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Developing Interactions

Developing Interactions

Children with autism may want to interact and form relationships but may not know how to do this or may be doing it in a way that is considered inappropriate. Moreover, they may have speech delay and difficulties in communication, in addition to finding it difficult to share and take turns. Sometimes children with autism find it difficult to initiate interaction or communicate their needs. This can cause frustration and dysregulation – so the ‘easiest’ means of communication in order to have their needs met, may be by hitting, shouting or throwing. 

Flexibility of thought and behaviour impact on forming peer relationships. Children may find it difficult to move away from a topic or their own interests and explore new interests with their peers. They may find it difficult to play cooperatively, follow rules, be creative or engage with imaginative play. Their interests may not be ‘typical’ and therefore may not be shared by their peers or may appear developmentally inappropriately – or they may not be willing or know how to share what they are doing with others.

Children may need to do things the same way every time (my way) to create predictability and control. They may not appreciate / understand other people’s point of view or feelings of others and this can impact friendship or relationships in general.

Sensory perception and responses can also impact on forming positive peer relationships. Children often lack the ability to interact with larger groups due to difficulties with processing information. They may find it difficult to keep up with other people’s conversations, play / games or the handling of equipment may also make it challenging for them to be able to interact positively. Alternatively children may learn how to interact positively but not be able to apply these skills in different situations or when they are in a busy environment, especially when they are experiencing sensory overload.

With guidance and support, children can develop and practise these skills in structured and controlled environments until they are confident to apply these with their peers.

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