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Social Skills Training (SST)

Group or individual instruction designed to teach learners ways to appropriately and successfully participate in their interactions with others.

Evidence Based
Ages: Skip to Evidence

Steps for Implementation

Step 1. Identifying the Social Situation for the Intervention

  1. Refer to the learner’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP)/Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) to identify potential intervention targets.
  2. Discuss goals with team members, including family and learner.
  3. Select a social behavior that will result in positive social interactions, a safer environment, and/or additional social learning opportunities.

Step 2. Defining the Target Behavior or Skill

Clearly define the target behavior or skill so that it is observable and measurable.

Step 3. Collecting Baseline Data

  1. Determine the type of data (e.g., permanent product, assessment) needed to assess the target skill.
  2. Collect data on at least three occasions over three to five days to determine the learner’s skills prior to intervention.

Step 4. Implementing the Social Skills Training

Determine the instructional techniques to be used in SST. Techniques could include (but are not limited to) modeling, role-playing, shaping, feedback, and reinforcement.

Step 5. Monitoring Learner Progress

  1. Collect data to measure the effectiveness of the social skills intervention on the target behavior or skill for a minimum of two weeks.
  2. Ask others who work or live with the learner to collect data on the target behavior across settings.

Step 6. Reviewing Data and Modifying the SST if Necessary

  1. Depending on intervention findings, continue or adapt the SST.
  2. When the SST procedures are altered (modification in narrative or frequency), change only one variable at a time.
  3. Collect and review data following each adaptation or change.

Step 7. Addressing Generalization and Maintenance of Learned Behavior or Skill

  1. Promote generalization of the target skill by including multiple peers and/or adults in the SST process.
  2. Promote maintenance of the target skill by fading the use of the SST.

Research and Outcomes

Research Summary

Age Range: 0-22

Skills: Communication, social, play, cognitive, school readiness, adaptive/self-help, challenging/interfering behavior, mental health, self-determination

Settings: Home, school, community

Evidence Rating: Evidence Based

The information found in the Research Summary table is updated following a literature review of new research and these ages, skills, and settings reflects information from this review.

Outcomes Matrix

The Outcomes Matrix shows outcome areas by age for which this evidence based practice is effective
Age: 0-5 6-14 15-22
Challenging/Interfering Behavior Yes Yes Yes
Cognitive Yes Yes
Communication Yes Yes Yes
Joint Attention
Mental Health Yes Yes
Play Yes Yes Yes
School Readiness Yes
Self-determination Yes
Social Yes Yes Yes
More about Intervention Outcomes

Social Skills Training (SST) is group or individual instruction designed to teach learners ways to appropriately and successfully participate in their interactions with others. This may include relationships with peers, family, co-workers, community members, and romantic partners. Most instructional sessions include direct instruction of basic concepts, role-play or practice, and feedback to help learners acquire and practice communication, play, or social skills to promote positive interactions with others. SST techniques often include other evidence-based practices such as reinforcement, modeling, prompting, cognitive strategy interventions, social narratives, scripting, and visual supports (Steinbrenner, et al., 2020).

• Manualized Interventions Meeting Criteria: PEERS® (Laugeson & Frankel, 2010).