Social Skills Training
Updated: Oct 9, 2020
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 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. He was taught social skills by a BCBA, School Psychologist, and a Speech and Language Pathologist in school. 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. My son's most frustrating part was that he did everything right, but some kids 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 work with my son throughout the day and intercept these interactions and facilitate positive connections. Not only for my son but 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 on children on the Autism 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!