Social Skills Development Group for
School-aged Children on the Autistic Spectrum

Contact: Kevin Antshel, PhD
Phone: 315 443-9450
Email: AntshelK@upstate.edu

Many youngsters with psychiatric and learning problems, especially those with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), are impaired in their ability to manage normal social interactions. At the heart of their problems getting along with others are deficits in underlying social skills, such as those involved in making conversation, engaging other children in play and friendship activities, processing emotions, and learning how to employ social problem-solving strategies.

The Social Skills Development Group uses a structured program to teach children a wide range of essential social skills. These include some basics of social interaction, such as maintaining eye contact, social distance, voice volume, and facial expression. A unit on conversation skills covers how to start, maintain, and end a dialogue, while other units address friendship skills (greeting others and responding to greetings, joining groups, sharing and taking turns, compromising, and following group rules), understanding thoughts/feelings, and what to do when a child is teased, feels left out, or is told "No."

The focus is on the development of practical solutions, coping mechanisms, and self-control for handling interpersonal situations.

Our group consists of 8-10 youth between ages 7–13. Groups run 10 consecutive Tuesdays or Thursdays for one hour and are interactive, not lecture. A parent group runs concurrently.