Arranging valuable social skills activities for people on the autism spectrum is one of the most crucial challenges families face as a person on the autism spectrum enters adulthood. Skills like these are important in fostering a sense of independence in the person and a feeling of lasting security for his family members.
Adulthood and the Autism Spectrum
The capacity of adults on the autism spectrum to care for themselves reflects the need-based education and services they receive as children and teens. With a rich educational background focused on proper behaviors and social responses, many high-functioning adults on the autism spectrum go on to become contributing members of society with families, social lives, and careers. This same educational background and social skill reinforcement also give low-functioning autistic adults a better quality of life filled with meaningful social interactions.
Post Education Social Skills
When a person on the autism spectrum reaches the age of 22 in the United States, the public school system’s responsibility for their education and welfare comes to an end. This means that families, friends, and caregivers must try to discover which social skills activities for adults will most benefit their loved one and fill the vacancy that forms after her education ends. Like children, adults on the autism spectrum benefit from a constant reinforcement of the social skills they learned earlier in their lives. To leave this area of life skills unattended may lead to regression, depression, or even health problems.
Beneficial Social Skills Activities for Adults on the Autism Spectrum
Appropriate social interactions for autistic adults provide benefits in areas of development that extend beyond building social skills. Group and peer-based activities promote communication, improve the capacity for relationships or emotional attachments, and build solid life skills. These activities can take place in a number of settings that are structured for optimal learning or relaxed and casual for having fun and learning to successfully cope with other people.
In addition to building social skills, physical activities provide adults with autism valuable opportunities to exercise. Whether engaging in group recreational events or playtime, autistic adults reap many social benefits from exercise and sports activities like the ones listed below.
- Martial arts help improve motor skills and muscle tone while teaching autistic adults how to build lasting social relationships with other people.
- Soccer (football) and basketball benefit adults with autism by teaching them how to cooperate with other adults in order to reach a specific goal. It also heightens appropriate feelings of social camaraderie and pride.
- Swimming is a safe and enjoyable social activity suitable for most low-functioning or high-functioning autistic adults.
- Gymnastics improve flexibility and muscle tone in a safe, fun, and social environment with people of similar interests and backgrounds.
Classes of all kinds provide well-rounded social skills activities for adults while teaching them useful abilities that will last a lifetime. Examples of group-based classes for people on the autism spectrum are listed below.
- Music lessons that focus on group cooperation.
- Art classes in mediums such as painting, sculpture, or digital design.
- Singing, choir, and other ensemble voice classes.
- Acting and drama classes.
Sometimes, the best social opportunities arise from networking. Get together with other families that have adult members with autism and coordinate activities like game night, storytelling, park picnics, acting or singing competitions, matinees, and cooking lessons. While it’s important to provide structure, it’s also a good idea to encourage adults on autism to relax and enjoy themselves freely.
In many communities, there seems to be a greater focus on activities for autistic children rather than adults, but there are valuable services for all age groups with autism. If you’re looking for suitable activities for an autistic adult in your life try speaking with your physician or local hospital. You can also get out the yellow pages and search for local nonprofit agencies that provide autism spectrum services like those in the list below.
- Day programs or camps that feature social activities.
- Group-based respite care for autistic adults.
- Parks and recreation services for adults and children on the autism spectrum.
- Employment services that focus on social interaction.
Note: I am not a medical professional, I do not claim to know everything about it. Please feel free to research deeper and clarify for yourself where I have gone wrong.