Helping Children with Autism Better Understand Emotions


The emotions we feel throughout the day are always changing. Sometimes, you may be feeling more than one emotion at a time – you may be happy that a friend won first place, but also sad, jealous, or frustrated that you didn’t win. Understanding this range of emotions can be difficult for anyone, but especially for children with autism. It is often harder for these children to identify their own emotions, let alone all of the different responses others may have in varying situations. There are many ways that you can help your child better understand emotions:

Use picture cards: Talk about facial expressions and body language and what they can mean. Try to identify someone’s emotions in different situations. As you or your child experiences different emotions, find the matching cards.

Be descriptive when talking about feelings: If you feel sad, say why. If you’re excited, explain how you feel. Encourage your child to be more descriptive and give context about how they’re feeling too.

Create social stories: Develop social stories about situations your child may experience. Talk about how to be a good friend, how to recognize when someone is upset, and appropriate ways to respond in different scenarios.

Teach multiple signs and words for emotions: There are many words that are synonymous for “happy,” “sad,” or “mad,” but they all have slightly different meanings. Teach your child a wide range of words for expressing their emotions to not only build their vocabulary, but help them to more accurately describe how they’re feeling.

The more practice, positive reinforcement, resources, and tools you can empower your child with, the more independent and expressive they can become. PediaPlex offers ABA therapy, play therapy, social skills training, and more to help your child better understand and express emotion. Help your child better connect with the world around them at PediaPlex.

Find out if ABA Therapy, Play therapy, or other services may benefit your child by contacting PediaPlex today.

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