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Building Social Connections in Children with ASD

Today, I got a text from a client of mine, a mom of a 12-year-old autistic daughter.

"Katherine sat down with her aunt today, and they folded origami together! I have never seen her doing something with anybody else except me. We're just in awe and so happy!"

I couldn't be more thrilled about this news! And it got me thinking about how many parents out there are still hoping and waiting for such a connection to happen with their special needs child. But how? I'm going to share some RDI pointers to help you build this connection with your child.

1. Building a connection requires more than just your physical presence. Be there for your child, physically and mentally. Put those screens away, and do a short (5-10 mins) activity TOGETHER. We know kids with ASD have limited interest and a short attention span; therefore, it is important for parents to come up with simple and fun activities. For example, making a cup of hot chocolate together or eating a favourite snack together.

2. Keep your speech minimal. Often, children with ASD get confused with long sentences, and they get overwhelmed by demands. Therefore, keep it easy for the child. Do not give too many instructions, and avoid repeating them. Here are some phrases to avoid, “faster faster”, “do this, do this”, and “take this and put here, no, not that, this!” Instead of using repeated commands, you may try inserting some non-verbal gestures to help you communicate and connect better with your child.

3. Most importantly, have fun! Remember, the goal here is to connect and enjoy each other's company. Do not overly focus on the activity or the results. The process of connecting with each other is our priority in RDI.

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