Michael is verbal and extremely social. Everybody who knows him, or reads about him in my blogs, could see that. I used to think that having this ability would magically solve the social issues and problems he experiences when having a conversation. But it didn’t. What it has done, is made me see through my beautiful little boy’s eyes, how he sees the world, and how he does not understand why certain things he says can be viewed as rude, strange or wrong. He has taught me so much, and continues to, about being myself, living in the moment, and laughing and enjoying life. I have realized that it is my turn to teach him how to talk to people in ways that will not alienate him from peers. He is starting to get it though, and even when confused, will share that confusion with me and we will come up with a way to make it work for both of us.
Here are 5 Ways I Teach My Exceptional Son Social Skills:
- Modeling how to make polite chit chat by correcting: Just the other day Michael and I were at the library. He remembered a librarian’s name and announced it then walked right past her. She knows Michael so laughed and said, “Well, I’ll try not to take offence.” I knew she wasn’t offended, but this was my cue to gently remind Michael that he needed to greet her with a “hi, aren’t you Jody? How are you? I’m Michael. Do you remember me? etc.
- Scripting out different dialogues for social conversations throughout the day in advance: This is a good one to help your child learn how to talk at stores, school, on play dates with friends. Practice these scripts between the two of you.
- Talk about his feelings, mine and other people’s: This is big one. Michael is starting to understand my feelings and perspective slowly. I use this to explain that when he says this it hurts my feelings. I use the, “how would you feel if someone said or did this?” I suggest how he could try and see if someone wants to talk, is uncomfortable by looking at their face and tone of voice.
- Token System to Earn Rewards for Good Behavior and Reparations to Say Sorry: Yes, this can end up being very black and white, but most people with autism see things in black and white terms. So I let Michael earn tokens to trade in for a reward, or when he makes a mistake and is genuinely sorry, he earns it by reparations to me, helping with a chore, dishes, etc. He is beginning to recognize why you need to listen and follow rules.
- Tell stories about yours and other people’s childhoods: OK, I’m a writer, but this goes over great in most families. All kids like to hear stories of how their parents were raised, what they did, how their grandmas and grandpas handled it. I entertain Michael by telling him these stories and teach him about how other people’s feelings, mine, my parents, and his, matter.
Exceptional Parents, how do you teach your Exceptional Child social skills? How are they with people, one on one and in groups? This is challenging for our exceptional kids due to the wiring of their brains. But remember, gently introduce them to neuro typical society by showing them how to interact. Also, instruct neuro typical people on how to interact with your child and meet them halfway. By doing that, everyone is happy and will grow from the experience. Until next time.