A cognitive problem solving approach, allowing the use of a structured, but flexible, behaviour modification program to overcome weaknesses in a child's social skill development. It involves many of the same stages as construction of a behavioural modification program, but with a specific goal of increasing skill useful for social interaction in the future.
Students with developmental disorders are often in need of specific programming to develop appropriate and functional social skills, anger and impulse management skills and communication skills. Students with developmental disorders may lack these skills, not because they are being rude, inappropriate or aloof, but because they do not know what to do. It is important that this point be understood by parents so they can accept the limits of children with developmental disorders and help them to learn new skills.
Social skills programs teach students what to do. It is important to understand this basic point. Social skills programs generally consist of structured lessons that teach specific skills such as greeting and initiation, conversational skills, play and interaction skills. They also teach advanced and abstract skills such as dealing with rejection and criticism, sharing interests, understanding and communicating emotions and feelings. These programs can also teach anger management skills, as can other specific programs. The program teaches students to become more aware of their emotions, and then teaches skills to help students manage their anger and frustration and redirect it. It also teaches students to express anger more appropriately.
One specific problem of students with developmental is their inability to generalize skills from one context or situation to another. Students with developmental disorders need assistance in transferring skills from one setting to another. A useful way to maximise a Teacher and assistant teachers time and skill is to assist and monitor the child’s social and behavioural progress. This can be in the playground, the corridors, the bus stop, the sports field, or any location where there is less structure than in the classroom, and where there is less direct supervision from teachers. Another way to help generalise skills is to use other pupils as ‘buddies’. For example, a small group of students can be taught to help and reinforce the social and behavioural skills that the child is learning. Buddy systems such as this can be beneficial for all involved. The child with developmental disorders receives support from students instead of rejection, ridicule and bullying.