Learning social skills in the child natural social setting

What is a natural social setting for a school aged child with autism?

Many researchers now agree that interventions for children with autism should occur in the child’s natural social setting (Brown & Odom, 1994; Cowan & Allen, 2007; Hart & Whalon, 2011; Paul, 2003; P. Strain, Kerr, & Ragland, 1979; P. S. Strain, Shores, & Kerr, 1976). For primary (elementary) aged children, school is often cited as a naturalistic context for intervention for children because it is a setting where children spend most of their day.

My question is – what part of the school day is an ideal natural social setting for implementing social skills interventions?

Are social skills groups a natural social setting for intervention?Traditionally, children have been withdrawn from the classroom and groups of children with ASD taken to empty resource rooms to practice social skills together. However, is this a natural social setting?

Is the playground a natural social setting for intervention?Researchers often focus on the playground because of the abundance of peers and opportunities for social connection. However, I daily observe students with ASD, not participating in these social opportunities, instead the playground as a time to enjoy some time alone without the demands of the classroom.

Is the classroom a natural social setting for intervention? The classroom is a setting where are often seated in groups or encouraged to participate in group based learning activities. All children are expected to talk to each other and to peers as part of academic learning. This could be considered a natural social setting. However, often interventions occur in the corner of a classroom away from the business of the room.

Is technology a natural social setting for intervention? In the western world, many children have access to technology and utilise technology in their classroom. Technology can be very motivating for both children with ASD and their peers. Could technology be the natural social setting for children with ASD? Used wisely, could technology offer a safe and enjoyable natural social setting for teaching social skills to children with ASD?

What are your thoughts?

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