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Social Skills Training for Special Education Students

Resources, Including a Unit Plan, for the Special Educator


Social Skills for special education students are much more than good manners. Typically developing children are wired to attend to social nuance, social situations, facial expressions, and the interior life of others, also known as “theory of mind.” Learning disabled children all too often zoom past the more subtle cues they get in social situations. Children on the Autism Spectrum are clueless to appropriate social behavior, and have to be carefully taught, even coached.

In these pages, I want to address these problems. My purpose is to help you help your students develop appropriate social skills.

1. A Social Skills Unit on Friendship

I offer 10 days worth of brief (30 -45 minute) lessons to prepare you for a big friendship celebration for Valentines Day. Feel free to pick and choose the activities you feel will help your class.

2. A Social Skills Unit on Baseball

When the season opener rolls around in your local baseball stadium, your special education students may be just as excited about baseball as their typical peers. This unit helps students understand the rules of the game and uses baseball, through a group game, to practice social interactions. It ends with the movie "The Sandlot" as a way to talk about social groups and success in those groups.

3. Social Skills Cartoon Strip Interactions

First termed Comic Strip Conversations by Carol Gray of the Gray Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan, these "Cartoon Strip Interactions" support students as they learn to initiate interactions, make requests and express feelings with typical peers.

4. How to Write a Social Narrative

The term “Social Story” has been copyrighted by Carol Gray. I will substitute “social narrative” for the stories that work with developmentally challenged students, especially. I like to use pictures of the students for whom the narrative is written, so pick up your digital camera and follow me as I coach you through Alex Sets the Table.

5. Alex Sets the Table -- A Step by Step Demonstration of a Social Narrative

A social narrative can be a powerful way to reinforce a skill you are teaching, modeling and rehearsing, whether that skill is a social skill or a life skill. I wrote this demonstration with Alex, a young teenager on the Autistic Spectrum, with step by step hints as to how to write your own social narratives.

6. Reviews of Social Skills Curricula

Autism Aspergers Press
Here are some resources I have found helpful for teachers or programs seeking to integrate some Social Skills Training into their curriculum.
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