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How to Overcome Autism Anxiety Related to Socialization | The Essential Guide To Autism

How to Overcome Autism Anxiety Related to Socialization


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Children with autism are often misunderstood, especially when it comes to making attempts at socialization and it’s not surprising that the most loving of parents or forgiving of friends can make some mistakes.

The body of information about autism is vast, but some of it is conflicting. This can leave even the best parents feeling confused and overwhelmed. One thing no parent wants to see is his or her child is suffering in any way. When it comes to autism anxiety over socialization, there is some conflicting information out there about the children and what they might really want to accomplish.

For a long time it was thought that children with autism did not want to socialize. Some parents would feel bad about trying to get them to relate to other children their age, as it brought about a lot of frustration for the child.

Autistics can lack many of the basic social skills needed to make and keep friends. They aren’t good with eye contact, initiating conversations, and relating to peoples’ emotions.

For a long time it was thought that autistic children did not seek out or did not want to develop these types of social relationships, and would rather be ‘alone.’ There have been many studies that have proven this theory to be false.

They generally do want to relate, and sometimes they want this very badly, but just don’t know how to go about it. This, as you can imagine, leads to enormous amounts of frustration for the child, and of course, for parents. The anxiety that comes with this can be overwhelming and might cause setbacks.

People mistakenly think these children prefer to stay away from their peers because they show signs of preferring the company of adults they know, or they seem to show a preference to play by themselves.  This isn’t necessarily a preference for many of them. They simply cannot handle the anxiety of trying to build and maintain relationships that they do not have the skills to hang on to.

Avoidance and withdrawal are their way of coping with the overwhelming anxiety of the situation. A child thrown into this situation without preamble or warning can suffer great anxiety and frustration. However, knowing how to proceed can be difficult for any parent. Sometimes, there are no easy answers.

Children have to be evaluated individually as their tolerance for social interaction will be different. Remember that doing something that doesn’t come easy can be very tiring, so don’t over stretch your child and allow them some quiet time after any social engagement. During play times watch your child for signs that they’ve had enough like irritability or tantrums - If you spot these, its time to make a hasty exit.

Prepare your child for social situations by practicing at home. Although this may seem a little odd at first, it is through structured learning and repetition that autistic children will learn the social niceties other children naturally pick up along the way. Social stories can be very useful here.

Some children may adapt better to social events by observing others before they join in whatever activity is going on. If they can see that all the other children are participating happily they may be more inclined to have a go themselves. This approach also gives them time to adjust to their surroundings and see and understand exactly what they are expected to do.

Sports are a great way for autistic children to interact with their peers if you chose the sport carefully. Activities like horse riding, trampolining, swimming and martial arts are all ones where your child can be around other children without being under pressure to directly interact with the other kids. But being in these environments helps them to participate in social situations and enables them to observe the interactions between the other children.

Although your child may just wish to spend time alone or play computer games or watch the TV they do need to interact with others, even if only for a short period each day. Use the things they like to do as rewards for participating in social activities.

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