Children with autism have difficulties with social and communication skills. Their understanding of self and people around them is different from most people. They tend to be involved in their own world and not interested in interacting with people around them. Thus we require special techniques and teaching aids to teach autistic kids social skills. Two such teaching aids are reward charts and social story books.
Reward charts can be used to increase the occurrence of a social behavior, to motivate the child and to help the child watch his performance in a tangible way. For example, the goal of the child is to learn to wish the teacher good morning every morning when he enters the class. We can make a chart to record his behavior every day. Every time he says good morning, he will get a star. The child can get a small reward for a certain number of stars. The reward can be an activity that the child enjoys, an edible reward or any tangible reward. The usual positive reinforcement techniques are used.
One the child understands the concept of a reward chart, you can include many activities in the chart. Some more examples of behaviors that you could include in a reward chart are asking a question to someone, asking the teacher for permission to go to the toilet, not throwing any tantrums, doing an activity with another child etc.
Making a Reward Chart:
Making a reward chart is very simple. All you need is a poster and some markers. You can use a column for each day. If possible you can also use pictures to illustrate the various behaviors that you want the child to perform. Put up the reward chart in a place that the child can see it easily and at a level that will be comfortable for the child.
Social Story Books:
Social story books are books that use pictures to teach social behavior and social problem solving. Social stories usually consist of a series of pictures that describe a specific social situation. The pictures are used to teach the child about various verbal and non verbal social skills. The teacher and the child look at the picture together and discuss it. They may also use modeling and role play to practice the skills in the picture. Social story books can also be used to teach a child to respond to various social situations like being late, breaking something in someone else’s house, or getting lost.
Making Social Story Books:
Making social story books are not difficult. You can plan the story and then use pictures to illustrate it. Another alternative is to find people who are willing to act out the story while you take pictures of the scenes. Print out the pictures, and put them together to make your very own social story book.
Here are two teaching aids to teach autistic kids social skills. Each child is different and may need some modifications to be able to learn. Be flexible and creative as you work with the autistic child to teach social skills.
You can buy social story books here: