Friday, December 11, 2009

Clinic Notes: Social Skills and Autism

Autism is primarily a communication disorder. Children with autism may lack functional language or may have language that is functional, except in social situations. For children with autism who lack language then ABA and therapy with a Speech Language Pathologist is essential. But what about the high functioning children with autism or Asperger's.. How do they develop social skills? First of all, they need to be in a classroom where there are other children at their level or above, or they need to be mainstreamed. Of course, just putting them in a regular classroom without social skills training and attention to situations where the stimulation is too great could be a disaster. A child with autism may do find socially in a quiet classroom and have a meltdown in a noisy lunchroom. Second, social skills can be taught using social stories and practicing social skills in a controlled environment where the sensory stimulation can be controlled, as well as potential bullying. This is a lot to ask of a teacher so extra staff need to be trained to work with these higher functioning children. Go to: for an interesting account of how one school is accomplishing this.