Dear Jacqui, My child is 7 years old and has difficulty in social situations. He does not get on with other children as his siblings do. His communication skills are poor. Please could you give us some advice on how to help him?

Social communication difficulties can arise from one or a combination of underlying issues such as: difficulties with hearing or processing what you hear (auditory processing); language difficulties especially with weak vocabulary and weak comprehension; having traits of neurodevelopmental disorders i.e. attention deficit disorder, dyspraxia, autistic spectrum disorders; shyness; low self-esteem. It is always best to have an initial assessment for your child.

In general, children with social communication difficulties respond best by learning social rules and then practising these in a small group. These groups are run at my practice.

Here are some of the early rules that we teach:

  • Look; make eye contact with the person you are talking to, if you do not like looking at a person’s eyes then look just above them, at their forehead.
  • Listen; keep quiet whilst the other person is talking and think about what they are saying.
  • Take turns; say two sentences and then ask if the other person is interested in what you are saying. Let them have a say about it too.
  • Think before you speak; don’t blurt out whatever comes into your head, ask yourself if this is a good thing to say to someone.
  • Speak at the right time; wait your turn, put your hand up in class.