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How To Teach Social Skills To People with Autism or a Developmental Disability

December 20, 2023

Do you want your loved one with a disability to have more friends and deeper connections?

Let’s make it happen! It all starts with social skills and communication, so…

Here are three (3) powerful strategies to improve social skills and enhance relationships for your loved one with Autism/ a developmental disability:

1. Talk about Your Loved One in a Valued Way: Shift the narrative away from ‘special needs’ to showcasing the incredible things your loved one does. Highlight moments like helping around the house, contributing in the community, or landing a job. By portraying their strengths, and valued roles you give others positive topics to discuss with your loved one, making them shine in a whole new light.

2. Practice Starting Conversations: Help your loved one learn simple conversation starters. Questions like, “How’s your family?” or “Enjoying any hobbies lately?” create easy entry points. If your loved one uses a communication device, consider programming these prompts to initiate and enjoy meaningful conversations independently.

3. Use Social Stories: Harness the power of social stories to help your loved one navigate social situations. Craft stories that outline scenarios, like the family get together, using words and/or visuals. A tool like ChatGPT, can assist in creating written social stories tailored to your loved one, fostering a better understanding of social contexts.

By incorporating these three strategies, you’ll increase the opportunities for conversation. Over time these increased conversations will deepen relationships, providing additional layers of safety for your loved one when you can’t be there.

Excited about these strategies? I invite you to watch the video where I dive deeper into each strategy.

Click below to watch, or scroll down to read the full transcript now.

P.S. Looking for more strategies to nurture your loved one’s independence? Download my free “7 Strategies for More Independence” guide.

Download My Free Independence Guide


Written Transcript of Video:

Wouldn’t it be great if your loved one could have more friends and family to talk to, be in a relationship with? It would be awesome, right? This is the story and desire I hear from thousands of families that I’ve worked with. As families, we try to answer the big question of who will be there for my loved one. The answer is neurotypical relationships, but they need to be developed so that others will be there for your loved one when you can’t be.

So, this video is all about giving you three strategies to support your loved one to be in more conversations with friends and family, deepening those relationships. Before we dive in, if you want more videos like this one, hit Subscribe here for a new video every single week.

Let’s go into strategy number one, which is talking about your loved one in a valued way. This strategy doesn’t necessarily involve your loved one; you can do it as a parent, family member, or caregiver. Instead of saying “my loved one who has special needs,” which unconsciously devalues them, change the narrative. Eliminate the words “special needs” from your vocabulary. Share how your loved one is helping around the house, their accomplishments, considerate actions, or volunteering in the community. By doing this, you’re rewriting the narrative in your head and others are seeing your loved one as more valued, giving them something to talk about with your loved one.

Now, onto strategy number two, which involves your loved one. Practice starting conversations with small talk conversation starters like asking about family, hobbies, or work. Support your loved one in developing these easy conversation starters, helping them practice or role-play if needed. If your loved one doesn’t speak, you can program these starters into their communication device.

Moving on to strategy number three, use social stories. These are stories that exemplify and tell out a social situation. This tool helps your loved one understand the social context of entering into conversations. You can use AI tools like ChatGPT to write social stories quickly.

In summary, these three strategies—talking about your loved one in a valued way, practicing starting conversations, and using social stories—can transform your loved one’s relationships. It results in others seeing your loved one as more valued, helping them build confidence and over time, deepening relationships. With consistency, this leads to more safety for your loved one as others get to know them better.

If you found these strategies helpful, consider subscribing to my channel for more valuable resources. Additionally, for those seeking further guidance on fostering independence in their loved ones, check out my “7 Strategies for More Independence” PDF guide. I’m Eric Goll, and together, let’s take a small step forward toward an awesome, ordinary life.

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