Autism now has a diagnosis rate of 1 in 50 with the occurrence in boys being five times greater than in girls (Edeiken-Cooperman). With such a high rate of diagnosis, there has been an increased awareness into the effects of this neurodevelopmental disorder and the ways to help manage it. Autism negatively affects socialization and communication and is usually noticed by age three (Edeiken-Cooperman, Berk).
Children with autism can be self-absorbed and may struggle in three core areas of functioning. First is their non-verbal abilities such as reading facial expressions that aid in social interaction. The second area in which children with autism are behind is the engagement of make-believe play. The third are is language, which is delayed, and often only used to get what they want versus taking part in an exchange of ideas. These social struggles show that children with autism have a theory of mind and ideas about mental activities that are not at the same level of the average child. “As early as the second year, children with Autism show deficits in emotional and social capacities believed to contribute to an understanding of mental life.”(Berk 342)
One of the more noticeable effects of autism in children is the lack of social awareness. They have trouble relating to others’ thoughts and feelings. They just see the world as it pertains to them. A child with autism has trouble comprehending when someone is talking about something other than what the child is looking at or doing.
These deficiencies make it difficult for a child affected by autism to integrate acceptably with other children. Lack of social skills and a competent theory of mind can be barriers to forming normal relationships with people. As a result, there are some methods that have become popular treatments for the effects of autism.
Popular methods used to help children with autism improve their social skills include utilizing social skills groups, peer training, and structured joint play activities. These techniques are widely used and appear to have a positive effect on children that participate in these programs; however there is still some debate as to how much and to what extent:
The general conclusion is that, despite their widespread use in both clinical and educational settings, empirical support for social skills training programmes is minimal, and it is evident that a far more systematic approach to research in this area is required. (Howlin 137)
Another method that has been found to help improve social skills and proper reactions in children with autism are Social Stories’. Social stories use cartoon-type drawings to help show children why they experience certain social issues and why people react the way they do. These stories also help to show the child the proper way to respond in those situations. As with the other methods mentioned above, there have been many positive accounts of how social stories have been