In this blog from Solstice Behavioral Health in Shelton, CT, we discuss ways to teach children with autism how to share and take turns.
Why Is Learning How To Share And Take Turns Important For Children With Autism?
Some children can learn how to take turns through social interactions, while some children with autism may benefit from learning and developing this skill with their family and loved ones. Sharing and turn-taking are complex social skills that involve patience and impulse control. These skills are incredibly important for young children. Here are some ways in which turn-taking is implemented in everyday life:
- In understanding how to take turns, children on the autism spectrum can learn how to have a back-and-forth dialogue with others. Turn-taking is important for children who communicate non-verbally through sign language or picture cards, too.
- Turn-taking is integral to educational settings and getting along with peers. Children take turns when they wait for help from teachers and caregivers, answer questions during class time, and use classroom or playground equipment meant to be shared.
- Taking turns and sharing is important to keeping and maintaining healthy relationships. Children who know how to take turns appropriately and share are more likely to get along with their peers and family members.
What Are Strategies I Can Use To Teach Turn-Taking?
- Clear language. Straightforward language such as “your turn” or “my turn” or “it’s still Max’s turn” can be very helpful when building turn-taking skills with your child.
- Model the concept. It can be helpful for someone to demonstrate turn-taking with your child. You and your partner or other family members can model turn-taking for your child as you point out and explain when it happens.
- Visual cues can be helpful to children on the autism spectrum. A hand gesture or green circle can be used to indicate when it is someone’s turn.
- A timer can be used as an auditory cue. Timers are also useful in that you can make sure everyone has an equal amount of time.
What Are Activities That Implement Turn-Taking?
- Use a coloring activity. You and your child can color a different copy of the same picture together while needing to share the same single set of crayons, colored pencils, or markers. If it would help, feel free to set a timer so that your child can learn when to trade colors.
- Tell “Knock-Knock” jokes. These can be helpful because “Knock-Knock” jokes are structured in a way in which there are routines and a back-and-forth. This practice can be useful for teaching the same kind of turn-taking skills that can be used in conversations with others.
- Board games can be a fun way to spend time with your child, and they’re also a great opportunity to actively practice turn-taking because the process is built into each game. If you’d like, you can start with very simple games, such as ConnectFour.
- Playing with toys. You and your child can play together with some of their favorite toys. You can set a timer and take turns with each toy before switching.
When it comes to mental health concerns in children with autism, early intervention is crucial. The earlier a child with ASD is diagnosed and receives proper treatment and support, the sooner a child has the tools to identify and communicate and cope with their emotions. With more than 20 years of providing support and training for families, Solstice Behavioral Health and Consulting in Shelton, Connecticut strives to become a bedrock for autism awareness and education. Solstice has created multiple programs and activities to help children and communities enhance their skills and develop their support networks. Contact our office at 203-900-4720 to see how we can help you and your family move forward together.