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Social Therapies

These therapies may overlap with ABA and communication therapies since communication is a social function. Social therapies address behaviors that lead to improved social interaction with others, such as social stories, which teaches appropriate responses in various situations (e.g., going to the store, playground, doctor’s office). The goal of these therapies is to improve how an individual behaves in social settings by responding appropriately to others.

Who is qualified to provide social therapies?

Social therapies are provided by a number of service professionals: social workers and psychologists, speech/language pathologists, or even occupational therapists. ABA therapists may also provide social therapies. Since there are no best practice guidelines for qualified individuals to provide this service, you should consider licensing, certification, or other indicators of a qualified professional. Caregivers should consider the same guidelines noted above regarding communication therapies (e.g., access to child’s progress data, ability to observe social group sessions, monthly progress meetings).

What does a typical social skills group therapy session look like?

Examples of therapy goals/objectives:

1. Improving eye contact/looking at others

2. Knowing what to say, how much to say, and what is appropriate to say to certain persons, in certain situations.

3. Learning to start or continue a topic of conversation

4. Improving awareness of non-verbal cues (e.g., reading another’s facial expressions or tone of voice, for example).


How is therapy conducted?

1. Social therapies may be delivered in individual or group therapy contexts.
2. Direct teaching, such as Social Stories (Gray & Garand, 1993) or modeling of appropriate social behaviors by the clinician or another group member.
3. Videomodeling : Appropriate behaviors are videotaped and reviewed (repeatedly) by the individual with ASD until skills are acquired.
4. Role play: The therapist may design/create situations for an individual to practice skills or generalize these to situations.

Are there other types of Social Therapies?

There are a number of various treatment programs that could fall into this category. These also overlap with Communication Therapies.

Developmental, Individual-Difference, Relationship-Based Model (DIR), AKA, Floor-Time : The intervention is designed to focus on the child, attend to their needs and create mutually enjoyable, shared experiences between the child and caregiver to promote confidence and comfort in their interactions with others.

Relationship Development Intervention (RDI): Similar to Floor Time (builds on the sharing and joint attention that naturally occur b/w parents and children). Specific behaviors are developed in three areas: Functions precede Means, Social Referencing, and Co-Regulation.

Social Communication Emotional Regulation Transactional Supports (SCERTS): General Principles

Authors believe improved social communication and emotional regulation are primary developmental goals for ASD children. Transactional supports allow for meaningful learning experiences (persons, environment).