While SST programs vary, there are essential elements that you should look for. Be sure to find a long-term program that is a minimum of one year or is ongoing and allows your child to remain in the group for as long as needed. Your child should be placed with children who are similar in functioning level.
Many groups will have a mix of children with Asperger’s Disorder, ADHD, learning disorders, and HFA, all of whom have social skills difficulties. The age of the other group members may vary by two to three years, as therapists tend to match children more by functioning level rather than specific ages.
Some groups are mixed with boys and girls, while others are genders specific. The benefit to a coed group is that it provides your child with the opportunity to interact with both genders. All-girl or all-boy groups can be of benefit in the adolescent years when issues of dating and sexuality surface. Look for a SST program that uses the following techniques to teach social skills:
• Direct instruction
• Role modeling
• Role play
• Positive reinforcement
• Therapist feedback
• Peer feedback
• Peer interaction
• Conversation skills training
• Emotional-expression training
• Social referencing training
• Coregulation training
• Maintenance and repair training