Support socialization and social skills for children, adolescents and adults with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Strive to compliment or reinforce the individual making positive efforts to interact with others. Create a positive reason for an individual to interact with others. Help the individual learn how to identify their emotions and make appropriate choices of how to manage those emotions.
Tony Attwood (2007) warned that when managing an individual with Aspergers who is very angry, one should avoid raising their voice, being confrontational, using sarcasm, being emotional and using physical restraint. He shared that responding in this manner can create a situation where the individual with Aspergers becomes more agitated and less flexible in thinking which inhibits the ability to make appropriate responses to their feelings of anger. Be supportive and model appropriate social skills.
Examples of ways to support one's socialization and social skills
Teach socially meaningful behaviors which can be naturally reinforced in environments
Example: Saying the word "excuse me" or raising one's hand in class can be rewarding in and of itself when (or if) the individual actually is acknowledged and needs are met, etc.
Set up a 'win/win' situation for the individual and peers
Example: The individual can earn points or tokens for a particular behavior which the individual will use to purchase additional 'minutes' towards a special activity. If supervised well, this can help promote positive peer interactions. It also may help to mend some relationships for the individual.
Visual cueing and response prompting
Visual cueing and response prompting have been used to increase spontaneous social initiations, initiate play activities, increase self-initiated speech, increase spontaneous speech in naturally occurring daily routines, teach a generalized response to questions and decrease echolalic responses (Ogletree & Oren, 2001).
Basically, it involves teaching the specific skill to the individual usually within a very structured setting. The teacher leads this type of instruction, sometimes through modeling how to do the task. This may involve quite a bit of practice, review, etc.
Pivotal response training
Motivation and self-initiation are examples of pivotal areas to learn. When learned, they increase a child's behavior repertoire; they learn even more behaviors after they learn the pivotal areas. Koegel, R. explains how this applied behavior analysis technique ends up being fun for the child or individual with an ASD and less stressful for the caretaker. The individual experiences that their efforts are tied to the consequence or reinforcer.
Especially when used with reinforcers, social narratives can also be known as 'social stories' termed by Carol Grey. A social narrative is like a precursor to a social situation. It prepares an individual for a social situation which may be challenging. Carol Grey emphasizes the need for explaining the skill needed in the situation but from the individual's perspective.
Video modeling can be a helpful tool. Model-Me-Kids has a free app that shows young kids interacting in different venues. Also, Coultier Videos has some social skills for adolescents and adults with developmental disabilities. Software such as The Social Express can also be helpful.
These are usually not as involved as a social narrative. Social scripts can be used as reminders or prompts for the individual to say or demonstrate a socially appropriate response or initiation to others.
This strategy has shown to be very helpful. Peers will need to be trained on how to encourage or prompt individual. Also, peers can help with modeling the appropriate behavior and reinforce the individual when they demonstrate the behavior.
Promote play skills
Map out play experiences with peers under structured supervision to increase the development of communication and socialization.
Example of skills to possibly strengthen:
Social and pretend play
Sensory and emotional regulation
Social problem solving
Appropriate participation in group activities and pragmatics
Video Modeling, Modeling, (demonstrating the behavior through various means), Peer-Mediated Social Skills Training; Pivotal Response Training; Script/Script Fading Procedures; Self-Management; Recreational/Sports/Exercise (especially with peer models); Socialization related classes (especially if peers taught how to interact and be models of skills); Social Narratives; Social Stories when used with behavior principles