Core Behavioral Solutions

Teaching Interactions for Social Skills Development


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Teaching Interactions are a six step procedure for teaching social skills. They can be used with kids or adults with or without disabilities.  I have used them with young students who are moderately on the autism spectrum, teens with conduct disorder and to provide staff training. The basic steps are the same, you just adjust your presentation to meet the needs of your learner.

Prerequisite skills:

Basic conversational ability

Ability to understand descriptions of behavior, feedback and discussion of reasons

Some social tolerance and awareness of others.

Basic understanding of cause and effect, anticipation of events and relationship between practice and later use.


What if my child does not have these prerequisite skills?

No worries! If student does not yet have these skills then we work on social skills instruction with in a different framework and build the skills from where they are at.


The six steps are as follows:

1. Label and Identification

2. Rationale

3. Description and Demonstration

4. Practice

5. Feedback

6. Optional External Consequence


What if I want to use social stories, social behavior mapping, or some other technique I have read about?

Great! Most of these techniques (if appropriate to the learner’s needs) can be integrated into one or more of the steps of the teaching interaction. For example, in step 3, description and demonstration, you may include live demonstration, social stories, or video modeling. Another example could be the use of social behavior mapping in step 2, rationale.


Why use these steps instead of just a social story (or other social skills technique I have read about)?

Research has documented that children with autism do not learn skills simply by watching others or being told what to do.  Many interventions such as social stories or social behavior mapping assume that the student will learn a complex social skill by reading about it or discussing its consequences. Could you learn how to do a back handspring, ski or scuba dive just by reading the steps? Social stories, video modeling and cognitive behavioral instruction  can all be usefull when appropriate to the learner and  when incorporated into more comprehensive and systematic instruction that includes modeling, practice and feedback with systematic generalization.


Here is a clip from a trailer by autism partnership that shows some TIs in action.


Here is a cheat sheet that I developed for staff: Teaching Interactions

I would highly recommend the book Crafting Connections for anyone interested in using teaching interactions.

(I am not affiliated in anyway with Autism Partnership and receive no financial compensation.)

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