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Social Skills 101

What are social skills?

Social skills are the skills we use daily to interact and communicate with others. They include verbal and non-verbal communication, such as speech, gesture, facial expression and body language. A person has strong social skills if they have the knowledge of how to behave in social situations and understand both written and implied rules when communicating with others. Children with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Pervasive Developmental Disorder and Asperger’s have difficulties with social skills.


Why are social skills important?

Social skills are vital in enabling an individual to have and maintain positive interactions with others. Many of these skills are crucial in making and sustaining friendships. Social interactions do not always run smoothly and at times, a person needs to be able to implement appropriate strategies, such as conflict resolution when difficulties in interactions arise. It is also important for individuals to have ’empathy’ (ex: being able to put yourself into someone else’s shoes and recognize their feelings) as it allows them to respond in an understanding and caring way to how others are feeling.


What are the building blocks necessary to develop social skills?

Attention and concentration: Sustained effort, doing activities without distraction and being able to hold that effort long enough to get the task done.

Receptive (understanding) language: Comprehension of language.

Expressive (using) language: The use of language through speech, sign or alternative forms of communication to communicate wants, needs, thoughts and ideas.

Play skills: Voluntary engagement in self-motivated activities that are normally associated with pleasure and enjoyment where the activities may be, but are not necessarily, goal oriented.

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