Developing social skills in children
The holiday season is in full swing, and that means new toys and learning opportunities for children. Children with Autism and special needs in particular, respond well to structured, repeated, developmentally appropriate “teachable moments” that account for their mental age (not chronological age), sensory needs, and differing attention span.
It’s always a challenge matching the child’s learning style to the lesson materials available, even more so when well meaning family members and friends contribute to the gift pile, and social media hype further muddies the water.
Include your child’s teachers and therapists in the gift discussion
At this time of year, I usually recommend that parents and teachers/therapists have an honest conversation via phone, Email, written note, or in person, re: which gifts can be the most meaningful and thus have the greatest impact at this time, for this particular child. My two decades “in the trenches” have taught me the importance of team collaboration that can help plan and execute an effective and enjoyable “teachable moment”.
If done right, integrating toys & tech can help facilitate cognition and self regulation. Here is my list of toys and how it can benefit a child with autism. You can use these toys as the guidelines or actual basis for your planned “teachable moment”. Good Luck!
Children first need to understand the vocabulary of their environment i.e. how their world “works”. That involves learning to identify basic objects by their appearance, texture, sound, and function. This can be done with various toys including chunky puzzles, picture books, dolls and accessories, matching objects, matching photos, and these materials:
2. Categorization: What goes together (Inclusion & Exclusion)
Children begin to master orientation to person/place/time when they can group alike/unalike objects/photos into categories and explain why. This skills helps develop higher level social skills and Executive Functioning skills which are needed later for self regulation and literacy skills.
Categorization is the precursor to developing the ability to ask and answer why? questions can help a child with special needs learn problem solving skills when things don’t go as planned and improvisation/adjustment is needed.
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Help Your Son With His Social Skillsby katzkoltun
Your instincts about your son are excellent. Monitor his progress in social skills/emotional intelligence as closely as you will his GPA. In the long run, his deepest happiness in life will come from his ability to develop and sustain friendships and close relationships. Academic talent will not get him far unless he knows how to teach, how to empathize, how to connect with others at the heart level, not just by exchanging information. I was in a badly run graduate program where the core faculty members all had excellent reputations as scholars but were incapble of empathizing with and mentoring their students
Connecting to disconnect? — Kashmir Reader
Research has proven Children's social development is at risk due to increased social isolation as children playing by themselves; their linguistic intellectual and imagination development is at risk.
Habitat for kids and wildlife — Surrey Leader
“Council recognizes that playgrounds are very important for children's social development, as it is there they get a chance to play, socialize and meet new friends,” said Delta Mayor Lois.