Many of our special-needs children have a difficult time with social skills and require precise and intentional instructions to succeed in this area.  Many have a hard time recognizing social cues and can not respond appropriately to people and events. They need additional coaching.

In Cathi Cohen’s book, Raise Your Child’s Social IQ, she suggests setting goals for your child and keeping track of their progress by writing the goals down and personalizing them for your child is an important step.  She emphasizes that you are your child’s social coach and you must keep this effort more like a playground, not a battlefield!  

Stepping Stone Goals
Talk to your child about the importance of good social skills  and give your assurance that the goals will be introduced one at a time. Introducing a new skill once a week might be a good pace.  For example, here are stepping stones you might use in helping your child’s goal of learning positive play date behavior:

  1. Discuss the expected behavior of your child.  like sharing, joining in, not bossing the other child or any other issues your child might not have mastered in the past.
  2. Rehearse the steps necessary to master a skill.  For example, teach your child to say,  “would you like to play with my doll?”
  3. Model the skill for your child.  Show your child exactly what to do.
  4. Role play with your child the skill that you desire.
  5. Give positive feedback and praise.  Remember to praise effort, not necessarily outcome.

Other Possible Goals
Here is a list of other skills you might want to use as goals for your child:
  • Make eye contact with others
  • Develop active listening skills
  • Ask appropriate questions
  • Express interest in others
  • Learn to experience a comfortable give and take in conversation
  • Learn to maintain a conversation
  • Respect personal body space
  • Use a pleasant tone of voice

Remember, not everyone naturally knows how to connect and get along with others.  I wish you many happy times sharing with your child.  Your willingness and enthusiasm in helping your child learn the stepping stones needed for super social skills is an important part of their education.

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