How Students with Autism Can Benefit from Social Emotional Learning

Social Emotional Learning for Students with Autism

While Autism presents social challenges, making Social Emotional Learning a priority can help

by Patricia Wright

For the first couple of decades of my career I often heard “people with autism don’t want to be social. It is part of their disability.” Fortunately for the last decade people with autism have informed the professional community that this just is not true. The nature of experiencing autism includes social difficulties but people with autism want to engage with others, develop friendships, and participate in romantic relationships.

I was recently reading a Huffington Post blog about a dating site set-up specifically for people with autism. This quote from a man with autism was spot-on – “I wasn’t really able to understand other people’s perspectives, especially early on, which led to a lot of misunderstandings when I was in relationships.” Indeed understanding your partner’s perspective is required for a healthy relationship.

Social Emotional Learning in schools has been getting a lot of attention lately. Educators are embracing the belief that social and emotional skills need to be taught and taught in school. This is great news for students with autism. Students with autism need to be explicitly taught social skills. Teachers are looking for resources on how to teach these skills. Lots of teachers feel confident teaching literacy, math and science but you move into the social realm and it can get a little muddy.

Rethink focuses heavily on social skill instruction: everything from joining an ongoing conversation to using assertiveness to ensure personal safety and wellness are skills that are a part of the Rethink curriculum. We hear from our customers how valuable these lessons are for their students. When students increase their social acumen they are able to engage with others, develop friendships and participate in romantic relationships.

Every person deserves to live a life enriched by meaningful relationships. Every student, and especially those with autism, needs specific social skills instruction and teachers need the resources to effectively teach social skills.

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