The Benefits of Social Skills Groups

Social skills groups are important for all children. Social skills groups can create learning opportunities for children to practice what they have learned in real life situations. These groups help children make friends with the support of their teachers or clinicians. With the use of visuals, social stories, and all other resources that have been used to teach learners about social skills, these groups can be very successful. Social skills groups are a great way to learn and practice conversational skills, how to make and interact with friends, and problem-solving with others. These structured play groups help learners work on skills so that they can be independent participants at birthday parties, family gatherings, school, and other community outings. When these groups are planned out and purposeful, our learners thrive!

Social skills groups can be done anywhere, and during any season! Some examples of environments are:

 

  • Park
  • Homes
  • School
  • Clinic
  • Grocery store
  • Library
  • Arcades

Two ways social skills groups can be implemented

 

  1. Scheduling and having families sign up for social skills groups twice per month (or more often!)
  2. Providing families with a directory and setting up groups with the support of the educational staff or clinicians in the homes.

 

Social skills groups are a wonderful opportunity for all children, and they are great for all ages. Similar to small group planning within a classroom, social skills group should be made up of learners and peers of same chronological age or developmental functioning. We also include peer models! Including children that can act as peer models is a great way to practice and generalize skills such as PECS, asking to join in a play group, leading play schemes, following rules of a game, and much more!

Working on Executive functioning

 

Social skills groups are the perfect opportunity to help a learner generalize their executive functioning skills in real life situations with peers and other adults! Sasha defines executive functions in this podcast as “a set of processes to get things done to achieve a goal. They are skills to perform or execute a task”. As behavior analysts and professionals that work with children, we remember that executive functions are behavior, and some of the skills need to be taught if a learner is missing one of these skills. Executive functions help humans transition from preferred activities to non-preferred, follow rules and directions, be a part of a group, have emotional control, control impulsivities, gain flexibility, maintain friendships, and so much more. The 11 skills that Sasha shares are response inhibition, working memory, emotional control, sustained attention, task initiation, planning and prioritizing, organization, time management, persistence, flexibility, and metacognition. All of these skills are important for all humans functioning in the world today!

Social skills groups will be most successful when they are planned and purposeful. These groups should be a collaborative effort with other educators and professionals. The adults running and supervising the group should spend time getting to know all of learners and the skills they are working on. Social/emotional skills and executive functioning should be the target of these groups. Just as in the classroom, using role play, connecting real life situations, using hands on activities, and playing games prove to be beneficial.

The Autism Helper has many resources available to be used during groups. Also, don’t forget to sign up for the Executive Functions Masterclass!

 

 

The professionals leading these groups should continue to give reinforcement and encouragement and have fun!

 

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