Someone recently asked me about social skills training, particularly in the context of treating individuals who are diagnosed within the autis­tic spectrum. I want to share some of my thoughts on the subject...

Most people develop social skills quite naturalistically without need for structured social skill training. Usually, oneís innate desire, pleas­ure in interacting and communicating, and the development of empa­thy keep in check our more egocentric and even selfish ten­den­cies. Therefore the usual ongoing learning about social skills and honing them that takes place first with ones parents, then with friends and teachers, and then in the context of being a love relation­ship, needs no formal supplementation. The neuro-typical child is well equipped to nat­u­rally learn how to act and behave for example with peers, in a restaurant, or in a library. Some individuals are not so fortunate and need special help to learn what comes more naturally to others.
Therefore, social skills training is usually a component of the treatment program of a child diagnosed with Aspergerís Syndrome. Trained therapists generally do this in groups of two or more indi­vid­uals of similar ages and levels of functioning. Generalizing gains made within the groups is often a problem so efforts are made to engage families and schools in teaching the skills. There are also many approaches described in professional journals, books and computer software that are helpful in teaching social skills, and that are used by professionals and parents.