Development of Social Communication Skills

Awareness of self and others

‘Social skill’ is the term used for relating to and interacting with others. It involves social understanding, social communication and social relationships. Social skills include an awareness of self and others, an understanding of the communication process, a desire to communicate and a means to communicate with others.

** Social communication difficulties may arise from autism or from other reasons such as environmental or developmental difficulties or family circumstances. Pupils who are having difficulties with social communication, for whatever reason, need to feel less stressed around others and within their environment in order to communicate effectively. They usually need to be specifically taught the meaning of social interaction skills. A structured approach is often helpful, first to teach about the skills of interacting with others, then to practise using these skills, with daily opportunities to generalise understanding and use of skills to everyday situations. A structured approach will also help to incorporate social skills into classroom routines.

The developmental levels and stages of various aspects of communication are outlined within different sections of this resource. The levels relate to ages. The stages indicate ease of learning and are broadly developmentally based. However pupils with social communication difficulties, especially if these relate to autism, usually have atypical communication profiles, with uneven and patchy development. Address this through individual assessment and by working from the pupil’s actual skill level within any given area of communication.

** This is used throughout the document and refers to puplis with autism

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Last updated: 28 October 2015

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