Jed Baker joined us for a LIVE Chat on October 14 to discuss several topics including social skills training as we honor the U.S. Department of Labor’s National Disability Employment Awareness month.
Jed Baker, Ph.D. is the director of the Social Skills Training Project, an organization serving individuals with autism and social communication problems. He is on the professional advisory board of Autism Today, ASPEN, ANSWER, YAI, the Kelberman Center and several other autism organizations. In addition, he writes, lectures, and provides training internationally on the topic of social skills training and managing challenging behaviors. He is an award winning author of five books on social skills training and managing challenging behaviors. His work has also been featured on ABC World News, Nightline, Fox News, the CBS Early Show, and the Discovery Health Channel.
Hi Everyone! We are about to start!
Comment From Amanda Zastrow
Hi, Jed Baker, PhD here. Happy to hear from you. I run the Social Skills Training project which provides services to individuals with social and behavioral challenges. Happy to take questions about social skills training, behavioral issues or anything else that comes up.
Comment From Lisa Friedrich-Harris
Comment From kath
Comment From Brenda
Comment From Jessica
Hello, I have a question about my brothers behavior
Jessica, What is your question about your brother?
Comment From Jessica
It seems like his behavoir is controling the family
Jessica, what is he doing specifically. Need to know behavior and situation in which it occurs so we can understand what might trigger it. Triggers help us to determine how to intervene.
Comment From Deb Salanitro
How do you feel the new anti bully law affect those with aspergers in NJ where their rigid thought processes could come across as bullying?
Comment From Deb Salanitro
Hi Dr Baker – I’ve had the pleasure of hearing you speak with Temple Grandin about a year and a half ago
Jessica, when folks do not get their way, we want to understand if the issue is about waiting, accepting no or dealing with a frustrating task. For waiting, we create scedules and use timers so folks know exactly when they will get what they want. For accepting no, we use written and picture schedules to help them understand that if they do not get one thing, they can still have another. For frustrating taks, we modify those tasks and teach how to ask for hel. Much of this is written in my No More Meltdowns book along with prevention plan guides for many other kinds of triggers
Deb, regarding the antibullying law: I believe it will be very protective of our ASD students. Your concern that they will be accused of bullying due to editing problems or lack of self-control is a real concer. Be aware that there is an excpetion in the NJ law that bullying among special needs students may not be subject to the same reporting procedures because of the awareness that some of these students may demonstrate behaviors that our a manifestation of their disability. MOreover, every local school has the control of how they will handle the bullying behavior with education and/or discipline. The law only dictates the reporting procedures.
Comment From Jen
My question is regarding my son. He is 5 and has autism. It seems like he is just starting to have interest in playing with other kids but it seems like he doesn’t know how to play. How do I teach him how to play?
Jen, teaching social skills like play involves not only what to do, but making sure children are motivated to do it. Consider exploring first what playful interaction your son would enjoy with you, trying different games based on his comfort and language skills (e.g. hide and seek, follow the leader, go fishing, hungry hippos, are all games that do not involve language). Then create a routine where he can pick these games from a picture board with you. No involve peers to engage in those games with him. We talk quite about about developing peer buddy programs in my social skill books (see www.jedbaker.com). The main idea is to consider your child’s interests and comforts and not just push him or her to engage in the play of others. It’s a two way street teaching both peers to engage your child and your son to engage them.
Comment From Lisa Friedrich-Harris
Hi Dr. Baker, I work with ASD adults, college students. How should I assist students who wish to receive accommodations and be more social, but do not want anyone to know of their ASD?
Lisa, To receive accommodations, college staff will need to be informed. They may not need to know the individual has an ASD disorder but they will need an official diability to receive those supports. Some may prefer to use the term ADHD or a specific learning disability and will need to have documentation to this effect. Peers do not have to know, however, part of becoming closer with a peer is to share personal information so students may decide to disclose to those they wish to become better friends.
Comment From louise
why is it thats kids need to be on med
Medication is a tool that we consider under two circumstances. #1: When there is a crisis, someone might be suicidal or homoicdal and about to be kicked out of a placement and we can’t wait for a good behavior plan or create the time for a plan. There is a crisis of the moment.#2: Another circumstance is when you have created a good behavior plan and we are still seeing great interferance with functioning. THen we might look at medication as an addition tool.
We always have to look at the cost to benefit analysis of a particular medication. What are the side effects and what are the hoped positive benefits? It is going to be different for different kids. For attention issues and for anxiety and depression issues there is some pretty good controls research that shows vigorous exercise can be as effective as a stimulant medication for attention issues and as effective as an anti anxiety medication for depression, and certainly a better side effect profile.
Here is our Medication Guide:/science/resources-programs/autism-treatment-network/tools-you-can-use/medication-guide
Here is a link for Fitness and Wellness:/family-services/health-and-wellness
Comment From Amanda Zastrow
Im in the planning stages of starting a business and I am planning on hiring employees with special needs. Are there good resources for research avaliable about this topic? Also should I have a behavior policy in place before hiring? If I do have a behavior policy in place should I also have a councelor or a therapist avaliable as needed if a situation would arise?
I am on the board at ASTEP, an organization now dedicated to supporting employers to hire folks, particular with ASD.
There is a lot of good information on their blog and website. I wouldn’t have a behavioral policy that is different than any other employee. The only difference is they may have a job coach that will help assist in behaviors that may emerge. If done well, the employee will not have those behaviors when they fill the position. ASTEP http://www.asperger-employment.org/http://blog.autismspeaks.org/2011/10/12/asperger-syndrome-training-employment-partnership/
Comment From Brenda
Bullying is one of the reasons my son can not stand school.
One of the most important components of an anti-bullying program is to empower students to police themselves, to be good bystanders. This is something we have always advocated in peer leader and buddy programs for all of our students, to both protect them and reduce isolation. The research demonstrates that not only do programs help kids with disabilities, but it helps the kids that become peer leaders and buddies with self esteem and also better grades and achievement. These programs and some of the research are discussed in my Social Skills books, ‘Social Skills Training’ and ‘Preparing for Life.’ You can access those atwww.jedbaker.com
Comment From Jeanette
Good afternoon Dr. Baker. My question is regarding my 12 year old with Asperger’s. We’d like to know how else to help our son’s impulsiveness when he’s frustrated. One main example I can give that happens most often is another kid will bother him and his first reaction in the moment is to kick or hit them. We can role play until we are blue in the face, he can recite what he needs to do but he allows his emotions to rule him more often then not. He’s suspended from school quite often due to this, but he only kicks or hits back when he feels or perceives another student is against him.
Hi Jeanette! I love that you had a specific example. When we hear that a child is becoming frustrated, we always want to know what the triggers are.
Once we know what the triggers are, we can develop a prevention plan. Now we know that being teased or bothered by another problem is a trigger we can prepare him for that, well before he gets upset and how to interpret the other child’s behavior so he doesn’t take it personally and how to avoid certain children. This type of teaching alone will not go very far with a child that is impulsive. We also need to help generalize those skills. To do that, we need to prime him just before situations where such teasing may occur; ie: prior to lunch or school or other social times. Sometimes we do this reviewing of a kew card and then we coach him as it is happening. Then we review after the fact. This key component of skills training are discussed in our social skills books.
Comment From Catherine
My son is high funcyioning AS, has OCD and has recently been diagnosed with Bi Polar disorder. The social realm is extremely painful for him to cope with. He desperately desires being social and seeks out opprtunites to be social. The problem lies within his application of reciprocating with his peer group and his siblings. When he does not say the right things, or changes the subject to what fits his intersts are and does not get response from others, he tends to feel rejected. The whole experience goes south. As a result, he has tried to create a false realm of socializing in all the wrong context. He then says things that are sexulally innapropriate, profane and rude. We know he is trying to use the shock approach to try to get attention. It almost always results in nagativity and issolation. We are desperate to give him the proper social training and that is the main focus this year. He tends to resist the training and feels like he can do it alone. Any creative ideas on helping him realize the enormous benefits of social training? Even organizing a social training session with peers before hand, has proven friutless. we won’t give uptrying. He blames me for ruining his life when it comes to having friends. Sometimes I ask myself, at what point should I not try to push the social realm on him? Temple Grandin illustrates this point and, I wonder. Also, he is medicated to help with his extreme anxieties.
Hi Catherine, this question really highlights what are the key components of social skills training. There are five components to think about
#1: Have we targeted the right skill? We know this young man needs to learn common and reciprocal interests of his peers and to edit what we call sensitive topics. Another way of putting this is, getting attention in positive ways.
#2: We need to find the motivation to want to use these skills. That motivation could be intrinsic or naturally occurring, harnessing his desire to make friends and to be liked. Or this motivation could be externally based, so following these skills would lead to an external reward like video games or computer time.
#3: We need to teach these particular skills step by step. What are the words you should use and what are the words you shouldn’t be using.
#4: We have to generalize these skills to prime, coach, and review in situations in which you will need to use these skills.
#5: We also need to target typically developing peers to reach out to this young man. He won’t have the motivation to change his behavior unless his peers are willing to hang in with him and show a desire to be with him if he engages in appropriate ways.
Comment From Tricia
Hi, Dr. Baker, my question is how do we deal with the increasingly negative attitudes of people when I take my children to the store or the restaraunt? Even very young children are mean and rude. It makes our life even more difficult and isolated than it already is. Any ideas of how to handle this, without anger?
Hi Tricia – Believe it or not, most people understand. Most people who stare may be staring because they have been in the same situation. But, some people don’t get it. No one can control their children 100%. We gain respect from others not because we can control our children completely, but because we can control ourselves. If you can keep cool in the face of challenging behavior, you deserve a medal. We need to laugh off critical or judgmental comments people may say.
I am sorry I couldn’t get to everyone’s questions! For more resources on dealing with challenging behaviors, social skills, and bullying please visit my website; www.jedbaker.com. You will find information about my books and other resources! One of our newest tools is an app based on the ‘No More Meltdown’ book that allows folks to track challenging behaviors and the triggers to those behaviors in real time. It then syncs to a website, www.symtrend.com/nmm as in ‘no more meltdowns,’ which analyses the data and guides users to appropriate prevention plans. My next workshop for those who want to see me live, is in West Nyack, N.Y., on November 30th. Registration information is on my website. For information on exploring, maintaining, and obtaining a job, you can look in my book, ‘Preparing for Life,’ but also, a wonderful free resource is available atwww.dotolearn.com/jobtips