Children with autism are special in the sense that they have a lot of potential that you can unlock through proper guidance and learning. These children may not completely understand the world around them but with your help, you can easily teach them how to become more sociable and understanding grown-ups in the future.
As with all things, social norms can be taught. It may be more challenging than usual. However, there are ways to ensure that your child will get all of the help he or she needs at a young age. There are many social story examples from Autism Parenting Magazine that show how normal children with autism can be. Today, we’re going to help you help your children understand social norms during the developmental ages of their life.
Start on a clean slate
For you and others around you, social norms have already been established. Basic actions like greeting acquaintances when you pass by them or shaking hands with strangers upon meeting them are normal. However, children with autism won’t immediately feel the same way about these actions and you need to keep that in mind.
The key to helping them understand social norms is to start on a clean slate for yourself as well. Accept the fact that what’s normal to you isn’t normal to them and see how they view socialization from their eyes. In doing so, you’ll have a better understanding of the pace that your child needs to be able to grow properly.
One of the worst things you can do during this stage in your child’s life is to force them to understand social norms. Not only would that do more harm than good, but it might also give off a bad impression on your child as well.
Know your goal
Before you begin the lessons, you first need to understand what a goal is. Teaching your child social norms isn’t a cure for his or her autism. What it is, however, is the start to helping them live out the rest of their lives as normal as possible.
A lot of children with autism have trouble with socialization early on in their lives. As a parent, it’s your job to help them overcome this challenge. By teaching them the proper social skills, you’ll be able to help them understand and react to social situations more properly. Again, your goal isn’t to cure them of the condition. The goal is to help them cope with it instead.
Use proper language
Children with autism are very particular when it comes to the language you use. In this situation, it’s better to teach them “expected” and “unexpected” behavior instead of “right” or “wrong” behavior. This makes a difference between night and day with regards to how your child will perceive the situation.
Using the right/wrong setup might also pressure your child without your knowing it. At least by teaching them the expected/unexpected behavior, they’ll understand that their actions are proper instead of being incorrect.
Learn about their struggles
Children with autism are different from one another. Others may have problems with talking. While others may have issues dealing with strangers. The key to helping them become more sociable is to first understand what their struggles are.
The key is to focus on these struggles first. Once your child gets over this major issue, you can teach other facets of socialization more effectively as they’ll feel more comfortable as well.
Many socialization modules that cater to children with autism come with lessons for parents as well. Educational institutions believe that parents have as much to learn about the condition as the child has when it comes to learning about social norms. As such, many courses incorporate your role as a parent during the learning stage.
On your end, the modules will teach you more skills with regards to helping your child socialize better. It’s a learning experience for both of you. If you do it together, the results will be tremendous and your bond with each other will be much stronger as well.
Practice makes perfect
The mantra “practice makes perfect” is cliche but that doesn’t make it any less true, more so in situations like this. Your child will not be able to efficiently understand these social norms unless they are able to put it into practice. Children with autism learn more through hands-on application rather than lessons.
With regards to practice, make sure to take things as slowly as possible so that your child will not be overwhelmed. In the beginning, you can practice proper social behavior with your child in the comforts of your home. As you progress with practicing, incorporate more people including family members and even close friends of the family.
Once your child becomes more comfortable working with you and the rest of the family, try to organize learning sessions with other parents in the same situation. Children with autism understand each other well. Helping them work alongside one another is the best stepping stone towards more advanced practicing.
Eventually, you’ll work your way up to help your child practice socialization in a public setting. One thing to take note of is that you should go along with the pace of your child. Check if they are comfortable before proceeding with more advanced levels of practicing. It’s their level you have to follow not yours.
This is perhaps the most important tip we can teach you. Patience is indeed a virtue with regards to teaching your child with autism the proper social norms. It will be a fun learning experience for the both of you so make sure to enjoy it.
The truth is that there are extra steps when it comes to teaching children with autism. However, these extra steps are necessary to ensure that the growth of your child is proper and normal. Teaching them social norms is one of the biggest hurdles you’ll face but with these tips, it can be done quite easily.