Emotional skills teaching

It is generally accepted that, children with and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), are characterised by three main problem domains which include:  communication & speech, their flexibility of thought as well as social problems.

Social impairments are particularly evident and will present themselves in a variety of ways.  On the one side a child with autism will withdraw from social interaction, they will prefer to play on their own and away from others and then on the other side they might tell you about an event or subject matter for hours on end, failing to see the boredom on your face.

Social and emotions difficulties are closely related.  Many even call is social-emotional development and we agree that the two go hand-in-hand but we do not agree that they should be seen as one area of development.

For us social skills and emotional skills form two very separate categories and need to be assessed as such and taught in two different and very specific ways.  Social skills teaching has already been covered in one of our prior blogs so we would like to spend some time on what emotional skills teaching entail.

Emotional skills teaching means helping the child understand the concept of an emotion.  It means helping them identify emotions in other people and reading facial expressions and body language.  It also includes helping a child recognize their own range of emotions and giving them the tools they need to articulate their fears or anxieties or at least give them a way to express these emotions “non-verbally”.

Other aspects that form part of Amazing K school’s emotional skills teaching curriculum would be:

  • helping a child recognize authority figures and helping them understand what an authority figure is;
  • helping the child share their toys without emotions;
  • helping the child understand that getting something right is as important as trying and failing;
  • helping the child work through their emotions when they are visible upset or angry;
  • helping the child to talk about their feelings (if the child is verbal) or identify the feeling attached to a PECS card or Makaton sign;
  • helping a child learn that they need to take responsibility for their actions;
  • working with our children to help them face challenging tasks independently and without frustration.



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Ilse Kilian-Ross

Ilse Kilian-Ross is the owner of Amazing K, a registered ECD and Partial Care Facility in Johannesburg. Amazing K is a private adhd school, autism school and therapy centre for children from age 2 - 6 years where learners receive the best of both the schooling and therapy world. The autism school offers Individualized Education Programs, Speech- and Augmentive Alternative Communication (AAC) therapy as well as a full and adapted Academic Curriculum.