Preschool Social Skills for Kids With Autism You Need To Know

You know that your child struggles with social skills, but what does that mean? What are social skills for preschoolers? A couple things that might come to mind are sharing and taking turns. What if your child doesn’t yet engage in any interactions with peers yet? What if your child would rather play alone? How do you work on sharing and turn-taking then?

Honestly, the answer is you don’t. I’m not saying that you don’t ever work on those skills, what I’m saying is that there are a lot of pre-requisite skills before you get to sharing and taking turns.  I’ll be honest, as I sit here, it’s hard for me to think of a general way to explain this that will be helpful for you. That’s because each kid is unique and each kid is at a different developmental stage. I wish I could know you individually so that I could tailor this to you. Maybe some day I’ll get that chance. 

For now, I’ll do the best I can. It’s important when you’re teaching/playing with kids with autism (all kids actually) that you are doing it at the right level. If you’re playing too low, your child won’t progress as quickly as his/her potential. If you’re playing too high, it’s the same thing, he/she won’t progress as quickly. So, if you’re trying to teach a child who doesn’t engage in play yet how to share, neither of you are going to be very successful. A child who doesn’t engage in play may not be ready for sharing just yet.

Unfortunately, this scenario may or may not apply to you, but hopefully you’ll understand the concept I’m trying to illustrate. Let’s take turn taking and I’ll show you a few examples of social skills that may be necessary before actually learning to take turns.

  • Joint Attention
  • Independent play
  • Tolerates being around other people
  • Parallel play
  • Engage in play with an adult
  • Engage in play with a peer
  • Stay engaged during activities
  • Imitates simple actions spontaneously
  • Allows others to join in the play
  • Follows directions
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So, if you’re frustrated teaching social skills to your preschooler, it might be because you’re teaching too high right now. I brainstormed a list of preschool social skills for kids with autism, and came up with 101. I know I’m missing some, but that’s ok. Now, I don’t want this list to be overwhelming to you. What I do want is for you to be able to look at the list, and see what skills would be appropriate for your child at this time. Choose a few, and then when he/she is doing better at those, find other skills that you think would be at the right level to work on next. You might be wondering, well, how do I teach these skills? Don’t worry, I’m working on some tutorials for you, so stay tuned!
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