Date
20 June 2024

Foster social interaction

Develop personalised learning activities and approaches to foster social interaction.

Understand social norms, diversity and masking

Understand social norms, diversity and masking

Encourage and value diverse ways of interacting rather than expecting all learners to socialise in the same way.

For some students, pressure to adhere to social norms and mask or hide individual differences can cause anxiety, stress and exhaustion. Consider the ways that communication varies across cultures and contexts.

For example, eye contact may be an inappropriate social skills goal for some autistic people and people with anxieties. It is disrespectful in some cultures.

Appropriate social skills are those that support the individual’s strengths, needs, personal goals and values. Work with whānau and ākonga to identify appropriate goals.

Source: The Neurodivergent Guide to Socialising (opens in a new tab/window)

Respond to needs

Respond to needs

Sometimes students may need targeted teaching of interpersonal skills. For example, autistic students often need specific teaching to learn how to initiate interactions, share, and take turns.
  • Decide on goals and values with the student and their team.

  • Describe the goal in measurable terms.

  • Use a range of teaching techniques (for example, structured discussions, social stories).

  • Support mastery and generalisation through role-playing and applying skills in different scenarios.

  • Transition from structured teaching to everyday situations – the student may need support to achieve this.

  • Check for social validity – can the student use the new skills in different situations?

Teach conversation skills

Teach conversation skills

Autistic students can get stuck on one subject, find it difficult to read facial expressions and miss social cues.

Support and develop social skills

Support and develop social skills

Support the development of social skills and foster positive social interactions.
  • Foster tuakana-teina relationships where students support each other.
  • Help autistic students to observe and notice others so that they can learn from their interactions.
  • Support social engagement with peers and adults.
  • Teach skills associated with social interactions, such as joining a group, taking part in two-way conversations, and reading non-verbal cues.
  • Structure social supports, particularly for situations where the rules or conventions are not clearly spelled out, such as at break times.
  • Provide opportunities for peers to understand the perspective of the autistic student.
  • Encourage whole-school awareness and understanding of autism.

Teach students about their autistic peers

Teach students about their autistic peers

Develop approaches to teach peers and others about autism.  The Kit for Kids program is an American resource to teach primary school students about their autistic peers.

Involve ākonga and whānau and gain permission to share student specific information.

 

Create exemplars of social scenarios

Create exemplars of social scenarios

Use photos to identify characteristics of an interaction, such as physical space or facial expressions.
11688 [Inviting-play.png]

Source: Ministry of Education | Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga

Source:
Ministry of Education | Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga

Useful resources

Useful resources

Apps to support autistic learners, includes social stories on a wide range of topics. These are available individually or as four bundles.

Website

Touch Autism (Apps)

Apps to support autistic learners, including social stories. For Apple devices

Publisher: Touch Autism

Visit website

Next steps

More suggestions for implementing the strategy “Key areas of support”:

Return to the guide “Autism and learning”

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