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Social Skills Ages 7-12

Building social skills is an important priority for children with Autism. While their language skills are increasing, the focus often shifts towards using that language appropriately with peers, family, and others. Social skills are often targeted by intervention with Speech Language Pathologists, Social Workers, BCBA’s, teachers, and other professionals. They can be worked on individually or in small group settings. Often times introducing social skills in structured environments via direct instruction, social stories, or video modeling is the first step, followed by learning to use those skills with others in a variety of environments.

Social Stories are frequently used to explain expectations in specific situations, or to introduce social skills. They can be used for general skills including how to greet people, or specific situations such as being overwhelmed in the classroom and needing to take a break. Social stories focus on positive behaviors a child can do in certain situations. For example, “When I am feeling anxious, I can take a break. I will tell my teacher I need a break. When I take a break, I can listen to music on my iPod, walk to the library, or I can sit on the bean bag chair in the corner”.

Video Modeling and learning is another method for learning social skills. Peers or adults can make videos to model appropriate behavior for greetings, entering a conversation, apologizing to a friend, or how to participate in reciprocal conversations with others. In addition, video modeling and delayed self-monitoring can be helpful to teach children to observe, assess, and reflect upon their own behavior after the fact, or to remind them of specific skills before they engage in routine activities.

Social Skills Groups are available at many schools, hospitals, private clinics, and Autism centers. These groups focus on using social skills in a semi-structured environment with other peers. Group settings are important for generalizing skills and being able to use them in dynamic and often unpredictable situations. Overall, adults tend to be more patient and unknowingly help children navigate new social situations, so it is important for children to practice with each other and learn to be more independent with these skills.

For a listing of social skills groups in your area visit the Autism Alliance of Michigan directory:
http://navigator.autismallianceofmichigan.org/?s=&category=303&location=&a=true

To learn more about Social Stories:
http://carolgraysocialstories.com/social-stories/
http://www.autism.org.uk/living-with-autism/strategies-and-approaches/social-stories-and-comic-strips/how-to-write.aspx

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