Social Skills

What are Social Skills and why are they important?

  1. Social Skills may be the rules, customs, and abilities that guide our interactions with other people and the world around us.
  2. In addition, they may encompass the necessary socially appropriate behaviours that enable successful and meaningful interaction.

What is appropriate? 

At Middletown Centre for Autism, many young autistic people are referred for support with their social communication skills. Through observations below are some examples to illustrate how no-one has broken any written rules – but each has made a social error that will impact the way they are viewed and their ability to communicate effectively with others.

  • Jack is telling David about the football match which took place during break time. David keeps looking around and checking his watch, but Jack keeps talking.
  • Tom has decided that he really wants to see the new Spiderman: Far from Home, he has saved his money and Mum drops him off. She is not that interested in Spiderman but is sure that once the movie starts Tom will be engrossed and safe in the cinema while she gets other things done. It’s a very quiet time in the cinema, there are only two other people at the screening, Tom enters the screening room and immediately sits down directly next to a couple who he does not know.
  • Jenna is going out on her first date, ever. She really likes the boy and wants to look her best, but she is really nervous. She asks, “How do I look?” and Kerrie says, “That dress is too tight, it makes you look fat.
  • Sam is sitting with classmates at lunch. Colm is telling everyone that, “Me and my brother went to the hurling game.” Sam tells Colm that it is grammatically incorrect to say, “Me and my brother.”
  • Danielle loves talking about red pandas. She sees a group of girls from her class in the local play park, so she goes up to them and begins telling them all about the red pandas of the Eastern Himalayas.
  • Shannon along with Paul, Sharon and Debbie are working on a project to discuss The Third Reich’s rise to power. They have decided to all set aside an hour after school to get the plan drawn up. Debbie has arranged with her Mum to get the later bus home, Sharon and Paul are missing the start of football training, the coach has agreed. When the group meets to work, Shannon immediately says, “Do you mind if I leave early, because I really want to go watch the basketball game?” No one answers, but everyone looks at one another. Sharon shrugs her shoulders and says, “I guess so, if you really have to.” Shannon leaves early because everyone has said it was okay.

The Definition of Cognitive and Social Skills

Cognitive and Social Skills:

“Basic cognitive and social skills are regarded as a vital component of mental health in the light of their impact on all aspects of everyday life. Cognitive skills include the ability to pay attention, remember and organize information, solve problems, and make decisions; social skills involve the ability to use one’s own repertoire of verbal/non-verbal abilities to communicate and interact with others. All these abilities are interdependent and allow people to function in their environment.”


“The basic ability to function in social roles and to participate in meaningful social interactions is an important aspect of mental health and particularly contributes to resilience against distress;” (Galderisi et al, 2015 p.232)

For additional information on Social Skills: click here.

10 Essential Social Skills: click here.

image of two children laughing