Around 73% of Aussie children live with some form of disability. And children with disabilities often face challenges when it comes to social skills. Many people may be quick to judge these kids as not being as smart or mature as other children their age, but the truth is that these individuals are often just a little slower than the average child in their development.

Here are 5 tips that can help parents and teachers in educating and improving the social skills of children with disabilities.

1.  Encourage your Children with Disabilities to Interact Socially

According to research, parents and teachers play a very important role in the development of social skills in children with disabilities. One way to do so is by encouraging social interaction. Use a few of the following tactics.

  • Arranging playdates with other children. This will give your child the opportunity to interact with others in a natural setting.
  • Attending social events and activities that are specifically designed for children with disabilities. This can help your child to meet other children who are facing similar challenges.
  • Joining a social skills group or therapy program. These types of programs can provide your child with structured opportunities to practice and improve their social skills.

2.  Create an Environment for Social Interaction

To improve your child’s social skills, you need to create an environment that is conducive to socialization. This can be done in the following manner:

  • Make sure there are plenty of opportunities for social interaction.
  • Encouraging eye contact and communication through games and activities.
  • Helping the child to understand and follow social rules and norms.
  • Being a good role model yourself by interacting with the child positively.
Social skill Training for Children living with disabilities

3.  Practice Encouraging Conversation

Many kids with learning or developmental disabilities struggle with understanding social cues or making conversations. And conversation is a key social skill. So, you need to help your child practice their conversation skills.  Here are a few tips:

  • Make sure you have the child’s attention before you start talking.
  •  Get down to their level and make eye contact.
  •  Use simple language and short sentences.
  •  Ask open-ended questions that require more than a yes or no answer.
  •  Give the child time to respond. Allow for pauses in the conversation.
  •  Repeat back what the child says to show that you are listening.
  •  Encourage the child to ask questions too.
  •  Be patient and positive. Avoid correcting the child or getting frustrated if the conversation isn’t going smoothly.
  • Try to find common interests to talk about. This can make the conversation more enjoyable for both of you.
  •  Make sure the conversation is balanced. Take turns talking and listening.
  •  End the conversation on a positive note by saying something like, “I enjoyed talking with you!”

4.   Provide Role Models for Social Skills

One of the best ways to help children with disabilities improve their social skills is to provide them with role models.

  • Include other children with disabilities in your child’s social activities with typically developing peers.
  • Encourage your child to watch television shows or movies that feature characters with disabilities.
  • Make sure they have opportunities to interact with adults who have positive social skills.
  • Teach them social skills explicitly through books, games, and other activities.
  • Model positive social interactions for disabled children yourself.

5.  Teach the Children with Disabilities Body Language

One of the best ways to improve the social skills of children with disabilities is to teach them about body language. Body language is a form of nonverbal communication that can be very useful in social situations.

There are a few things you can do to help your child learn about body language. These are:

  • Model proper body language yourself.
  • Point out when other people are using good body language.
  • Role-play different social situations with your child so they can practice using proper body language.

Some specific things you can teach your child about body language include: making eye contact, smiling, maintaining an open posture, and using appropriate gestures. Helping your child to understand and use body language effectively can improve their social skills immensely!

Wrapping Up

Children with disabilities especially learning and developmental disabilities like ADHD, Dyslexia and so on, have very limited social skills. This makes life extra hard for them. But it doesn’t have to be. You can help your child learn social skills using the above tips. And the sooner you start, the better. If you need speech therapy or any other support for your child, contact Providence Healthcare. We are an NDIS service provider ready to help you and your child with anything you need.