Autism Society records most keynote and concurrent sessions at their annual conferences. You can see and hear those recordings by purchasing full online access, or individual recordings.
In this presentation, co-presented by a parent and young adult with autism, participants will discover how to support individuals with autism to participate more fully and naturally in social activities. This session is interactive and participants will experience how challenges in the areas of communication, perception, and sensory processing contribute to difficulties in making social connections. Participants will learn promising natural supports/social activities including social technology available to help individuals with autism build social relationships, friendships, and social lives.
Importance of Social Skills
Common social challenges
Lets see how easy it is for you to make a friend while experiencing a challenge with communication, perception, and sensory challenges.
1. Communication Activity
2. Theory of Mind Activity
3. Sensory Activity
Opportunities to Socialize
– Online chat groups
– Set up play dates
– Develop a Circle of Friends
– Adaptive programs
– Parent can volunteer to teach
– Scouts, 4H etc…
– Parent can volunteer to be leader
– Special Interest topic
– Music, Art etc…
– Support group
– Social skills group
– Hobby group -Interests in similar things (trains, auto racing, etc…)
– Recreation Department
– Adaptive Programs
– School Teams
Other ways to expand social network
Examples of socializing via technology – Facebook Friends
Article from newspaper
Stay on the dotted white line.Keep your shoes tied.These used to be Collin's goals. He is a sophomore cross country runner who simply wanted to keep his shoelaces from coming undone and to not accidentally stray off the course.The goals might not seem like much in the way of competition, but Collin does not normally see in the color of the contest.Collin has autism.Abstract ideas like competing against the kid next to you are usually foreign to him. So are concepts like his favorites or why he might like or dislike something. His mind does not process information that way.The social aspect of the everyday world is kind of alien to him," his mother said. Autism is a spectrum disorder that mainly affects communication and socialization skills. Transition to different situations or environments can be difficult to adjust to.Collin usually talks only if he's spoken to and is better at asking a question than formulating an original thought. His social skills can appear to be non-existent.Because of that and his trouble with transition, his mother and father were worried about how he would go from middle school to high school, a social world unlike any other.The cross country coach helped the shift. He taught Collin in second grade and saw him at an event the summer before his freshman year. The coach asked if he would like to come out for cross country, thinking he could be team manager. It would be a good way to interact with people, the coach figured.But to the surprise of the coach and Collin's parents, he showed up to summer workouts not to hand out water bottles and tote towels, but to run.He did his best to stay with the pack during runs and never quit when he was tired, gaining respect and acceptance. So the coach gave him a uniform and put him on the team.Collin’s mother realized just how much he enjoyed running when Collin had a doctor's appointment and could not make practice. On the way home, he and his mother were passing by the course the team was running. Collin saw them and spoke. "Collin is a man of little words," his mother said. "But he told me, 'Pull over, mom,' and he started getting out of the car to catch up with the team. He was in his street clothes.Collin also attended the Friday pasta dinners with the team. During those gatherings, the team states their personal goals. They'd usually skip Collin, who stayed quiet, but one day he spoke up with a goal of his own: stay on the dotted line.The team laughed a little at such a simple goal. Then later that season, Collin had another goal: keep his laces tied.This season, one of the team leaders went to the coach. He was inspired by Collin and told the coach the team, one of the best in the state, sometimes takes the sport too seriously and puts too much emphasis on its competitive goals."It's the simple things we need to think about," he told the coach.Earlier this season, Collin had a competitive and social breakthrough. His goals became competition-oriented. He said his goal was to pass everyone in front of him. That surprised the team and the coach, but not as much as the goal he set before the Invitational. Collin was aware of his abilities and for the first time ever, showed an interest in his personal time.He set a goal to run the 5,000-meter course quicker than 24 minutes.Then, with the coach shouting encouragement the final 300 yards, Collin finished in 23:49. He met his goal.His teammates gathered around trying to see if Collin broke 24 minutes. When they saw the time, they all offered their congratulations. He was obviously uncomfortable with the attention, but the smile cracked on his face."Everyone was very happy for him," the coach said. "The guys felt what he did was the most impressive thing that happened at that meet, and we had 13 (personal records). "To us, it appeared that he finally grasped the sport."Every Monday the team gives out an old, snug school jersey with No. 1 on it. It's given to the athlete who gave the best effort the previous week.Two days after the Invitational, Collin received that jersey.
Special Olympics-Special Olympics is dedicated to empowering individuals with intellectual disabilities to become physically fit, productive and respected members of society.
Play Dates- Steps to set up play dates….
What makes it difficult for individual to have a social life?
Make an Action Plan Activity
So…What is the plan of action?
Circle of Friends Activity
Letter about Circle of Friends (Jean Shaw)
When my eldest son was eighteen we bought him a second hand car. When my youngest son reached the same age we bought him two second hand videos from e-bay. Why? Well, my youngest son has autism and that was all he wanted. He did, however, have a party for about 100 people which was something I'd never dreamed possible. Loud music and flashing lights would have been impossible a few years ago and so would crowds of noisy, happy people. But these weren't just any people. These were Jodi's friends! I would recommend a Circle of Friends. It may start off small but it is surprising how quickly it can escalate. Anyone who truly cares about the well-being and future of an individual can really help empower that person to have a "voice", to build friendships, strengthen social networks and realize their dreams and ambitions. None of Jodi's friends would consider themselves "special" but we do. Individually they are all wonderful but put them together in a Circle and the result is pretty amazing. Try it and see. Everyone needs friends!
Content Area: Social Skills
L. Lynn Stansberry Brusnahan, Ph.D.
University of St. Thomas