Social Skills & Assertiveness Deficits

Social skills refer to any skill or ability to facilitate interactions, recognize and reciprocate emotional cues from others, and communicate with others in various social situations. They are more often times than not associated with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (Autism, Asperger’s, etc) due to the impaired development in social interaction and communication of these disorders. With one in every 2,000 people qualifying somewhere on the Autism Spectrum, teaching social skills has consistently been the focus of many child enrichment programs, both academic and non-academic. In addition, children from low SES, children from different cultural backgrounds, and children with restricted peer interactions miss the finer details of social interactions and require assistance in understanding these situations. Some of the skills that are focused on in social skills training in children include, but are not limited to appropriate and polite ways to make requests (please) and express gratitude (thanks), addressing adults, shaking hands, taking turns, sharing, giving positive feedback (praise) to peers without put downs, and cooperation. Although it is always better to start early, adults can also benefit from social skills training.

Assertiveness training may be an effective intervention for individuals who need improvement with social skills. Many individuals have trouble asserting themselves effectively to others. They may rarely speak up to express their needs and viewpoints, or they may express themselves in ways that others perceive as overly confrontational or demanding. Some individuals have little practice stating their perspectives appropriately and may benefit from applying skills training to multiple settings. Others find it relatively easy to assert themselves in certain situations (e.g., with close friends), but have great difficulty in other situations (e.g., with employers). For these individuals, the lack of assertiveness is typically associated with heightened worry about the potential consequences of asserting themselves.

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