiday events can be difficult for children with ASD
- Children with autism have problems with communication and social interaction
- They find it difficult to wait, organize, or solve unexpected situations
- They are easily overwhelmed by their surroundings
- They are disturbed by noise, screams, and loud music
That said, if we apply the right strategy, parties and meetings can be a great opportunity for them to develop their communication and social skills.
Planning social events with your child within the spectrum
Taking your child with ASD to a social event is not mandatory. Do what you consider convenient and what you can both handle. Plan every detail to help your kid feel comfortable and confident.
Strategies to prepare children for the event
- Tell them a story about a party. Focus the story on a specific theme, for example, respect for turns, or how to behave when someone wins a game
- Exchange roles with your child. For example, represent a scene about how to greet others, how to get to the place, etc
- Show them videos of parties. There are plenty of videos on YouTube showing common behaviors at social events. This is called video modeling
- Plan the supervision of your child with your partner or ask a trusted family member to help you
- Make an emergency plan if the child starts feeling overwhelmed. You can take him/her for a walk or accompany him to a quiet place
- Take a “support kit” that contains all his/her favorite toys, books, and food in case of a crisis.
Development of skills to help your child with autism manage social events
Over time, children with ASD can learn many skills, such as:
- Respecting others’ turn
- Being patient and calm
- Accepting losing a game
These will help them enjoy the holidays and learn how to interact in all kinds of social events and even at school.
How can you help them develop these skills?
There are many ways to help children with autism improve their social skills:
- Tell them stories about social events. This strategy will show them how to behave and what to expect at parties
- Practice losing in different games. This way, you can teach them there is nothing wrong with losing sometimes
- Teach them to say “good job, you win” and “congratulations”
Tips for organizing a party for children with ASD
- Plan the event with a clear and precise structure
- Use a decoration with something your child likes or based on his/her special interests
- Try to avoid unstructured games
- Avoid anything that could distress your child. For example, don’t play loud music at the party if it bothers him/her
- Ask other family members for help if he/she gets angry or has a crisis
- Make sure adults attending the event know what to do to help your child in case of an uncomfortable situation
Having children with ASD doesn’t necessarily mean that your social life and theirs is over. On the contrary, if you prepare the parties or reunions with enough time, these events can be very useful to improve their social skills and teach them how to appropriately relate to others.
Facebook: Autism Soccer
Instagram: Autism Soccer
Twitter: Autism Soccer