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Social Interaction Skills In Children With Autism

2836 words - 12 pages

Children with autism have multiple characteristic impairments in their social interaction skills. This results from the lack of “Theory of Mind” in autistic individuals. Autistic children have difficulty interpreting what another person may be thinking or feeling. Social impairments may cause the child to act inappropriately in social interactions and prevent the children from truly taking part in interactions. The children have difficulty recognizing social cues and responding to cues. Autistic children have a hard time forming relationships as a result of these impairments. Social stories, Applied Behavior Analysis, and Pivotal Response Training are three therapy techniques that ...view middle of the document...

Speech and language problems in Autism create a difficult setting for conversation. Unfortunately for these children, communication is the basis for building relationships with those around you. One explanation for these social problems is the lack of “Theory of Mind,” called Mind Blindness. Theory of mind (ToM) is the ability to understand the metal states of others (Salkind). Essentially, it is one’s innate ability to interpret another person’s intentions, emotions, beliefs, and desires. In normal developing children, a child is able to interpret the intentions of other people around the age of eighteen months. These skills progress to build the ability of the child to interpret other’s beliefs and various mental states by the age of three to four (Salkind). Theory of mind is a major part of successfully connecting and engaging with one’s community.
On the other hand, the development of theory of mind occurs much differently in a child with autism. Autistic individuals do not recognize social cues which results in difficulty interpreting others’ mental states. Consequently, autistic individuals often make social blunders without even recognizing it as such. These blunders include asking inappropriate questions, hurting feelings, and acting oddly. In order to overcome these difficulties, individuals need to be taught to read facial expressions and recognize emotions. With these skills, they can feel empathy for another and relate to what another may be thinking or feeling, all crucial aspect of successful relationships. One cannot participate in social interaction without being familiar with the language.
Several characteristic issues present themselves in the social interaction skills of autistic children. According to Bellini (2008), “social skills are socially acceptable learned behaviors that enable a person to interact with others in ways that elicit positive responses and assist in avoiding negative responses.” One common issue is the impairment of the use of non-verbal behaviors, such as facial expression and body language (American Psychiatric Association [DSM-IV-TR], 2000). Another is the inability to develop peer relationships that are appropriate for the developmental level. Also, autistic children exhibit a lack of a spontaneous desire to share interests and enjoyment. This is often shown through a lack of bringing attention to objects of interest to the individual. One final characteristic is a lack of social reciprocity. These social blunders can often cause a rift between the individual with autism and those with whom they interact. In many situations this can lead to misunderstanding, teasing, and, ultimately, isolation of the individual. Social blunders greatly hinder the ability of an autistic individual to build relationships and participate in even daily interactions.
In a study done in 2008 by Ruble, L, Willis, H, & McLaughlin, V, parents with autistic children named their main concerns in regards to their...

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