Social Skills is something children with autism struggle with. Whether it is having a proper play time with their siblings or peers, or going out to a restaurant for a meal with their family, or even just enjoying a birthday party, children with autism struggle to interact like how typical children would. Here at EAP Malaysia, to ensure that our kids to grow up learning how to share, take turns and interact appropriately with their friends and family, we have set up Social Skills Group Classes. These classes are specially designed to cater to the different needs of the children.
What are Social Skills Group Classes?
They are support groups for individuals on the spectrum to come together and learn social skills in a group setting. We teach each child on what is expected of them in different situations such as ordering food in a restaurant and talking to their friends in a birthday party. We show them how they can build and form meaningful friendships among themselves as well as with their friends and families. Individuals with autism also often struggle with accepting other people's ideas and opinions. In these classes, we teach the children to accept that their friends, family and teachers can have a say in a particular situation, and that it is no big deal when their opinions are different. In short, we want our children to leave with a sense of accomplishment, knowing that they have gone that one step further.
Who can attend our Social Skills Group Classes?
Our group classes are open to all but a separate screening by our very own clinical supervisor is required beforehand. These classes cater to the wide spectrum of children. We have set up 5 group classes altogether:
1. Advanced A Social Skills Group Class
This group class caters to the older advanced learners i.e. 10 years of age and above. The general skills they pick up from this class includes:
- Understanding and accepting each other’s opinions and ideas
- Learning to compromise
- Brainstorming and working in a group setting
An example of an activity facilitated in an Advanced A Social Skills Group Class is going on a field trip or community trip, where they are required to plan the day amongst themselves, including location, budgeting, transportation and the activities they want to carry out. They also learn to prepare simple dishes together such as pizza bread and brownie in a mug, as well as helping other people make drinks such as milo and coffee.
2. Advanced B Social Skills Group Class
This group class is for advanced learners as well, but it is especially for the younger ones i.e. 6 to 9 years of age. The social skills they learn include:
- Building friendships
- Joining in a conversation, and even starting one with their peers
- Learning expected rules in different social settings
- Cooperative play with one another (one child will lead the group in a game, and the rest will follow suit)
A treasure hunt is one of the many examples of games that require them to converse with one another as well as encourage teamwork. Apart from games, we ensure that the kids constantly interact with one another throughout the class.
3. Intermediate A Social Skills Group Class
For the intermediate learners aged 4 and above, this class is just right for them. The skills targeted in this class are:
- Staying in a group
- Playing together
- Exposing themselves to interactive games among themselves (Hide and Seek, Fox and Hen, Musical Chairs etc)
The kids get to find out details about their friends by asking simple questions amongst themselves. For example, with the help of a facilitator, they learn to ask each other about their favourite colours, food and even the name of their best friends. This is called talking time, where they learn to have small talks with their peers.
4. Intermediate B Social Skills Group Class
This class is also for those intermediate learners, as a stepping stone towards the Intermediate A group class. That said, the skills targeted here are similar to that of the Intermediate A group, but simplified and more broken down according to their levels and skills.
The class will include circle time, where they have a chance to take turns, wait for their turns and share.
5. School Readiness Social Skills Group Class
The final category of group class we have is to prepare the kids for school, especially those who are non-verbal. Hence, their response are mostly receptive. In the school readiness class, they will learn the following skills:
- Group instructions
- Basic counting
- Identifying alphabets
- Taking turns & waiting for their turn
This class will be conducted in a classroom setting i.e. there will be one teacher conducting the class and the children will have to line up before and afer the class. The kids will be required to put up their hands when called in response to the teacher.
When do these classes happen?
All group classes are held termly, that is three times a year. The classes now run for 10 weeks each instead of 8 weeks, and this year, we have streamlined the classes to start and end together. Below are the dates for the Social Skills Group Classes for each term:
- Term 1: 15th February - 18th April
- Term 2: 23rd May - 29th July
- Term 3: 19th September - 25th November
To register your child, contact us at 03-20940421 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope to see your child at one of our social skills group classes!