Socializing Concerns

Social Skills

Two friends with arms around each other's shoulders

LET'S TALK ABOUT IT

Based on your responses, you may have significant concerns about your child’s abilities in the Socializing domain. Socializing is a term referring to your child’s ability to interact with others, to communicate socially, and to make friends. This interaction can include being around other children, playing together, having conversations and achieving a level of closeness that is appropriate for his or her developmental level. By grade school, we should see children playing reciprocally. They are engaging in games like tag, kickball, and Marco/Polo that have rules and winners and losers. Children are expected to take turns and to be a good sport. It is remarkable when some children are oblivious to these social rules. They may only see it from their perspective; therefore, losing, playing another person’s game, or letting someone else go first may be intolerable. Perhaps your child stalks off the playground anytime the kids won’t play Harry Potter. He’d rather sit alone on the bench and count butterflies than play a game of tag. When he plays pretend, he may always have to be a certain character and cannot seem to understand why it might be good to give someone else a turn. Conversely, your child may be sweet and oblivious and constantly taken advantage of by other children. Your child may never get a turn and may allow others to take the lead and have all the control. Either of these situations indicates that your child is not engaging in reciprocal play.

WHAT TO DO

If you are wondering about your child’s social skills, provide as many supported and coached social opportunities as you can. The skills of social reciprocity and play skills need to be taught to many children. Parents can provide opportunities for guidance and practice. A child’s social skills will often improve with ample time and supervision in social reciprocity. Plan social activities for your child around his or her interests. Join a Lego or Robotics club; pursue the swim team or horseback riding. Find ways to have your child engage socially without leading to failure. When activities are structured and include turn-taking, back-and-forth interaction can be modeled, and children can improve their social skills. You may choose to avoid soccer teams or baseball teams, which are large activities that require a lot of cooperation. Find something with an individual component but also social opportunities. Social groups in your community or at your child’s school may be a way for him or her to learn social skills and to have these skills modeled for him or her. Provide breaks and down time, but give your child social learning experiences. Foster and improve on those friendships that seem to be most connected. If your child loves Minecraft and finds another avid fan, work to get the boys together often and to guide them to maintain a friendship beyond just chatting at school.

WHERE TO GO FOR HELP

If you would like a customized, specific profile of your child’s identified concerns, go to Clear Child Psychology.com. Here, you will have the opportunity to receive a profile page that is based on your responses on this site and is signed by our licensed psychologists and other professionals. This profile can be taken to your doctor or other healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment. Profile prices start as low as $99.

In addition to the clinicians at CLEAR, the following professionals may help with your concerns:

· Psychologist or Neuropsychologist: to consider an evaluation of your child for diagnostic clarification. These individuals often facilitate social groups or can refer for social intervention in a group or one-on-one setting.

· Psychotherapist: to provide therapy for social skills and emotional regulation. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) interventions have been shown to be effective in helping children with Autism Spectrum Disorder make gains in recognizing and understanding emotions, improving perspective taking and social skills, and managing co-occurring depression and anxiety.

· Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapist: to teach your child functional behavior. Applied Behavior Analysis uses principles of reinforcement to increase desired behaviors like communication and language and to decrease undesired behaviors like hitting or tantrums. For older children, ABA may be a good way to address social skills, turn-taking, and social perspective taking.

· Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP): to teach your child the language skills needed to communicate effectively within a social setting. An SLP is an important member of your treatment team if your child has language delays. Treatment works best if all team members can communicate with one another to ensure your child is getting comprehensive services.