Training in Social Skills

Learning social skills for children who have an autism spectrum disorder is much like learning a foreign language. A child with ASD usually is unable to recognize non-verbal cues that other children pick up on without formal instruction. Examples of non-verbal cues that a child with autism spectrum disorder may not be able to recognize include the appropriate distance to stand from another person when talking or how to tell when someone does not want to listen any longer.

A good training program in social skills teaches children with an autism spectrum disorder through clear explanations, illustrations, and sufficient repetition. The child's health care provider can provide assistance in finding a qualified behavior therapist.


Some children with ASD are overly sensitive to noise, light, or touch. If this is the case, the child's health care provider can offer advice for finding a behavior therapist to help the child manage these stressful situations.

Motor Skills and Physical Coordination

An occupational therapist can help children who have delays or difficulties with motor skills or physical coordination. Some children with autism spectrum disorder have difficulty with handwriting, learning to tie their shoes, picking up new movements in physical education class, or other fine and gross motor skills.

Speech and Language Issues

A speech and language therapist may be able to help children who have difficulties with the volume, rhythm, or tone of their speech. The child's health care provider can provide assistance in finding a qualified therapist.

School and Family Issues

Most children who have autism spectrum disorder need some kind of special education accommodations at school to help them learn and work more effectively. An individualized education plan (IEP) at school usually is necessary. The child's therapist may be able to offer advice on how to seek special services at his or her school.

Parents, siblings, and other family members or caregivers may also benefit from special training or counseling services. Talk with the child's health care provider about finding a psychotherapist who has experience working with families who have children with developmental issues.

Autism Spectrum Disorder Follow-Up

Children with ASD should be monitored regularly with regard to social skill development and mental health issues. It is important for parents to communicate regularly with teachers to ensure that the child is receiving appropriate services at school and is making adequate yearly progress.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 05 Jul 2007

Last Modified: 01 Sep 2015