In order for children, whether they are special needs or not, to enjoy social success, it is vital that they master four basic skills (Lavoie, 2005, p. xxxii).
- The ability to join a group
- The ability to establish and maintain friendships
- The ability to resolve conflicts
- The ability to "tune in" to others social skills
Making situations into a teaching experience is critical for any young child. However, it is highly important to remember this idea when working with a special needs child. Since most disabilities last a lifetime, "social difficulties are a direct, not indirect, consequence of the learning problem" (Lavoie, 2005, xxxviii). With this in mind, your goal, should be to make as many situations and experiences into something that you can teach your child. A social skill, you can hopefully help them master.
Social Skill Autopsy is a technique that aims to help teach children "the right answer" for correcting any social error. This strategy has three basic assumptions:
- Most social skills errors are unintentional.
- If you accept the premise that the offending behavior is unintentional, it becomes obvious that punishing the child for social skill errors is unfair, inappropriate, and ineffective.
- Traditional approaches to social skill remediation-role-playing, demonstrations, discussions-are not effective and seldom on a positive impact on the development of the children's social competence (Lavoie, 2005, p. xlvii-xlviii).
- Ask your child to explain what happened. You will want your child to tell you the whole story, starting from the beginning.
- Ask your child to identify the mistake that he made. This is a difficult stage for many children with special needs. Your child may be unclear on what he actually did wrong.
- Assist your child in determining the actual social error that he made. At this stage you discuss with your child the actual social mistake and alternate responses.
- Create a short social story that has the same basic moral or goal as your child’s social mistake. Once you present the scenario, your child should provide a response to show that she has learned the skill.
- Provide social homework. Your child should be required to apply their newly learned skill in a real-life situation that he identifies. When he has done this, he should report back to you what has happened (Lavoie, 2005, p. li-liii).
Best of luck.
Please respond with questions, comments, concerns.
Lavoie, R. (2005). It's so much work to be your friend: helping the child with learning disbilities find social success. New York, NY: Touchstone.