Monday, December 3, 2012

Social Skills Training

Over 30 parents and professionals gathered at Christ’s Church to discuss social skills and individuals with disabilities on November 8th.  The training was called “Improving Social Skills of Children with Disabilities” and was provided by Family Matters Parent Training and Information Center in conjunction with The Autism Program (TAP).

According to Deb Einhorn, Executive Director of Family Matters Parent Training and Information Center, social skills are just as crucial to a child’s success as math and reading.  Einhorn said in the training, “One of the biggest reasons disabled adults have difficulty with getting and keeping jobs is due to poor social skills.”  She also cited a study that showed that the academic scores of students who received social skills training went up by 11% compared to those who received no training.

States develop standards that schools are required to consider when planning curriculum and teaching children.  There are state standards for math, reading, writing, and science.  Many people might be surprised to know that Illinois also has standards for emotional and social learning.  According to Einhorn, Illinois was one of the first states to implement standards in these domains.  This means that the Illinois State Board of Education requires that the schools address these skills and help students master them.  Some of the skills listed in the standards include the following:  “Demonstrate an ability to prevent, manage and resolve interpersonal conflicts in constructive ways” and “Apply decision-making skills to deal responsibly with daily academic and social situations.” 

Attendees contributed their ideas as to why kids with disabilities struggle with social skills and they offered input on how to help them.  Some suggestions included:  peer buddies, role playing, teaching relaxation techniques, and celebrating the victories of the children, no matter how small.

Attendees included a combination of parents, teachers, and therapists who work with kids with disabilities.  Kristin Gharst, Family and Community Resource Coordinator at TAP said, “I feel our community needed information about autism and social skills. I’m glad we could team with Family Matters and provide our families with this much needed training.”

Jill Smith, a speech language pathologist from Beecher City, said this was the first training she has attended from Family Matters. She was enthusiastic and said she would like to come to others and get her colleagues to join her.  She was also excited to learn about Family Matters’ extensive lending library, which is open to the public.  They have books on specific disabilities, educational laws and issues, information about IEPs, social skills, learning disabilities, and parenting and behavior techniques.

Family Matters Parent Training and Information Center is located in the Lincolnland Building at the mall in suite 200.  Training workshops are offered regularly in Effingham for parents and professionals on a variety of educational topics.  But workshops are just one service that Family Matters offers.  They also are available to answer questions about educational law, IEP development, disabilities and the law, as well as help parents and guardians ensure their children are receiving appropriate services.  For more information, visit or call 866-436-7842. 

Originally published in Effingham Teutopolis News Report.  Written by Patty Hooper.


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