Teaching Social Skills while Distancing

Resource May 29, 2020

Many individuals on the autism spectrum need support when learning how to navigate social situations. Social distancing doesn’t mean your child’s social goals have to go out the window or be put on pause. While teaching strategies might look different, we can still find creative ways to strive for increased social independence!

With practice, building social skills can help your child access more of what the world has to offer, like meaningful relationships with others. There are two important themes to keep in mind:

1st) Keep your eyes peeled for teachable moments. These are opportunities that naturally occur in day-to-day life that you did not contrive. For example, if you notice your child is interested in a family member’s toy, rather than asking for your child, whisper exactly what your child should say to give them the chance to ask themselves.

2nd) Avoid asking too many questions and instead make comments. We sometimes think asking children questions will encourage them to engage and talk with us, but it might have the opposite effect! Too many questions might cause frustration. As an alternative, make comments about what your child is doing or what you’re doing. Provide praise and attention when they look up at you or make their own comments.

Here are some ways to continue building social independence, while keeping everyone safe:

  • Outdoor Fun: To maintain social distance, take school yard games to the back yard or large open spaces. Games like Red Rover, Simon Says, and Red Light/Green Light provide so many teachable moments and can be enjoyed by all.
  • Come on and Zoom: Believe it or not, your child can have fun with friends on this secure online platform.  Help your kiddo log in with friends and sit back to offer support as needed.
  • No Contact Toy Exchange: Even while spending more time at home, your child can still practice sharing with friends. Schedule a day where you and your child drop a toy off at their friend’s house. It will be so much fun for your child to see their friend’s surprised face when they see what was left for them!

We hope these ideas give you strategies to continue working on your child’s social skills while maintaining social distance. For additional fun activities make sure to follow our social media accounts and read our weekly blog posts.

Have a great day!