Unit 2: Social Skill Development


ASD Banner.jpg

IMPORTANT NOTE: Use the back button on your browser to return to each unit after accessing external links (articles, Videos, etc.)



  • Develop an understanding of the many social skill deficits students with autism may display by evaluating several videos and articles.
  • Describe the friendships and language that students with ASD exhibit by evaluating several videos and articles.
  • Evaluate several social skill interventions for students with ASD by describing the intervention, evaluating the pro’s and cons of the intervention, and evaluating the research that validates each intervention.

Social Skill Deficits


The following videos are of Peggy Halliday who is a board certified behavior analyst with a specialization in Autism. She is speaking about some of the many social skill deficits associated with ASD. While watching these videos think about the following questions for each:

Video 1: Examples of social skill deficits: Social Skill Deficits (Halliday 2009)

  • What social skills are students with ASD lacking?
  • Why do you think that students with ASD have difficulty maintaining friendships?
  • What is joint attention? Describe the differences between typically developing students and those with ASD in regards to joint attention.

Video 2: Examples of language difficulties: Language Difficulties (Halliday 2009)

  • What are some examples of language impairments in students with ASD?
  • What is echolalia?
  • Why do you think that play skills are lacking for students with ASD?

Video 3: Do children with Autism play differently?: Play Characteristics (Halliday 2009)

  • List some characteristics of play for students with ASD?
  • What are some of the play skills that students with ASD are lacking?

Social Skill Development


Social dysfunction is perhaps the most defining and handicapping feature of autism. (Rogers 2000). Normative data on 42 one and two year old typical American children indicate that even before the children learned to talk “they had learned the social skill fundamental to interaction. They were adept at getting and holding their parents attention, taking turns and maintaining interaction by cooing, smiling and babbling” (Hart & Risley 36). It is precisely those communicative responses that (as well as contextual verbal behavior) that are often underrepresented or absent from the repertoire of children with autism (Krantz 2000). However, hope is not lost for students with ASD. There are several interventions that can be used to facilitate and teach socialization skills.

Intervention 1: Peer Tutoring

Read the following article Peer Tutoring Article (TeacherVision 2009). While reading this article think about the following questions:

  • What is peer tutoring?
  • Describe the interactions and groupings involved in peer tutoring sessions?
  • Describe the management strategies tutors need to be successful? Why?
  • Describe a peer tutoring session? (Set up, timing, interactions, what is taking place)
  • What type of modeling occurs in peer tutoring sessions?
  • Why do you think peer tutoring can be beneficial for students with ASD?

Intervention 2: Pivotal Response Training (PRT)

Read the following article Pivotal Response Training Article (Beneron 2004). While reading this article think about the following questions:

  • What is Pivotal Response Training? (How was it developed? and what is its purpose?)
  • When using PRT to improve student motivation what strategies can be used? (Describe the strategy and its components)
  • What do you believe are some of the benefits and shortcomings of these strategies?
  • Describe how PRT is used to increase student initiation?
  • What are some of the strategies?
  • Based on the research of PRT, so you believe it is a valid intervention for students with ASD? Why?

Technology Based Interventions

Interventions 3 and 4 are technology based and do not have the amount of research validation of interventions 1 and 2. However, with technology playing such an important role in today’s education, they are definitely interventions that should be considered.

Intervention 3: Computer Software for Socialization & Communication

Read the following article: Computer Software for Socialization Article (Devaney 2009). If asked to enter a username and password for this article use the following (Username: etap623/ Password: password) While reading this article think about the following questions:

  • Describe the TeachTown software and how it was utilized by the school in this article?
  • What where the results of using this software? Why do you think these results occurred?
  • Why do you think it is important to have both on and off computer activities?
  • Do you think this is an intervention that can work in your school?
  • Do you think your school would try such an intervention even though there is little research to support its effectiveness?
  • What are your overall thoughts about the TeachTown software program?

Intervention 4: Facial Expressions and Autism

Read the following article: Facial Processing Deficits Article (Phillips 2004)

Watch the following Videos: Autism and Facial Expression Video (Ames 2008)

Interview w/ Mitchell, FaceSay study participant, 4 years later (UAB 2011)

Interview w/ Mary-Leigh, FaceSay study participant, 1 years later (UAB 2008)

While reading the article and watching the video consider the following questions:

  • Why do students with Autism have facial expression recognition deficits?
  • Can students with Autism learn to understand facial expressions? How?
  • Do the findings in the studies elicit any thoughts on the importance of understanding facial expressions for students with Autism?
  • What are your thoughts about the FaceSay software?
  • Do you think schools should use this software? Why?
  • What do you think are the pros and Con’s?

You can try the FaceSay software at http://www.facesay.com/. You can download a free trial.

How good are you at interpreting facial expressions? Follow the link below to try a facial expression test (This test is not used with students with ASD). The facial expressions in this test happen very quickly and I personally had difficulty during my first few trials. When I was trialing this test I did begin to understand how a student with ASD might feel while trying to read facial expressions.

Facial expression test: Facial Expression Test



  • What are some social skill deficits students with ASD face? Describe them?
  • Describe the friendships and play skills of students with ASD?
  • Evaluate each of the four interventions for students with ASD by describing the intervention, evaluating the pro’s and cons of the intervention, and evaluating the research that validates each intervention.
  • For each intervention evaluate whether or not you believe they can be effective and if your school would trial such an approach?

Unit 3: Self Management Support

Puzzle 3.jpg

After completing reflection questions follow the link to procede to Unit 3.


References are available on design project main page: Students with ASD: Developing Socialization and Self-Management Skills


Students with ASD: Developing Socialization and Self-Management Skills

Jeff's Portfolio Page

ETAP 623 Fall 2009