Autism is a multi-faceted condition for which much remains unknown or not understood by science and medicine. However, everyone is aware that a deficiency in social skills or a lack of interest in socialization, or a combination of both, is a key sign of some type of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Thus, in developing therapies to assist those diagnosed with ASD, group programs that facilitate social skill engagement and learning are becoming a popular choice.
The benefits of social skills group programs are plentiful for those who are capable of engaging. It may take some time for those with the most severe difficulties in socialization, but the evidence proves that it can be successful for those who get involved. Here are some of the biggest benefits of this kind of therapeutic support.
- Increases social communication. Even nonverbal communicators can improve their skills by engaging in groups. Working with others that aren’t familiar with linguistic difficulties means that individuals with autism are required to branch out and find new ways to make sure that they’re understood. While knowing and anticipating the needs of your child is great, it can often hinder their need for social communication.
- Can help with problem-solving. When put into a group, anyone is eventually going to be faced with a problem-solving situation. Fortunately, for those with ASD who already struggle with this process, the group skills program can be a great way to build that skill and find new ways to manage things.
- This creates a safe space, which is critical for most individuals with autism. Having that safe, fun space to engage with others is another important part of growth and development. It may take some time for kids to warm up to the group, but once they do it may become very much like another family.
- Social interaction builds self-confidence. When you put kids and young adults in a situation where they meet others like them, they will see that they’re not “unusual” or “weird” in a bad way. Plus, when they start to get along with their new friends and build relationships, this will bolster their confidence, as well.
Perhaps the biggest benefit, and one that is often overlooked for all of the skill-building potentials, is that this type of group can be FUN for the individual with ASD. A lot of their life isn’t geared toward fun, and it can be easy to get caught up in the learning and therapy to help them become better individuals and more successful in life. However, everyone needs to stop and have a little fun now and then.
When you engage kids in a setting like this, it allows them to do both. They will gain and build valuable social skills and get to have a good time doing it. For individuals with autism and other spectrum disorders, fun isn’t something that they see a lot of. Their “typical” enjoyment is hindered by their inability to socialize, which these groups eliminate. It’s a win-win for everyone.