taking-turns, sharing and autism

Sharing, turn-taking and autism – a skill that needs to be taught!

Sharing is a complex social skill that many young children on the autism spectrum struggle with.  Young autists can find the concept of “turn-taking and/or sharing” difficult to understand.

Sharing and turn-taking – in an autism school is taught daily!  Autism schools, Autism therapy centers, or Early Intervention Centers will incorporate many techniques in their lesson plans to encourage sharing and turn-taking.  These techniques are also taught at different levels to ensure the individualized learning styles of the children are met.

The concept of sharing and turn-taking can be taught using a variety of activities such as:

  1. Lead by example – incorporate the concept of sharing in your everyday life and talk about sharing.
  2. Label “sharing opportunities” so the child can learn how to identify them.
  3. Model turn-taking – for example, if a child is engaged with a game or a puzzle, introduce a second child or adult and allocate elements of the game or puzzle to each of the players. Get the children to take turns.
  4. Introduce visuals during interactive play sessions. Use a turn-taking token or PECS communication card, during a game to indicate whose turn it is.  Children with autism will soon realize that it is their turn only when they are in possession of PECS card/token.
  5. Use positive reinforcement to establish good sharing habits and make sure that you acknowledge the child, thank the child, and congratulate the child for successfully sharing or waiting their turn.
  6. Introduce emotion cards – these PECS cards can help students with autism recognize different emotions in themselves and in others.
  7. Help your child notice when other people share with them and teach them to acknowledge it. By showing them how it benefits them you can help your child have a better understanding of why it would be a good idea for them to share with others.

Society tends to think that people on the autism spectrum aren’t considerate of others. Honestly – nothing can be further from the truth.  Children with autism can be just as compassionate and helpful as any other child.

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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.