Social Skills at School and Beyond!

January 25, 2018

Cotting students practice their social skills for use not just at school, but across several different environments, like at home or in the community.  Our team of Communication Therapists have developed a strategy that enables our students to learn generalized social skills that they can practice at school and use as they communicate with family members, co-workers at Project Bridges, or friends outside of Cotting!

CTs Jillian Gleason, Christine Rivera, and Katie Simmons explain their approach to this strategy: “Social skills can be a tricky topic to teach, because socializing is very natural.  We adapt our curriculum to be more explicit when it comes to social strategies, and encourage our students to be self-aware when they communicate with others.”

Presenting pragmatic language (social language skills, non-verbal communication skills) and perspective taking (taking other’s feelings into consideration) are just a few of the methods they use to help students get past the difficulties connecting with and expressing feelings to their peers.

The image below is a useful way to understand the multiple elements that social skill-building incorporates:


Explicit instruction helps students understand abstract language – what are idioms and puns?  How does sarcasm work?

Generalized skills enable students to make a plan before talking to someone – what might I talk about, and how will I go about the conversation?

Reflection allows students to be thoughtful about the social process – what went well, and what didn’t?  How will I proceed?

Social skill-building at Cotting is not isolated to the classroom.  It takes the students’ whole experience into account and provides them with the space and time to practice at school, at home, and in the community, and then encourages reflection and repetition.  With practice and great therapists like ours, our students are getting the best preparation possible for whatever social situations they may find themselves in!

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