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Social Skills and Autism

Updated: May 14


A therapist teaching some social skills to children




Autism or autism spectrum disorder is a set of conditions that develop due to neurological or developmental disorders. Even though autism affects various domains of development, it has a significant impact on how the person interacts, behaves, and communicates in several ways, thereby making them different from others.


There are many autistic individuals who not only take care of themselves but are living a happy, healthy, and social life. Many have even become role models for the younger generations.


They didn’t get where they are today by some miracle. When we think of it, with our parents by our side and with proper guidance and support all can be achieved right, so it is the case for them. Just make sure to shower autistic kids with some extra love and care. It might help them go the extra mile.


What are social skills?


Social skills are a set of skills, customs, or set behaviour that guide our interaction with other individuals of society. As a child picks up language skills, they also pick-up social skills as they grow from their surrounding environment and by observing the interaction of the family members and friends.


What impact does autism have on social skills of an individual?


Autistic individuals face difficulty in social settings, few of them are:-


  • Respond slowly or won’t respond when you call their name.

  • Has difficulty sharing interests, activities, or emotions.

  • The child talks about a topic for a long duration without realizing the other person is losing interest in the topic.

  • Difficulty in understanding or predicting other people's actions.

  • They might be uncomfortable in social settings.

  • They don’t like being held or cuddling.


An infographic about inclusion for autistic children

Who can teach social skills?


There are many settings where an individual learns social skills ranging from household to school to workplace and in community. A special education teacher, a speech language pathologist/ speech therapist, an occupational therapist, recreational therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, psychiatrists, and psychologist often lead a social skills group

and teach social skills by incorporating various techniques to help autistic individuals learn various social skills.






Social skills training for autism


Social skills group- Practicing skills with peers!

The basis of social skills is application of direct, specific instructions with opportunities to practice these skills in a more natural and free environment.


Social skill groups help individuals with autism of all ages to practice their skills with other autistic peers on a regular basis. Such groups often follow a specific social skills criteria.


An effective social skills group should provide:-


  • Promote self-awareness and self-esteem.

  • Simplify language and speech skills.

  • Simply abstract actions into concrete actions.

  • Promote working in groups and cooperation with their peers.

  • Encourage partnership skills.

  • Provide learning opportunities.

  • Provide opportunities to practice social skills so that they can be implemented easily in the real world.


Recently, Behavioral Intervention Technologies (BITs-SST) have been utilized to target social skills deficits using computer-based programs, avatars, and therapeutic robots.


PEERS PROGRAM

PEERS stands for- The Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS). It is a social skills group that helps young adults develop and maintain close relationships.

PEERS is an adaptation of original intervention that utilizes caregiver’s assistance in real world settings. This program is intended for higher functioning individuals with cognitive deficits. It focuses on social skills such as making friends, developing relationships and handling rejections and conflicts.


The lessons provided in PEERS program include:


  • Initiating and maintaining conversation

  • Making friends

  • Electronic communication

  • Using humor appropriately

  • Organizing social gatherings

  • Managing conflicts

  • Dealing with direct and indirect bullying

  • Handling rejection

  • Dating etiquettes



A highly unique aspect of PEERS for Young Adults is that it involved caregivers as social coaches. While the young adults are learning social skills, simultaneously caregivers also attend social coaching groups regarding how to assist the young adults in development of social skills. Caregivers typically are parents, adult siblings, family members, coaches, friends, partners, and mentors. Social coaching provides significant advantages, because:-

  • Social coaching is provided in natural social settings

  • Assistance with weekly socialization assignments.

  • Assistance with finding a source of friends



The purpose of PEERS® is to:

  • Provide a supporting system for young adults through social coaching.

  • Teaching social skills that help them lead a socially successful life.

  • Help young adults find supporting friends with assistance from social coaches.

  • Ultimately help young adults foster independence in social relationships.



What NOT to Expect from PEERS!


  • PEERS is not a support group for psychological and development disorders

  • PEERS is not a friendships- matching group, it aims to assist you in practicing skills that help you develop meaningful relationship in outside world.


Young adults need to attend groups regularly, attempt to complete the assigned tasks, and practice the skills learnt in PEERS group outside inorder to see the best results.





Sounderic provides online speech therapy sessions for children with various communication disorders. We would love to help you. Get in touch with us on WhatsApp at +919644466635 or schedule a consultation with us at https://www.sounderic.com/service-page/speech-language-consultation-for-kids?referral=service_list_widget



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Reference:

PEERS® FOR YOUNG ADULTS- Elizabeth A. Laugeson





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