Group settings can be stressful and overwhelming for children with autism. Navigating such experiences successfully often takes a lot of guidance and support from parents and teachers, although this constant parental intervention can actually impede opportunities for development of social and interpersonal skills. Therefore, encouraging independence in group settings early on is an important step to strengthening social communication in the long run.
On a school field trip
A trip to somewhere unfamiliar where there is the possibility of large crowds can seem daunting. The key is to familiarize your child common field trip settings. So call the venue ahead of time and ask if there is a less popular time and day that you guys could visit. Previewing the venue beforehand may help your child get down the routine of the visit without the anxiety a large crowd may elicit. This way, they can dip their toes in the pool instead of jumping right in.
In the classroom
Utilizing personal technology in the classroom can have beneficial effects on both your child’s academic performance and their social interactions with peers. Equipped with a tablet, your child has access to thousands of educational apps such as communication apps that foster language development or collaborative games that teach cooperation among peers. These apps can assist in learning of new material, communicating with other students and teachers, and staying organized and on top of activities. Personal devices can also be used as a platform for building friendships by inviting others to play one of many educational games.
At a large family function
One great way to help them feel prepared for these big events is to equip them with themed projects they can tinker with and share with the other children as an icebreaker. A planned project not only keeps them entertained but also keeps anxiety at bay: your child gets to work on a fun art project while working with their peers builds upon their social skills in a comfortable setting.
Gaining independence, especially in new social situations, can be difficult for a child with autism. What it really comes down to is the unfamiliarity and overstimulation of these group settings that provokes anxiety. Therefore establishing an environment in which your child feels safe enough to explore from the security you offer is an important step to encouraging your child’s independence.
Founder & CEO, CommunicoTool
Frederic Guibet, 41, a French native and entrepreneur is the CEO & Founder of CommunicoTool, formerly known as C..TEXDEV, a startup that creates language and development application giving children with speech disorders a voice.
After receiving Master’s degrees in Psychology, Neuropsychology and Cognitive Neuroimagery, Frederic began working for a French university in Caen as an Education Executive. In early 2011, he decided to further his education by obtaining a Developer degree. The catalyst responsible for Frederic’s new career was that of his autistic daughter. He wanted to be able to develop tools and applications that would allow her to express herself.
From there, he initiated the CommunicoTool project and created the company in November 2012. He launched the first version of the application in 2013 and entered the US market in 2014.
In his free time, Frederic enjoys taking care of his daughter, playing guitar, piano and singing.