For children with learning disabilities, social skills instruction is a crucial educational component as learning disability can be permeated into all areas of a child’s life. Some examples of social skills are starting a conversation, working cooperatively, expressing your feelings and so forth. Due to the lack of social skills and effective instructional strategies for teaching social skills, the difficulties that children with learning disabilities are facing included negative effects on academic areas, problems with interpersonal relationships and emotional difficulties. Some of these problems might be tackled and avoided with the availability of a social skills curriculum in daily activities. Brown and Hedinger (1995) recognized the five problematic areas that are exhibited individuals with learning disabilities in the social context included auditory processing problems, memory, attention, visual, spatial or motor disabilities and expressive language.
Hence, multiple approaches are incorporated to improve social skills of an individual with learning disability. Effective social skills training included strategies like social skills support groups, mnemonics, behavioural training program and virtual reality.
Mnemonics : FAST strategy and SLAM strategy
The practice and implementation of these mnemonics let individuals with learning disabilities to react appropriately in a social situation.
– The F (freeze and think) A (alternatives) S (Solution) T (Try it) strategy helps to deal with interpersonal problems. Individuals can approach the problem in a rational way instead of impulsive manner through this strategy.
– The S (stop) L (look) A (ask) M (make) strategy helps individuals to receive verbal messages from peers. Individuals are taught to clarify the expression and then to respond appropriately.
Behavioural training program
Components like modeling, role playing , performance feedback and transfer training are incorporated in the program for behavioural training. Individuals with learning difficulties can become effective communicators with the ability to identify nonverbal social cues through a comprehensive approach.
Modelling – experience the specified behaviours
Role play – having an individual to play an active role and internalize the skill instruction
Performance feedback – giving reinforcement and suggestions on improving the skill
Transfer training – Assisting in generazing the social skill across many natural settings as possible
Individuals can recognize and deal with stressful situations, while examining how their social abilities are affected by learning disability in a support group. A facilitator will be there to remediate and instruct students in skill development during the group session. The facilitator uses the real life experiences to help students examine and develop social skills as individuals share the difficult social circumstances they are facing. Support group validates feelings and let them to know that they are not alone.
Components such as multisensory approach, three-dimensionality, encourages problem-solving, and effective modeling techniques allow the instructor to create interactive role playing scenarios that are targeted to a students specific social deficits.
- Teach your children to smile and make eye contact while talking to adults and children.
- Present children with pictures of faces displaying various emotions such as happiness, sadness, anger, surprise and so forth. Let them to identify and label the emotions. Parents can ask the child to identify facial expressions of characters on TV programs as well. For the child to focus attention on facial expressions, the sound can be muted during this activity to eliminate auditory cues.
- Discuss the meaning of various body gestures such as waving goodbye, shrugging a shoulder, tapping a foot or shaking a finger in impatience, crossed arms, outreached arms. Introduce each gesture separately.
- Have the child to listen to a voice on a tape recorder and ask him to explain the mood of the person and the meaning of the communication. This is to allow a child to understand the implications in the human voice beyond the words themselves. Different tones of voice can be used for the same phrase and parents or teacher can explain the different meanings of tonal quality.
- Have role play activities to emphasize the possible effects of verbal interaction and the emotions they may arouse in others.
- Let the child to practice social skills involving both verbal and non-verbal behaviour. For instance, smiling when meeting a friend, making introductions and asking other children to play a game.
– F（freeze and think，冻结和思考）A（alternatives，替代）S（solution，解决方案）T（try it，尝试）策略有助于处理人际问题。个人可以通过这种策略以理性的方式而不是冲动的方式来解决问题。