March 12, 2019
The social skills curriculum is designed specifically for children who have varying degrees of social skills challenges, with a range of diagnostic labels (but not limited to) Autism, ADHD, Social Communication Disorder, and sensory integration disorder. Children with these types of differing abilities often struggle with building and maintaining personal relationships and understanding how to problem solve in social situations. However, by helping them to understand social cues and providing them with cognitive social skills tools from a young age will provide them with a pathway for interpreting social information and building meaningful relationships.
Social cognition is what we as individuals all do when we interact with people around us, be they friends or strangers. We naturally and intuitively think about what we are doing and saying and how it impacts on those around us. Are we saying something hurtful? Is our body language offensive? Are we responding appropriately, e.g. not laughing when someone is crying? For neurotypical people, social skills are something we start to learn from infancy. However, children with social learning differences learn very differently from a neurotypical person. Such social skills aren’t hard-wired into them from birth and instead, they need to be cognitively taught how to think socially.
establishing and maintaining relationships,
responding appropriately to non-verbal forms of communication, such as facial expressions, physical gestures and eye contact.
empathizing and understanding the emotions of others.
showing the appropriate emotional response.
knowing when it is their turn to speak and what is appropriate to share.
understanding social expectations.
A social skills curriculum uses positive, research-based practices in order to develop each student’s potential for social growth. The strategies used focus on building strength in the following areas:
Many of these strategies are learnt using something called ‘Social Stories’. These are short descriptions of a particular situation, activity or event that include specific information about what to expect in that situation and why. Social Stories can be used to develop many skills including:
self-care, such as cleaning teeth, washing, dressing and understanding why they are important
social skills, like asking for help or using manners
understanding why others might behave or respond a certain way in a specific situation
coping with changes to routine and unexpected or distressing events
how to manage certain behaviors, such as anger, aggression or obsession
executive planning, which refers to planning and organizing themselves and their routine
Social skills therapy is effective because it helps to present the information that your child needs in a constructive way – something which makes it easier for a person with social learning differences to understand them.
If you think that your child would benefit from a social skills therapy, or if you have further questions about what this type of learning entails, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experienced and reassuring team of speech therapy professionals here at The Learning Sphere. The Learning Sphere is a preffered pediatric speech therapy provider is the Houston, TX area.
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