Utah Social Skills Support Services
We offer social skills support in a variety of settings. This can be programmed into individual direct care sessions at home and in the clinic, or can be accessed in a group format. Social skills groups are scheduled in 8-12 week increments throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall. We try to organize the groups by age/grade, but this is always contingent on the level of interest. That being said, social skills groups may include a wide age range. If you are interested in signing your child up for a social skills group, please contact .
Role Play Games (RPG)
Do you have an AMAZING imagination? Have you ever wanted to share in an epic fantasy in a safe and supportive environment? There has been recent substantial research supporting the use of role playing games (RPG’s) in learning and developing social skills with neurodivergent individuals.
For those of you who are new to RPG’s , a Storyteller, or guide, leads each player’s constructed character through scenarios in a made-up world. This world can be Fantasy, SciFi, Modern, whatever the group decides sounds the most fun!
Our program takes this one step further, with the addition of a facilitator, who can help the players navigate and solve social/communicative issues. This can be an amazing exercise for kids who love imaginative play with toys, friends, or even video games, as it untethers the play from the limitation of physical stimuli and allows them to use the infinite potential of their own imagination.
“Firstly, players were able to build their identities through embracing their characters and interacting with each other in a secure environment. They were able to experience negative consequences while receiving support from their peers and the counsellors to better react to different scenarios. Secondly, players were given the opportunity to experience emotions of aggression and frustration in a safe way for both themselves and their peers. Participants were able to see the effects of their actions, without significant real-world consequences, which resulted in them becoming more socially interested and more conscious of the way their behaviour impacted their relationships with others. Thirdly, by exploring themselves through their characters, the participants were able to identify ways to develop relationships with each other and enhance their sense of belonging. Finally, the researchers found that, due to the verbal nature of the games, players significantly developed their social interaction skills. Participants were able to identify how certain types of interaction affected the group dynamics and were able to better manage their interactions to accomplish group goals (Rosselet & Stauffer, 2013).”
The Benefits of RPG in a Therapeutic Setting:
- Cooperation with diverse people/cultures/backgrounds
- Leadership Walking in others shoes/experiences (perspective taking)
- Impulse control
- Exposure to other cultures, religions, histories, belief systems, etc. Languages/Linguistics
- Learning/following the rules but also “thinking outside of the box when needed”
- Collaborative problem-solving
- Time management
- Generalization of social skills into daily living
- Improved frustration tolerance, resilience, and development of “grit”
- Promote flexible thinking
- Increased empathy
- Immediate decrease in inappropriate social interaction behavior
- Positive behavior changes maintained over time
- Reduction in anxiety and depression, including social phobias and PTSD
Pathway 2 Success
Social Skills Lessons For: Basic Interactions, Managing Emotions, Empathy and Perspective Taking, Communication Skills.
*Note- Pathway 2 Success does in some areas encourage neurotypical social norms. ABA Inc. Instructors have modified these specific lessons in order to be more neurodiversity affirming and to open up a platform for the learners to contemplate these things and discuss their own feelings and opinions.
Social Emotional Learning
We are excited to be able to offer a social emotional learning (SEL) group. SEL refers to the development of self awareness, self regulation, self control, and responsible decision making. These skills are crucial for successful experiences in school, social interactions, and life in general.
Many autistic learners end up masking their true selves in social situations. “Masking and camouflaging are terms used to describe neurodivergent individuals who seek to hide or minimize their autism traits to fit in with the neurotypical world. Autistic individuals, especially ones who have a history of trauma, frequently feel they need to mask their ASD traits in order to fit in” (Oswald, 2020). Masking can look like pretending to be interested in a topic, using a different voice tone, copying the ways other people dress and act, constantly self monitoring, hiding distress to sensory stimuli, bottling up thoughts and feelings, rehearsing conversation and facial expressions, putting on an act in public or in social interactions, talking more or less than desired, hiding stims, trying to “be normal,” hiding behavior that is considered socially unacceptable, overthinking about how one may come off to others, etc. This is extremely harmful emotionally and has negative long term impacts on a person’s mental health.
Rather than teaching autistic kids to be more neurotypical, we want to focus on teaching them how to practice autonomy, self advocacy and self acceptance. Additionally, psychological flexibility is an important desired outcome of the social emotional learning curriculum. “Learning to accept or become willing to experience unpleasant feelings without overreacting to them or trying to avoid situations that occasion them, while constantly living a life of commitment to the pursuit of valued outcomes and the the experiences in life that are most important to them. The person no longer tries to control or eliminate negative thoughts and feelings or let them impede upon their ability to engage in the life they want.” (Dixon & Paliliunas, 2018)
Our goal with providing a social emotional learning curriculum is to help autistic learners identify their values so they can live a life that is aligned with what is most important to them. We are not concerned with making autsitic kids seem less autistic, or helping them inauthentically fit in with neurotypical kids. We want to create an environment where autsitic kids feel free and confident to be themselves, and to advocate for accommodations they require in order to be successful in social and educational settings. Neurodiversity and authenticity are important values at Advanced Behavior Analysis and we strongly believe that teaching these skills will help our learners develop into well adjusted, confident individuals.
Many autsitic learners experience anxiety or display distressed responses associated with having to participate in non preferred tasks, having to wait for reinforcement, accepting no, etc. The goal of social emotional learning programs is to help children manage these experiences in healthy ways.
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