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Our Social Skills Groups were developed on the theory that children learn best by watching a skill being modeled, rather than simply being told how to perform it. We can probably all relate to this. Think back to the first day at a new job, learning a  hobby and our own school days. Generally we learned the necessary skills by watching others model those skills. We can certainly learn a new skill by listening to someone explain how to do it. However, it seems to “stick” better when we see someone demonstrate it for us. In part, this is because our sensory systems typically process information better when it comes in multiple forms. If we simply hear someone tell us how to perform a task, our sensory systems have to work a little harder to process the information because most of us then assign a visual representation to the auditory input. When the information comes to us through both the visual and auditory systems, our brain is able to process and retain the information more efficiently and effectively.

This process is especially important for our children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Autism often creates sensory processing deficits. Our social skills groups aim to teach children new skills by providing the information in ways that enhance their ability to process and retain it. In addition to hearing the group leader talk about new skills and how to perform them, a child is watching a peer model the skills throughout the session. For example, if a child is struggling to maintain two-way conversations, not only will the child be taught about conversation topics and how to use follow up questions, but the child will be interacting with a peer the entire session that has been trained on how to model those very skills. These interactions between the target student and a peer help to create genuine learning opportunities in a natural way. We thorough enjoy watching our students in the social skills program learn and practice social skills, develop confidence in their abilities and have fun interacting with peers!

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