Teaching social skills during summer
Summer is a rewarding period when parents get to spend a lot of time with their kids, but it can also be challenging, especially if you are a parent of a child with autism or sensory issues. However, you can use this period to teach your child social skills or help them improve their skills. We've prepared a guide with tips that can help you do this.
Be a good role model
Our kids are always mirroring us, no matter what we do. Therefore, if you want to teach your child social skills, you may need to work on your social skills first. Life gets hectic sometimes and we tend to forget the beauty of human interaction - make it a habit to greet each person you know with a smile, especially when your child is there to see you. Be genuinely interested in the people around you. Your child will start mimicking you and that is the most natural way for them to acquire social skills.
Prepare a list of social rules
Most families have house rules written on a whiteboard or their fridge. So, why don't create a list of social rules so that your child can see them daily? They tend to forget these things, and this is the best way to teach them. You can write simple rules such as greeting people with a smile, saying Hi when we meet someone, and Goodbye when we are leaving. You can make a game out of it and reward your child for each thing they do right. Positive reinforcement is the best form of teaching.
Many adults struggle with small talk, so if you want your child to improve conversation you should practice with them. It can be something as simple as asking them questions each evening about the day before. Even if you don't get the right answer immediately, it's important to persist and keep doing it each night. The more you practice, the better it will get. For those that want to go one step further, there are board games for autistic kids that are offering interesting conversation prompts.
Sharing time with family
It's important to spend time with family and create family rituals that will make your child feel safe and comfortable. The goal is to create an environment where they will feel safe and loved, and that will stimulate them to use their social skills. If your child doesn't have siblings, you can invite over other family members with their kids, your child's cousins.
You can use your free time in the summer to enroll in some summer projects with your kid. They are an excellent occasion to meet other parents and other kids and to practice social skills. Make sure to choose a project based on your kid's interests. If you are not sure what do they prefer, observe them see which activities they enjoy most. Whether it's painting, singing, or dancing? Then, try to find some project that matches their interests.
Your child must stay in touch with other kids, even though there is no school. Make sure to organize play dates every once in a while. Ideally, you should have them each week, but everything depends on your schedule. You can invite their friends over or you could go to their house. To start, your house is a safer option because your child is already familiar with space and it makes them feel more confident. Of course, play dates should be supervised by at least one adult.
We hope you will try to incorporate some of these tips into your daily routine. You may not see improvement immediately, but it's important to persist and practice with your child as much as possible. Some other ideas you can try out include group activities for kids with autism that are designed to help them practice social skills in a fun and easy way. Another thing to consider is reading the books that describe good manners and how we should behave in certain situations. Make sure that the book you are buying has plenty of illustrations because that will enable them to focus for a bit longer.