Perhaps one of the most widely recognized areas of difference in the population we serve is in the area of Social Skills. Social Skills are also one of the most important. In fact, several studies have shown that social skills can be a better predictor of future success than raw intelligence. For many people, social skills are learned implicitly. That is, many social lessons are implied by everyday situations and don’t require much specific instruction. Most of our clients, for reasons associated with their learning styles, do not learn social skills in this way. People with learning differences associated with autism are capable of learning many of the same social skills as their peers; however, these skills must be taught intentionally and explicitly.
If you are reading this as a person without these differences, imagine that knowing Calculus was a vital skill to achieving independence. Next, imagine being expected to learn these operations simply by being dropped into a classroom and listening to other people talk about them. To that environment, add some things that you would much rather look at or learn about, like your favorite TV show or book series. Sounds tough, right? This may be similar to what learning social skills is like for people with ASD and other differences that affect social learning.
The good news is that there is a way to teach social skills that is more explicit and intentional. While social skills aren’t as cut and dry as some mathematical operations, many of the basic components of social success are more easily understood when presented in a way that is orderly, logical, and visual. While there may be no way to provide a person with social learning deficits ALL of the information relevant to social functioning, it is highly possible to provide instruction in those skills that are most necessary to leading a happy, self-determined life.
As with all of the curriculum areas in the Beacon Transitions Program, we make an effort to provide basic group instruction while taking the time needed to focus on specific skills as needed by each client.
Some of the things we learn about in this area are:
Thoughts and Feelings of Others
Circles of Friends