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Social Communication Disorders:
Suggestions for Intervention

Students with social communication disorders often demonstrate difficulty interacting with others and functioning effectively in the classroom learning environment. They may demonstrate difficulty initiating interactions, taking turns, using language effectively to obtain basic needs, and may respond inappropriately to the language of others.

These students often make statements that are rude or inappropriate, but may not understand why their behavior upsets others. As a result of their behavior, they may be rejected by peers and often have few friends.

Social communication deficits are common in students who have been diagnosed with autism and related disorders. These individuals often exhibit inappropriate emotional reactions in social situations. They may smile or laugh inappropriately and may exhibit facial expressions that are inappropriate for the context. These students often have difficulty expressing basic needs and using language effectively to regulate the actions of others.

Instructional programs for students with social communication disorders need to focus on the functional aspects of communication. In other words, they need to learn skills such as the following:
  • Giving greetings Initiating interactions
  • Taking turns
  • Maintaining a conversational topic
  • Ending a conversation appropriately
  • Requesting help Communicating basic needs
  • Requesting information
  • Sharing feelings
  • Expressing disapproval
  • Expressing gratitude
  • Reacting appropriately to the feelings of others
  • Sharing experiences

The following books, published by Academic Communication Associates, are widely used with children who have difficulty using language effectively in social contexts.

These books and others relating to social interaction skills are available at www.acawebsite.com
Parents should model appropriate behaviors for these students and should provide opportunities for their children to practice these behaviors in everyday social situations. It is important for parents and teachers to work as a team in developing strategies for improving social interaction in students with communication disorders.
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