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Tuesday 21 Nov 2017

Teaching and Support Social Skills at School

Teaching and support social skills development at school can be a challenging undertaking. Many school-based programs intensively focus their attention on learning academic skills and behavioral management. Teaching social skills either goes by the wayside or programs are put into place which are limited in their efficacy. The reason many programs are limited in their efficacy is due to the way they are structured and the participants. Many times social skills groups are held in the special education classroom or in the speech therapy room and the participants are other students with social skills difficulties. While for many students this can be an okay place to start because they need to be taught specific language to support social interactions, this is not where instruction should end. Instruction does, however, many times end there. Programs such as the FRIEND program offered by SARRC in Phoenix, Arizona have sought to change this and have changed it with dramatically positive results.

Their program takes social skill instruction out of the special education classroom and into the places where students need instruction the most: the general education classroom, the lunchroom and the playground. SARRC’s 3-component program has been revolutionary for school programs in Phoenix and their students.

The FRIEND Program includes:

  • Peer Sensitivity Curriculum – Teaches peers and teaching staff how to appropriately interact with individuals with social differences.
  • Playground Program – Teaches school staff how to facilitate activities on the playground. The activities are centered on those of interest to the individuals with social difficulties. By arranging structured activities on the playground, the students can practice important social, communication and play skills which are all facilitated and supported by the school staff already on the playground (i.e. paraeducators).
  • Lunch Program – Teaches staff how to arrange social interactions during lunchtime between one individual with autism and same-age typically developing peers. The school staff member facilitates opportunities for social communication between peers.

For more information read The FRIEND Program Article or visit SARRC’s website.

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