Social Skills are more than just etiquette and manners. Ashley Rose, founder and clinical director of Mission Cognition Social Skills Development Center, is here with me sharing about the importance of social skill instruction. Ashley describes social skills as the inner workings of social interaction. She takes a very individualized approach when deciding exactly what to work on by learning what exactly is making it difficult for an individual to have positive interactions with themselves or others.
Ashley’s centers provide the perfect atmosphere for individualized groups. She has three leveled groups, Group A being the developmental play group, for individuals with emerging language. Groups B and C are best suited to individuals with more language skills, and is her more signature Behavior Skill Training group.
The planning for Ashley’s groups focus on individualization. Ashley has developed 15 Global Focus Areas that she uses to target training in her groups. She has also developed an in-house assessment tool to identify these areas. For each group, she uses templates such as Group at a Glance, Student Snapshots, and Goal Sheets. The idea behind all of this is rationale, every group facilitator should be able to explain the ‘why’ behind the goals selected for any individual. The end goal for every play group, whether it be developmental play or behavior skill training, is to give the participants autonomy and allow ease of social interaction in their natural environment.
We also touch on the topic of Masking. Autistic voices are speaking out against this practice as harmful and unethical, and Ashley tells us why. At one point, the idea of teaching Masking was to help individuals with Autism reduce the appearance of self-stimulatory behavior to help them “fit in”. However, this behavior is actually a self-regulation tool. Another way Masking has been used is to teach scripting in social situations. Instead of relying on scripting, Ashley teaches language use in a more natural template. Her goal is always to give her students the most autonomy and individuality as possible.
Self-advocacy and Independence are the words of the day that Ashley leaves us with. No matter the age, it is important to give your child the tools to communicate what they want and need, but equally what they don’t want. Ashley shared some great resources today and gave some awesome tips for parents and professionals for creating ease in social situations and interactions that will affect their children or students every day.
Ashley Rose is founder and clinical director of Mission Cognition Social Skills Development Centers. Mission Cognition is a behavior analytic play and social skills program serving individuals ages 3 – adult with and without a diagnosis, who are in need of systematic and explicit play and social skills instruction. Ashley has worked in the field of education utilizing the science of applied behavior analysis for 18 years with the last 8 years exclusively focused on play and social skills assessment and intervention. Ashley hosts the “Skilled Socially” podcast and disseminates information via multiple invited professional development training yearly.
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