Posts filed under 'social skills'

Social Impairments in Children With Autism

Social impairments are one of the main symptoms in children with autism. Children with autism do not have merely social difficulties like shyness. The social impairments they have can be challenging enough to cause serious problems in everyday life. A typical infant is very interested in the world and people around them. By a child’s first birthday, he/she will try to imitate words, uses simple gestures, and smile at people. But a child with autism may have a hard time learning to interact with other people. Many young children interact with others by imitating actions like clapping when mom claps. Children with autism may not do this, and they may not show interest in social games like peek-a-boo or pat-a-cake. Although the ability to play games is not an important life skill, the ability to imitate is. Some children with autism appear as though they are not interested in other people at all. Some might want friends but have social problems that make those relationships difficult. They might not make eye contact and might just want to be alone. Many children with autism have a very hard time learning basic social skills like taking turns and sharing.

Children with autism may also have problems with expressing their feelings. They might have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings. Many are very sensitive to being touched and might not want to be held or cuddled, which is often a form of social affection people use with each other.

Add comment June 10th, 2008

What is “theory of mind?”

You will often hear professionals refer to the term “theory of mind.” Some think of this as being one of the core deficits for individuals with autism. 

Theory of mind is the ability for one person to understand that another person has different thoughts, feelings, and agendas.  For example, I know that I like to eat mayonnaise on crackers.  Even though I love this snack, I also know that not everybody likes this snack.  I understand through theory of mind that just because I like something does not mean that everybody else likes it too!  If I had a party with my friends over, I would make sure that I had more snacks available than just crackers and mayonnaise.

For an individual with autism, they can have a very difficult time with this.  For example, you might have a teenager who loves to talk about computers.  He wants to talk about computers with everybody all the time.  Because of his poor theory of mind, he thinks that because he likes computers that everybody should like computers and want to hear him talk about computers.

As you can imagine because of this challenge with theory of mind, individuals with autism can have difficulty making and maintainting social relationships. Visual supports are available to help teach individuals with autism how to have better theory of mind. 

Add comment June 2nd, 2008


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