Friday, July 29, 2011

Autism Social Skills - Why Do Children With Autism Need Friendships?

Our children with Autism need friendships for a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons are the same as our typical children. Some of those reasons are a bit different for our children.

Of course children with Autism need friends to be able to practice social skills. They need to learn to share and take turns. Friends are many times with people longer than siblings. Siblings share location and parents. Friends share interests and time.

It is a bit more complicated when our child has Autism. They sometimes do not seem to really want friends. Our children like spending time alone. Many of our children like the quiet. There is nothing wrong with that. Sometimes. Even most of the time.

The only problem is that they are missing out on a different type of relationship. Friendship is different than the relationship between us and our children. It is also different than the relationship between siblings. It requires different skills.

Sometimes parents are years down the road before they think about friends. Children with Autism are lonely in a way that is difficult to describe to a parent of a typical child.

This is one area we can do something about. We need to start planning in a strategic way from the early years. Short play dates during the toddler years and planned one on one visits as our child gets older are important. Putting our child in position to find friends is important.

Do the children in the neighborhood go someplace in particular on Friday nights? Is there a Boy Scout troop or a Girl Scout troop? How about baseball? We will have to do the planning ourselves, probably for longer than a lot of children who do not have Autism. It is possible to help our child find a friend or two though.

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Mylinda Elliott is the parent of five children. The third of the five has Autism which was diagnosed early on. The fourth of the five children has Aspergers. She is a self taught expert on Autism Spectrum Disorders. Mylinda Elliott has also worked professionally in the disability world for the past fifteen years. She is considered the "Go To" woman for advice or resources on disabilities.

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