It can be difficult to make connections with other people. This is true whether you are five or 55 years old, but especially so for children on the autism spectrum. These feelings are only compounded when he or she is spending all day in a school classroom without their friends, something that could lead to loneliness and increased anxiety.
Your son or daughter being able to connect with other students in their classroom will be important to keeping stress levels low, interest in learning, and overall tensions to a minimum. Here are some of our favorite tips for helping your child navigate making new friends in school.
ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILD TO SHARE INTERESTS WITH OTHERS
Making connections starts with a simple shared interest. It’s hard to know what other kids like if you don’t share what your hobbies or favorite activities are. Remind your son or daughter that sharing is caring, and offer plenty of guidance on which hobbies will best suit other children in the classroom.
It might be as simple as offering another student the opportunity to play with a toy or game, or share some colored pencils while coloring pictures of your favorite animals.
BOND OVER AFTER SCHOOL ACTIVITIES
This has a dual benefit, as your child might make some new friends while also getting exposure to something new and exciting. Activities like Girl or Boy Scouts, sports programs, art classes, and music classes will encourage gradual sensory stimulation.
Helping your child on the spectrum work on many of their needed skills to give them creative outlets to express themselves. These activities also give your child opportunities to meet other children who are at the same stage, something they can bond over as they grow together.
REMIND YOUR CHILD TO SMILE
It might seem simple or silly, but a smile can make all the difference in making connections with other children. Smiles are inviting and will encourage your son or daughter’s classmates to want to interact with them.
The act of smiling also boosts serotonin and endorphins, lowering stress levels, and aiding in reducing anxiety, all of which will be a benefit to a child in and out of the classroom.
KEEP YOUR SPIRITS UP
Not every interaction between your child and their classmates will end up in a rewarding connection becoming best friends. It is important to make sure your son or daughter knows that rejection is something we all face from time to time.
It can be hard for children to process rejection, so you will want to make sure you keep them focused on being excited about the chance to make a friend.
It can be difficult to make friends, especially when your child struggles with feelings like stress and social anxiety. Remind them that being a kind and caring person is always a good thing — no matter how close you end up being — and that true friendships will always work out in the end.