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Contact us at:

P.O. Box 283, Bath, MI 48808

Is Social Skills Training Really Needed?

Social, Communication, and Relational Skills are a struggle for many with developmental disabilities such as autism. Social skills can also be challenging for individuals with anxiety disorders, ADD/ADHD, emotional impairments, and other issues. There are many recreation-based classes, which can be helpful. But, these are often not "treatment" or "intervention" programs where skills are taught based on treatment methods that have been proven to work by research.  Mostly, social and interpersonal skills such as starting and maintaining conversations, knowing how and when to join and exit individual and group conversations, reading body language and non-verbal communication, and learning how personal behaviors affect others does not come naturally, and need to be directly taught and practiced. Educators and other professionals may suggest "social skills training".  Just spending time with others is usually not enough to learn and use appropriate social skills.


Would my Teen, or I as an Adult, Benefit from this Social Skills Training Program? 

If you or your teen struggle with making or keeping friends, starting or staying in conversations, knowing what to say or how to say it, understanding body language and intentions of other people, getting or keeping jobs, getting along with others including co-workers or classmates, solving disagreements, or have other social challenges, this class may be helpful. To help make this more clear, consider the questions to ask yourself below under the Teen and Adult training sections.

Teen and Adolescent Training The social interactions of young children are usually learning to play with and along-side peers. Social interactions change a great deal for a teen entering middle school. The needs shift to teens becoming more socially aware and understanding the unspoken social expectations (or rules) of interacting with their peers.  Making this transition can be very difficult for individuals with autism and other disabilities. There are many social behaviors which are not taught but everyone else seems to know. Many with autism and other disabilities do not easily understand these unwritten rules related to perspectives, values, and social behavior. The outcome of not following the hidden social rules often causes great difficulty with acceptance to groups and by peers and lead to other issues such as anxiety and depression. This can also more easily make the teen a target of teasing and bullying. The Simply Social training addresses some of the most basic social skills challenges and also teaches the skills needed for more independence, developing friendships and relationships, and are needed for future employment. 

Many programs that offer social skills training are more recreational in nature and often do not have a clinical therapy model. Teens and adolescents usually will not "pick up" social skills by talking about them or by observing them alone. They have to be directly taught by breaking down the material in a very intentional way.

Is this training for your adolescent or teen? If the answer is "yes" to two or more of these questions, he or she may benefit from the Simply Social training.

  • Social skills training is an IEP goal or has been suggested by an educator.

  • A professional such a psychologist, psychiatrist, physician, therapist, or other professional has suggested social skill training.

  • May claim to have friends, but is rarely or never invited to a friend's home or to get together with friends.

  • Does not have friends over regularly, text, or call friends. If he or she does text, they may not get a response.

  • May be the target of bullying or teasing.

  • Say or act like they don't care if they have friends (research has disproven this notion--most youth with disabilities want friends, but they do not know how to engage or connect with them).

  • Has difficulty initiating and sustaining conversations that are on-topic (and not shifting to his or her area of interest).

  • May brag, be argumentative, rigid, overly critical, too personal, and/or repetitive in conversations.

  • Dominates, polices, or only asks questions during conversations. 

  • Only talks about his or her areas of interest, does not stay on topic, and rarely involves the listener.

  • Asks primarily closed ended questions (that only have one or two word answers).

  • Not appropriate with volume, body boundaries, and/or eye contact. 

  • Does not read or take non-verbal body language or cues from the listener (for example the listener is looking away, looking confused, ignoring, turning away, not talking back).

  • If employed, may have difficulty relating to co-workers or supervisor, and may struggle with getting or keeping a job.

  • May be very anxious and appear to prefer to be alone.

  • Does not listen to the communication partner.

This list is downloadable in the attached flyer.

Adult Training. Often social-interpersonal skills challenges cause great difficulty for teens with autism and other developmental disabilities. These challenges are often carried into adulthood, and without intervention, continue to be a problem throughout a person's lifetime. While autism and other disabilities may be lifelong and not cured, many adaptive and functional skills can be learned to improve quality of life.  The PEERS young adult and Skills to Pay the Bills curriculums will be used for adult groups, with additional modules adapted for adults including employment skills, success in the workplace, interviewing, handling controversial conversations and situations, hygiene, sexuality, and more as appropriate.

Is this training needed for an adult?  If the answer is "yes" to two or more of these questions, you may benefit from the Simply Social training.

  • "Social skills" training has been suggested by a teacher, social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist, or other professional.

  • Do not have a close friend or associate with a group around an area of interest regularly (for example get together at least once a week or once every two weeks).

  • Difficulty navigating the school or work setting including interactions with classmates or co-workers (soft skills), completing assignments, or behaviors interfere with success on the job or in school.

  • May have lost jobs or struggle on the job (for example, not understanding how to ask for help, what expectations are, or how to get clarification on what is required of you).

  • Difficulty initiating, joining, or sustaining conversations that are on-topic (and not shifting to own area of interest).

  • May brag, be argumentative (or rigid), overly critical, too personal, and/or repetitive in conversations.

  • Dominate or police conversations, or only ask questions versus sharing the conversation. 

  • Only talks about own areas of interest, does not stay on topic, and rarely involves the listener.

  • Ask primarily closed ended questions or struggles with follow up questions.

  • May not be appropriate with volume, body boundaries, and/or eye contact. 

  • May engage in conversations around sensitive topics (without being aware)--for example someone gets upset during a conversation and you do not know why they are upset.

  • May be very anxious and prefer to be alone.

  • May not fully listen to the communication partner

  • Difficulty with non-verbal cues and body language.

  • Inflexible to others ideas, changes in routine, and/or difficulty self-managing time or activities.

  • May not maintain regular hygiene (hair clean and combed, teeth brushed, clothes that are clean, pressed, and  appropriate for work setting or specific environment).