Teaching Social Cues

Instructor: Abigail Cook
Have you ever worked with a child who has a hard time making friends? Does something seem off when they're engaging in a conversation? If so, they may need specific instruction in social cues!

Signs of Social Skill Deficiencies

Many students with disabilities have a difficult time understanding social norms. While a typical child will pick up on unspoken social rules, such as taking turns in a conversation, making eye contact, or talking at a normal volume, others need specific instruction to learn how to interact with their peers. Students who need help with social cues may engage in some of the following behaviors:

  • They talk too loudly or too quietly in a conversation.
  • They don't stop talking long enough for the other person to say something.
  • They don't make eye contact.
  • They don't look up when someone is trying to get their attention.
  • They do not use appropriate touch in conversation. For example, they don't discriminate between people who should get hugs and people who should get a handshake or a high five.
  • They don't pick up on others' facial expressions or body language. For example, if someone starts looking around or tapping their foot, that person may be ready to end the conversation.

By instructing students who struggle in social situations in the specific rules of social interaction, teachers can help them make friends and gain peer acceptance, which usually helps them do better in school and have a higher quality of life.

Teaching Social Cues

In this section, we will discuss some ideas of what social cues should be taught and how to teach them. In public schools, teachers will often include social skill goals in the student's Individualized Education Plan and then work toward those goals during the school day. However, these ideas can also be applied at home with parents.

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