“Social Skills Deficits in Students with Asperger’s Can Be Addressed”
By Heather M. Hulse, JD, MA, MS
Many students who have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder have social skills deficits. Specifically, students with Asperger’s often do not have the skills to initiate appropriate conversations, appropriately interact with others, pick-up non-verbal social cues, and maintain relationships. Typical students often learn social skills almost automatically by learning through modeling. By merely watching and socializing with others, typical students learn what is socially appropriate.
Students with Asperger’s, on the other hand, do not tend to learn appropriate social skills so automatically. Rather, they often require social skills to be specifically broken down and taught to them. Indeed, students with Asperger’s are very capable of learning appropriate social skills. With the appropriate interventions, students with Asperger’s can develop their social skills as well as their typically developing peers.
School districts are required to provide research-based social skills training to students that have social skills deficits related to their Asperger’s Disorder. Students with Asperger’s should be provided with direct instruction in social skills, similar to academic programming. There are a variety of research-based programs that have been proven to be effective in successfully teaching students with Asperger’s appropriate social skills. Parents of Asperger’s students who believe their child has social skills deficits should pursue such social skills training with their child’s school districts, and ensure those services are part of their child’s Individualized Education Plan (“IEP”).