Teaching Social Skills

By definition, social skills are a major issue for people with autism.

“Autism prevents children and adolescents from interacting normally with other people and affects almost every aspect of their social and psychological development.” (National Health Information Center, 2007 )

Teaching social skills to an individual with autism can be challenging, regardless of his or her abilities in other areas . Individuals with autism do not generally pick up on even the most basic social cues – body language, tone of voice, gestures, etc. People with autism are often withdrawn or tend to withdraw when uncomfortable in social situations.

As mentioned previously, social skills are usually divided into three groups – social intake, internal process and social output. Think of these groups as
1. Noticing what other people are doing,
2. Thinking about what is being done and how one wants to react, and
3. Reacting to what other people are doing.

Generally, reaction involves communicating with another person in some way. If an individual does not have an appropriate means of communication, he or she may react by saying nothing, leaving the situation, screaming or striking out at the other person.