Autistic Consultant & British Psychologist, Wenn, leading by example to empower autistic individuals and promote quality co-produced research

Notes on Running a Social Skills Program

Aim:
- Identify the triggers or what causes the behaviors to occur and try to modify them where possible.
- Need to systematically teach strategies to use when a child is faced with those situations and /or feelings.

Social Skill Sessions

2-3 sessions per week
Small group - child and 3 class peers (good role models)

Select target behaviour:
- Hitting other students / adults
- Pushing roughly
- Throwing sticks and other objects
- Throwing equipment
- Swearing
- Running off with others ball

Prioritize list and choose one

Small group session - students to act out the actual situation

Discuss
-What happened?
-Why do you think it happened?
-How did you feel when it happened?
-What else could have been (a) said (b) done?

Practice, rehearse and role play the appropriate responses that have been suggested

Use real equipment

Use video camera to reinforce the auditory and visual message

Develop a script of "say and do" strategies to learn and practice (perhaps keep in a small book or on a card to go in his pocket).

These are safety phrases that need to be constantly reinforced

Sample phrases such as:
"I need help"
"I'm sorry"
"I don't understand"
"I'll try"
"If I start feeling hot in the head I will count to ten under my breath"

Whatever skills being focused on there must be opportunities for practice in class and playground
-Should the child make any attempt to use a skill it should be praised
-Some type of reward system would intensify motivation to try
-After play ask the child how things went and get the child's and others perception of what happened.

Circle of Friends - Peer Support

Meet regularly every week and follow up on the skills session

Discuss the safety phrases - get input form all in the circle
-When they would use them
-How to use them - stand still, face the person,
-Look at them and say I'm sorry

Use the students to get ideas for the child to use

Ask them to think of some ways they could use to help the child if they see something is happening

Introduce some potential problem situations that you know will come up for the child

Ask the circle to come up with solutions of how they may solve them e.g.
-"What would you do if you lost your canteen money?"
-"What would you do if a teacher accused you of doing something that you hadn't done?"
-"What would you say if you accidentally hurt someone?"