What are social skill deficits?
A social skill deficit includes difficulties with: reciprocity, initiating interactions, maintaining eye contact, sharing enjoyment, understanding nonverbal cues like posture or facial expressions, and/or poor communication skills.
How do we teach social skills?
There are many ways to help children develop social skills. You may find yourself already teaching a variety of them throughout the day, such as greeting others, participating in a group, and sharing toys.
One way is to establish a set of rules or standards or acceptable behaviour. While the exact rules may vary among caregivers, most fall into one of three broad categories.
- We need to respect ourselves
- We need to respect others
- We need to respect things
The rules you establish that teach these general principles must be repeated often and made very clear.
A second way we teach social skills is by the behaviour we model. We cannot ask children to treat each other decently and then treat children disrespectfully ourselves. Children learn by watching and practicing what adults do. Every time you talk kindly to children, you are teaching them how to talk kindly to each other.
A third way to encourage positive behaviour is to teach a child specific social skills; this involves teaching him how to do it and when to do it.
Here’s an example, Michael frequently hits other children during free playtime. After observing and assessing the behaviour we found that Michael is using the behaviour to express his desire to join other children in play. So now we can teach Michael how to “ask a friend to play” more appropriately by using words.
Before teaching a social skill keep the following in mind:
1. Assess the situation
– this includes observing the child’s behaviour and getting input from others
2. Consider a child’s current abilities
– select a social skill that is within the child’s developmental ability
Ask yourself the following questions:
– Does this skill enhance the child’s social and communicative competence?
– Does it mirror the social and communication skills of same age peers?
– Will it increase spontaneity?
– Can we generalize the skill in different locations and with various people?
3. Establish clear and specific goals
– work on one social skill at a time and be sure that everyone involved is using the same tools and strategies to teach the child