How Social Skills Programs Can Benefit Children on the Spectrum

If you are a parent of a child on the spectrum — either newly diagnosed or receiving services for years — you are all too familiar with the heartbreak that comes from watching a child who desperately wants to interact successfully with peers, yet lacks the tools to do so. For many of these children, social skills are necessary tools that need to be systematically taught, and often repeated, in order for children to lead more fulfilled, independent lives.

Honing social skills is a vital component of ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy, and is paired with the behavioral therapy your child receives. The child has the opportunity to learn the skills in an individualized manner, customized to their unique way of learning,  and then apply them in a guided group environment. Because of the thorough, repetitive, and individualized nature of these lessons, social skills programs have been proven to have noticeable benefits.

Why Social Skills Programs Are Important

Through Social Skills Programs, children on the spectrum learn essential skills and practice what they’ve learned in a natural setting, either by playing a game with other children, working to solve a problem, or collaborating on a project. As the students go through this process, they are accompanied by a one-on-one therapist who is available to guide them along the way, which provides them a consistent safety net, and with whom they can work through their feelings.

Through this type of therapy, children are able to work on the skills needed to collaborate and to play with peers. Learning effective ways to communicate and to express oneself appropriately become key components. Students also learn, as a group, to transition from one activity to the next, something with which so many on the spectrum struggle.

Because the children are partnered with a therapist on an individual basis, therapists are able to pick up on habits that may be hindering friendships. They listen closely to interactions within the group and are able to make the child aware of those habits, as well as offering insight to improve those interactions.

Some Unseen Benefits 

An added bonus to this type of therapy is the learned ability to make friends and sustain positive relationships with peers. Because so much of this therapy is done in a group, children are able to establish lasting friendships with the other group members. Parents can also reap the benefits. Sometimes, the children begin to get together outside of services. The parents form their own bonds and support each other through common hurdles.

As therapists discover the most effective ways to communicate with a child, their parents also improve communication. At Ready Set Connect, one technique used to do this is a behavioral contract between the children and the parents. When parents would like their child to take on more responsibility or to modify a behavior, for instance, therapists help write a contract to clearly explain what is expected of the child and what the child receives in return. Forming a contract and the negotiations involved build lifelong skills.

What Makes Ready Set Connect Unique

Ready Set Connect, while focusing on the process, also always has an eye on the outcome. Instead of providing ABA services in a more sterile, isolated environment, the children are taught to learn amid the chaos. If the end goal is for each child to go to school and be successful, they must first be able to learn amongst others and be around peers as much as possible. Ready Set Connect pairs students with others in the same age group because social skills need to be practiced within a peer group.

In addition, Ready Set Connect is proud to offer ABA services to older children. Too often, the focus is solely placed on the younger set. Sometimes, children will come in with interests above or below what is considered “typical” for their age group, which can present difficulties in trying to identify with peers at school. The older children are taught how to play video games, card games, sports, and other social activities of interest to this age group, giving them as many opportunities as possible to establish friendships with peers.

It is Ready Set Connect’s mission is to provide all the necessary services, and beyond, to bring each child on the spectrum closer to independence. Through our Social Skills and Life Skills Programs, each child leaves our services prepared to be an asset to the community and lead a more satisfying life.

If you’re interested in a Social Skills program as part of comprehensive services, give us a call today. Ready Set Connect provides early intervention services at multiple locations across New Hampshire, and is backed by over 65 years of experience in special education. We also provide ABA Therapy, Life Skills, and Social Skills programs for children of various ages.

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