Starting conversations, showing empathy, listening, and nonverbal communication are just a few examples of social skills that kids develop as they get older. Being able to communicate with others is a huge part of our lives which is why it’s such an important skill for children to work on with their peers. For children on the autism spectrum, starting conversations isn’t always that easy which is why we have social skills training built into our ABA therapy program. Keep reading to see how ABA therapy helps with social skills for your child on the autism spectrum.
What are Social Skills?
Social skills are the skills we use when we communicate and interact with others. They are both verbal and nonverbal. Our verbal language includes our tone of voice, the volume of our voice, and the words we say. Nonverbal skills can be used through body language, gestures, and even our appearance. Someone with strong social skills will be able to pick up on social cues, know how to behave in social situations, and understand written and implied rules when communicating with others. Many children with a diagnosis of autism have a harder time building up their social skills and feeling comfortable in social settings.
Importance of Social Skills
Social skills are something that you will use for your entire life. They are vital for an individual to have and maintain positive communication with their peers. There are many benefits to having good social skills.
-Communicate Effectively: It’s important to know when/how to start a conversation with someone, as well as when the conversation has ended. Also, when you can pick up on social cues from other people in social settings you can better understand them.
-Better Relationships: When you can communicate effectively, you have better relationships. This applies to friendships, relationships, your work life, and so much more.
-Learn Manners: In every conversation it’s important to know what is appropriate to say and what might not be appropriate. Social skills training can help you to learn manners in conversations, so you are appropriately speaking to your peers.
-Utilize Non-Verbal Cues: During conversations people use non-verbal cues such as eye contact, gestures, body movement and more. These non-verbal cues can help you tell a story but also display how another person is feeling. Being able to read non-verbal cues from someone else is a huge part of social skills training.
ABA Therapy & Social Skills
ABA therapy, applied behavior analysis, is a type of therapy that is built for children on the autism spectrum that helps with many different behaviors and skills, one being social skills. In ABA therapy, we incorporate social skills training into our day so that we can help the children in our program strengthen their social skills. For children with autism it can be difficult to interpret social cues, understand people’s intentions, and process when/how to respond or interact with others in social settings. In ABA therapy we engage in the following to work on social skills:
Appropriate Body Language: Working on how to communicate appropriately with body language is a skill that can be taught. This will involve teaching how to use one’s own body language and also how to read other people’s body language.
Intrapersonal Conversation: This is when we work on conversations with our peers, face to face. It allows us to work on different exchanges between peers and also how to stay on topic when it is a preferred and nonpreferred topic. We will also work on how to take turns in conversations and teach how to initiate a conversation. Another skill we will work on teaching how to determine when someone isn’t interested in having a conversation, when not to talk about certain topics, and also how to change the topic.
Parallel Play: This is when a child plays alongside or near others. We will first practice parallel play with clients and then work on interacting with our peers. The child will work on approaching the peer to request them to play with them and/or share their toys.
Playing Games: Working on how to take turns, show sportsmanship for our friends, and how to lose appropriately when playing games.
Role Playing: When we role play we will practice scenarios for the child to introduce themself, join others with playing, share with peers, and so much more.
PediaPlex Therapy Services
At PediaPlex, we offer ABA therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and feeding therapy. Our collaborative approach to therapy enables families to receive all of their child’s therapy services in one location. This not only makes it easier for families, but also more efficient for the child! Our therapists are able to collaborate on each child’s plan of care to better meet their needs and help them to achieve their therapy goals.
PediaPlex is a pediatric therapy clinic that offers therapy in Frisco, Fort Worth, and Southlake, Texas. If your child has an autism diagnosis and could benefit from social skills training, visit our website for more information on ABA therapy at PediaPlex!
-The PediaPlex Family