What social skills are
The ability to engage and communicate effectively with other people is referred to as having strong social skills. Communication in both verbal and nonverbal forms, such as speech, gesture, facial expression, and body language, are included in this category. A person is considered to have strong social skills if they are aware how to conduct themselves in various social settings and comprehend the norms, both explicit and implicit, that apply while speaking with other people. Children who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Pervasive Developmental Disorder (Not Otherwise Specified), or Asperger’s face challenges in their ability to interact socially with others.
The importance of social skills
The ability to have and continue to have positive interactions with other people requires significant social skills on the part of the individual. A good number of these abilities are essential for developing and maintaining friendships. When challenges develop in social contacts, an individual needs to be able to use suitable methods, such as conflict resolution, in order to handle the situation appropriately. Social interactions do not always go well. Empathy, or the ability to place oneself in the position of another person and understand how they are feeling, is another trait that is essential for humans to possess because it enables them to react to the emotions that others are experiencing in a way that is compassionate and understanding.
The building blocks to develop social skills
- Attention and concentration are defined as sustained effort, the ability to perform activities without being distracted, and the capacity to keep up that effort for a sufficient amount of time to complete the work at hand.
- Comprehension of language is referred to as receptive language (understanding).
- Expressive language is the use of language to communicate wants, needs, thoughts, and ideas. Expressive language can take the form of speech, sign language, or other alternative modes of communication.
- Play skills can be defined as the voluntary participation in self-motivated activities that are typically connected with feelings of pleasure and delight; the activities themselves may or may not be geared toward achieving a specific objective.
- The ability to communicate without the use of words, pre-language skills include things like imitation, joint attention, and eye contact. Gestures and facial expressions are also examples of this type of communication.
- The ability to achieve, maintain, and adjust one’s emotional state, behavior, attention level, and activity level so that it is appropriate for a task or situation in a way that is socially acceptable is referred to as self-regulation.
- The ability to reason and think at a higher order is known as executive functioning.
- The sequential performance of a multi-step task or activity in order to reach a predetermined result requires careful planning and sequencing.
Problems that will emerge when a child has social skills difficulty
- Behavior refers to the actions of the child, which are typically in relation to their surroundings (for instance, a child may engage in behavior such as refusing to go to social events such as birthday parties, or they may engage in inappropriate behavior such as tugging on a peer’s hair or yelling at someone to get their attention).
- Processing of sensory input means that the youngster can have issues paying attention or concentrating, as well as trouble comprehending information that they get from their surroundings.
- Performing academic tasks (for example, the kid may misinterpret verbal or written directions for tasks and/or trouble with inventive writing) a child with a learning disability
Things to be done to improve social skills
- You may assist your child develop joint attention, turn taking, shared interests, cooperation, and proper play with toys by playing with them.
- Emotions: Assist the kid with comprehending and expressing their own feelings, as well as recognizing similar feelings in themselves and in other people.
- Teaching a child empathy means assisting them in comprehending and identifying how other people are experiencing certain circumstances.
- The term “social stories” refers to tales that are told with the purpose of instructing youngsters in particular social skills that may be difficult for them to comprehend or are unclear to them. The purpose of the narrative is to broaden the child’s comprehension by providing a specific scenario, elaborating on it in great detail, and recommending an acceptable course of action to take in that scenario.
- Groups that are run with the express objective of mastering one’s ability to interact socially with other people are known as social skill groups.
Activities that may improve your child’s social skills
- Visuals: When beginning a discussion, it is helpful to have a list of guidelines to refer to, such as having a nice voice, making eye contact, and using acceptable greetings such as “hello.” Create a poster with these guidelines.
- Playing a part: Scenarios at the playground or the party in which the youngster does not know anyone should be practiced. Create a model and make a list of the various things you can say, such as:
- To participate in a game that is already being played by others (for example, “Can I play too?”).
- To present oneself (by way of example, “Hello, my name is…)
- To assist in instructing a child about a variety of feelings, singing songs like “If You’re Happy and You Know It” can be quite helpful.
- Making masks together is an excellent way to practice maintaining eye contact.
- Playing games that require taking turns, such as board games, can help children learn how to identify whose turn it is in a game (by using phrases such as “My turn” and “Your turn”).
- To keep the child entertained, play some board games with them. Make it a point that the child is not always the “winner” of the game so that they can gain an understanding of what it means to “lose” in a game and be better equipped to handle when this occurs with their friends.
- Discussion using bean bags: To have a dialogue using bean bags, simply toss a bean bag around in a circle, and then have each child take turns contributing to the conversation. Consider the myriad of ways in which you might contribute to the discussion (e.g. ask a question, comment on what has been said, add something related to the topic).
- Participate in a variety of scenarios, acting them out and providing feedback on whether or not certain attempts at communication were appropriate or not (e.g. standing too close or too far from another person, not using appropriate eye contact, interrupting a conversation).
Once untreated difficulty in social skills may lead to…
When youngsters struggle with their ability to interact socially with others, they may also struggle with the following:
- Making friends
- preserving one’s friendships with one’s contemporaries.
- Having the ability to communicate clearly and effectively with strangers in a variety of contexts, such as when requesting assistance in a store, requesting directions when they are lost, or attempting to negotiate with someone with whom they have had a conflict.
- reading social circumstances and having a comprehension of them.
- Having a good sense of humor and being able to make figurative references during conversations with other people, as well as while watching movies and TV shows and reading novels.
- Coming to terms with one’s defeat.
What therapy is recommended for social skill difficulty?
It is recommended that you take your child to see a speech therapist if they struggle with their ability to interact with others.
Occupational therapy and speech therapy may also be required in order to address the functional areas of issue if there are several areas of concern (i.e. beyond just social skills). The fact that Kid Sense offers Occupational Therapy in addition to Speech Therapy is one of the advantages of using their services.