Making friends involves an array of complex skills from taking turns, to initiating interactions, considering others perspectives, negotiating, problem-solving, repairing communication breakdowns, and being flexible. For many children these skills can be incredibly challenging, often resulting in difficulty with making friends.
What are the benefits of social groups?
Social groups are designed to help children develop and practice social skills in a supportive therapeutic setting. Many children lack the necessary skills to navigate peer relationships. Social group therapy directly teaches and practices any specific social skills a child may be struggling with. For example research has documented that children with language-impairments often have difficulty verbally initiating peer interactions. Research has also well-documented that social group therapy can increase verbal initiation for children with language impairments.
Social groups have also been found to improve skills such as
- Nonverbal communication (e.g. understanding facial expressions).
- Dealing with confrontation and rejection.
- Flexibility and sharing.
- Initiating and joining in play
- Building confidence with peers
- Listening to others
- Problem-solving and negotiation
- Verbally communicating with peers.
Should my child attend a social group?
Your child should attend a social group if you have any concerns with their ability to interact with peers due to Autism or may be a Language disorder. Social groups are also proactive way to prepare your child for social setting ahead of time which is very important for kids with social awkwardness for various reasons. For example a “kindergarten-readiness group” is a excellent way to encourage your child’s social skills prior to the first day of school.
Here are a few indicators that your child may benefit from a social group?
- Your child’s teacher often reports difficulties interacting with peers at school.
- Your child seems to avoid interacting with other children.
- Your child feels afraid or refuses to attend social gatherings (e.g. play dates, birthday parties ).
- Your child has difficulty being flexible during play activities (e.g. sharing others ideas, winning or losing ).
- Your child has difficulty joining in play or initiating interaction with other kids.
- You notice frequent conflicts during play dates or interaction with other kids ( just to mention a few ).
What is the next step?
Being evaluated by a professional who has experience with Social Skills group and who can assist with placing your child in a group which will nurture his/ her growth in developing social skills to his/ her best potential.