Social skills are the skills we use to communicate and interact with each other, both verbally and non-verbally, through gestures and body language.
These are ways of behaving which assist students to interact with others and establish friendships.
Social skills are behaviours such as:
- cooperating with others,
- maintaining social distance,
- getting someone's attention
- joining in a game
- modulating behaviour in specific situations.
Social competence is being able to use these skills in the right place at the right time.
Students with ASD have difficulty with mastering social competence and ‘Theory of Mind'. This is displayed by:
- becoming confused when interpreting social cues
- difficulty with social comprehension and problem solving
- inflexible thinking
- lacking ‘self-talk' strategies
- inability to predict consequences or understanding of behaviour of others
- having difficulty taking other student's problems/views into consideration.
Students with ASD lack the intuitive social skills which are inherent in ‘normal' students therefore it is important to explicitly teach social skills.
The teaching of social skills can occur in formal lessons but utilising incidental opportunities when they occur strongly reinforces the appropriate social skill.