THERAPEUTIC SOCIAL SKILLS PROGRAMS - TODDLERS AND PRESCHOOLERS
Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that typically lasts throughout a person's lifetime. It is part of a group of disorders known as autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Autism impairs a person's ability to communicate and relate to others. It is also associated with rigid routines and repetitive behaviors, such as obsessively arranging objects or following very specific routines. Symptoms can range from very mild to quite severe.
Autism spectrum disorders can usually be reliably diagnosed by age three, although new research is pushing back the age of diagnosis to as early as six months. If your child is diagnosed with autism, early intervention is critical to gain maximum benefit from existing therapies. Social skills programs are a beneficial way in which to address the needs of children with ASD.
What Should You Look For in a Therapeutic Social Skills Program for Toddlers and Preschoolers?
A therapeutic social skills program should provide the opportunity for children to develop skills that can be used in everyday social settings. Ideally, these groups would be based in children’s literature to support speech, language, social, gross and fine motor development in children. It is important that the group focused on increasing the child’s ability to initiate, maintain, and participate in play and conversation.
A child’s group program should be engaging, and target underlying brain processes that support “conversation” including, but not limited to, emotional engagement, social referencing, perspective taking, physical and emotional regulation, and flexibility. (L. Seals, 2006)