Asperger's Syndrome in Young Children: A Developmental Guide for Parents and Professionals

By Laurie Leventhal-Belfer; Cassandra Coe | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
Building Connections with Peers
Therapeutic Groups

As many parents have discovered, almost every assessment of Asperger's Syndrome comes with a recommendation that the child participate in a social skills group. Yet one soon finds out that this is easier said than done, especially for children between the ages of three and six. The first thing one needs to know is that the term social skills group may be used to describe a wide range of programs depending on the orientation of the clinician who is running the group. For example, it may be called a [pragmatic language group] if taught by a speech and language therapist, a [language and motion group] if directed by occupational therapists and speech and language therapists, or a [therapeutic play-group] when run by mental health professionals. While these professionals from different disciplines may not share a common approach to intervening or vocabulary to describe their interventions they do share the goal of enhancing the child's social and communication skills (Klin and Volkmar 2000). Before thinking about what we should consider when looking for a social skills group, we will define some of the terms used across settings.

SOCIAL SKILLS refers to the skills needed to engage with a peer in
reciprocal social interactions and interpret social situations using both
verbal and nonverbal communication.

Young children master these skills at different ages. By three-and-a-half years of age many children can maintain several circles of communication about a shared topic of interest, are able to judge how much information their friend wants to hear, ask their peer direct questions, listen to their response, and read their facial expressions. The three-year-old child loves having a [friend] with whom he or she can share similar interests, such as searching for wet worms, hiding from pirates, or creating and serving delicious mud cakes, to list a few.

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