The ability to make new friends is something that can a challenge for any child. There is always some anxiety involved with approaching and talking to new people.
Now, think about trying to make a new friend when you have a difficult time figuring out social cues, such as body language, facial expressions, hand gestures and figures of speech. Children suffering from autism and similar disorders face this issue every day.
The good news is that there are things parents can do to help ease this process for their child and help them make friends successfully.
Make Sure They Understand What a Friend Is
While this may sound pretty basic, it is important to begin with the basics when trying to help your child develop social skills. After all, if a child doesn’t understand the difference, she may believe a bully is a friend.
When talking with your child, use simple language. For example, you can ask your child if he likes to spend time with someone who calls him names or someone who is nice to him.
Make sure you are literal, because your child is going to be, too. Don’t use abstract wording, as this is just going to confuse your child more.
Use Visuals and Scripts
In many cases, children with asperger syndrome or other developmental issues may benefit from the use of visuals or a script that models a conversation they are likely to have.
For example, a visual aid that shows how to start a conversation, such as asking someone’s name, and then seeing how it branches out, such as asking about the person’s favorite hobbies or subject in school. This type of visual, pyramid type aid can be extremely beneficial.
It may also help to write out a script. Using age-appropriate phrases, such as “cool” can also go a long way in helping your child make friends more easily.
Give the Child Practice in the Real World
Many parents are fearful of public settings. However, getting out in public is crucial if you want your child to be able to practice her social skills. You can even have another child (such as a relative) rehearse the script with your child, as this will help her better understand what is meant by a friend.
As you can see, even though it can be challenging, there are steps you can take and things you can do to help your child make new friends, regardless of the developmental issues he may have.