As issues with socialization can be marked in cases of childhood Autism, one might be interested in both studying and remediating social problems in children with Autism. Particularly as classrooms practice more and more inclusion on a nationwide scale, children who are diagnosed with Autism have an increase in their opportunities to socially relate to other typically and even atypically developing children. As socialization with peers is one of the most important aspects of childhood, developing appropriate ways to address a child’s ability, or lack thereof, to relate to his or her peers is becoming increasingly important.
There are several methodologies that have been proposed to both assess and initiate better social play for children with Autism. One such method trains typically developing children to seek play opportunities with those children that are different from them (Rogers, 2000). While this can enhance a child with Autism’s self esteem, issues may persist when he/she finds him/herself in an environment where their peers have not been so methodically trained. Similarly, there are methods of training that require children with Autism to use particular points of interest or play objects to initiate interactions with others. This method, while effective, only works in situations in which the child has access to their special object. Thus, it is ineffective in less guided social interactions and actually may serve to promote perseveration behavior in children with Autism that may be obsessed with a particular object or idea (Rogers, 2000).
As there has been a great deal of research in this area, weeding through intervention strategies and finding the best ones are of the utmost importance. There are several studies in support of social play groups that can allow children with Autism a breadth of opportunities to be trained in the area of social development. In training, children who have identified problems in social skills can practice these skills in a guided and safe environment (Kranz, 2000). New programs to enhance social skills should be implemented so children in a variety of urban and rural areas have access to said programs. Luckily, social play groups can benefit not only a child with Autism but also typically developing peers and even children with other disabilities.
Alongside with training children who have Autism in social play, professionals that work with these children should also receive special training. Professionals with this training can subsequently promote group activities in which two peers, a child with Autism and a typically developing child interact. The group can be responsible to complete an assignment in which they must rely on one another’s help. A trained professional can develop an assignment and ensure that it is highly motivating to the child. Experimental research has shown that not only does the opportunity to react with peers and achieve a goal aid in the child’s sense of self and ability to socialize, but the support from a trained professional also acts as a sort of ‘in-route’ that promotes the interaction (Koegel, Kim, Koegel, 2014).
Although providing socialization opportunities for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder is not be as simple as putting peers in a room and allowing them to mingle, it is an important part of life that all people be allowed to develop a happy and healthy lifestyle. Children with Autism deserve to interact with others and develop strong pools of self-esteem. Intervening early and with maximum effectiveness is the most important determinant of later success in social interactions for these children. It is absolutely essential to provide such interactions early and with the utmost respect and support for the child themselves.