Autism Resources

Helping Your Child With Autism Make Friends in School

Joshua Sleeper August 27, 2019

School is one of the most formative parts in a child’s life. Not only does it give them the knowledge they need academically, but it can also foster life-long friendships. Children with autism may need a little extra support when it comes to developing true friendships, which is why we compiled 5 ways you can help your child make friends with their schoolmates.

Identify What a Friend Is

The first step to making a friend is understanding what a friend is. Children with autism can have difficulty reading social cues, which makes it harder for them make friends due to challenges recognizing and displaying appropriate, friendly behaviors without direct instruction. Work with your child to identify friendly behaviors using pictures, real life examples, or other communication methods that work best for your child. For example, if your child communicates through pictures, you can show images of friendly behavior, like a child helping another, to show how a friend acts. Use specific, concrete examples of what friendly behavior looks like.

Build off your Child’s Interests

One of the best ways for a child with autism to make friends is by helping them meet other kids who share their interests. Look for clubs, classes, or other activities hosted by your school or other local organization. Doing something your child loves will help them stay interested in the activity. Plus, they will be surrounded with other children who like the same things.

Plan Playdates….

Don’t underestimate the power of a playdate. One-on-one interactions in a familiar setting can help your child with autism make friends without the sensory stressors that may be present at school. Help coordinate playdates by asking your child or their teacher who they spend time with or is nice to them at school.

…And Be Prepared

Preparation is key to a successful playdate. If you know your child doesn’t like when others touch their favorite toys, put those away or organize something outside of the house. Have your child help come up with an activity they and their friend will like. They may choose an activity that appeals to them, like baking cookies, making a craft, or building with blocks. These kinds of activities help stimulate conversation, which will deepen the children’s friendship and strengthen your child’s social skills.

Quality over Quantity

While you might be tempted to fill your child’s social calendar, be mindful of overwhelming them. The quality of the playdate is most important to a budding friendship, not the quantity. If you know your child with autism needs more alone time, make sure to coordinate shorter or less frequent playdates.

Want to Learn More About Helping Your Child with Autism Make Friends?

Contact us at Trumpet for more information about helping your child develop and use social skills to build strong friendships.