Turn-taking is a fundamental social skill that is essential for success in life. It is the ability to wait for one’s turn to speak, play, or use a shared object. Turn-taking is often difficult for children with autism, as they may have challenges with social communication and understanding the perspectives of others.

This blog post will discuss the reasons why children with autism may have difficulty taking turns, and provide strategies for parents and educators to help them learn this important skill.

Why do children with autism have difficulty taking turns?

There are a number of reasons why children with autism may have difficulty taking turns. These include:

  • Difficulties with social communication: Children with autism may have difficulty understanding and responding to social cues, such as body language and tone of voice. This can make it difficult for them to know when it is their turn to speak or act.
  • Difficulties with perspective-taking: Children with autism may have difficulty understanding that other people have different thoughts, feelings, and desires than they do. This can make it difficult for them to understand why it is important to take turns.
  • Rigidity and inflexibility: Children with autism may have difficulty transitioning from one activity to another, or from their own turn to someone else’s turn. This can be due to rigidity or inflexibility in their thinking.
  • Sensory sensitivities: Some children with autism may have sensory sensitivities, such as a sensitivity to noise or touch. This can make it difficult for them to wait their turn in situations where there is a lot of stimulation.

Strategies for helping children with autism learn to take turns

There are a number of strategies that parents and educators can use to help children with autism learn to take turns. These include:

  • Teach the concept of turn-taking: Explicitly teach the child about the concept of turn-taking, using simple language and visuals. For example, you can use a turn-taking toy, such as a ball or a car, to demonstrate how to take turns.
  • Model turn-taking: Model turn-taking behavior for the child. For example, when you are playing with them, take turns rolling a ball or building a tower.
  • Provide visual cues: Use visual cues to help the child remember when it is their turn. For example, you can use a turn-taking timer or a turn-taking chart.
  • Provide praise and encouragement: Praise and encourage the child when they take turns appropriately. This will help them to learn that turn-taking is a desired behavior.
  • Be patient and consistent: It takes time and patience to teach a child with autism to take turns. Be consistent with your approach and don’t get discouraged if they don’t learn it right away.

Here are some additional tips for teaching turn-taking to children with autism:

  • Start with simple activities: Start with simple activities that involve turn-taking, such as playing with a turn-taking toy or rolling a ball back and forth. Once the child has mastered these simple activities, you can gradually move on to more complex activities, such as playing board games or sports.
  • Keep activities short and engaging: Children with autism may have difficulty paying attention for long periods of time. Keep activities short and engaging to help them stay on task.
  • Provide breaks: If the child is becoming frustrated, take a break from the activity. Come back to the activity later when they are more calm and focused.
  • Make it fun: Turn-taking should be fun for the child. If they are not enjoying themselves, they are less likely to learn.

Teaching turn-taking to a child with autism can be challenging, but it is an important skill for them to learn. By using the strategies outlined above, parents and educators can help children with autism develop this essential social skill.

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H. Sophaneth B.Ed, M.Ed