Okay, I’ve been on this autism-school journey for quite a few years now, so I think that I know a little about this subject. It’s a never-ending quest for knowledge, I know that, and I also know that there are volumes that I don’t know. Still, how is it that the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has a section on pragmatic language goals that schools never use, never refer to, and actively avoid?!? I want to shout this from the rooftops!
This discovery is due to another Parent Advocate at the Autism Society of NC (you know who you are), who really knows her stuff. The DPI website is byzantine, to say the least, so it’s not surprising that this link is not well known. In our IEP workshop, we often give parents examples of how to link social skills goals to academic needs (raising your hand, asking for help, etc.). Claire Greer, DPI’s Autism Consultant, has collected a list of possible social skills goals that are arranged by grade level—perfect for IEP goals. Here are some examples of social skills competences that she recommends teaching:
- Accurately expressing own feelings through use of words and non-verbal cues
- Initiating questions to extend conversations (in the context of social scripts)
- Identifies types of situations in which to ask for clarification
- Asks for clarification during conversations and class discussion
Here is an excerpt (with my emphasis):
“This document represents various objectives that address pragmatic language development within the North Carolina Standard Course of Study. The intent is to clarify that teaching staff and related service personnel are responsible for assuring the development of these competencies. Providing instruction in these objectives assures both access to the standard course of study and to functional communication skills that will promote access to other objectives and skills. The variables and objectives identified within this document are taken from Foundations (at the preschool level) and the North Carolina Standard Course of Study (grades k-8).”
Please tell me how schools could possibly refuse to include social skills goals, when DPI makes such a statement? I hope this encourages parents everywhere to insist upon social skills goals in their child’s IEP. Good luck—and let me know if you succeed, so we can share those stories.