How to Teach Social Skills to Children With Autism

Children that have Autism often have great difficulty in social situations. What comes naturally to most children does not come naturally to children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder. Lack of social skills makes it difficult for these children to make and keep friends and can lead to social isolation. Learn to teach social skills to your child with Autism. Give him the tools he needs to be appropriate in social situations.

Teach your child to recognize the feelings of others. Many children with Autism have great difficulty understanding how others feel by reading cues. This greatly impacts their social interactions. Use picture cards, books and magazines to point out facial expressions to your child. Teach them what each facial expression is and what it means. Let him practice by telling you what each facial expression is and what it means.

Practice reciprocal interactions. Some children with Autism have very one-sided conversations. They often talk only about their favorite subject, fail to ask questions to the person they converse with and fail to acknowledge interests of the person that they converse with. Teach your child how to ask questions during a conversation and practice taking turns while talking. Let your child ask a question, answer it and let her ask another question. Do this exercise regularly to teach her how to have a conversation.

Use social stories. Social stories are simple stories written from your child's point of view. Each social story describes a specific situation, what other people will do or say in that situation and what your child is expected to do or say in that situation. Write different social stories to teach your child different social skills. See examples of social stories online at Polyxo.

Rehearse social situations through role-play. If your child has difficulty in a specific social situation, practice it beforehand. Unlike other children, children with Autism must be taught what to say and do in specific situations. Engage in role-play with your child to physically act out the situation. Tell her what she is expected to say or do and then actually have her act it out with you.


You'll know your child has mastered a social skill when she consistently demonstrates it across environments. This shows you she has generalized the skill.


Learning social skills takes practice. Don't expect your child to master a social skill after a few role-playing exercises. Consistent review and opportunities to use newly acquired skills will help him be successful.