Social Competencies for Adolescents with Intellectual Disabilities

Adolescent-aged individuals with intellectual disabilities often struggle to learn and to demonstrate socially appropriate behaviors and interactions among their peers and within their community. As a result, they are dependent upon others to engage or interact in social situations. It is often difficult for these individuals to achieve acceptance and establish a sense of belonging. Such an ongoing deficiency can lead to depression and loneliness. The purpose of this project is to provide educators and parents of children with intellectual disabilities an age-appropriate resource, which teaches and models correct social behaviors in manners and foundational etiquette. This project has been designed to address and contribute to the limited resources currently available for this audience. The goal of the project includes the design and provision of an age appropriate video model of pro-social behaviors for adolescent-aged individuals with intellectual disabilities. The researcher determined that an easy-to-access website that provides animated social stories which model and demonstrate correct social behaviors, manners, and interactions in a clear and succinct manner would be of benefit to those in need. The videos are not for stand-alone instruction, but instead provided as a supplementary tool. Furthermore, the website also offers lesson plan suggestions, materials, and conversation starters to support the use of the videos. Review of the current literature supports this rationale for the project, particularly in the areas of a) social skill deficits defined and described, b) reports regarding the outcomes of social skills training, and c) substantiating research to validate the effectiveness of video modeling and social stories. Many special educators do not have the time available to focus on social due to the necessary time requirements for academic and life skill instruction. As a result, when students transition into adulthood, they do not possess the aptitude to engage in social conversations, use good manners when eating, shopping, working, etc., and possess a limited understanding of how to interact and control impulses when in social situations. Due to these deficiencies, they require support and assistance as adults. With proper intervention that includes a visual model of the behavior, practice, role-play, and consistent instruction, these individuals can improve their aptitude in the acquisition of these skills needed to independently exercise acceptable behavior in social situations.