Social skills are one of the most noticeable skill deficits that children with autism display. It is common for parents to detect this symptom first because as humans we are social by nature. When a child does not see social interactions as reinforcing it is an indicator that they may have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This does not mean children with autism do not value their relationships, it means they do not understand them. The sooner a child with autism is taught the reinforcing qualities of social interaction the better their long-term outcome will be.
Children with autism will display their level of understanding social interaction in different ways. Commonly young children with autism will avoid eye-contact, fail to babble or point, not respond to language, have a preference of playing alone, and will not engage in pretend play. However, not all children with autism show a severe lack of social skills. These children with autism show a great interest in social relationships but may not understand how to engage in them.
As children with autism get older it is challenging to them to understand emotions or the perception of others. These social skills always have to be taught to enable the person with autism to fully understand their social world. With treatment children with autism are able to learn how express their own feelings and engage with others. Without treatment people with autism often feel very isolated which can lead to anxiety or depression in their adolescent years.