One in 88 children is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Asperger syndrome is considered by many to be the mildest form of ASD.
The social communication deficits evident in children with Asperger syndrome include lack of turn taking in conversation, lack of typical eye contact, body language, and facial expression and trouble making and keeping friends.
Thinking socially is an abstract concept and difficult to discuss since it is something we usually learn intuitively.
Often, children with AS will say they don’t care about having friends. However, it is a social world. Children with AS will grow up to be teens and young adults with AS. So, the sooner they are taught to think socially the better it will be for them to assimilate in high school, college, job interviews etc.
Parents can assist their children with AS to think about how other people think and start to build those social skills. The goal of thinking and behaving in a social way is that others will have positive or good thoughts about us and want to return to chat again.
This is the foundation of friendship building.
How You Can Help Your Child “Think Socially”
Initially, parents and kids can discuss who a “friend” can be. Friends are typically close to us geographically, have similar interests and are close in age.
Let’s break down the steps of how to approach a person we would like to talk to:
Start by choosing someone who is an appropriate choice at that time. For example, choosing a peer waiting in line for the school bus is better than when they are in the library. What would other people think if you approached them in the library? Or, in the school bus line-up?
Getting your body close enough but not too close to the other person (about one arms length away). What would people think if you stood too far? Or, too close?
Ensure your body is turned toward them and your shoulders are relaxed. What would other people think if your body was turned away from them or you shoulders were riding high?
Your body is in the right space. Now confirm your intention to initiate a conversation with your eyes by looking at the person’s eyes. What would people think if your eyes were looking at the ground?
Start with a greeting and then select a topic that you think the other person would like to talk about. What would your classmate think if you talked about your science project? What would your grandmother think if you only talked about video games?
Parents can point out social situations that include these steps. Whether on TV or in your own families, be sure to point out the step and what the people involved may be thinking and how are enjoying the social time together.