Many teens with Asperger Syndrome need help to learn how to behave in different social situations. They may have the desire to interact with their peers, but not know how to engage with friends. They may also feel overwhelmed by the idea of new experiences. Building up social skills with practice can help teens participate with their peer group and create opportunities for them to be a part of their community.
Improving Social Skills
Social skills, like life skills, are something that can be learned and practiced. The more your teen can practice these social skills, the more comfortable they will feel.
Social cues: Understanding things like body language, eye contact, or respecting personal space may not come naturally to your teen. Help them understand why we look a person in the eye when we’re speaking, or what it might mean if the other person has their arms crossed across their chest.
Practice Social Scenarios: Parents and family members can practice social scenarios with teens. For example, you can practice introducing yourself by breaking it down into smaller parts: “First we make eye contact. Then we clearly state our name and shake the other person’s hand. Lastly, we repeat the other person’s name by saying ‘Nice to meet you, Jason.’”.
Social Stories: Some teens with Aspergers may benefit from using a social story or visual planner. A social story uses a narrative with pictures that puts your teen into the story. If you’re working on table manners, the story can start: “When Jackson sits down at the table, he puts his napkin in his lap and waits patiently for food to be served.” A line like this could be paired with a photo of Jackson sitting at the table with his napkin in his lap.
Encourage Participation in Extracurriculars: The best way for your teen to become more comfortable around their peers is to practice spending time with them. Some teens with Aspergers may have a low tolerance for noise or the unknown. By spending time with peers, they can build up their tolerance and lessen their anxiety around social situations. If your teen has a special interest, consider encouraging them to join a club or group that incorporates that interest. That way they will already have common ground to talk to their peers.
Organize Other Areas of Their Life: Many teens on the autism spectrum benefit from a schedule and routine. These routines help them know what to expect and can relieve anxiety over the unknown. Keep the rest of their life structured and organized and ensure that the environment is a positive and rewarding one. This allows them to focus on social interactions without concern about other difficulties.
Work With a Professional: When developing social skills, teens with autism can benefit from working with a psychologist or counselor. Therapies often teach children with Aspergers to recognize potential problem situations. In addition, these professionals teach and practice strategies with children so they can handle most situations.
Seven Stars Can Help
Adolescence can present many challenges for teens who are falling behind their peers due to the neurological and developmental lags associated with ASD and ADHD. Seven Stars is one of the nation’s premier residential treatment centers for teens with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Whether diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disorder to date or not, Seven Stars’ students are those who struggle socially, emotionally, and academically.
We put it all together into one comprehensive program driven by experienced experts on how best to assess and help your special student. Seven Stars has a sophisticated, evidence-based, theoretical, and clinical foundation. Multidisciplinary treatment and support are essential for success in treating the neurodevelopmental, learning, psychiatric, communication, emotional, social, and behavioral complications associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder. For more information please call (844) 601-1167.