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Teaching Social Skills to Children with PDD/Autism

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Teaching Social Skills to Children with PDD/Autism. Strategies for Teachers. Social Skills to Teach the Child with PDD/Autism. Recognizing feelings of others Expressing feelings Empathy Starting conversations Continuing conversations Ending conversations Giving ideas Listening to others

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social skills to teach the child with pdd autism
Social Skills to Teach the Child with PDD/Autism
  • Recognizing feelings of others
  • Expressing feelings
  • Empathy
  • Starting conversations
  • Continuing conversations
  • Ending conversations
  • Giving ideas
  • Listening to others
  • Encouraging others
  • Asking questions
  • Disagreeing in a nice way
  • Being polite
  • Practicing good manners
  • Sharing games, toys etc.
  • Negotiation
  • Dealing with anger
  • Resolving conflicts
  • Peer mediation


Peer Models

How to Teach Social Skills to Children

with PDD/Autism






Video Modeling

peer models
Peer Models

Properly trained peers can be used to effectively teach, reinforce and help to generalize social skills in children with PDD/Autism.

characteristics of peer models
Characteristics of Peer Models
  • A little older or younger than the child with autism
  • Flexible
  • Cooperative
  • Good at following directions
  • Assertive
  • Capable of sustained attention
  • Socially competent
  • Interested in helping others
helpful skills to teach typical peers
Helpful Skills to Teach “Typical” Peers
  • Sharing / requesting shares
  • Organizing play
  • Offering / requesting assistance
  • Making compliments
  • Making overtures of affection
  • Providing supportive comments
  • Greeting peers
  • Asking questions
  • Providing physical prompts
  • Persisting until a response is given
play schemas
Play Schemas

By creating imaginative scenarios with pretend play toys and simple actions and words you can create something that the child with autism can relate to, copy and, hopefully, expand upon and generalize.

topics for play schemas
Topics for Play Schemas
  • Doll house
  • Tea party
  • Block building
  • Game play
  • Restaurant
  • Doctor’s office
  • Birthday party
  • Trick or Treat
a sample play schema
A Sample Play Schema

Bus Driver

Set up:

  • Line up chairs one behind the other.
  • Have a larger chair in front for the “driver.”


  • Children get on the bus and find a seat.
  • “Driver” talks to the passengers. Model this for the children. (i.e. “I’m the bus driver.” “Let’s go for a ride.” “Sit down and buckle your seatbelt.”)
  • Driver “drives” the bus using a steering wheel.
  • When the bus stops, everyone gets off and a new bus driver has a turn.

Social goals:

  • Turn taking
  • Pretend play
  • Social language

The use of visuals to support language and to teach social skills is highly recommended and extremely effective, as it draws on the child’s visual and rote memory strengths.

some ways to use visuals
Some Ways to Use Visuals
  • To show the daily schedule
  • To show changes in the schedule
  • To differentiate between work times and play times
  • To take turns
  • To count down to the end of an activity
  • To label feelings
  • To illustrate rules
  • To give choices
social stories scripts
Social Stories/Scripts

Social stories or scripts combine pictures and words at the child’s level of understanding to teach about a social situation or concept that may be unfamiliar or stressful to the child with autism. The goal is to provide the child with information that will make the situation more predictable and tolerable.

guidelines for writing a social story
Guidelines for Writing a Social Story
  • Picture the goal – share relevant social information in a meaningful way.
  • Gather information - about the child, the problem situation, what occurs and why.
  • Tailor the text – customize the text to the learning style, needs, interests and abilities of the person with ASD.
  • Teach with the title – this states the overall meaning of the social story and identifies the most important information in the social story.
characteristics of a social story
Characteristics of a Social Story
  • Has an introduction, a body and a conclusion.
  • Answers “wh” questions.
  • Is written from a first person perspective as though the person with ASD is describing the event or concept.
  • Is written in positive language with the expected responses and behaviors stated.
  • Is literally accurate.
  • Uses concrete, easy to understand text enhanced by visual supports.
  • Is motivating.
a sample social story
A Sample Social Story

When the Fire Alarm Goes Off

Sometimes as I sit in class, I hear a buzzing alarm go off. The alarm may mean we are having a fire drill.

A fire drill gives students a chance to practice for a real fire. Usually, there is not a real fire.

My teacher waits for me to line up with my class at the door. It’s important to walk quietly with my class.

I will try to walk calmly outside. It’s important to wait until my teacher says that we can go back inside.

The fire drill is over when my teacher leads us back inside.

video modeling
Video Modeling

Capitalize on the student with autism’s interest in visually represented materials and need for repetition by buying or creating videos that teach correct social skills and provide fun and entertaining opportunities for the child to learn.

resources for videos
Resources for Videos
  • www.tdsocialskills.com – Fitting In and Having Fun. Social Skills Training Video Series.
  • www.watchmelearn.com – A New Beginning: Basic Life Skills Video Modeling, Volume 1 and Let’s Play: Video Modeling for Play and Social Interaction Skills, Volume 2.
Draw on your student’s strengths and interests.If he loves dinosaurs, let him be the class dinosaur expert.
Spend some time every day enjoying your time together. Show your student that being with people is fun.
  • Gray, C. (2000). The New Social Story Book: Illustrated Edition. Arlington, TX: Future Horizons.
  • Kern Loegel, L. & LaZebnik, C. (2005). Overcoming Autism. New York, NY: Penguin.
  • Maurice, C., Greene, G. & Foxx, R. (2001. Making a Difference, Behavior Intervention for Autism. Pro-Ed.
  • McKinnon, K. & Krempa, J. (2002). Social Skills Solutions, A Hands-on Manual for teaching social skills to children with autism. New York, NY: DRL Books, Inc.
  • Moor, J. (2002). Playing, Laughing and Learning with Children on the Autism Spectrum: A Practical Resource of Play Ideas for Parents and Carers. Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers