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Social Skills Training for Students with Autism 

Inside:  Utilizing peers, using scenerios and social skills role play, goal setting and using videos for social skills instruction.

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social skills training

Social Skills Training (SST) refers to evidence-based programs specially designed to help people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) learn to navigate social interactions. SST programs are both unique and effective because they keep in mind the unique needs of the individual engaging in the training, leaving room to skip modules and concepts that are not helpful and emphasize ones that are. This article will discuss a few key types of SST methods that can be used individually or in conjunction to help students with ASD improve their social skills.

Utilize peers in SST.

Peer-mediated instruction and intervention (PMII) is an effective SST tool that centers behavior modeling into the teaching process. Peers (typically ones without ASD or another related diagnosis) are specially briefed on how to act. They take on the role of a mentor or tutor to a student with ASD. From there, the peer mentor works closely with the student they are assigned to, all the while completing tasks, playing, and interacting socially. The benefit of this approach is that it takes an SST program beyond words on a page or content in a video module. Not only are students with ASD able to practice the skills they are trying to master, but they can also build connections and learn to navigate social settings in a hands-on way.

Bring scenarios to life.

Role-playing scenarios or writing out the elements of a real or hypothetical interaction are an excellent way to lock in certain socialization skills. It is especially important to know that maintaining variety in the SST program is paramount to keep content fresh and keeping students engaged. Make it relate to their life and to real issues that they are dealing with. For this reason, social skills role play alone is unlikely to give all relevant skills to a student engaging in SST. They will need other supports. Social stories, for example, are most powerful when combined with other SST methods.

Practice deliberate goal-setting.

SST can be arduous if not adequately tailored to each individual student. With such an expansive universe of goals to master, SST can quickly become boring and repetitive if an overly generic program is followed. Those helping a child through SST can avoid this very real problem by setting deliberate goals that are compatible with the child’s skills, needs, and interests. As an example, not every module needs to be completed. In fact, some students have a better SST experience if certain modules are skipped. It simply comes down to understanding the needs of the student and tailoring the curriculum to their needs.

Model behaviors by example or video.

Last but not least, teaching through social skills videos or by example or by modeling is a very effective SST method. Coupled with repetition of the social skill just reviewed, this method quickly locks in important skills in a digestible and accessible way. Some videos for social skills can be found on this page.

Takeaways

Because SST is rooted in evidence, there are several takeaways that make the training more effective. One constant of this kind of training, is making important concepts as concrete, simple, and structured as possible. This can be done by taking advantage of the variety of methods described above, as well as by building training routines and taking care to create a program that suits the unique needs of the student. Likewise, keeping students engaged is certainly a hurdle when teaching social skills, but it can be done (see our tips here), particularly by keeping trainings fresh and blocking out time for some “real-world” practice of learned skills.

 

 

Using Worksheets on Social Skills to Craft a Super Classroom Curriculum

Inside: Social Skills worksheets for autism support classrooms, pre-k, elementary classrooms and teens. Social skills curriculum ideas and social skills printables preview.
This page includes affiliate links. 
autism social skills worksheets pdf

Social skills are an important part of our daily lives, they are the rules and norms that set the foundation of interacting with people, places, and the world around us. Social skills are important for children because they learn how to act in different social situations which include play, conversational, emotional, and problem-solving skills. Throughout our development we build up our social skills and norms in a natural way. However, for students with autism, building up these skills can be a bit more difficult. Children with autism want to build friendships and engage with their peers. Younger students are still in the beginning stages of figuring out social situations. With strategies and practice, they can enhance their social skills. Teaching social skills as part of the curriculum is needed for all students. As educators, you are often searching for the best ways to help your students build strategies to help them build up their social skills, and in this post, there are a few specific ways to teach social interaction skills. It is also important to take the time to understand your students and get to know them. When you take time to understand how they communicate, their preferred ways of reinforcement, and an overall understanding of their interests, it sets a positive foundation for building social skills because they feel supported. Students with autism do not always understand social norms and cues, but intentional planning, reinforcement and activities geared towards social skills development can help them develop a better understanding. 

social skills curriculum

Social skills are an essential part of classroom life as well. Students need to know how to interact socially throughout the school day. We want to set our students up for success by providing them with opportunities to learn about social skills. The social skill printables work well for students who are on the autism spectrum and have developmental delays. They are great  for students in preschool and in primary grades who are learning about social interactions. There is also a social skills resource for teens, with the same information, but with age approriate images. We know that students with autism have unique deficits in social skills, language and communication skills, and interpersonal behavior. Addressing these specific skills deliberately and daily will lead to improvement. The printables do that. Also, they can supplement any curriculum or they can be used daily as a discussion starter for developing appropriate behavior skills.

social skills home base

The printables have over 2,800 positive reviews.

“I love this resource, not just for students with ASD, but students with a variety of diagnoses and learning differences. There is an enormous variety of activities and options, so there is absolutely something for everyone. It has been an excellent resource in individual and group sessions. I have successfully used it to reinforce lessons and work on individual IEP goals with students.”

“This is one of my best purchases on TPT. I had my group make a Social Skills Binder and they brought it to speech group. We would do an activity around a work sheet. They would build up their binder each week and they loved going back through the sheets on their own as a resource to remember the skills we learned.”

“I love this resource for my students that are on the spectrum. I really enjoy using the interest inventory and my students love choosing themselves what type of positive reinforcement they like to receive.”

reinforcement assessment

One of the great aspects is that the worksheets require variations in response styles for many answers. Students will use matching, cutting, circling, pasting and coloring for these activities. That way, they do not have to rely a great deal on handwriting.

autism curriculum

If you are trying to address a particular issue within the classroom, sometimes it is easier to introduce it as a lesson to get the conversation started.

homeschooling special needs curriculum

As you navigate through teaching your students how to do this, having concrete examples and ways to practice or learn via social skills worksheets, could be helpful.


social interaction in kids with autism

Here are the pages that are included:

SELF-MANAGEMENT

Self-Management Checklist
My Own Self-Monitoring Checklist
Reinforcement Assessment 1
Reinforcement Assessment 2
Reinforcement Assessment 3
Information is “POWER” Cards
It’s Ok to Make a Mistake
Social Skills


EMOTIONS

Match to Same -Emotions
Sad
Happy
Scared
Angry
Point to the Emotion Cards
Identify Emotions
Emotional States
Emotions – Match to the Same
Tell this Story
What Are They Feeling?
I Need a Break Lesson
Working Around Others
Taking Turns
My Turn Your Turn
Waiting
Sharing Space-Color by Code
Share
Sharing Vocabulary
Volume Control 1
Volume Control 2
Trace Words
Working With Others - Word FIND


SELF-AWARENESS

About Me...These Things Hurt My Ears
About ME…These Things Hurt My Eyes
About ME...These Things Hurt My Skin
About ME…These Smells Hurt My Nose
About ME...These Things Hurt My Feelings
Making a Mistake
Not Getting What You Want
Stress
Calming Down
Coping with Challenges
Self-Awareness Words
Describe a Feeling
What Is He Saying?
Emotion Apps
Friends Graphic Organizer
What is a Friend?


COMMUNICATING WITH OTHERS

What do I Like the Best?
Social Skills Vocabulary
Saying Thank you
When to Say Thank You
Class Rules Narrative
Imitate Others
I Want This, What Do I Do?
I Don’t Want This, What Do I Do?
Repeat, More & Again
Game Rules

social interaction autism support

    social interaction for autism ideas

  social interaction in autism ideas

Social skills can cover many topics. Let’s look at the four main areas that are highlighted in the printables packet.

Self-Management 

Teaching self-management skills to students with autism is extremely important because it helps them to understand and regulate their behaviors. Within these social skills worksheets autism support can be tailored to activities geared around developing each student’s plan for managing behaviors in situations like making a mistake and understanding appropriate options they can take during situations. There are also reinforcement assessments that allow the students to discuss (through pointing, marking or circling) their likes and dislikes. Perfect for a discussion starter to get to know the student. 
more worksheets for social skills

Emotions

Understanding and identifying emotions in themselves and in others will help set the foundation for building social skills. When we understand emotions in others it helps us navigate more successfully in relationship building. Emotions are a challenging topic for children on the autism spectrum; they struggle to identify the emotions in themselves and others. You can help by using visual supports and by teaching different types of emotions. But more than just teaching children to identify, they need strategies in handling their emotions. These printables will provide them with examples of emotions and also ideas for when they are feeling those emotions. Students will match emotions, identify different feelings, and gain general knowledge related to the topic. You can also use these in situations such as taking turns, working together, sharing space, and understanding volume control in the classrooms. Emotions are an integral part of social skills. 

worksheets for social skills

Communicating with Others

Children of all different ages and abilities rely on communication to express their needs and wants. When students have effective communication skills it helps with learning, behavior, and socializing with others. Autistic children have a varied range of skills when it comes to communication. Some can communicate effectively, while others struggle relating and communicating. Giving students opportunities to practice communicating helps them to better develop these skills. We can give them situational practice such as role-playing or model examples of communication for them. That is why it was crucial to add activities to the worksheets on how to handle when they do or do not want something, using communication words, and how and when to say thank you. Many of these pages are useful to teachers when teaching social skills group activities.

social skills worksheets 2

Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is very important in helping students with autism reflect on their feelings, help them navigate through difficult situations, and develop effective strategies for self-regulation. When students have a clear understanding of their own emotions, and actions they will make better choices that create success in and out of the classroom setting. Sometimes students are bothered by things and they cannot explain the feeling to us. These printables allow your students to tell (using pointing, marking or circling) about the things that hurt their eyes, ears, skin, nose, and feelings. When thinking about what students do not like, or what upsets them, they have a better understanding of themselves. Which, in turn, can help them better share their story with others. Not only does being aware set our students up for success but it is an important part of them developing the social skills they need.

 social skills worksheets for sel social emotional learning



The social skills printables are downloadable and available now as a single packet or as a bundle with Behavior Skills Printables, Imitation Skills Printables, Play Skills Printables,  and More.

Social Skills Bundle Autism Support Special Educations Ideas

When used as a bundle, you can think about developing a classroom program that targets many of the skills that students need to enhance. The year-long targets resource works alongside of the Social Skills printables bundle and the Personal Life Skills bundle (get seperate or together in the MEGA Bundle here) to give you ideas on making a self-created social skills curriculum and tells which worksheets from the printables to use each day to work on a particular topic and they also have some ideas teacher created materials as well. They give a foundational start to building a great social skills program for your students.

bundle social skills personal skills     bundle social skills personal skills sample

Since students often need repetition, you can keep using these social skills worksheets for kids in special education or general education, as often as needed. In some cases, go over them again to help your students reinforce these practices, if needed. It’s time to get students understanding their feelings, building self-management, communicating more and increasing self-awareness. Enjoy!

 social skills worksheets pdf

Summer Social Skills Activities for Kids with Autism When Summer Camp is Not an Option

Inside: Activities to consider to build social interaction for autism social skills enhancement, to help kids with autism over the summer.
This page contains affiliate links.

activities for social skills

Summer can be a challenging season for families with children who have autism and/or sensory processing disorders. That’s because the change in schedule and lack of classroom time can leave a lot of the day open, unstructured, and lacking in social interaction. When we think about social interaction in autism,  we have to consider the amount of planning on the part of the caretakers. It can take time. Planning ahead and having activities ready for your child can help develop their social skills even when school is out. Let’s explore some summer activities that can encourage social time for autistic kids.

Social Skills Workbooks

Workbooks and printable worksheets can be an excellent resource for home use during the summer. Having a set time each day for sitting down with a social skills workbook gives your child time to learn in a way that’s similar to what they’re used to in the classroom. Worksheets could be useful for visual learners and may work sometimes for children who are non-verbal. While you can purchase workbooks, there are also many worksheets on social skills that are free printable pages related to social skills available online, as well.

Water Play

Warm summer days provide the perfect opportunity to keep cool by playing with water. Find local splash pads to visit and meet up with a friend. Plan a playdate at a pool. You don’t need to have a swimming pool to entertain your child, either. Simple items like buckets, measuring spoons, and plastic cups can keep kids busy for hours as they explore pouring, dumping, and measuring. A water balloon toss or a water balloon fight with a friend can be big fun. Buckets with pre-filled water balloons can be set up at various distances and the game can be played socially distanced, if needed. Always stay close by and supervise water play, even if it’s only a small amount.

Playtime With New Fidget Toys

The increasing popularity of fidget toys makes it easier to find new and interesting options for your child. Amazon has many to choose from in different colors, sizes, and designs. Set up a playdate and present the kids with a few new fidget toys to play with. They can take turns, share, and show one another how the toys work. Fidget toys have the added benefit of being stress relievers, so if your child is feeling anxious about a playdate, centering it on these types of toys can be a big help. AutismClassroom.com has a new social interaction support resource using fidgets as the main star!

Sports

When thinking of things for your autistic child to do and enjoy, sports may not be one that comes to mind. That’s because many team sports can be overwhelming for kids with sensory processing issues. Large groups, loud voices, and chaotic movements can be stressful. However, there are many individual sports that autistic kids can thrive at. Gathering in a small group to do things like bike riding, bowling, tennis, horseback riding, mini-golfing, and even jogging allows for social interaction in a more relaxed setting. Some kids may like to kick a soccer ball or make your own goal posts and have a soccer match. These are the types of activities that don’t require a commitment, either, so you aren’t obligated to join a league or sign up for a team. You can simply get together with a few friends for an hour or two.

As the parent of an autistic child, you may be looking forward to the long summer days. Being proactive about developing their social skills and providing fun social skills activities is the best way to help them progress when classroom time isn’t available. Here are 30 fun things to do. This site has more ideas for summer activities. 

By thinking ahead and putting together plans with others, you can create opportunities for social interactions that can be both fun and meaningful!

If you are looking for more information about social skills, try one of these links:
Using  Social Skills Worksheets to Craft a Social Skills Classroom Program 
5 Strategies to Teach Social Skills for Autism Support Classes 
Social Skills Training for Students with Autism
Why Social Skills Are Important
Autism Classroom.com's List of Social Skills Strategies 

 

                                                                                                              Why Social Skills Are Important

                                                                                                                                      why social skills are improtant
In an educational setting, it can be all too easy to focus on building academic skills alone. After all, some think that learning how to read, write, and problem solve is all a student with autism needs to succeed, right?

That couldn’t be further from the truth. While teaching academic skills can greatly aid in a student’s future, it’s arguably more important for a student to develop social skills. After all, how could you find a great job if you didn’t know how to network and how could you have made it through rough days without the support of your friends?

When many people with autism already struggle with developing good social skills, it can sometimes be even harder for students with autism to navigate this difficult realm. That’s why it’s so crucial that educators and parents begin teaching key social skills. Here you will see the top 3 reasons why direct social skill instruction and intervention can benefit students with autism. Also, why social skills are important for students to learn as part of their daily instruction.

Support System

Contrary to the stereotype that people with autism don’t have any desire to strike up a social life, many on the spectrum do want social interaction, even as young children. However, this need is a difficult thing to navigate for some people. Even if they want to, sometime not knowing what to do or not remembering what to do can be an issue. It is difficult for students to develop a foundation in social skills when they are younger if it is not being taught.

If they did get some social skills instruction, the hope is that there might be better peer interactions, reduced problem behaviors, and even better academic performance. Overall, probably the biggest benefit is that they can build up a better support system of friends, family, mentors, and co-workers to help them as they navigate the challenges of life. Knowing when to ask for help and how to create better relationships is key for anyone to succeed in today’s world. Any social skills improvement system will include a good support system.

Social Blindness

Many times, it is hard for someone without autism truly understand autism when we’re looking from the outside in. Often, this leads us to take our social skills completely for granted, where we’re not consciously aware of our ability to instantaneously interpret social cues, craft our responses, and intuitively know the world’s unwritten social rules. Imagine just how difficult it would be to not understand how to process your complex emotions or if you completely blanked on what to do when you got embarrassed or jealous. Think of the times when we try to understand how the people in our lives are feeling, and then picture just how much harder this would be for people with autism.

By being taught various social skills, students on the spectrum may experience far fewer gaps in socializing and lower levels of stress related to social situations. Some individuals are fine with that and others might want to engage a bit more. However, they are having some trouble reading social cues. For those that do, we truly understand the importance of building these skills.

Social Complexity

As you might know yourself, life isn’t one big social script that you can easily follow and succeed. Throughout the process of growing up, you might have internalized multiple social scripts for a ton of social settings that a person with autism might not intuitively understand. That’s what social complexity is. For instance, think about the way you greet people. How you say hello to a child at the mall might differ from how you greet your best friend. This extends beyond greetings to eye contact, gestures, empathy, and far more. Introducing a person with autism to the social complexity of many social situations can help them better understand what to do in such situations. But that takes time. It also takes practice. You may even try some social skills role play to help work through a potential social situation. Keeping in mind that each trial will be a little different and that can provide a glimpse into social complexity. Here are some social skills strategies.

Moving Forward

So whether if you are working on social skills for kids, social skills activities for teens, or social skills for adults, just allowing the space to discuss this topic is huge. Without a doubt, social skills are needed for a person on the spectrum to succeed not only in the classroom, but far beyond. It’s integral for their mental health and their relationships with classmates, family members, co-workers, and friends. By incorporating Social Skills Training into your classroom and learning about important interventions and instructional methods, you could begin to make a big difference in the lives of those on the spectrum in their classroom, home, workspace and community.

More Articles on Social Skills
Using  Social Skills Worksheets to Craft a Social Skills Classroom Program 

5 Strategies to Teach Social Skills for Autism Support Classes 

Social Skills Training for Students with Autism

Why Social Skills Are Important

Summer Social Skills Activities for Kids with Autism When Summer Camp is Not an Option

 

4 Essential Tips for Building Social Interaction Skills in Young Students with Autism 

Inside: Social interaction for autism support tips, social skills ideas for classrooms, and social skills curriculum links.
This page includes affiliate links. 

social interaction for autism

1. Understand What Social Skills Look Like
An important starting point for both parents and teachers of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is understanding that children with ASD often have difficulties building and maintaining social relationships with others. Understandably, every parent wants their child to find happiness wherever they can, be it in their friendships, other relationships, or elsewhere. Teachers likewise want their students to make friends and challenge, support, and engage each other in learning exercises. Understanding the social impairments and skills of children with ASD is essential to finding ways for them to build and foster social relationships. Equally important is understanding that for many children with ASD, it is not that they lack interest in social interactions, but instead, it’s that they do not yet have the skills to communicate effectively. So for us as adults in their lives, recognizing any hard to work through effects of trying to socialize, such as heightened anxiety, is necessary to help children move forward comfortably. We need to understand social interaction in autism in order to help support students. Here are some ways to do that.

2. Keep In Mind A Few Details About How Imitation Affects Socialization
Many school districts offer students with ASD the opportunity to receive social skills training in a contained setting, such as the school’s resource room or in the speech therapy room. Some schools do not offer this resource. Teachers should keep in mind the importance of looking for ways to engage their students and bring the skills that were learned in the smaller setting into the classroom. Teachers should also keep in mind how different social situations impact their students. It is hard to figure out how to help students to ensure that they are able to learn and grow without feeling undue stress. But, teachers certainly try their best to do so. Finally, it is important to keep in mind that imitation is a vital part of skill development for children. Children with autism sometimes do not immediately develop the ability to imitate, making it difficult for them to pick-up on social skills that could otherwise be gained through imitation. Many teachers have turned to specific teaching practices to help their students with ASD learn how to imitate. Learning about these practices can help teachers lead their students overcome barriers to communication and skills development. Here are some resources that foster imitation skills.

imitation skills autism   imitation skills autism 2

Imitation Skills boom cards tpt cover                                                                                                  boom cards for autism

 

3. Engage With Non-Verbal Students
There are many resources online that can provide teachers with ideas to engage with their nonverbal students with autism. Check out our Social Skills page for a complete social skills list of activities. As a teacher, it is important to help every student feel heard and feel that their communication is welcome, even if they do not express themselves in the same way as other students might. Take advantage of any  resources you can to find ways to bridge gaps in communication. We have some Ideas for Encouraging Communication and Social Behavior In Children with Autism on this site.  As a communication partner, expect to put in extra work to communicate with your nonverbal students with autism. It is well worth the effort. 

4. Know the Difference Between Direct Instruction and Learning Through Social Cues
Direct instruction is how many of us would imagine teachers leading a classroom. This concept refers to a teaching style where an educator stands in front of their students to present their lesson. Direct instruction often requires lesson plans and specific educational milestones, such as the completion of assignments and exams. Not every student learns best through direct instruction, though. In fact, many students with autism perform well when given the opportunity to practice their social skills with a peer. This less direct educational method allows students to learn to recognize social cues. Choosing the most effective way of working with students with autism is not a one-size-fits-all situation. For this reason, it is important that teachers understand multiple approaches so they can learn which works best in their classroom.

As you see in the items listed above you get an idea of why social skills are important. Remember to try to gain a working knowledge of the different curriculums and activities teachers use successfully. There are a wealth of resources online that provide ideas for curriculums and activities that can help students with ASD. As a teacher or caregiver, keeping an open mind and gaining a working understanding of different teaching styles and activities for teaching social interaction with autism support classrooms, can greatly help your students.

Links for Information or Supports about Teaching Social Interaction in Autism

Building  Skills for Children with ASD 
Provide Structured Social Lessons 
Social Skills Worksheets Bundle
5 Strategies to Teach Social Skills for Autism Support Purposes 
Using  Social Skills Worksheets to Craft a Social Skills Classroom Program 
Social Skills Training for Students with Autism
Why Social Skills Are Important
Summer Social Skills Activities for Kids with Autism When Summer Camp is Not an Option