Most children with either mental or physical disability find it challenging to interact with their peers. This is true, especially because many children out there are not familiar with non-verbal communications such as body language and social cues.
Improper social interaction can make a child anxious, making it crucial for parents to have a realistic expectation on this aspect of their life. As a parent, there are ways that you could help your child who has a disability interact with their peers more comfortably.
Below are some tips on how this might happen:
Get to understand your child’s disability better
It is beneficial to learn all the developmental stages of your child. Please consult a doctor to help you understand what your child is going through and how to support them physically, emotionally and mentally.
Supporting your child in all aspects of life will improve their development and their quality of life. Besides, your doctor will provide you with helpful information such as any government grants that could assist you in acquiring disability products that might be available to you.
Help your child learn how to play
Children will want to play with others only if they feel confident about themselves. Communicate regularly with your child to help them better communication skills. Teach your child how to share, listen and take turns effectively without being insensitive about other people’s feelings.
For this to be more effective, spare a few hours every day to communicate and play with your child who has a disability. Also, be careful of how you relate with others. Children learn most from what they see and hear around them.
Training in a social skills program
Signing in your child in a social skills training program will help to improve their interaction in a structured way. Look for relevant programs in your location that could help your child’s emotional-based social skills, as well as their relational skills.
Such programs will help your child to make friends easily and interact comfortably with their peers. Some of the professionals that could help improve the social skills of your child include an occupational therapist, speech pathologist and a psychologist.
Introduce them to a group play
Introducing your child to a group play will enlarge their social circle and experience. However, do not rush to this step. Only introduce your child in a group play if you think they are ready, which should be after their communication, and social skills have improved.
During their group play, be sure to monitor them closely. Terminate the session as soon as you think your child is getting uncomfortable or being deteriorated in any way. The other children might gang up and take sides. Do not freak out, give it some time; they will come around after a while.
Get your child a therapy pet
Most children with disabilities experience social anxiety. A therapy pet can help them develop their social skills, a perfect way to deal with social anxiety. Besides that, the pet will be a source of happiness and provide companionship to your child.
Alternatively, you can take your child to petting zoos regularly if you have no extra room or time to accommodate a pet in your home.
Visual prompts will help your child remember the social skills that they have been learning. Depending on the needs of your child, introduce them to visual prompts such as words, pictures, and prompt cards.
For instance, you can use a picture of a child to remind and encourage them to talk about their new friend. Picture prompts can also be used to help them learn particular games.
Children with disabilities might try to experiment with inappropriate language that they heard from their peers without knowing that it is wrong.
The best thing is to correct your child right away, without necessarily showing any anger. Do not take much time to correct them; otherwise, it will lose its impact.