To shine a light on Autism Awareness Month, our Advanced Clinician in Socials Skills, Lauren Constantine, gives us an insight into her role and how Rocky Bay’s Social Skills and Language, Learning and Literacy clinics support and benefit our customers.
What Advanced Clinician Social Skills involves
I support our therapy team by meeting with them and their customers to discuss, problem solve and provide advice when working with customers who have social skills goals, regardless of their diagnosis or label.
Offering support to therapists and families helps determine what assessments and treatment approaches to use and help them to break down big picture goals, like making new friends, into specific skills and more achievable chunks.
I meet with some of our new customers and those with more complex diagnosis and work directly with them to complete assessments and talk about their goals, before they go on to work with our speech pathologists and occupational therapists.
Part of my role is to develop resources for our team to support them when working with our customers with social skills goals. I’m able to spend some time going through the latest research findings and resources available to help to ensure that our services align with the ‘gold standard’ of evidence and best practice. Part of my role is condensing research findings and being able to communicate that to our therapists as well as our customers and families. We are lucky that there is lots of research into social skills and social cognition happening at the moment.
I am particularly interested in learning more about the neurodiversity movement that is happening in the Autistic community, It is fantastic to move our thinking as a society to be more accepting and inclusive of all types of thinking, processing and learning.
How social skills support benefit individuals with Autism
Some people with Autism have differences in the way they pay attention to, and process, social information, as well as differences and sometimes difficulty in processing abstract or non-literal language, which is used very frequently in social conversation. These things can make it hard to interact and relate to others in a world that is mostly set up to suit those with stronger social awareness and knowledge.
We can work with our customers to help them develop their social cognition skills to understand more about the ‘why’ of social behaviour (e.g. the reason why people can become frustrated with me when the conversation is only about one person’s interests), in order to help a person with Autism become more aware of their social function and to help build their knowledge and skills in the areas that they would like to work on or become more proficient in.
How Rocky Bay support people with Autism with literacy and socials skills
We focus on using evidence based approaches in both literacy support and social skills.
We work with our customers to target their skills in working with sounds (phonemes), letter-sound knowledge (phonics and spelling), words, sentence structure, decoding (reading) and understanding (comprehension).
We work with students to support them in creating stories as well as informative, analytical and persuasive speaking and writing. We also work with students who need support to use their Executive Function Skills and to be able to use them in their everyday settings, like summarising information, identifying key information in texts (i.e. taking notes) and managing their workloads and commitments.
We also work with students at the level they are at in their social skills and social knowledge to target their particular skills (e.g. taking turns when speaking or playing), their social awareness (noticing social behaviours in themselves and others), their social knowledge (the ‘why’ around why certain behaviours are required or expected) and their social problem solving skills.
In the clinics
Working with customers in the clinic usually involves a comprehensive assessment of their skills, which helps to identify a customer’s strengths and areas that they need support, which then aligns with their goals and their NDIS plans.
Customers can then continue to complete therapy sessions in the clinic or they may like to work with a Rocky Bay therapist in their home or out in the community.
Words by Lauren Constantine, Advanced Clinician Social Skills.