Social understanding can be difficult for children with Autism. There are some things that we can do to help develop their social and emotional learning (SEL). The following 14 strategies can be used for preschool-age children:
Encourage the basic social rules (e.g. sharing, using your words, being gentle).
Model and support the skill that you are targeting.
Reward all positive social interactions.
Provide structure to social events(e.g. social stories, visual schedules).
Prepare children for unstructured social activities (e.g. rehearsal and practice).
Engage in simple turn-taking games (e.g. Pat-a-cake, Peek-a-boo), card games (e.g. Fish, Concentration and Snap,) and simple board games.
Model how to support the needs of others (e.g. child crying).
Encourage the use of language to express emotions by labelling emotions (e.g. 'You look like you are feeling happy').
Engage in active listening to get the child's version of what happened and what they are experiencing.
Prompt the child's recount with questions such as 'What happened first?' and pair the child's recount with the emotions you think are being felt.
Limit concern and stress where possible, and reduce demands in stressful activities.
Help your child identify activities or things that are calming or promote relaxation.
Ensure consistency in structure and routine (e.g. establish set routines and rules).
Maintain a warm and supportive environment.
Taken from: Beamish, W., & Saggers, B. (2017). Strengthening social and emotional learning in children with special needs. Health and Wellbeing in Childhood, 333.