The Need

Teaching social skills involves promoting skill acquisition, enhancing skill performance, removing interfering behaviors, and facilitating generalization. Often the deficits in social development are attributed to inadequate pre-requisite skills such as sensory motor, sensory integration, cognitive-perceptual and language and communication.

Our team of occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, psychologists and special educators' together designed this program to help children develop one of the most primary skills required for a happy and inclusive life. Parents are invited to participate in the program and encouraged to even lead an activity or so. Siblings and other typically developing peers are included as part of the group, as interaction with other children will facilitate modeling and imitation among the children. By weaving together social and play skills from a more holistic perspective the overall effectiveness of the intervention is enhanced.

The program
Period : Blocks of three months (Review after each block will decide on progress and  plan for next block)
Frequency : Once a week
Timing : 09:30-12:00 (Monday to Friday)
Children : 3-6 children
Facilitators : 1-3
Methodology : Play based approach focusing on functional output and performance.
Parent Involvement : Feedback every month. Observation schedules to be filled at home.

Some of the strategies that will be used are
. Visually-based instruction (pictures, social stories)
. High level of structure and predictability in the environment (at least initially)
. Language support - signs, gestures, verbal labels for certain behaviors or emotions
. Providing multiple and varied learning opportunities
. Fostering self-awareness and self-esteem
. Selecting relevant goals
. Sequencing skills in a progressive manner
. Providing opportunities for generalization and ongoing practice – peer groups
. Video taping and feedback

The outcome

The program (either as a sole intervention or in combination with individual therapy) provides a safe, structured environment to enhance social communication skills. Group therapy provides an opportunity for children to improve their ability to watch and relate to their peers. The facilitators promote appropriate social behavior via modeling, coaching, and instructions/explanations.

Children learn to identify specific emotions, the contexts in which they might be appropriate, and modulation skills to help manage the intensity of these emotions, thus developing positive social behaviors. Parents are trained to not simply introduce social skills as rote learning skills but to teach children to differentiate their behavior or skill from other behaviors.