Merging Social Worlds

Merging Social Worlds

Sometimes, children with Autism are bullied, but it is our job to address, correct, and minimize the events leading up to, during and after bullying so that we can prevent it from happening again.

The first step is to educate our children on how they can appropriately interact with children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD. When a child with Autism behaves in an unusual manner, other typically developed children will notice their behavior, but they might not have the right tools to help them react appropriately. The second step is to teach your child how to react in unfamiliar situations. If your child has never met, seen, or interacted with a child with Autism, then it is possible that their first reaction might be to make fun of the child’s unusual behaviors. But, if we include the third step, which is to expose and familiarize your child to Autism, then we are on a path to raising more inclusive, kind, and compassionate children.

  1. How to Educate Your Child
  2. Tools to Help Your Child React Appropriately In Social Settings
    • When a child experiences an unfamiliar situation for the first time, like seeing a child with ASD behave differently than them, it can be difficult for them to regulate their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in response to what they observe. Therefore, it is important to give your child a “tool-box” full of ways to regulate their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. I find it true that the way one thinks is the way that they will feel, and how one feels will determine how they will act. If your child thinks that a child with ASD is “weird,” “stupid,” and so forth, then they might feel like they are better than the other child, and in response, they can act unfriendly. However, if we are able to change the way our children think about other children with ASD, then we can modify their feelings, and correct their behaviors. Here are a few resources that you can put in your child’s “tool-box.”
      • Practice self-control with games. (Blurt. In a classroom setting, ask a question from a Blurt card, and allow only two students to shout out the answer to the question. Everyone else must use self-control and remain silent, even if they know the answer. The person who says the correct answer will move on to the next seat, while the other student will sit down at that desk. As the game continues, the goal is to try and make it all the way around the room.
      • Talk to your child about bullying and why it is wrong to mistreat others. Go over examples of appropriate and kind ways to interact with others.
      • Teach tolerance, and increase awareness and acceptance of others by holding meaningful conversations.
      • Teach self-advocacy so that your child learns how to speak up for themselves if they are ever bullied. When your child is able to easily recognize a situation like bullying, then they can make a stance against it. The goal of teaching self-advocacy is for your child to speak up about bullying when they experience it, or they see it happening to others.
      • Understanding facial expressions and body language could help your child interact better with non-verbal children with ASD.
      • Keep things simple. Let your child know that children with ASD tend to understand sentences differently than a typically developed child. Your child may need to repeat their words, and speak in a clear and concise way. For example, say shorter phrases like, “Come play,” “Do you like trains?” “Do you want blocks?” Using short but appropriate sentences can help bridge the communication barrier between a typically developed child and a child with ASD. Also, teaching your child to use hand gestures, like pointing and waving can help increase communication when playing.
  3. How to Expose and Familiarize Your Child to Children with ASD in Social Settings 
    • Organize an inclusive social event that will give children the opportunity to meet friends and peers with similar interests.
    • Enroll your child in integrated playgroups and after-school activities. Examples of social groups are Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Karate, or Chess club.
    • If you are interested in learning more about how children with Autism socialize, check out this resource by Autism Parenting Magazine (Autism-Social-Skills-How-to-Enhance-Social-Interaction). 
      • What Social Skills Are Affected by Autism?
      • What Social Skills Does a Child With Autism Need?
      • How To Improve Your Child’s Social Skills
      • Social Skills Therapy for Autism
      • Strategies for Teaching and Developing Social Skills, and more!

With these 3 steps, you can encourage your child to be an active participant in normalizing socialization between typically developed children and children with Autism.

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