In this edition of the Comments that Parents Hear blog posts, Chuck Noe, Education Specialist, addresses comments parents often face when trying to obtain social skills training for their child:

  • “Your child does not have social skills deficits.”
  • “We do not provide social skills training.”
  • “We only provide social skills training for students with Autism.”

In conducting an evaluation, the district must “Use a variety of assessment tools and strategies to gather relevant functional, developmental, and academic information about the child, including information provided by the parent, that may assist in determining– … (ii) The content of the child’s IEP including information related to enabling the child to be involved in and progress in the general education curriculum”. 300.304(b)(1)

An IEP must include “A statement of the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance ” and “A statement of measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals designed to– (A) Meet the child’s needs that result from the child’s disability to enable the child to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum; and (B) Meet each of the child’s other educational needs that result from the child’s disability”. 300.320(A)(1) & (2)(i)

Texas law and regulations require that the ARD/IEP team consider 11 “strategies” when developing an IEP for students with autism. One of these is “social skills supports and strategies based on social skills assessment/curriculum and provided across settings (for example; trained peer facilitators (e.g., circle of friends), video modeling, social stories, and role playing).” TAC 89.1055

Chuck’s Response:

Functional performance has been determined to include social skills.  While children with Autism frequently need assistance learning social skills, this is also true of children with other disabilities.  A school’s responsibility is to identify these needs and set appropriate goals and objectives to address the needs.  A lack of social skills could lead to a student being bullied.  Many schools have found appropriate curriculums and teach social skills through social skills groups or other strategies.  Frequently speech pathologists have the most knowledge and experience in teaching social skills.  It is important that an assessment be done and that teaching be done across a variety of settings.  Curriculums/programs should have recommendations on how they should be implemented and how often they should be used.  It is important for parents and school staff to know and follow these recommendations.

Often schools will say that there is no, or limited time in the school day to provide additional services.  The parent can request that services be provided beyond the school day (extended school day).  ARD/IEP teams must consider this for students with Autism, but this is an appropriate request for any child with a disability.  When a school is required to provide “intensive and accelerated instruction” for students, TEA says that these can be provided after the school day and that option should be considered.

Possible Parent Responses:

  • “I am requesting that my child be provided social skills training in the areas of … “
  • “I am requesting that a social skills assessment be done.”
  • “What social skills curricula do you use and which staff are trained to use them?”
  • “What format does the curriculum use and what frequency does it recommend?”
  • “I understand that the school day is quite full. So I am requesting that this instruction be provided after the school day.”

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