By Melissa Menard, the Caregiver Homes Intake Coordinator for the Attleboro Branch in Mass, and Shannon Bettencourt, the Caregiver Homes Care Manager for the Attleboro Branch in Mass.

Individuals with developmental disabilities often lack appropriate social skills, making it difficult to form friendships. They also may get anxious when they have to go to the doctor's office or transition to a new environment. These issues can make it challenging for a caregiver to simply get out of the house or conduct routine interactions with others. Our ability to interact successfully with a variety of people is an important life long skill. Having some knowledge about how to assist someone in learning better social skills can help.

Impacts of Lack of Good Social Skills

  • Forming and maintaining various types of relationships is challenging.
  • There is a tendency to be drawn towards parents and professionals vs. peers.
  • The ability to read the social environment and respond in ways which lead to ongoing interactions and the development of sustained relationships requires direct instruction.

What can a parent or caregiver do to help?

Social Stories

A Social Story is a tool used to teach specific social skills to children and adults with autism or other disabilities. A social story provides a meaningful script and sequence of information about social situations they find difficult or confusing. This teaching strategy builds on natural skills and behaviors. Delivered from the perspective of the student, social stories are short, explicit and concrete. They describe what is or might be expected of the student, and almost anyone can create an effective social story.

Video Modeling

Video Modeling is technique in which videos of real people and situations are used to model behavior sequences, interpersonal relationships, friendship behaviors, and perspective-taking to the individual with developmental disabilities. Video modeling pinpoints key interactions/routines and provides concise & explicit visual information for step by step instruction. Although it may not be possible for a caregiver to create their own video modeling, it can be helpful to know this resource exists. A parent or caregiver should ask professionals in their community if they can access tools such as this.

What can Caregiver Homes do to help?

Caregiver Homes has trained social workers and educators that are here to help. Care managers and nurses, who are assigned to every caregiver and consumer, can provide strategies or other resources to make working with your loved one easier and more productive.