Why Social Skills?
Having strong social skills reduces the risk of social isolation, allows children to form and maintain positive relationships and improves mental health and self-esteem. Luckily, social skills can be taught in a fun, natural and effective way, through direct teaching, repeated practice, reinforcement, modelling, social stories and positive feedback.
Why Sports and Social Skills?
In a primary school playground, sport and physical activity are often areas where social interaction occurs. For example, many children spend lunchtime playing soccer, hide and seek, chasing games and on the climbing equipment. During these games, children practise many social skills, such as coping with losing, cooperative play, turn taking, requesting, giving directions and negotiating. These same social skills can be practised at our social skills groups and then transferred with the support of teachers, school aids and therapists, into the school playground.
All of our individualised social programs are guided by direct observations and the Socially Saavy Checklist. (James T. Elliot, PhD, BCBA-D & Christine Almeida, M.S.Ed., Ed.S., BCBA).
The Socially Savvy manual is a resource which uses the principle of Applied Behaviour Analysis to assess, conceptualise and design effective interventions to address social goals.
Strategies used to teach social skills include:
· Positive feedback and reinforcement.
· Direct teaching instruction.
· Social stories.
· Teaching functional communication.
Joint Attention: Sharing interest of enjoyment. For example; reading a book with someone, or passing the ball.
Social Play: Engaging in different types of interactive play with other children. For example parallel play, imaginative play and turn-taking games.
Self-Regulation: The ability to control one’s urges to behave in a given way and instead behave in another way. For example; Inhibiting touching an item, following rules, waiting in line.
Social/Emotional Regulation: Skills related to identifying and responding appropriately to your own and other’s emotional responses. For example; Asking if someone is ok when they fall over, or taking a deep breath before reacting in an angry way.
Classroom/Group Behaviour: Skills related to following rules and meeting expectations put in place by adults, that are necessary for group activities. For example; Putting your hand up instead of calling out.
Nonverbal Social Language: Interpreting and reacting to non-verbal cues during social interaction. For example; Recognising if someone is bored or listening to you, noticing when you make somebody laugh, or if you are standing to close.
Social Language = Using language to respond to or initiate and maintain social interactions. Can include language facilitated by a communication device (PECs or LAMP). Asking questions, making statements, telling stories, asking someone to play