According to Simon Baron-Cohen, many children with autism appear to lack a “theory of mind,” which is the ability to see things from another person’s perspective. This is a behavior cited as being exclusive to human beings above the age of five. Typical five-year-olds can usually develop insights into other people’s knowledge, feelings, and intentions based on social cues such as gestures and facial expressions. An individual with autism may lack these interpretation skills, leaving them unable to predict or understand other people’s actions or intentions.



Children with autism often experience social alienation during their school-age years. As a response to this, or perhaps because their social surroundings simply do not “fit” them, many report inventing imaginary friends, worlds, or scenarios. Making friends in real life and maintaining those friendships often proves to be difficult for those with autism.


Children with Autism often seem to prefer being alone and may passively accept such things as hugs and cuddling without reciprocating, or resist attention altogether. Later, they seldom seek comfort from others or respond to parents’ displays of anger or affection in a typical way. Research has suggested that although children with Autism are attached to their parents, their expression of this attachment may be unusual and difficult to interpret.


Be aware of the “Hidden Curriculum.” This is a set of unwritten rules that no one has been directly taught, but everyone knows. Violations of these can make an individual a social outcast.

For example:

  • A student getting bumped in the hall way may not understand that it was an accident, they should be taught to keep walking or say “excuse me.”
  • Don’t assume that students with ASD understand sarcasm, jokes, or figurative language. Often, these are things that need directly taught.
  • Making comments about another’s looks, smell, behavior could be inappropriate (even if it is true). Students need to be directly taught to keep some comments to themselves.

Social Skills

(The challenge of relating to others in an acceptable manner)

 A deficit in social skills can manifest in many ways. Some you may notice in your classroom are:

  • lack of reciprocity, or the give-and-take of conversation,
  • inability to initiate conversation,
  • lack of spontaneous sharing of interests and enjoyment,
  • inability to take the perspective of others,
  • lack of appropriate social pragmatics (i.e., proximity to others, body language, vocal tone, interruptions, and responses to facial and other physical gestures),
  • inability to understand humor, sarcasm and innuendo,
  • monologues on the individuals’ specific interests.
  • social stories
  • role-playing
  • video modeling
  • labeling and recognition of emotions in self and others


(classroom strategies)


 (powerpoint with a lot of easy to read information)

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