Social skills groups are one of the most common therapeutic modalities currently used to help individuals with autism spectrum disorders develop effective social interaction skills.
Therapy groups offer opportunities to observe, practice with, and receive feedback from peers. Although the format can vary, groups generally consist of instruction and practice of targeted social skills. Social skills groups may also feature use of other strategies including video modeling, role-play, social coaching, and the skill practice (i.e., "homework") outside of the group sessions. Additionally, parent training is often a key component in promoting social skill growth.
At the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) at Kennedy Krieger Institute, groups are led by speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists, social workers, and psychologists. Groups are often led by an interdisciplinary team, thereby offering the opportunity for more comprehensive treatment of social needs. CARD has expanded its group treatment program and offers services to children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. In addition, efforts to identify innovative strategies to increase group members' application of new skills outside of the clinic and to improve the effectiveness of groups have been paramount in our clinical practice.
Children and adolescents are typically referred to our social skills groups by a CARD provider. Once they have been referred, parents are asked to complete a Social Skills Groups Screening Form, which is utilized to determine if the child would benefit from participation in a group and to select the best group program for the child's current needs. If a child appears to be a good fit for a social skills group, he/she will be evaluated by the group leaders prior to beginning the social skills program. Occasionally children are asked to participate in a future group or are referred to a different service if it is determined to better meet their needs.
If you are interested in a social skills group for your child and they do not have an Autism Spectrum Disorder, please contact our Intake Department to learn about social skills groups offered elsewhere at the Institute.