5 Social Skills Activities for Children With Autism
Does your child with autism struggle in social situations? You are not alone.
In this article we are going to offer some activities that can help improve their social skills.
But first let’s examine what social skills are and why children with autism struggle in social situations.
What are social skills?
First let’s define what social skills actually are.
Social skills refer to the ability to communicate and interact effectively with others in a variety of social settings.
These skills include verbal and nonverbal communication, as well as the ability to understand and navigate social cues and norms.
Examples of social skills include active listening, empathy, assertiveness, and the ability to read and interpret body language.
Social skills are important for building and maintaining relationships, both personally and professionally.
How autism affects your child’s social skills
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects how your child perceives the world and interacts with others. One of the key characteristics of autism is difficulty with social communication and interaction.
Your child may have difficulty understanding and using nonverbal communication, such as facial expressions and body language. They may also have difficulty initiating and maintaining social interactions, and may be less interested in interacting with others. Additionally, your child may have difficulty understanding social cues and the perspectives of others.
It’s important to note that the severity and specific symptoms of autism can vary greatly from person to person. Some children with autism may have only mild difficulty with social skills, while others may have more severe challenges.
So now that you understand how autism can affect a child’s social development, let’s examine some activities that you can do to help improve your child’s social skills.
5 social skills activities for autistic children
Below we listed 5 activities that you can use to help engage your child’s social skills while having a fun family night.
This game teaches children to follow directions and pay attention to social cues.
How to play: The game is led by a person who is designated as “Simon,” and the goal is for the other players to follow Simon’s commands while avoiding following commands that are not prefaced with the phrase “Simon says.”
Here are the rules for playing Simon Says:
- One player is chosen to be “Simon.”
- Simon gives a command, such as “Simon says touch your nose.”
- The other players must follow the command if it is prefaced with “Simon says.” If it is not prefaced with “Simon says,” they should not follow the command.
- If a player follows a command that was not prefaced with “Simon says,” they are out of the game.
- The game continues until only one player is left. That player becomes the new Simon.
This game helps children practice nonverbal communication and understanding body language.
How to play: Here are the rules for playing Charades:
- Divide the players into teams, with an equal number of players on each team.
- One player from the first team will start by acting out a word or phrase, without using any spoken words or sounds.
- The teammates of the acting player must try to guess what the word or phrase is, within a certain time limit.
- If the teammates successfully guess the word or phrase, the team earns a point.
- Then another player from the same team will act out a new word or phrase.
- After each team has had a turn to act out words or phrases, the team with the most points wins.
- You can also play with a list of words or phrases that are randomly chosen or drawn from a hat.
Eye Contact Game
The Eye Contact Game is a social game that is designed to help autistic children become more comfortable with making and maintaining eye contact. The game can be played with a small group of people, and can be a fun and effective way to improve social skills and communication.
How to play: Here are the rules for playing the Eye Contact Game:
- Players sit in a circle and take turns making direct eye contact with another player for a designated period of time, such as 10 seconds.
- During eye contact, both players must remain silent and not look away from each other.
- When the time is up, the players switch partners and repeat the process.
- The game can be played for a set number of rounds, or until players feel comfortable making eye contact with others.
Emotion Matching Game
This game helps children practice recognizing and matching different emotions.
How to play: Here are the rules for playing the Emotion Matching Game:
- The players are divided into pairs or small groups.
- Each player will select a card with a different emotion written on it.
- Each player will take turns acting out the emotion on their card without saying it.
- The other players will have to guess the emotion that is being acted out.
- The player who correctly guesses the emotion earns a point.
- After each round, players switch cards and repeat the process.
- The game can be played for a set number of rounds or until players feel comfortable identifying and understanding different emotions.
Social Rules Game
This game teaches children about the unwritten rules of social interaction, such as personal space and tone of voice.
How to play: Here are the rules for playing the Social Rules Game:
- The players are divided into pairs or small groups.
- Each round, one player will act out a social scenario, such as a conversation at a party or a job interview.
- The other players will have to identify and point out any social rules or conventions that are being broken in the scenario.
- The player who correctly identifies the most social rules earns a point.
- After each round, players switch roles and repeat the process.
- The game can be played for a set number of rounds or until players feel comfortable understanding and following social rules and conventions.