Cindy Ring, MSW, LSW
Expert Name:  Cindy Ring, MSW, LSW
Expert Title: MSW, LSW
Company Name:  Step By Step Inc.
Company URL: www.stepbystepacademy.org
Short Bio: Cindy is a clinical administrative associate with Step By Step Inc. Her responsibilities include designing research studies, protocols and evaluation tools, data collection and analysis and writing and editing grants and reports. Cindy is a member of the National Psychology Honor Society and a licensed social worker. She holds an MSW in Social Work Administration from Ohio State University, a BS in Psychology from Wright State University and is currently pursuing a PhD in Forensic Psychology from Walden University.

Finding a Good Social Skills Group for My Teen With Autism

All teens need to be able to socialize to be successful.  Much of teen life revolves around friends and social life so it is a good idea to get your teen with autism involved in the social arena of his or her peers as soon as possible.  A good way to do this is through social skills groups.  There are a few things a parent may want to look for when considering what makes a social skills group a good fit for his or her son or daughter.


•    Does my teen feel comfortable in the group? This is very important!  If your teen does not feel comfortable in the group, he or she may have a difficult time learning the skills needed to be successful in the group and in his or her peer group.  People have a hard time with risk taking and even more so when they do not feel supported in an uncomfortable environment.  Practicing social skills is a risk for many teens with autism.


•    Is the group made up of individuals at my teen’s skill level? Group members should be similar in skill level for the group to have maximum effectiveness.  When group members have similar skills, they can practice techniques with each other and everyone learns at a similar pace.


•    Does the facilitator know his or her stuff?  It is important to have at least one person running the group who is familiar with the social challenges that people with autism often have so that the group can effectively address those challenges and the maximum learning can take place.


•    Does my teen feel respected? It is often difficult for people who have been a client of mental health and disabilities services to feel respected by the providers of these services.  It is important that your teen feel that he or she is involved in the planning and facilitation of the group so that he or she can learn the skills he or she needs and wants to learn.  The group should be individualized as much as possible.


•    Is the group fun? Teens are all about having fun and that is what makes them so awesome!  The group should cater to your teen’s unique sense of fun as well, rather than just being a rote learning of curriculum topics.  Boredom is often the enemy of learning.

These are just a few tips to ensure that your teen can get the maximum experience out of a social skills group.  As your teen continues to grow and practice the skills that he or she learns in groups and classes such as these, socializing can become more normalized and part of his or her routine and less scary.  Hopefully these tips can help you and your teen make the best choice about how he or she wants to learn this important skill.