Pediatric Social Skills Therapy
Children with social cognition deficits (pragmatics) struggle to establish and maintain social interactions with others. According to research (Elliott, S. Gresham F. 2007) based on surveys of teachers, researchers identified the top 10 socials skills necessary to be successful at school. Those skills reportedly are: listening to others, following rules, ignoring distractions, asking for help, taking turns in conversation, getting along with others, staying calm with others, being responsible for your own behavior, and doing nice things for others. These skills seems fairly basic but require the student to be able to: think about others (perspective taking), utilize flexible thinking, read non-verbal communication, maintain attention during boring moments, organize and execute a plan to achieve a common goal (executive functioning skills), and figure out the expected behaviors required in a variety of social situations.
Pragmatics is the effective and appropriate social use of communication in relation to varying social expectations, contexts, intentions, and conversational rules. Pragmatic deficits, while usually considered most important socially, may also affect academic performance. In the classroom, children may not demonstrate what they know if they cannot volunteer to respond, focus, attend, answer appropriately, or stay on a topic. Children may have difficulty acquiring new information if their listening behavior is poor, fail to ask for more information, or consistently interrupt others. In social situations, a child’s verbal and nonverbal behavior is reflected in their ability to take turns, use polite conventions, and communicate differently with adults versus peers.
Pragmatics, or the social use of language, includes the following functions: commenting, requesting, greeting, polite negation, turn taking, eye contact, joint attention, polite protesting, directing others, asking and answering questions, relating and expanding ideas, initiating and maintaining a conversation, staying on topic, and waiting. Skills in the language pragmatics area are typically commensurate with a child’s overall expressive language skills.
Coastal Speech Therapy offers social skills group therapy to assist children with concentration, cooperative play, imitation, and symbolic play skills. Through positive reinforcement, social skills therapy focuses on improving a child’s social awareness, behavioral skills, language and conversation skills, as well as school readiness skills. Each group is designed to best serve the needs of the individual children within. Groups are kept small (3-4 children) so that children are given many opportunities to use the concepts they are learning within each session. When developing new groups many factors are considered: age, cognitive functioning, language functioning, and individual areas of social needs. All social learning groups meet 1-2 times a week for 60 minute sessions. By combining direct instruction with incidental learning, social skills therapy offers an extraordinary opportunity for learning strategies to develop friendships with peers in a safe and fun environment.