The Medical Wellness Center at the University of Miami defines Social Wellness as contributing to one’s human and physical environment for the common welfare of, and social justice within, one’s community. It includes promoting a healthy living environment, encouraging effective communication and mutual respect among community members, and seeking positive interdependent relationships with others. It is being a person for others and allowing others to care for you. It is also recognizing the need for leisure and recreation and budgeting time for those activities.
What’s in it for you? As a busy mom or a professional, your social relationships may fall by the wayside. But it’s important to your health to maintain and nurture your relationships. We all need support of our friends and we can’t have that if we stop connecting with them. We are social beings and are meant to live and work in community with others. So make a date with your friends, even if it’s just a 10 minute phone call.
Socializing is really tough for people with autism or other disorders. Here are some tips for helping your child develop social wellness:
♫ Tune in – Encourage eye contact. My favorite way to develop eye contact is to sing a favorite song of my client, but only when she’s making eye contact with me. This takes a lot of attention from me and a clear definition of what “eye contact” means on that day, but eventually I can shape the behavior I’m looking for by encouraging eye contact in order to complete the song. Sometimes they catch on to the “game” and will deliberately turn away to control when the song starts and stops. What a nice way to play together!
♫ Tune up – Write a song that teaches the steps of introducing yourself: (When I meet someone new, I look them in the eye and smile. I say, “Hi, I’m (Janice)” and I shake their hand.) Teach the song to your child and practice the steps.
♫ Tune out – Fade the singing and see if your child can complete the steps without the song. Encourage him to use these social skills every time he meets someone new.