What are Social Skills?
- Social Skills are the behaviours used to effect an interaction with others e.g. joining in, initiating and responding to others, greeting, cooperative play, conversational skills
- Social Cognition is a range of abilities that enable the processing of a social interaction e.g. social problem solving, knowledge of social rules, understanding the perspective of others (theory of mind), social inferencing.
Why teach Social Skills?
- Children with autism need specific instruction is social skills. It is unlikely that simply placing a child in a classroom and hoping for them to learn by social osmosis will be enough to improve their social skills (Odom & Brown, 1993).
What is the best way to learn Social Skills at school?
- Social skills teaching should be conducted in the child’s natural social setting using materials typically used by the child (Brown, McEvoy, & Bishop, 1991; Frea, Craig-Unkefer, Odom, & Johnson, 1999; Rule, Losardo, Dinnebeil, Kaiser, & Rowland, 1998).
What are the most effective social skills interventions?
- Peer mediated interventions when peers are taught how to facilitate interactions
- Adult mediated behavioural approaches including modelling, prompting, rewarding
- Video modeling
- Direct instruction
- Visual scripts and fading
- Visual supports
- Pivotal response training (a naturalistic, behavioural approach )
- Social Stories (less effective for social skills than behavioural skills)
What does the research say about Social Skills groups?
- Research on the effectiveness of social skills groups is fairly limited (Reichow & Volkmar, 2010).
- They are more effective for secondary school students than for younger students (Bellini, Gardner, & Markoff, 2014)
Bellini, S., Gardner, L., & Markoff, K. (2014). Social skill interventions. In F. Volkmar, R. Paul, S. Rogers & K. Pelphrey (Eds.), Handbook of Autism Spectrum Disorders. New York: Wiley & Sons.
Brown, W., McEvoy, M., & Bishop, N. (1991). Incidental teaching of social behavior: A naturalistic approach for promoting young children’s peer interactions. . Teaching Exceptional Children, 24, 35 – 38.
Frea, W., Craig-Unkefer, L., Odom, S. L., & Johnson, D. (1999). Differential Effects of Structured Social Integration and Group Friendship Activities for Promoting Social Interaction with Peers. Journal of Early Intervention, 22(3), 230-242.
Hart, J. E., & Whalon, K. J. (2011). Creating social opportunities for students with autism spectrum disorder in inclusive settings. Intervention in school and clinic, 46(5), 273.
Odom, S., & Brown, W. (1993). Social interaction skills interventions for young children with disabilities in integrated settings. Baltimore: Paul H Brooks.
Rao, P. A., Beidel, D. C., & Murray, M. J. (2008). Social Skills Interventions for Children with Asperger’s Syndrome or High-Functioning Autism: A Review and Recommendations (Vol. 38, pp. 353-361): Springer. 233 Spring Street, New York, NY 10013.
Reichow, B., & Volkmar, F. R. (2010). Social Skills Interventions for Individuals with Autism: Evaluation for Evidence-Based Practices within a Best Evidence Synthesis Framework. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40(2), 149-166.
Rule, S., Losardo, A., Dinnebeil, L., Kaiser, A., & Rowland, C. (1998). Translating research on naturalistic instruction into practice. Journal of Early Intervention, 21(4), 283-293.
Williams White, S., Keonig, K., & Scahill, L. (2007). Social Skills Development in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Review of the Intervention Research. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37(10), 1858-1868.