Richmond Therapist

Social Skills Development for AutismRichmond, TX

Language and speech are a big part of social skills development for children with autism. Many times, autistic children have trouble understanding how to communicate and interact with their peers. If your child has difficulty in social situations, social skills development for autism may help.

Social skills development for autism is available at Small Talk Therapy Services in Richmond. We understand that you want to see your child thrive in every respect. Call us today at (832) 900-1198 to learn more about our services or schedule an appointment.

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Understanding Social Skills

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, there are three major components to social skills: (1) using language, (2) changing language, and (3) following rules. Children who know how to use language understand how to use it for different reasons. They can switch to and from greeting, informing, demanding, promising, and requesting. Children who understand how to change language also know how to adapt their speech to their audience. They know that talking to a baby is different than talking to an adult, for instance. Finally, children who can follow social communication rules understand how to meet unspoken expectations, such as taking turns while talking, maintaining eye contact, and picking up on body language.

It is normal for children to struggle with these issues as they learn. However, most neurotypical children will typically grow out of these difficulties, while autistic children will have trouble developing proper social skills organically. This is true no matter where on the spectrum they lie, though some autistic children have more issues with social skills than others. In any case, all can benefit from social skills training to help them better integrate with their peers and independently navigate the world around them. Autistic children may need help with play skills, conversation skills, emotional skills, and problem-solving skills specifically.

Why Social Skills Development Is Important

As humans, social interaction is at the center of everything we do. Social skills begin developing as soon as in infancy, though children with autism may need social skills training throughout childhood and into adulthood. Early intervention is essential, as children can only move onto higher-level social skills once they have established the basics.

Adequate social skills are necessary at any age. They can contribute to the child's ability (or inability) to make and maintain friendships, achieve academic success, and progress in their professional lives as an adult. Consequently, children who never develop proper social skills may experience deep feelings of isolation and unfulfillment. These negative feelings are likely to only worsen over time.

How Autism Affects Social Skills

While neurotypical children may seem to have an innate understanding of how to communicate and interact with their peers, autistic children may appear to struggle or even be detached. This is normal for children on the autism spectrum, almost all of whom have issues with social interaction and communication. In comparison to neurotypical children, autistic children may appear:

  • Difficult to comfort
  • Generally unusual, particularly when approaching other children
  • Indifferent to others and happy with just their own company
  • Overly formal and strict
  • Withdrawn

Additionally, many autistic children may avoid making eye contact, asking and answering questions, or using pleasantries such as" please" and "thank you." Of course, every autistic child has a different set of social skills. Some may have a strong command of basic communication skills without the ability to understand others' thoughts and feelings and respond appropriately without treatment. This phenomenon is also known as “mind-blindness” or “social blindness.”

What Is Social Skills Development for Autism

For autistic children, social skills development aims to understand how to navigate social reality as seen by society at large. A qualified speech therapist can help walk the parents and child through this process by breaking down social skills into their most basic components. Often, this starts by noting any external symptoms of autism spectrum disorder, such as an inability to maintain eye contact or interpret figurative speech. Our team works closely with our clients to create a treatment plan formulated for each child's unique needs and abilities.

The child may benefit from a wide variety of different treatment methods. Intensive behavioral treatments, like applied behavioral analysis (ABA), are particularly useful for children undergoing early intervention. Such methods come from on the psychobiological model, or the framework, that brain structure is directly associated with a child's lived experiences.

We can also assume the opposite assumption: A child's lived experiences may affect their brain structure. The right speech therapist will try to reconcile any differences between a child's lived experiences and brain structure to encourage proper social skills development.

Call Us Today

We know that every parent wants the best for their child. If your autistic child is having trouble in social situations, we at Small Talk Therapy Services may be able to help. Call us today at (832) 900-1198 to learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are life skills the same thing as social skills?

No. "Life skills" refers to the skills you need to live independently. Ideally, an autistic child will grow up to have both life skills and social skills. However, it is possible to have life skills without social skills.

What can I do to help my autistic child develop social skills?

Taking your child to a professional is the best way to encourage their social skills development. As a parent, however, you can help your child by reducing exposure to social stressors and starting with the basics. Allow your child to practice new social skills in various environments and with different people.

Are there any prescription medications that can help my autistic child with social skills development?

As of yet, there are no FDA-approved drugs for social skills development in autistic children. A qualified speech therapist can help your child improve their social skills through a series of interventions.

Is social skills training common among autistic children?

According to one IAN Research survey, 14% of participating families reported using social skills groups as part of their child’s current treatment plan. This number was even higher for older children (eight- to 12-year-olds) and those with Asperger's syndrome.

My child's school offers autistic children a program to help autistic children develop social skills. Should I send them to this program?

Ask who will be leading the program first. It is not uncommon for these programs to be run by someone without any professional training or credentials. Your best bet is to work with a speech therapist experienced in dealing with other speech, language, and communication disorders.

Contact Us

Small Talk Therapy Services is located at
7830 W Grand Pkwy South Suite 270a
Richmond, TX

(832) 900-1198