Lynn M. Dudek M.S., CCC-SLP/MBA
Expert Name: Lynn M. Dudek M.S., CCC-SLP/MBA
Expert Title: M.S., CCC-SLP/MBA
Company Name:  ASDSLP, LLC
Company URL: ASDSLP@gmail
Short Bio: Lynn M. Dudek M.S., CCC-SLP/MBA is owner of ASDSLP, LLC. She is a speech-language pathologist who has specialized in the treatment of autism spectrum disorder for close to 20 years. Lynn has presented at the local, state, and national level on topics regarding autism, communication and assessment. Her passion for advocacy, education, and effective treatment directs her professional and personal activities. Lynn recently completed coursework for completion of her BCBA. She currently serves on the Ohio Autism Coalition, the Autism Alliance and Advisory Board for speechpathology.com, and the National Autism Spokesperson Network.

Basic Social Skills for an Early Learner

Social skills is the “catch-all” term for all those behaviors that allow us to interact with our surroundings, other people, and control ourselves. Social skill development starts at a very young age – even a 6 week old baby will smile at their caregiver and respond to their parents’ voices. It is important to remember that social skills develop through an individual’s lifetime. However, the foundation for successful social skills is built in very early childhood.
Some important skills to develop include:

•    Pointing to a desired object
•    Following someone else’s point or eye gaze
•    Responding when your name is called
•    Waving/Saying HI and BYE
•    Taking turns
•    Imitating

As children continue to develop these skills it makes way for the development of more advanced skills such as:

•    following directions
•    more complex play
•    role playing
•    negotiating
•    problem solving

One of the best ways for children to learn early social skills is through the use of play. The old adage “play is a child’s work” is very true. If you think of the skills required to play ‘peek-a-boo’, ‘follow the leader’ or ‘ring-around-the-rosy’ they include looking at someone, responding, taking turns, and imitating. The more time children have to play, and play with other children, the more they can practice these skills.

Parents can get in on the playing too! Have your child imitate clapping or knocking patterns after you. Play board games like Candy Land to practice turn taking and matching. Playing catch and rolling a ball develops turn-taking and attention. And we all remember playing Simon Says – and what happens when you don’t follow the directions! Bringing music into play doubles the fun. Mix up “head-shoulders-knees-and-toes” to include other body parts in order to follow directions, develop attention, and enjoy some music!

Finally, try to find multiple times throughout the day to incorporate ways to work on these skills. In the morning, say “Hi Katie” instead of just good morning. Wait until your child looks at you or responds to their name. During meals, use their name and wait for a response, verbally or non-verbally, before giving them their cup or more to eat. Ask your child to point to what they want. Make sure your child waves/says HI and BYE when they see someone or leave a room. Practice is the key here and make sure you always require some type of response.

Look at how many times a day you use these basic skills – you will be surprised! Try to give your child more opportunities to practice these same skills- you won’t be sorry!