Conditions surrounding a person typically dictate their outcomes. We cannot change things like the environment we’re raised in or the experiences we’ve gone through. But if given a chance, we’ll all agree that we want things to be better. Individuals entangled in the criminal justice system may think that their chances in life rely on the graces of the system leading them to lose hope when it comes to things going their way. In this session, we’ll expand on a simple concept that will allow anyone to take control of their outcomes.
Wes Dotson is back on Justice Clearinghouse, this time around, to talk about building competence and confidence through social skills. He is the Director of the Burkhart Center for Autism Education and Research and an Associate Professor in the Special Education Program at Texas Tech University. His research focus includes social skills, relationship development, and successful life outcomes.
Some of the topics he delved into in this session are:
- A discussion on how social skills can impact an individual’s quality of life and relationships.
- Looking at poor social skills without blame, understanding this as a learned behavior, and framing it as a matter of ignorance, not intent.
- The reality that people typically want to enhance their interactions and have better social skills, and tackling issues with social skills as an opportunity to teach.
- The importance of individualizing the teaching based on the person’s struggle and not make assumptions about what the individual is aware of or not.
- The two primary goals in social skill instruction.
- Creating a stable, predictable environment so they know what to expect and experience less stress.
- Teach functional skills that focus on the positive and are as specific as needed targeting their particular challenges.
- A step-by-step template at teaching new skills.
- Identifying the target skill by looking at what they’re struggling with, recognizing their level of proficiency of the skill, specifying the desired outcome, and demonstrating what the skill looks like.
- Determining when and where to teach the skill by looking at the amount of preparation needed, the need for teaching aids, and whether teaching must be private or with a witness.
- Describing the skill thoroughly by going through the significance of the skills, its worth, and how it can help an individual and their goal.
- Applying the skill through modeling and practice.
- Constantly practicing and adjusting as needed based on what they learned and retained.
- How teaching social skills also allows us to build rapport and foster trust with an individual.
- Interactive case studies that help demonstrate how to integrate social skills teaching.
Webinar attendees raised questions about:
- Applying social skills instructing.
- When there are socio-economic challenges on top of social skills struggles.
- Managing expectations about the potential of things not going according to plan.
Resources and Handouts
- “This was one of the best webinars I have listened to in a long time. The material was great and the presentation was even better. Very informative!” — Amy
- “How to approach teaching social skills in a positive way!” — Ailene
- “The practical common-sense examples that in essence puts us in our clients’ shoes were very helpful. Also a reminder throughout the presentation – there is an advantage to knowing the idiosyncrasies of the people with whom we work so as to better help our clients navigate unfamiliar situations. Thank you.” — Amber
- “I really like the practice scenarios, real examples, and being able to practice makes the information stand out more. The process sticks in my head rather than be forgotten.” — Heather
- “I liked that he lectured and practiced the skills…..kind of what he wants us to do with our clients. Bingo! Bravo!” — Bridgette
- “I really like how Wes pointed out that it’s important to never assume anything about our clients.” — Bethany
- “I really enjoyed how this topic was broken down into material and examples that were easy to understand and something I can easily start to implement. I really thought the presenter did a good job at telling us why teaching social skills is so important.” — Emily