Benefits of Social Skills Training in a Clinical Psychology Or Language Class

Teaching American English in a children’s language class is similar to teaching any other second language. It involves encouraging, guiding, and correcting young learners’ errors, developing appropriate pronunciation and vocabulary, and building a sound communication foundation. All aspects of the academic approach are necessary for success. However, there are differences between the US (“the land of opportunity”) and the UK (“the land of education”). The social skills of English caregivers and their families come into play in the ESL classroom, where these “others” are parents, grandparents, foster parents, and teachers themselves.

Childrens language class

Children in an ESL language class may be very different from those in the public, low-racism environment. These children live in a multicultural world of English speakers, immigrants, refugees, and children of colour. They are also surrounded by peers from various socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, many of whom are already fluent speakers of the foreign language spoken at home. A significant number of children in ESL language classes are of immigrant or first-generation schoolchildren.

Children with autism often experience alexia, a difficulty with constructing and completing sentences that make sense, and tend to have problems with understanding the relationships among words and phrases. In a language classroom, teachers can help improve social interaction skills. By being sensitive to the cues parents, grandparents, and teachers make in their discussions, teachers can help children with autism navigate the complex world of social interaction. Children with autism may reject requests for social interaction, leading to feelings of loneliness. By working with a caring and understanding teacher, these children can gain confidence in social skills and develop the skills they need to grow and thrive.

In my research, I found that teachers’ socialization strategies had a profound impact on how well children with autism coped with stress and anxiety. Students in the control group, which included children with autism, were able to cope with stress and anxiety better than students in the special needs group. The autistic students in the control group also seemed to be more socially skillful than their other peers. However, when teachers gave instruction to all students, regardless of how well they performed academically or in social skills, autistic students in the special needs group showed no improvement in either performance or social skills. Teachers must work with parents and other care givers to design an integrated plan that meets the unique needs of autistic students.

During the last two years I conducted qualitative studies with a large sample of students in the clinical psychology program at Case Western Reserve University. During the study, we interviewed dozens of parents, teachers, counselors, and therapists. During our qualitative research, we asked many questions about how autism influenced social interaction, how teachers supported students with autism in various settings, how parents perceived social skills and communication barriers, and whether teachers followed instruction guidelines. We concluded that teachers’ expectations and parents’ expectations regarding autism hindered children with these conditions from experiencing successful and meaningful academic and social interaction. In short, the way teachers respond to these students may prevent them from receiving the support they need to learn and thrive.

During the second year of my research, I conducted interviews with teachers who served in all three groups. We compared how instruction was delivered in the clinical psychology program, in the language classroom, and in the WTC language acquisition and transition classes, and we asked whether the treatments had any effect on how well the children responded to the lessons. We also compared the treatment effects in both age groups, comparing normal children in the clinical psychology program with autistic children in the language classroom, and comparing normal students with children in the WTC language acquisition and transition classes with autistic children in the clinical setting.

In the third year of our study, we conducted a meta-analysis comparing the treatment effects of teaching these three conditions, autism, and the WICervice and Joint Attention skills, and comparing normal children with autistic children in the clinical and WICervice settings. Our meta-analysis found significant differences between the treatment effects of autism and the social skills and the joint attention skills; there were no significant differences between the conditions in the other two years of research. The results of this meta-analysis indicate that although the treatments had some protective effects, the protective effect was minimal for the social skills and the joint attention skills. This meta-analysis also concluded that there is no evidence that children with autism and the syndrome benefit from teaching these skills.

Based on the above studies, and the meta-analyses, I have concluded that there are no benefits associated with teaching these skills in a clinical psychologist/language learner’s clinical or WICervice setting. This conclusion is consistent with the findings of the second edition of the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which states that there is no proven benefit associated with SSI. For more information about this condition, I recommend you review the book titled “What Every Parent Needs to Know – Understanding Preschool & Home Care Services for Children with Autism”. Additionally, you can find out about other autism therapies and treatments by reviewing “The Complete Autism Workbook” by Dr. William Pelham. (Chrohn’s Press, 2021).