What is social skills training?

Social skills are the skills we use to communicate and interact with each other, both verbally and non-verbally, through gestures, body language and our personal appearance. Various kinds of developmental challenges such as autism or ADHD can make it hard for children to pick up on and send the nonverbal cues that most people use as a form of relating to each other. Eye contact as a way of establishing connection or looking away as a signal that someone wants to end a conversation and do something else are examples of the cues that such children often miss.

How can I help my child who needs better social skills?

At CTS, we conduct social skills groups. When appropriate, we form social communication skills groups with age-appropriate peers with similar interests. These groups are lead by a speech-language pathologist who helps children learn and use social communication skills.

Goals might include helping children learn to carry on a conversation, use eye contact, use appropriate tone of voice, maintain a conversational topic, take turns, share and cooperate to complete a group project, and others. For example, our 2014 LEGO® Club summer program gathered 8-to-10-year-olds and 11-to-13-year-olds into two groups that met for six sessions each of working together to build LEGO creations. Participants worked together to create agreed-upon building sets as well as freestyle projects. We encourage group members, whom we take through a half-hour intake process to make sure they are able to follow social rules enough to not be disruptive, to use age-appropriate social skills such as self-regulation, problem solving, following directions, and conversational skills, sharing, and taking turns while collaborating toward a common goal.

LEGO® – Based Therapy is a social development intervention created by a pediatric neuropsychologist to improve the social functioning of children with autism spectrum disorder and other conditions affecting social competence. LEGO® Clubs reflect real-world social and work settings, allowing children to improve adaptive social functioning and communication skills across school and home environments.

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