Structured Social Skills Training is a systematic and evidence-based approach used to teach individuals with autism specific social and communication skills. It breaks down social interactions into manageable components, provides opportunities for practice, and offers guidance and feedback. Here’s how Structured Social Skills Training can be used effectively in autism intervention:
1. Assessment and Individualization:
Begin by conducting an assessment to determine the individual’s current social skills and identify areas of need.
Tailor the social skills program to the individual’s age, developmental level, and specific challenges and goals.
2. Identify Targeted Social Skills:
Select specific social skills or behaviors to target based on the individual’s needs and priorities. These skills may include communication, friendship, conversation, emotional regulation, and more.
3. Break Skills into Steps:
Divide each targeted social skill into smaller, manageable steps. For example, if the skill is initiating a conversation, steps might include making eye contact, greeting, and asking a question.
4. Teaching and Modeling:
Teach each step of the social skill using clear and simple language.
Provide explicit modeling of the skill by demonstrating how it is done correctly.
Engage in role-playing activities where the individual practices the skill in a controlled and supportive environment. This allows them to apply the skill in a structured context.
6. Video Modeling:
Use video modeling to show examples of the targeted social skills in real-life
situations. Individuals with autism can watch and imitate the behaviors they observe.
7. Practice and Feedback:
Encourage repeated practice of the skill with ongoing feedback. Positive reinforcement and praise can motivate the individual to continue practicing.
8. Social Stories:
Incorporate social stories that describe social situations and expected behaviors related to the targeted skills. This helps individuals understand the context and expectations.
9. Visual Supports:
Use visual supports such as visual schedules, social scripts, and visual cues to provide structure and guidance during social interactions.
Promote the generalization of skills by practicing them in various settings, with different people, and across different situations.
11. Feedback and Reinforcement:
Provide feedback and positive reinforcement to both the individuals with autism and their peer partners for engaging in positive social behaviors and interactions.
12. Progress Monitoring:
Continuously monitor the progress of the individuals with autism and the effectiveness of the intervention. Make adjustments as needed based on the observed outcomes.
13. Sustained Support:
Encourage peer support to be an ongoing and sustained effort. Consistent peer support over time can lead to more lasting improvements in social skills and relationships.
Peer-Mediated Interventions offer several benefits, including increased opportunities for social
engagement, improved social learning, and the development of positive relationships. These
interventions promote inclusion and understanding among typically developing peers and individuals with autism. They are often implemented in educational and community settings to
facilitate social growth and meaningful connections.