Tips to Increase Social Engagement
Talk with School or Support Staff
Talk with your school’s special education director, guidance counselor, or teacher to get ideas about peers that may be socially appropriate for your child. You may be able to schedule play dates or outings with these peers. Your child can also receive instruction on social skills from their school’s special education department if it is part of thier individualized education plan (IEP). It is possible they are already running a program that your child may be able to join.
Use Support and Advocacy Groups
Perhaps you can find enough children in your local area to start a support group, or you can join one that is already established in your area. Check out the ASERT Support Group map to find groups close to home!
Maximize on Areas of Interest
Getting your child out of the house may be the first step toward becoming more social. Scheduling a fun outing around their special interest may help their take that first step to get out into the community. Check the ASERT website for special events and activities in your area.
Try Online Options
Social media may be another way to encourage your child to be more engaged socially. Online gaming, Google Hangouts, Facebook, and other options may provide opportunities to interact with others. However, it is important to monitor the content of social media sites and discuss internet safety before and during use.
Pen Pal Options
If face to face social contact causes too much anxiety, a good starting point may be to find a pen pal. Family members, neighbors, peers at school, or social groups may be good sources for your child to find a pen pal. There are also specific organizations that provide numerous pen pal options. For more information about these, contact the ASERT Resource Center!
This information was developed by the Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative (ASERT). For more information, please contact ASERT at 877-231-4244 or info@PAautism.org. ASERT is funded by the Bureau of Supports for Autism and Special Populations, PA Department of Human Services.