Social Skills Training
Social Skills Training is not just for ASD kids!
I have been advocating for my son who is on the Autism Spectrum for many years. Middle School has taught him executive functioning skills, study skills, and basically how to be a student. He picked up on this pretty easily. Navigating social skills, that is a different story!
Social Skills is a skill that children on the Autism Spectrum really struggle with. For my son, the hard part is that he wants friends, many friends. He is the most positive, happy person I know and he is very friendly. In school, he was taught social skills by a BCBA, School Psychologist and a Speech and Language Pathologist. Social skills training and social skills groups are very common in schools and have fun names like, “Lunch Bunch.”
Great skills are taught in these social groups and my son learned them all. However, when it was time to implement them, it didn’t go so well. The most frustrating part for my son was that he did everything right, but some kids just didn’t want to be his friend. This was a hard concept for him to understand. Also, as much as he learned, his social interactions were still a bit awkward.
What was the next step? Since my son was having a hard time generalizing his social skills from the group of role playing to actual social situations, I asked his school to have a qualified teacher to work with my son throughout the day and intercept these interactions and facilitate positive connections. Not only for my son, but for the typical children he was interacting with.
For my son, verbal reminders of personal space and on topic conversations were very helpful. For typical children, verbal reminders of, “Can you back up please, you are too close, Wait, we were talking about Movies not Dinosaurs, and even just a not now!” can go a long way. Typical children learned that what they say instead of their body language has a bigger impact with children on the spectrum. Children on the Autism Spectrum learned from real interactions from being redirected by their peers in a socially acceptable way.
This was a two way street. My son learned social skills and typical children learned how to interact with a child on the Autism Spectrum. Everyone not only learned communication skills, but learned to advocate for themselves. It was a win-win for everyone!