ASD and social skills at primary school

Interacting with peers may create particular challenges for children with ASD entering and progressing through primary school. Initially they may not show interest in others and may be unaware of the need to respond to and take direction from other students and adults. For success in the school years, development of basic interaction skills, play skills and coping mechanisms are necessary.


To prepare and support your child to manage the primary school years, the development of the following skills can help your child to adapt to school life.

Understands that others may need help

Skills to encourage: Help another child if they have injured themselves, pick up things someone else has dropped

Understanding social rules

Skills to encourage: Model for your child not to get too close when talking to someone else, don’t say things to embarrass others, cooperates with others and understands how to read body language

Understanding social interactions

Skills to encourage: Helps during group activities, knows when to share information but doesn’t take over conversation or dominate the activity

Can engage in play and leisure activities

Skills to encourage: Ability to share toys and take turns, asks permission to use another child’s, sister/brother’s toy rather than just taking it

Uses appropriate behaviours

Skills to encourage: Ability to say sorry for mistakes or hurt caused, copies appropriate behaviour and accepts teachers suggestions

Manages emotions

Skills to encourage: Controls anger or hurt feelings when things don’t go to plan or when they don’t get their own way

The development of basic interaction skills are essential for a successful quality of life. For the primary school aged child with ASD these skills will help them to develop friendships and understand the expectations of school life. If your child has an associated learning disability such as an Intellectual Disability(ID) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD) they will require further explicit practice of these skills to achieve success.

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