Do you have a teenager that has difficulty making friends at school? Friendships can be difficult for some teenagers to form and then maybe even more difficult once they leave school. Making friends can sometimes be a hard skill for teens on the autism spectrum. They may have a hard time understanding how to make conversation or how to ask someone questions to get to know them better. It could be hard to find mutual interests. Or they may not even be interested in making friends. It can be hard to learn who is actually a friend and who may be someone taking advantage of you…
They may have difficulty reading body language to understand if someone is interested in what they are saying or not. They may have a hard time understanding how to work together or when playing games how to share. There are a lot of skills that go into making friends and these can be overwhelming and difficult to teach at times.
That is why we wanted to put together some FREE resources and websites for you to check out to see if they may help you and your teen with making friends. Finding meaningful friendships can have a wonderful social impact for all teens throughout their life.
Check out our Free Social Situation Cards below! Feel free to download them by entering your name and email below. When you download this freebie you will also be signing up for our weekly newsletter!
We hope you find these free resources helpful on your journey to help your teen with friendships. Let us know in the comments below which freebie is your favorite or if there is anything else you would like to add!
Thinking about your teen dating can be scary for some parents, but we want to help make this process a little easier for you. Navigating the social aspects of dating can be difficult for teens with autism. Just like many other social skills many individuals may need to be taught specific skills to help them with dating. Dating can be a complex skill to learn.
Always listen to your teen and watch for their desire to want to date. Always go off of what your teen is telling you and showing you. Don't force your teen to do something if they are not interested or don't want to do it. Everyone has their own preferences and show interest in dating at different times in their lives.
*This post may contain affiliate links. There is no extra cost to you, but we may earn a commission. Please see our disclosure statement for further details.
How can you tell if your teen is ready for dating?
All teens develop at different rates and have different interests in dating. Follow your teens lead, if you see that they are showing interest or asking you questions about dating help them through this complex situation. Pay attention to their nonverbal behaviors as well to help you decide if they are interested in dating.
A teen's social maturity may not be the same as their physical maturity. Some teens may feel the physical desire for dating and sexuality before the social competence for dating. If your teen is asking you questions about their physical appearance/changes and their desire for sexuality be open to talk with them about these topics. Talk to your teen in a way that makes sense to them. If they learn best through direct concrete answers or through pictures/videos, help provide these opportunities for them to learn about the changes in their bodies.
Be Proactive and have Open Dialogue with your Teen about Dating and Sexuality
Sex and dating are very complex social situations. If you think your teen may be sexually active or dealing with opportunities for sexual activity don't delay these conversations. It is important that we can protect your teen as best as you can from getting into unsafe situations. It is crucial to talk about safe sex and helping them to understand how pregnancy can occur. If you feel uncomfortable about talking about these situations with your teen is there someone you can reach out to for help? You could reach out to your teen's doctor especially if you have concerns about health related questions.
Provide role playing opportunities to practice dating situations
One way to practice some of the complex social situations involved with dating would be to role play common situations. You could also try social stories, social scripts, modeling appropriate behaviors, video modeling, or an acting class. Social situations that you could role play and talk about for dating could be:
how to compliment
how to show interest in someone
how to talk with a peer you like
how to read nonverbal behavior
when to smile
how to use good manners
how to be respectful of another person
how to show affection
appropriate physical touch
how to stay safe
safety in public areas
Have open conversations about how to stay safe with dating
We want to do whatever we can to help our teen stay safe and not get taken advantage of in this complex social situation. Discuss who, when, where, and how to ask someone out.
Who is appropriate for you to ask out?
Someone around your age
who shows interest in you
is nice to you
talks to you
someone you like
When is it appropriate to ask someone out?
After you have gotten to know someone better
When you have noticed that you both seem to be interested in each other
Where is it appropriate to ask someone out?
Usually in a more private setting when not a lot of people are around
typically it is best to do it in person, but you can also call someone on the phone.
Texting may not be as a personal way to ask someone out
How do you ask someone out?
in person you can ask if they are free at a certain time that you could go to a place of mutual interest
make sure to get contact information to confirm the date, time, and location ahead of time
How do you show appropriate touch during a date?
Make sure to talk about safe and appropriate physical touch
talk about how to hold hands, give a hug, or a kiss
talk about inappropriate types of physical touch and how to read body cues and signs of how someone may like or not like the type of touch.
Discuss different levels of intimacy
Help them understand the difference between hand holding, hugging, kissing, and more intimate types of touching to help them stay safe.
Talk about the steps/routine of a typical date
Make sure your teen knows when and where the date will take place
how they will get to the location
what they may do at the location (dinner, movie, bowling, party)
Help them understand appropriate personal hygiene cares and dressing skills
Dating is a complex social situation
We need to remember that dating is complex and overwhelming social situation. This may cause our teen frustration, anxiety, fear, or anger. Please be aware of how your teen is feeling about dating and be ready to help them through this situation as it pertains to them. Help them understand that rejection may also be apart of dating and how to help them through this as well. Help them understand that someone may not be interested in them even though they are interested. Or that someone may be too busy to date. It can be impossible to understand why someone may not be interested in you and this could be a hard skill for some teens to cope with.
Dating can be a positive situation and we need to stay proactive and help our teens through these unique situations. The more we can support our teen's desires for dating and have open dialogue about the social situations it can be seen as a rewarding and positive experience.
Do you have further questions about dating? We would love to hear your advice and comments below.
Get over 50 different social skills for teens that you can help them learn.
Social Skills for Teens
Our family understands some of the difficulties that can come with teaching social skills. We are working everyday to help teach my brother specific social skills. We have tried different ways to help him learn these skills. We have used modeling behaviors, talking through different situations, social stories, social situation cards, and videos to show the different social skills.
We have created a list of 50+ social skills that we feel are valuable for teens to learn as they start their transition into adulthood. We hope you can find this list helpful!
*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see our disclosure for further details.
50+ Social Skills for Teens to Learn
how to talk with peers
asking for help
how to stay safe in new situations
how to tell someone no
resisting peer pressure
problem solving skills
understanding how my actions affect others
understanding my own feelings
being able to understand feelings of peers
how to handle conflict with others
how to work as a group/team
how to listen to someone speaking
understanding nonverbal body language
understanding safety with social media/technology
safety with sex
safety with dating
how to talk about your own interests with peers
when it is appropriate to laugh/cry
when it is good to smile
how to show respect to others
how to show interest in what another person is talking about
how you would act around a “boss or authority figure”
how to talk with friends
how to act when we get mad
how to walk away from situations
how to act in a public area vs private area
how to act at a party
how to talk about your own strengths/weaknesses
how to ask for directions
how to call 911 if you are in danger
how to talk with or ask questions with doctors (medical appointments)
how to make a phone call to schedule something
how to talk on the phone
what your own body language looks like when talking with someone
how to go to the grocery store to purchase groceries
what to do when you are in danger
what to do if there was an active shooter (I wish I didn’t even have to think about this situation)
what to do if you don’t feel well (sick)
how to have a conversation with someone you don’t know
how to speak up in a group
how to appropriately text someone on the phone
how to appropriately post information on social media
how to travel safely
how to stay on topic
how to get along with people you may not like
waiting in a line
Are there any social skills you would like us to add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!
There are various ways we can help teens learn social skills. We all learn in different ways. We need to remember to have patience and kindness when working on these skills. Some social skills come easy to some and not for others. Be respectful and kind when working on these skills. Here are a list of ideas on ways you can work on social skills.
Model appropriate social behavior
Practice the social skills with adults and peers
Talk through different situations
Create social stories or social scripts for the situations
Become involved in social groups
Become involved in acting groups
Become involved in team building groups or high interest activities with peers
Participate in sports activities
Watch videos, showing how to work on the social skills
What are some ways you have been able to work on social skills?
*This post may contain affiliate links. There is no extra cost to you. Please see our disclosure statement for further details.
Friendships and social interactions can be a challenge for some teen and can be a challenging skill to figure out how to teach. They may have difficulty understanding the numerous social interactions and how to respond or understanding non-verbal behaviors. Making friends is a skill that can take time and practice. You can help your teen by talking through different social situations, role playing, getting involved in social groups, practicing out in the community, observing others, watching videos, using picture cards, or involving family members to do activities with.
Our family understands that making friends can be hard and not easy. Especially living a more rural community where my brother is homeschooled, it can be a challenge to find community events or groups to be apart of. We always want to be there to support my brother in what he wants and what he wants to work on. He loves video games and one way he has been able to socialize with others is through playing video games with family members and online with other kids. Always think about your teens situation and what they want out of friendships. Help guide them for what will help them the most.
We created a list of ideas that we felt may be helpful for you to think about when helping to teach your teen about friendships and how to make friends.
Follow their Interests
Always think about activities your teen enjoys and this will better allow for a more natural way for your child to make friends with common interests. Do not force relationships if they are not there. Think about activities your teen enjoys to participate in and are there group activities that they could get involved into meet more people with common interests? Try researching your community and find groups such as a video game group, cooking, sports, museums, church, boy-scouts/girl-scouts, or even Lego Club.
Finding the Right Group of Friends
Help your child find the right group of friends who will consider them an equal, share some of the same interests, and accept them for who they are. You could help them find a “tribe” of close friends, which may be just one or two other kids.
Reading Non-Verbal Behaviors
Non-verbal behaviors are a huge part of communicating with others. Take the time to talk about different non-verbal situations and behaviors to help your teen become more aware of them when talking with others. Ways you can practice these skills are through visuals with either picture cards or through videos. You can also go out into the community and talk through different situations and watch and observe others. Using social scripts is a great way to help your teen understand new situations and be able to talk through the situations beforehand. Check out the Social Scripts Mini Flip Books Bundle Pack
Picture Cards can be helpful to show a variety of emotions on faces as well as body language. These strategies can help someone learn the visual cues for understanding different emotions when interacting with someone. This can help them identify anger, sadness, frustration, or if they are annoyed. Try finding video clips online to show the different emotions as well to help them better understand visual cues for emotions. You could try out these Stages Learning Emotion Picture Cards .
Learn How to Ask Questions
Learning how to ask questions are important skills when talking with friends. Friends would not want to only hear us talk about ourselves. Ways to practice this skill could be through role playing. You could play a game show or pretend to be a reporter on the news and you need to ask appropriate questions. We have created a freebie just for you as possible small talk questions you could go over with your teen to help them feel more confident about asking questions to their peers. Download the freebie below!
Find a Common Activity
When making friends it is helpful for them to find activities they can enjoy together. You could try finding activities of common interest through having friends over to your house and creating fun activities they will both enjoy. You could make lunch together, play video games together meet up at the local park, go rock climbing, go to a movie, or go to the mall.
How to Invite Friends Over
Learning how to invite friends to over to your house or to go someone is a good skill to understand, especially to keep our teen safe. We want to make sure they understand that they need to know the person before inviting them to their house or to go some were in public. Talk to your teen about stranger safety and how to know if you can trust someone or not. This can help keep them safe!
How to Share with Others
Sharing is typically a part of friendship. Help your teen understand that it is okay to be able to share things with our friends. When they come over to play games, it is okay to share our video games with them so we can enjoy something together. Talk about how to share and what are appropriate things to share with our friends. Learn how to take turns through talking situations. Practice this through games or every day situations with either going first or last.
How to be Happy for our Friends
Sometimes we can get jealous of our friends if something good happens to them or they get to do something we don't get to do. Talk to your teen about jealousy and how to be happy for our friends if something good happens to them. If they get an award or noticed at school for something you can help teach them how to congratulate their friend.
How to Develop Coping Strategies
When we interact with others, we can go through feeling a variety of emotions. If something is not going our way, how do we deal with the frustration and anger? Help teach your teen effective coping strategies and ways to identify their own emotions so they can tell when they are getting frustrated.
How to Resolve Conflicts and Solve Problems
We will likely experience conflicts when we are interacting with friends. We will not always get along and will need to be able to identify when we need to say sorry or apologize for certain actions. Talk to your teen about strategies to help them understand how to solve problems and resolve conflict. Create a list of strategies your teen could use to help them understand how they could resolve conflict. When they get angry are they going to walk away and let themselves calm down before talking about the situation?
Empathy is your ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. Empathy helps us to relate to our friends. Talk to your teen about empathy and situations on how they may need to put themselves in another's pair of shoes.
Talk to your teen about ways to show kindness to others. You can talk about ways you can help others or compliment someone. Showing acts of kindness is a great way to show others that you care.
Ask the Teacher
If you are having a hard time finding others for your teen to connect with, their teacher may know of kids at school that would be a good fit for your teen.
Know the Limits
Understand when your teen has had enough with socializing or may need time away from others. Pay attention to their non-verbal behaviors and notice when they have had too much. Help them to learn how to identity when they have had enough in certain social situations and when they need to walk away or tell others no. We all need breaks from others as a way to re-boot our own body systems.
Review the Social Situations
Help your teen analyze how a social situation went to help them better understand future situations. What would you have done different next time? What went well about the social situation?
Always be a good advocate for your teen. If you need to, talk with parents, teachers, or students about your teen and some things that they may struggle with to help others be more aware of the situation. Advocate for equal rights at school and out in the community.
Make sure you are talking with your teen to know what they want when it comes to friends. Your teen is the number one priority. What do they want? Do they want to make one friend or lots of friends? What goals does your teen tell you they want to work on? Help your teen identify their goals and learn to break down those goals into small accomplishable steps.
Personal space is a big thing to understand when we want to make friends. We need to understand when we may be invading someone's personal space and start to make them feel uncomfortable.e Check out the Personal Space Social Skill Pack
Below are a list of books that we thought may be helpful for you and your family when talking about social skills and friendships.
Ultimate Guide for Holiday Situations for Children & Teenagers with Autism
*This post may contain affiliate links. There is no extra cost to you, but if you purchase something through our link this will help our family. Please see our disclosure policy for further information.
The Holiday season is quickly approaching and this can bring about excitement, but also new experiences for you and your child. They may cause your family more anxiety and stress with learning the new social situations. These new experiences could include the new holiday decorations inside and out, new foods to experience, family gatherings, and exchanging and receiving presents, just to name a few.
All of these new experiences can cause a lot of sensory overload and anxiety for some kids and we need to be mindful of that this holiday season. How can you tell when your child is experiencing sensory overload?
Pay attention to your child's behaviors. Are they covering their ears or closing their eyes? Are they running away from the situation or crying and melting down? These can be some signs that your child may be experiencing sensory overload.
Check out our FREE Ultimate Holiday Sensory Guide and download the guide below!
This guide provides your with fun holiday and winter sensory strategies to help your loved one have a great Holiday Season!
Provides information for these types sensory experiences:
Oral Motor Input
Strategies you can try to help you Survive the Holiday Season for Children and Teenagers with Autism or Sensory Processing Difficulties
Avoid large crowds by shopping online or going at times during the day when the stores are less busy.
When decorating your home inside and out, do this gradually to help your child adjust to the new decorations. See if there are ways they can help participate in this with you so they can be apart of the decoration process.
We found some Holiday LEGO sets that may be a great option for kids that love to do LEGO activities that they could put together and then you could all enjoy the Holiday masterpiece!
3. Help your child figure out calm down strategies when they start to feel overwhelmed. This could be finding a safe place in the house where they can calm down and relax. Are there certain toys/games your child enjoys that helps them calm down. My brother loves being able to retreat to his iPad or his computer when he is feeling overwhelmed. If you are at a family members or friends house see if they will allow your child to retreat to another room where it is quiet and they can regroup.
4. Make sure to give your child/teen breaks throughout the day/activity so they can recharge and adjust to the new setting and/or people.
5. Never feel like you have to go to events/activities that you know will be overwhelming for your child/teen. Do what you feel is best for YOUR child to have a great Holiday experience. Try to see the world through your child or teenager's eyes. If they aren't having a good experience, I am sure you are not either.
6. Help your child understand the new routine and if there may be any changes to the plan, so they can better prepare themselves for the new situation. If you need to, try to keep things in a familiar routine for your child especially with bedtime rituals to help them get enough sleep. I know if I don't get enough sleep, I am not able to be the best person the next day.
7. Prepare some quiet time activities to do together to help your child through some of the busy times of the Holiday Season. Check out these Christmas No Sew Quiet Books!
9. Be proactive and understand that meltdowns will happen during this time and know that it is okay. Recognize the signs for your child to understand when they are starting to feel overwhelmed. Do they start to shut down and retreat, do they run away, do they scream, or do they cry? Try to understand what situations are really hard for your child and try to adapt them so that your child can participate, or it is okay to sit some activities out if it is just too much for your child.
Does your child struggle with the transitions between activities or do they have a hard time waiting their turn if you are opening presents?
You could try playing games during the waiting times together. Do they like counting or letters? You could play an I spy game or a scavenger hunt.
They could also be the one in charge or handing out the presents to everyone, so they have a specific job to complete.
You could play a Christmas song they enjoy and let them know that when the song is over, then it will be their turn again to open presents.
Maybe they need to open presents slowly and just open one up and then have the opportunity to play or interact with that present for awhile and then come back to opening more presents.
You could try to play interactive physical games during times of waiting or during transitions. You could pretend to be a penguin and waddle around, or jump around like a reindeer.
You can make colorful dots out of construction paper and make a colorful ornament obstacle course where they can only step on certain colors. You could play musical chairs with Christmas music.
You can always try to use visual timers to help with wait times as well, so the child understands how much time they need to wait for.
Download the PDF Guide and Strategies below by entering your name and email! You will be sent this FREE resource right to your inbox!
The Holiday's can be a stressful time of year for everyone, but especially for children with sensory concerns. We hope that these strategies can be helpful for your child and your family to help you all have a wonderful Holiday Season!
We would love to know if there are strategies that were helpful or if you would like to add more to the list as well! Let us know in the comments below!!
Are you looking for more Amazing FREE resources? Check out our 180+ Amazing FREE Resource Guide for Families with Children with Autism!
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