Social skills are the skills we use to communicate and interact with each other, both verbally and non-verbally, through gestures, body language and our personal appearance. Human beings are sociable creatures and we have developed many ways to communicate our messages, thoughts and feelings with others.
Social skills and social competence enable us to use our talents in the workplace/ classroom/life. The social aspect of life is not only a unique perspective, it is necessary for our very survival. Social skills allow us to communicate with others, develop friendships, work collaboratively and understand and respect others as well as ourselves. To say we need people is an understatement. Without adequate social skills we have little chance of attaining satisfying employment, developing friendships or living a happy, fulfilling life. No amount of intelligence can compensate for “people skills”. In extreme cases some people will find it impossible to work and live independently without assistance. It may be necessary to apply for Social Security Disability to obtain financial support. In these cases professional testing is necessary to establish level of functioning and degree of disability.
Here are some examples of social learning difficulties:
- Initiating, maintaining and making closure on a conversation.
- Difficulty making small talk.
- Failing to realize the importance of small talk (social chit chat).
- Difficulty interpreting nonverbal cues.
- Tendency to focus on words and the mouth or lips of the other person.
- Ignoring the 80% of communication that is non-verbal.
- Exhibit severe anxiety about approaching/entering new social situations.
- Failure to understand negative interactions. Perceived by people as rude, abrupt or self-centered.
- Inability to respond appropriately in social situation. Lacks social knowledge needed to enable them to successfully manage life tasks.
- Can appear immature or naïve.
- May have difficulty communicating by phone.
Definition of Social Cognition
“Social cognition broadly includes the cognitive processes used to decode and encode the social world. The most complete description of social cognition must include information processing about all people, including the self, and about the norms and procedures of the social world. These processes are likely to occur at the automatic and controlled levels of processing and will be influenced by a number of motivational biases. The first component of social cognition includes the processes used to perceive other people.“ http://dept.psych.columbia.edu/~kochsner/pdf/Beer_Ochsner_Soc-Cog_Levels.pdf
Social Skills Training can be done one-on-one or in a group setting. In group settings the group becomes the social context for practicing social skills. It also serves as a safe place to experiment with new behaviors without fear of being ridiculed or teased.
Social Skills and Autism Spectrum Testing
Social Skills and Autism Spectrum Testing can be helpful to verify a diagnosis. Testing can also identify specific areas within the social cognition/skills domain to establish the skills development objectives for individuals. Evaluation tools such as the Autism Diagnostic Schedule(ADOS), Conversation Skills Assessment (UCLA), Autism Social Skills Profile (Bellini, 2006), Ect.