Social-Skills Training and Joint-Attention Training for Kids on the Autism Spectrum

“Can social skills training really help children with high functioning autism? What should a good training program consist of?”

There is some objective evidence to support traditional and newer naturalistic behavioral techniques and other approaches to teaching social skills. Joint attention training may be especially helpful in young, pre-verbal kids on the autism spectrum (e.g., Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism), because joint attention behaviors precede and predict social language development.

A randomized, controlled trial demonstrated that joint attention and symbolic play skills can be taught, and that these skills generalize to different settings and people. Parents can facilitate joint attention and other reciprocal social interaction experiences throughout the day in the youngster's regular activities.

A social skills curriculum should target the following:
  • initiating social behavior
  • minimizing stereotyped perseverative behavior while using a flexible and varied repertoire of responses
  • responding to the social overtures of other kids and grown-ups
  • self-managing new and established skills

The following are supported primarily by descriptive and anecdotal literature, but the quantity and quality of research is increasing: 
  • peer-mediated techniques
  • play and leisure curricula 
  • scripts
  • social games
  • social skills groups
  • social stories
  • video modeling
  • visual cueing

A number of social skills curricula and guidelines are available for use in school programs and at home.

More resources for parents of children and teens with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's:

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book

==> Parenting System that Reduces Problematic Behavior in Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

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