Why aren’t my students generalizing? (social skills groups, organizing tools)

Social skills groups have been widely criticized recently. They’re often labeled as ableist and not neurodiversity-affirming.

I also take issue with the way social skills interventions are often delivered, but for a different reason. 

When social skills intervention is done, it’s often delivered via 1:1 therapy, in a “pull-out” model; where the child receives intervention in therapy or small class setting.

I get regular emails from readers who tell me they see poor generalization, despite using these models.

That’s because there’s a mismatch between the skills and the model

Back when I was in the schools, I did social skills groups. 

But I started to question my own practices when I had the opportunity to teach an autism course for teachers earning a masters degree with a specialization in autism

This was the first time I started to question my original assumptions about how to address things like social skills, pragmatic language, and executive functioning. 

My primary takeaway from that experience was that the SERVICE DELIVERY MODEL matters just as much as the intervention

There are many skills that can be adequately addressed in a “pull out” model. 

There are even some skills (even language skills) that can be MORE effectively addressed in a separate, more structured context in some situations.

There are even times that SOME social skills intervention can happen in this setting. 

But ALL of the social skills intervention can’t happen in a pull-out model. 

A good portion has to happen outside of the therapy room with the right supports in place. This means we need to stop delivering siloed off services and instead work together as a team.

I don’t believe ALL social skills interventions are ableist. 

I believe that INEFFECTIVE social skills interventions set kids up to experience social anxiety and miss out on opportunities to build skills and relationships

I recently released a training for speech-language pathologists, social workers, counselors, school psychologists and other related service providers who want to support executive functioning. 

In episode 137, I’m sharing a clip from that training. 

I start by talking about strategic planning, and why many kids can’t stay organized even though they’re using checklists and planners

Then I discuss why the “pull-out only” model doesn’t work for social skills.

I wrap up by sharing what it really means to be neurodiversity-affirming.

I share this information based on my many years of experience as a clinician, a mentor to therapists and teachers, and as a person who has experienced social anxiety.

In this episode, I mention my free training called, “How to be Evidence-Based and Neurodiversity-Affirming (by Supporting Executive Functioning)”. You can sign up for the training here: https://drkarendudekbrannan.com/efleadership

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Why aren’t my students generalizing? (social skills groups, organizing tools)