Oftentimes, parents of children with ASD express a variety of concerns in relation to peer interaction. These concerns include that their child has either no interest in their same-age peers, or expresses interest but is unable to initiate or sustain peer interactions.
So, how do we begin to teach something as complex and vague as peer interactions? They can be looked at as an umbrella term which encompasses many other sub-skills. Some of these may include sharing, taking turns, initiating greetings, engaging in cooperative play, making a request of a peer, and holding a conversation with a peer, among many other skills! Oftentimes, prerequisite skills need to be developed before peer interactions can be tackled. These prerequisite skills might include eye contact, parallel play, following directions, and tolerating sharing and taking turns. When assessing social skills, ABA Therapy measures observable and countable social behaviors, and defines the behaviors in specific terms which can be measured to ensure progress towards goals. Above all else, social interactions can vary significantly based on the child, so even peer interaction goals need to be very individualized to each child’s needs.