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Social Skills Don’t Always Come Easily for All Kids

August 16, 2012

play time for every child, social skills

Do you remember sitting at the lunch table in high school, sharing the latest gossip with your friends?
How special was the first conversation you had with your significant other?
What did you say during the interview that helped you to land your job?

All of these important milestones required social skills that you naturally developed through life experiences. Throughout your life, you figured out how to handle a variety of social situations, both good and bad, and have learned from each of them.

For most of us, learning social skills, such as how to hold a conversation or understand when it is appropriate to ask a question, came naturally through life experiences and everyday interactions. We picked up on social cues and learned the “rules” for how to act and function in a variety of social settings. But, for children with cognitive and language impairments, these skills don’t come as naturally.

One of the “red flags” for an autism diagnosis is an inability to interact socially with one’s peers. In fact, many of the patients we treat at Good Shepherd Outpatient Pediatrics have some sort of pragmatic deficit that does not allow them to function as a typically developing peer would in a social setting.

Fortunately, Good Shepherd Outpatient Pediatrics offers social skills groups that are designed to address the problems children have when interacting with others. Patients are assessed and given specific, individualized goals to help improve their social interactions. Goals may include:

  • Maintaining eye contact
  • Learning to self-monitor responses (not to provide too much or too little information)
  • Taking turns
  • Maintaining topics of conversation.

Whether a child has a cognitive or language impairment, motor coordination deficit or issues with overall strength, Good Shepherd has a social skills group that will fit his or her needs. The typical age range of participants is between 4 – 15 but is not restricted. Each session runs for approximately 10 – 16 weeks and is led by trained speech language pathologists, occupational therapists and physical therapists.

The main goal of Good Shepherd’s Social Skills Program is to enable patients to use their newly acquired social skills outside of the therapy room – at home and in their community. Helping children develop these skills and reach important milestones in their lives is very fulfilling to the staff at Good Shepherd.