Understanding Autism: Difficulty In Social Situations

 

While it’s important to stress that no two people with autism experience the condition in the same way, some symptoms are more common than others. For example, many children with autism and related disorders find difficulty in social situations.

What are ‘social situations’?

The social situation is a term that can describe a broad range of events that we encounter in our daily lives. For children, social situations can include everything from going to school to spending time with their siblings. In short, it refers to any situation where we are surrounded by others.

 

Why do children with autism and related disorders tend to struggle in social situations?

Children with autism and related disorders may struggle in social situations because they tend to experience the world differently than their neurotypical peers. As such, they may not know how to accurately respond to specific social cues that other children seem to understand from an early age.

 

Because of this, it is a common misconception that people with autism are not sociable – whereas this is simply not the case. It may just be that certain adjustments need to be made in these situations in order for your child to feel more comfortable – and making these accommodations can enable them to better communicate with those around them and make new friends.

 

How can I help my child cope better socially?

Fortunately, there are many ways in which you can make it easier for your child to thrive in social situations they may otherwise feel uncomfortable. This is an important duty to handle, especially when you consider the fact that nearly 1 in 3 people with autism are socially isolated.

 

For example, interventive therapies, such as occupational or speech therapy, can help your child develop socially by improving their communication and self-expression skills. As a result, they’re more adept when it comes to navigating social situations and talking to others.

 

Reading social stories can also help your child to better understand social situations ahead of time – especially those that may be overwhelming, such as going to visit the doctor or dentist. By developing their understanding of unfamiliar events ahead of time, they can adequately prepare themselves for what is to come, as opposed to being overwhelmed.

 

Encouraging your child to participate in a wide range of extracurricular hobbies, especially team-based activities, can also help them to socialize with others, especially those who are their own age. This often comes down to the fact that it encourages them to spend more time playing or interacting with others than doing so on their own. Furthermore, it provides them with a common point of interest to bring into discussion with their peers. As such, you may notice that it is particularly beneficial if their hobby relates to their special interest, should they have one.

 

However, while it is important that you encourage your child to socialize and make friends as much as possible, you must also remember that we all need a break from time to time in order to recharge our social batteries!

Neurodiverse children and adults experience the world in different ways to neurotypical people. For example, they may respond differently to sounds, sights, and sensations due to how they process the things happening around them.

 

However, the issue is that the world is built for neurotypical people and their comfort, meaning that the varying needs of the neurodiverse population are not taken into account. While there has been plenty of positive change in terms of inclusivity (such as sensory-friendly film screenings) in recent years, there is still a long way to go.

 

As a result, psychologists have developed a range of intervention techniques used to support those with autism and related disorders so that they can reach their full potential. One such intervention is therapy.

 

In this guide, we will walk you through some of the different forms of therapy available at our clinic and how to decide which program is right for you.

 

Applied Behavior Analysis

Applied Behavior Analysis.

 

Applied behavior analysis, or ABA, is a therapy program based on our behaviors, habits, and thought patterns. It teaches children with autism and related disorders how one action can lead to another – making it a great way to promote positive behaviors and decrease those that may be problematic.

 

During ABA sessions, children will:

 

ABA therapies were designed with conditions such as autism in mind, meaning they are suitable for any child who has received a diagnosis. However, you may find them particularly beneficial if your child showcases a lot of negative behaviors.

 

Speech therapy.

 

As the name indicates, speech therapy targets any problems the user may have with speech or communication. It has been used to support those with various speech impediments since 1919 – making it an incredibly reliable intervention technique.

 

During speech therapy, children will:

 

You may find speech therapy beneficial if your child is non-verbal or finds it hard to communicate with others. Ahead of time, your therapist will be able to talk you through the program and the different techniques that will be used. For example, one way in which we improve speech during our sessions is by practicing exercises that strengthen the muscles in our mouth, jaw, and neck. They will also be able to inform you about what kind of progress you can expect during your time together.

 

Occupational therapy.

 

Occupation therapy is perhaps the most popular therapy for children and related disorders. It focuses on helping children develop a range of daily living skills to better navigate the world around them – touching on both cognitive and physical skills in doing so.

 

During occupational therapy, children will:

 

As a result, occupational therapy can be useful for all children with autism and related disorders due to the wide scope of skills it covers. As your program can be tailored to your child’s individual needs, it can be used to cover any gaps in their knowledge or skill set that would otherwise stand in their way of reaching their full potential. As such, it may be beneficial for children who are experiencing developmental delays. For example, you may notice that your child reaches certain milestones much later than their older sibling did.

 

Group Therapy.

 

Whenever we think of therapy sessions, it’s easy to think of the way they are depicted in movies – where you lie on a sofa and work with a therapist one-on-one. However, this is not always the case. To begin, therapies for children are much more active, as this is often the best way to make progress. Furthemore, group therapy – whether that be in the form of family sessions or peer support groups, can also prove to be very beneficial when it comes to autism and related disorders.

 

During group therapy, children will:

 

Group therapy can be an excellent way for your child to come out of their shell, especially as it helps them interact with other children who experience the world the same way they do. It can also be a valuable tool for families, as it gives you a greater insight into what your child is experiencing and gives you the chance to connect with other parents. For siblings of those with autism, it can help them learn why their brother/sister acts a little differently.

Speech Therapy

 

Our success, both within our personal lives and in the professional realm, is often dictated by how we are able to communicate with those around us. After all, so much of our time is dedicated to social interaction and interpersonal relationships, even during the pandemic when the majority of these interactions occurred behind the screen.

 

However, for children with autism and related disorders, developing effective communication skills is harder than it would be for the average neurotypical person. In fact, it’s estimated that 40% of people with autism are nonverbal – with many others finding verbal or face-to-face communication difficult (AutismSpeaks)

 

While no two people experience autism in the same way, those with autism or related disorders may face communication barriers such as:

 

 

However, there are various steps you can take to help your child with autism find their voice – with one of the most effective methods being therapy services such as speech therapy.

 

What is Speech Therapy?

 

Speech Therapy has a long and well-documented history and rose to prominence in the early 19th century. While it is an effective tool for those with autism and related disorders, it is also used to support children and adults with learning difficulties, language disorders, and those who experience hearing loss (amongst others).

 

During the typical speech therapy session, participants will work alongside a licensed therapist to develop a wide range of communication skills that will enable them to thrive in any environment.

 

These services often help children with autism and related disorders in all aspects of their life. For example, they may find it easier to communicate with their peers and develop better interpersonal relationships as a result. They can also help ready teens for entering the professional world. However (and perhaps most importantly), speech therapy can help children with autism, and related disorders discover the benefits of self-expression. When they can communicate more effectively, they’ll be able to let others know when they are unhappy and why – which could reduce the chances of them dealing with meltdowns or emotional outbursts.

 

What skills are developed in Speech Therapy?

 

Again, the nature of the speech therapy support will vary depending on the individual in question. However, these sessions often include:

 

 

At Alee Behavioral, we provide children with autism and their families with a range of therapy services – including speech therapy, Applied Behavioral Analysis, and home-based therapeutic services. Get in touch to find out more!

Any questions? Give us a call!

401-228-8303

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