By: Carol Crawn, Health Information Specialist
Social skills are important for every individual to achieve success. We use social skills at home, at work, in the community, and in our relationships. All too often children with special needs have difficulty with social skills. Luckily, any child or adult can learn appropriate social skills when given the chance.
Where to begin?
Complete a checklist of social skills appropriate to your child’s age and abilities. You can obtain a social skill checklist through your doctor, school, or by doing a simple google search. Speech therapists are also able to provide resources and exercises that may be useful to determining appropriate skills and developing them. Once you have determined the area of need for your child, prioritize which social skills are most important for your child to learn. Choose one skill to work on at a time.
Process of Social Skill Learning
- Parallel Play – Have the child play next to you or a peer.Always start with a highly rewarding activity for the child, and then move to less rewarding activities.
- Sharing Materials – Once a child has master parallel play, work on sharing materials. Start by you sharing first.Encourage the child to share; gradual increase the time they share an item.
- Turn Taking – Depending on skill level, turns may be quick.Slowly work up to the child allowing a partner to have longer turns and taking more than one turn.
- Model the desired skill you want your child to learn.
- Show videos of the desired skill (www.youtube.com is great).
- Practice using role plays.
- Once they are comfortable using the skill, go into the community and put the skill into practice.
Where to Learn Social Skills
Opportunities to learn social skills surround us. Some individuals may benefit from participating in a social skills group hosted by a local counseling center, school, or therapy facility, or civic organization. Additionally, a family may use informal opportunities to help develop social skills. Your family can work on social skills at:
- Sporting events,
- Doctor offices.
Building your child’s social skills will give them confidence, improve communication, and develop curiosity. Consult with your child’s teacher, therapists, or doctors for help and resources specific to your child’s needs.