The SOCCSS Strategy for Teaching Social Skills to Kids on the Autism Spectrum

“Is there a simple method I can implement to teach my son (high functioning) how to be more social in a positive way? Currently, he has problems interacting with peers in a way that does not cause conflict (and resultant rejection from those peers)?”

A great technique, the Situation, Options, Consequences, Choices, Strategies, Simulation (SOCCSS) strategy, is relatively simple and is used to help kids who have High-Functioning Autism and Asperger’s with social interaction problems, as well as teach them how to put interpersonal relationships into a sequential form.

SOCCSS helps these “special needs” children understand problem situations and lets them see that they have to make choices about a given situation, with each choice having a consequence.

The steps of SOCCSS are as follows, and can be used by both parents and teachers:

1. Situation: When a social problem arises, the parent or teacher helps the child to understand the situation by first identifying (a)who was involved, (b) what happened, (c) the date, day, and time of occurrence, and (d) reasons for the present situation.

2. Options: The child, with the assistance of the adult, brainstorms several options for behavior. At this point, the parent or teacher accepts all of the child’s responses and does not evaluate them. This step encourages him or her to see more than one perspective and to realize that any one situation presents several behavioral options.

3. Consequences: Then the child and adult work together to evaluate each of the options generated. The parent or teacher is a facilitator, helping the youngster to develop consequences for each option rather than dictating them.

4. Choices: The child selects the option or options that will have the most desirable consequences for him or her.

5. Strategy: Next the child and adult develop an action plan to implement the selected option.

6. Simulation: Lastly, the child is given an opportunity to role-play the selected alternative. Simulation may be in the form of (a) role play, (b) visualization, (c) writing a plan, or (d) talking with a peer.

This strategy offers many benefits to the youngster on the autism spectrum. It allows him or her to (a) understand that many options may be available in any given situation, (b) realize that each option has a naturally occurring consequence, and (c) develop a sense of empowerment by acting on the environment (i.e., these children realize that they have choices, and by selecting one, they can directly determine the consequences of their actions).

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

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