Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) face significant challenges with social interaction. This stems from difficulty in reading social cues such as tone of voice and body language. Due to a tendency to commit “social errors,” children with ASD often experience teasing, bullying and social isolation. The good news is that with training and guided practice, children with ASD can develop skills to better adapt to their social world. One recognized model of excellence that syn- thesizes and integrates the best practices in social skills training is in Los Angeles at The Help Group.
The Help Group’s Village Glen School has developed a unique framework emphasizing social skills development. In addition to academics and support services, students at Village Glen are taught social skills daily. This includes classroom instruction that that goes over social cues, norms and etiquette, as well as feedback throughout the day to reinforce every social success. As a result, students are able to make friends and better adapt to social situations. According to Pamela Clark, School Director, “Often students come to Village Glen who have never had a friend before. Through social skills instruction it’s so nice to hear them and their parents say that they finally have a friend.” As one student states, “When I first came to Village Glen my social skills weren’t very good and I didn’t have any friends. Now I know how to talk to people and for the first time, have friends!”