How to Help Bright Kids with Autism Cope During Challenging Times

Week 3: How to Enhance Social Competence

In Part Three of the 2e Autism series with Dr. Barry Prizant, we take a deep dive into understanding and troubleshooting social challenges your child may be experiencing. We’ll cover questions such as when to accept your child’s situation vs. ‘pushing’ them to build skills, how to teach social norms without embarrassment or negativity, and how to keep the peace between siblings at home.

If you want to find an answer in the video to a specific question posed below, simply click on the play button next to each question.


1Dr. Prizant's opening remarks.
2What if the parent is also on the spectrum and it doesn’t come naturally to them what to model or what to say?
3In anticipation of time with family or his friends, I often attempt to coach my eight year old son days in advance and sometimes as we drive to the meeting. I have seen beautiful results play out from this coaching, but in other instances, detrimental pressure and anxiety results. How do I support him without excessive pressure?
4Given that many of us are home for the foreseeable future with COVID, our kids relationships with their siblings are amplified. How do we support siblings communicating about and respecting each other’s boundaries and needs like space, engagement, quiet, needing a break so that they can?
5My son tends to freeze in social situations. He just observes other kids around his age, five years old. At times I believe this is due to sensory overload because the kids move all over the place. Is this an issue with confidence or are these two different things?
6What should we expect friendships should look like for our 2E introverted kids?
7My son recently qualified for special education at school due to autism. He’s very bright, but social skills and emotional regulation are a challenge. He has no peer friendships, but his sibling. He gets excited to play with kids, but cannot sustain interest for long. Should I push for him to make friends or wait for the interest to show?
8How do you help if your child is not wanting to go to school anymore, because he or she is anxious about bullying and exclusion?
9What is the best technique to remind your child of certain behaviors without sounding nagging or negative? Reminders like saying hello back or thank you to a compliment, or when being brutally honest isn’t appropriate as a parent, and this can feel awful or make one feel guilty, but we’re only human.
10My super bright four year old on the spectrum was never much interested in his peers, but happy to interact with adults who follow his rules. I suggested inviting a girl from his nursery to play in the garden. He said, “No. It’s difficult for me to share.” Is it best to insist and invite a peer to play, or wait until September school start for social opportunities?
11How do I know what to change about my child, and what to accept about my child?
12My 14 year old son does not have any friends that he hangs out with socially. If asked, he says it’s too hard and confusing trying to make friends. Should I be worried? What about when he’s an adult?
13How to help understand there are consequences to my son’s actions and choices? Do you recommend informing my son’s friends, nine year old sister three years younger, and peers at school about my son’s autism? Furthermore, he’s reluctant to accept he’s on the spectrum.
14How can we facilitate suggestion and collaboration abilities for kids who need to develop those skills?


Now we'd love to hear from you. What's bubbling up for you after listening to Part 1 of the workshop? Please let us know in the comments section below.


  1. Suzanne on June 29, 2020 at 10:11 pm

    My son did the PEERs program he mentioned at a local university here when he was 12. It was an awesome program. I loved how the kids interacted with other kids, and practiced different social skills (ie. like trading information) with the kids in the group. The parents also got to meet to discuss what the kids were learning, so we could help them when needed, and make sure they were completing their assignments. My son did really well actually better than many others at connecting with other kids at school during this time as the assignment was to schedule get togethers.

    The issue was about 6 months later he went back to his old ways. I always mention to him if he needs me to bring out the PEERs binder of information, and he said he knows it but he just doesn’t follow it. It would be very helpful, and I voiced my concern if they would have a refresh course every month or so, but there are hundreds of different kids in our city who want to take this, and there is a back log . So back to square one I guess…

  2. Heather on June 7, 2020 at 1:31 pm

    Barry recommended us working on mutual regulation, we are in the first stages but we see hope! Thank you!

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