Holly Ballard MS/CCCslp
Crystal Hutchins MS/CCCslp
Sherrie Susser MA/CCCslp
Randi Weinberg MA/CCCslp

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Social Skills/Pragmatic Skills

What do we mean when we say “social skills” or “pragmatic skills”?

Often times as speech therapists we may use the words social skills or pragmatic skills when talking about students or lessons.   As adults we have a basic understanding about what “social skills” mean.  However, when a child needs help with their social skills it can mean a variety of different things based on the needs of an individual child.   You may be thinking, “my child doesn’t have friends"or "my child needs to learn how to make friends” as a “social skill” difficulty.  Or, maybe you are thinking “my son/daughter has many friends, why are they getting help with their social skills?”.  The information below is provided to give you some information about what social skills include and some internet resources.

What is meant by the word “social skills” in the school setting?
Social skills include some of the following skills:
·        Establishing and maintaining eye contact when speaking or interacting with peers and teachers
·        Greetings (saying hello/goodbye)
·        Beginning and ending conversations, maintaining conversations
·        Understanding figurative language (i.e. idioms, metaphors)
·        Problem solving social situations
·        Understanding non verbal language – reading facial cues, body language, personal space, gestures, tone of voice,etc.
·        Understanding and developing vocabulary for labeling emotions (i.e. happy, joyful, frustrated, annoyed, etc.)
·        Recognizing emotions of peers and teachers in the classroom setting
·        Social Thinking:
Simply put, social thinking is our innate ability to think through and apply information to succeed in situations that require social knowledge. Social thinking is a form of intelligence that is key to learning concepts and integrating information across a variety of settings; academic, social, home and community. Limited abilities for learning and/or applying socially relevant information can be considered a social thinking learning disability. (Michelle Garcia Winner,
·        Recognizing bullying, responding to bullying
·        Flexibility in thinking, interacting with peers, understanding boundaries in the classroom with teacher directions/routines
·        Turn taking skills (for example, when playing a board game it is important for all players to know the “unwritten rules” while playing a game such as knowing when it is “my turn”, waiting for others to take their turns, having a good attitude towards both winning and losing, etc).
·        Perspective Taking

Social skills can be taught and learned.  When a social skill deficit is identified, a student may receive speech therapy services by attending a social skills group.  At Shaker Lane, there are many people who help with social skills.  Our classroom teachers often provide many learning opportunities on a daily basis (reading books, using the HEART program, discussing social problems in a large group setting/small group setting, solving a problem as it occurs).  The speech therapists will run social groups to work on specific social skills that have been labeled and identified on an Individualized Educational Program.  In addition, The ABA teacher and assistants have social skills groups and there are times when the ABA teacher and speech therapist will collaborate and teach a social skill lessons to a small group.  In addition, our guidance counselor at Shaker Lane provides assistance through regular education services to help students formulate friendships and of course, develop social skills. 

Below is a list of good resources from the Internet to learn more about “social skills”:

Sherrie Susser

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