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Social Activities for High School Students with Special Needs

Instructor: Abigail Cook
Students with disabilities often need direct instruction to learn and understand how to interact with others appropriately. Teachers can help their students feel more accepted at school by involving them in some practice activities.

High School Students with Special Needs

In the hallway of a typical high school, we would expect to see students walking down the halls together, collecting supplies from their lockers, and talking and joking with friends. Most high school students learn acceptable social behavior by watching and copying the people around them. They understand how to introduce themselves to someone they don't know, how to invite friends over, when to end a conversation, and how to be a friend.

Students with special needs, however, often have a difficult time interacting with others. They do not always naturally acquire appropriate social behaviors like their typical peers. Watching and copying others may not work for students with disabilities because they may depend on more concrete practice and direct instruction.

Basic Social Skills & Practice

Teachers can help their students with disabilities build relationships and make friends by practicing basic social skills. In this section, we'll focus on a few different ideas teachers may implement in their classrooms. Keep in mind, these ideas will not work for everyone. You will need to adapt these suggestions to your individual students and their learning needs.

Conversation Practice

Work with your students to come up with a list of possible situations or topics of conversation they may share with a friend and then follow up with some role-playing. Remind them to make eye contact, maintain personal space, and practice taking turns.

A few sample scenarios are listed below:

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