Social and Functional Skills Programs
Social and Functional Skills Programs address specific skill deficits. They are typically less intensive (12-20 hours per week of direct treatment for 1-2 years) than EIBI programs, and most children in these programs attend school during the day. Social and Functional Skills Programs typically use a behavior technician/RBT for direct intervention under the supervision of a BCBA, and parents are given strategies to help with issues that occur when no technicians are there, such as staying in bed at night and getting out of the door in the morning peacefully.
Children who are most appropriate for this type of program are generally between 7 and 13 years old.
All quality ABA programs address problem behaviors as part of the program. In addition to the skill deficits that contribute to problem behaviors, other skills are often needed for children to increase their independence in the family and community settings.
OAI assesses each child and develops a unique program specifically designed to address the individual needs of each child and his or her family. The skills addressed are selected by the OAI Board Certified Behavior Analyst in collaboration with the family after a thorough assessment, including parent interviews, file review, and direct observations. Skill deficits selected for intervention may be any combination of functional (self-help) skills (including both allowing someone to prompt an activity without protest, and performing the skill independently), leisure skills, community skills, social skills, and any other skills that are needed to allow the child to be as independent as possible with little or no problem behaviors.
Many children struggle with learning social skills from other children. Children with autism may tend to interact primarily with adults in social settings, even when children are present. Social skills taught in the one on one setting provides many practice opportunities to allow the child to become fluent in difficult skills such as entering and ending conversations, maintaining conversations on a peer’s topic, identifying likely topics that a peer would be interested in, establishing eye contact, referencing where a peer is looking so that both children are looking at (and possibly talking about) the same thing, recognizing and responding appropriately to sarcasm and humor, and many others. Additionally, if appropriate, Social and Functional Skills programs may incorporate systematic data based reinforcement to increase social skills in an environment where the child interacts with typically developing peers in the community, such as a local craft class or karate lessons. For more information, click the link on “Learning with Other Children”.