Not every child is a social butterfly, this isn’t new knowledge. Many challenges can get in the way of social skills, such as anxiety, but individuals with autism tend to struggle especially in this area. This is because autism affects many of the areas that have to do with recognizing social cues and responding. Developing autism social skills is essential for a child to grow into a more independent and successful young adult, which is why programs like ours and research teams are always searching for better ways to identify and assist struggling points of autism social skills.
Recognizing areas of strength and weakness for better treatment
Many identifying tactics tend to focus on weaknesses and ignore strengths, but one particular clinical psychologist believes this is a large mistake, she thinks we should be paying attention to both sides. Dr. Emily Neuhaus, clinical psychologist at Seattle Children’s Autism Center and a research fellow at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, thinks that “social motivation” plays a large role in whether a child struggles with autism social skills or not.
When she mentions “social motivation”, she’s referring to that need or want for social interactions. By studying this in individuals with autism, Dr. Neuhaus hopes to be able to better help young people develop better social skills.
What her research tells us
Though Dr. Neuhaus needs to continue her research for a longer period of time, the early results seem promising in identifying the root factor of why an individual’s autism social skills aren’t developing as well as they should be. Social skills can get halted by outside issues like social anxiety or impulsivity, so identifying that root cause is essential for reaching success.
Another tactic Dr. Neuhaus has proposed is asking the student how they feel about social interactions–whether they like them, how they make them feel, and more. Specifically, she wants to know what social interactions kids with autism enjoy. This tactic is very different from most autism research because it gives the research the point-of-view from the individuals with autism themselves.
Dr. Neuhaus’ research is incredibly interesting and could provide very useful research concerning autism social skills down the line. Through her research, she hopes to dispel the idea that individuals with autism aren’t interested in social interaction, they just need more guidance. In our program, we use many different types of therapies and skill building techniques to help our students with autism develop the tools they need to succeed in life.
Improving social skills at Seven Stars
Seven Stars is a program that combines residential treatment with adventure therapy to create a multifaceted, effective program for adolescents, ages 13 to 18, struggling with emotional and behavioral issues as a result of their neurodevelopmental disorder.
We embed the objectives we have for each student into daily activities and teach emotional wellness skills such as conflict resolution, problem solving, autism social skills, academic skills, self-efficacy and prosocial behaviors. In our autism school for teens, we strive to help each of our students develop the skills necessary to live full, productive lives.
For more information about how Seven Stars can help your child with autism social skills, contact us today at 844-601-1167.
Since 2003, Dr. Gordon Day has passionately helped young people with a wide range of family, emotional, social, neurodevelopmental and behavioral problems. Gordon’s mission has been to help people find their strengths and their own passion for living a full and rewarding life. He is particularly sensitive to the pressures, frustrations and disappointments that adolescents face that can sometimes cause them and their loved ones to want to withdraw and throw their hands up in despair.
Dr. Day knows that you really have to understand where a student is coming from and understand their patterns of strengths and needs. When we truly know an individual and their struggles, only then can we truly help.
Dr. Day has pioneered the use of outdoor therapy activities and outdoor living as a dynamic and effective therapeutic tool for learning, confidence building and skill building. His programs provide effective, supportive and encouraging environments that help students find their strengths and power.