Communication - Social Difficulties

May have difficulty understanding rules of conversation i.e. initiating, staying on topic, turn taking, context, listening and understanding the feelings and needs of others.

 

  1. Social Scripts – These are pre-taught scripts for specific situations.  They may include conversation starters, topics of conversation and responses.  They help reduce stress and are used for a while and then phased out once automatic.

  2. Social Skills group – These help teach conversation skills, how to make friends and socialise, what makes a good friend.  This may include role play.

  3. Social Stories™ – Use these to show the rules and structure of conversation and to aid practice.

  4. Visual Supports – There are many ways to use visual supports in conversation.  You may use visuals such as conversation topic cards, visuals to show whose turn it is to talk.

 

May interrupt other’s conversations.

 

  1. Social Skills group – These help teach conversation skills including waiting your turn.  This may include role play.

  2. Visual Reminders – These can include ‘no interrupting’ signs around the room, a list of ‘rules’ on the wall, a secret signal to show them that they are interrupting without drawing other people’s attention to it.

  3. No Interrupting Training – Tell them that you are doing a task that can’t be interrupted i.e. a phone call.  Set them up with a task to keep them occupied and praise when they haven’t interrupted.  Start with short amounts of time then build the time up slowly.

 

May talk constantly about a preferred subject.

 

  1. Set time limits for talking about their preferred subject e.g. four times a day for 20 minutes each time.

  2. Add time into schedule to discuss/talk about obsessive interests.

  3. Visual reminders of when they can talk about their preferred subjects and how long for.

  4. Use a timer to demonstrate time limits.

  5. Expand their interests using their preferred subject as a starting point.

  6. Use praise when they have talked about a different topic.

May not notice if conversation partner is disinterested.

 

  1. Social Skills group – These help teach conversation skills including taking turns.  This may include role play.

  2. Social Stories™ – Use these to show the rules and structure of conversation and to aid practice.

  3. Visual Supports – There are many ways to use visual supports in conversation.  You may use visuals to show whose turn it is to talk.

 

May say things that are inappropriate and have little understanding as to how this may affect others.

 

  1. Explain rules and expectations and what not to say in different situations.

  2. If they say something inappropriate, give an explanation as to why it isn’t appropriate and follow up later if more information is needed.

 

May have difficulty staying on track and may become distracted easily.

 

  1. Keep distractions to a minimum.

  2. Environmental Profile – Take notes to figure out what may be causing distraction and modify the physical environment if appropriate.

 

May fail to hear language if over stimulated.

 

  1. Keep distractions to a minimum.

  2. Work in smaller group or move to a smaller/quieter area.

 

May not understand other people’s perspective or even that other people think differently (Theory of Mind).

 

  1. Clarify hidden meanings and interpret what is happening in a situation.  This may include explaining thoughts, feelings and perspectives of others.

  2. Social Skills group – These help teach understanding of other people thoughts, feelings and perspectives.  This may include role play.

  3. Label feelings as they happen i.e. 'you are sad', 'you are excited'.  You could also use feelings pictures during this exchange.

 

May struggle to understand other people’s body language, facial expressions and non-verbal cues.

 

  1. Social Skills group – These help teach understanding of emotions (body language, facial expressions, anger control and self regulation).  This may include role play.

  2. Label feelings as they happen i.e. 'you are sad', 'you are excited'.  You could also use feelings pictures during this exchange.

  3. Practice understanding facial expression with worksheets and games.

 

May struggle to read other people’s emotions (especially if subtle).

 

  1. Social Skills group – These help teach understanding of emotions (body language, facial expressions, anger control and self regulation).  This may include role play.

  2. Label feelings as they happen i.e. 'you are sad', 'you are excited'.  You could also use feelings pictures during this exchange.

  3. Practice understanding emotions with Emotion Cards Matching Games.

  4. Clarify hidden meanings and interpret what is happening in a situation.  This may include explaining thoughts, feelings and perspectives of others.

  5. Use Social Stories™ that describe a specific social situation.  You can talk through how each person may be feeling in the situation, this may include role play.

 

May not understand other people’s intentions and therefore can be vulnerable.

 

  1. Clarify hidden meanings and interpret what is happening in a situation.  This may include explaining thoughts, feelings and perspectives of others.

  2. A Social Skills group can help teach understanding of other people thoughts, feelings and perspectives.  This may include role play.

  3. A Social Skills group can help teach understanding of emotions (body language, facial expressions, anger control and self regulation).  This may include role play.

 

May not recognise lies and manipulation of others.

 

  1. Clarify hidden meanings and interpret what is happening in a situation.  This may include explaining thoughts, feelings and perspectives of others.

  2. A Social Skills group can help teach understanding of other people thoughts, feelings and perspectives.  This may include role play.

  3. A Social Skills group can help teach understanding of emotions (body language, facial expressions, anger control and self regulation).  This may include role play.

 

May use stimming, aggression, pacing, shut down, self harm, vocal noises and echolalia to communicate.

 

  1. See Self-stimulatory Behaviour, Challenging Behaviour and Communication - Language Difficulties sections for advice.

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SHINE for Autism is a registered CIO - Charity number 1185018
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