Social Skills Training at Alpha School
Building and maintaining social skills is an important part of everyday life. Being human means interacting with and developing understanding between other people. Socializing is often difficult for neurotypical people, but for those on the autism spectrum or with behavioral challenges, the social skills needed to get along with others may seem downright elusive and mysterious.
According to Iris Chiang, M.Ed., BCBA, some of the challenging behaviors that make socializing difficult include:
- Avoiding other people and preferring to be alone.
- Preferring to be with adults or with people who are younger.
- Having a difficult time making eye contact with others.
- Refusing to engage in conversation with other people.
- Getting aggressive, loud, or violent.
- Having a hard time sharing their things.
- Dominating conversation.
- Getting too close to people or avoid closeness with others.
- Accommodating others too much and being taken advantage of.
Yes, Social Skills can be learned!
But, just like reading or math or riding a bicycle, social skills can be learned. Social skills training works best when coordinated with Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Students work with an ABA therapist to identify challenging behaviors and create a plan to modify them. Students then meet as a group to practice the skills learned in ABA therapy. The group setting allows them to practice and build on their social skills in a safe space. Some students may need more practice than others, but social skills training can be fun. In engaging with each other, students form bonds with and get support from each other.
Some of the skills students may learn and practice for the social skills group include:
- following group instructions
- joining in group behavior
- greeting group members
- sharing and taking turns
- conflict resolution
- initiating interaction
- how to use verbal and nonverbal communication and behavior to determine if the group is open to being joined
- how to be aware of certain behaviors that might seem unusual to others
- how to identify other people’s intentions and recognize bullying
Final note to parents
Social skills training is self-reinforcing. As the students’ social skills improve, they form more fulfilling relationships with their peers, and this motivates them to continue working on their social skills.
Alpha School’s Social Skills Program
What is the Alpha School Social Skills Program?
The Social Skills Program aims to improve children’s quality of life through increased access to both recreation and learning activities and social skills.
We believe that social skills and physical and hands-on activities can be as important to a child’s growth and development as time spent in the classroom. The Social Skills Program allows children to step out of their comfort zone in a safe atmosphere, explore, interact with friends, use their imagination, and learn from each other. We value a child’s need to play/socialize, and we provide meaningful structured opportunities for child-driven play and socialization.
Are there follow up tools or things that parents are given to help them support at home what the program is working on at Alpha?
A google classroom is in the process of being created. This platform will allow 24/7 access to all online resources. Counselors are also available by phone or email.
What if a student is a bit hesitant or reluctant to participate, how is that handled?
Counselors aim to meet each student where they are at and come up with a plan to help ensure that the student feels comfortable in the environment. Counselors do this by having weekly meetings to collaborate on which activities would help benefit each student to the fullest extent.
Alpha School an private special education school in New Jersey
Our Mission at The Alpha School is to help all of our special needs students with the learning, social, language, and behavioral support they deserve. Our highly skilled staff are committed daily to helping each student to becoming the best they can while providing a safe and nurturing educational environment.
We would be more than happy to discuss your child’s specific needs and challenges, so please call us at 732.370.1150, or request a tour of Alpha School of Jackson, NJ located just minutes off of Route 9 and Route 195 in Ocean County.
— John Gonzalez, Principal-Alpha School, Jackson, NJ