[acb-hsp] Social Skills
paltschul at centurytel.net
Fri Dec 3 19:21:53 GMT 2010
Unfortunately, I do not have the exact citation, but I believe it
came from the most recent Perkins School for the Blind
Good luck, Peter
> ----- Original Message -----
>From: "Jessi Rayl" <thedogmom63 at frontier.com
>To: "'Discussion list for ACB human service professionals'"
<acb-hsp at acb.org
>Date sent: Fri, 3 Dec 2010 13:49:19 -0500
>Subject: Re: [acb-hsp] Social Skills
>Peter, This is a great article. Do you have the citation
>it? You could be a real lifesaver for me if you do.
>From: acb-hsp-bounces at acb.org [mailto:acb-hsp-bounces at acb.org] On
>Sent: Thursday, December 02, 2010 3:52 PM
>Subject: [acb-hsp] Social Skills
>Imagine walking into a crowded lunchroom and looking for a seat.
>You notice a group of people about your age and similarly
>dressed. One of them is wearing a baseball cap with the name of
>your favorite team. You watch them leaning in towards each other
>talking and smiling. Their body language appears welcoming and
>approachable. You sit down and strike up a conversation.
>Now imagine walking into the same situation with your eyes
>closed. You are led to the first available seat. You don't know
>the gender or age of the person sitting beside you and you can't
>rely on visual cues to find common ground.
>When it comes to developing social skills, people with vision
>have the advantage of incidental learning as they naturally
>observe their surroundings and the interactions of other people.
>But for students who are visually impaired, social skills must be
>explicitly taught in the curriculum.
>Every day people with vision get flooded with a torrent of images
>that are constantly reinforced. They watch family members
>interacting. They observe postures, body language, and how
>closely people stand next to each other. They watch people eat
>and learn to keep their mouths closed when they chew. They
>notice how people dress in different types of weather and indoors
>versus outdoors. Through all of these visual observations they
>learn and imitate socially acceptable behaviors.
> Socializing during break in the student storeddJeff Migliozzi
>teaches social skills and sex education to students in Perkins
>Secondary Program. Migliozzi, who grew up blind himself,
>understands the unique social challenges faced by adolescents who
>are visually impaired. When his eighth grade teacher told him
>that people who are sighted make eye contact during conversation,
>Migliozzi asked, "Well, where do I look?" The teacher told him he
>was looking just below the mouth.
>"It was a 50/50 shot," Migliozzi explained. "I was looking
>towards the sound and I could either look above it or below it.
>After he told me that I changed what I was doing."
>As Migliozzi can attest from his own experience, the social
>skills students who are blind need for daily life in school, at
>home, and in the community, must be strategically taught and
>integrated into all aspects of their education.
>Migliozzi said it is common for people who are blind to engage in
>self stimulating behaviors like rocking back and forth in a
>chair. It feels good and unless they are told differently,
>students who are blind might not realize that people around them
>aren't doing the same thing and that others may find the behavior
>as off putting.
>Just as he doesn't want students to alienate themselves in social
>situations, Migliozzi said it is important for students who are
>blind to understand they need to reciprocate during social
>interactions. Sometimes, he said, students become used to people
>bringing things to them, anticipating their needs, and initiating
>"What does that teach you? It teaches you the world comes to me
>and nobody expects anything from me," Migliozzi said.
>At the end of a class, one of Migliozzi's students stayed behind.
>When someone new entered the room the student immediately turned
>toward the doorway and said: "Hello, who is that?" For each
>question answered another was asked: "Are you sighted or blind?
>What do you do here? Do you live on campus?" The student was
>using conversation starters and gathering information about this
>new person without the use of visual clues and assumptions.
>Migliozzi teaches his students to use safety precautions when
>interacting in the community and on the Internet -- where
>teenagers today are spending more and more time socializing. If
>a student gets lost in the community Migliozzi advises them to go
>into a business and talk to the person behind the counter who
>likely has ties to the community rather than approaching someone
>on the street.
>"Everybody's blind on the Internet," Migliozzi tells his
>students. Just as all teenagers must be careful because they
>never know who is really on the other end of an online chat room,
>students who are blind are even more vulnerable if a potential
>predator finds out they have a disability.
>Migliozzi said making students aware of dangers and giving them
>the tools to advocate for themselves is an important piece of
>both the social skills curriculum as well as sex education. When
>it comes to sex education, it's about creating an equal playing
>field between students who are blind and their sighted peers.
>Appropriate greetings, kissing, and where it is and is not
>acceptable to touch someone else all have to be explained because
>the students cannot rely on learning these details by watching
> Adults can help facilitate social interaction between toddlers
>who are visually impaired. "We forget how much of our social
>interaction is visual," said Tom Miller, Director of Perkins
>Educational Partnerships Program, which offers early intervention
>and school age services from birth to 22 years old.
>Miller said instilling social skills begins with the familystch
>relationship. There's a natural progression from solitary play,
>to playing beside someone, to playing with someone and
>interacting. In the beginning, adults must facilitate
>socialization and create opportunities for interaction. When you
>observe how toddlers naturally interact they tend to hand each
>other toys and run around. The child who is blind needs to be
>directly addressed and included in the activity. The experiences
>sighted children take in visually must be interpreted in a way
>the child who is blind can understand and in a way that empowers
>him/her to participate in what is happening.
>Parents should understand, Miller said, that progress comes at a
>different pace for children who are blind due to the loss of
>incidental learning. When the child enters school, Miller said,
>parents and educators can help them find a common social language
>with their peers by getting involved in clubs and keeping up with
>popular books or music.
>"It takes a lot of effort on the part of the parent, the child,
>and the school to make sure not just the academics but the whole
>life of the school is accessible to the student who is visually
>impaired," Miller said.
>Brian Heneghan, a teacher in Perkins Deafblind Program, also
>believes in the value of shared experiences. Once a week,
>Heneghan takes his students off campus for community experiences
>which can include everything from pumpkin picking to going to the
> Deafblind Program teacher Brian Heneghan works on communication
>skills with a student. Heneghan stressed the importance of
>students with disabilities having the same experiences and
>milestones as other kids their age. Last year he accompanied
>students on a senior trip to the Bahamas. He talked about all of
>the social skills practiced when students go to the Perkins Prom;
>shopping for a tux, going out for dinner, learning how to
>appropriately get someone's attention and request a dance.
>"Our students want to engage and we have to give them
>opportunities to do that," Heneghan said.
>To give students the tools they need for successful social
>interactions, Heneghan works with a group of students using a
>script and modeling to teach them socially acceptable behavior.
>To deter students from yelling to get someone's attention staff
>members talked to the group about more appropriate options.
>First you should look at the person and wait for a response and
>if that doesn't work, the next step could be tapping on a desk
>and waiting. Finally, the student might try lightly tapping on
>the person's shoulder.
>Teachers model the behavior and eventually Heneghan has the
>students practice with each other. In all of the environments
>where this situation might naturally arise -- classrooms,
>cottages, and the workroom -- there are charts outlining the
>script. If a student yells for attention, staff can remind the
>student to use the steps on the chart.
>"Eventually the students begin to internalize the behaviors and
>do them on their own," Heneghan explained.
>Lunchtime is another opportunity for students to practice social
>skills in a natural environment. Students with multiple
>impairments, Heneghan said, live in a "communication bubble" and
>must be told directly how others are behaving and what is
>socially acceptable. For example, his students might not know
>they are making a loud noise slurping soup noodles or that other
>people aren't doing that.
>When students come to weekend and vacation programs at Perkins
>Outreach Services, Kelly Cote said she and the rest of the staff
>make students aware of how their behavior might be perceived by
>"We're honest with them," said Cote, adding that posture is a big
>issue with students tending to scrunch up or slouch over in
>chairs. "We'll let them know everyone else is sitting up
>straight with their heads up. We explain, 'We can't hear what
>you say when you sit like that and what you have to say is
> Public school students made friends during an Outreach camping
>weekend. Outreach programs offer fun activities while teaching
>essential life skills and giving students who are visually
>impaired an opportunity to socialize and share experiences with
>peers. This can be especially important for those who may be the
>only student with a visual impairment in their school.
>Beth Caruso, Director of Outreach Services, said parents often
>come to Outreach worried their child doesn't have friends at
>school. When they try to get their child involved with
>activities in the community, the people running them may not know
>how to make adaptations to include a child who is blind. The
>staff members who run Outreach programs are experienced in
>working with students who are visually impaired and promoting
>To initiate socializing, staff might sit with a table of students
>and invite another student over to sit down and tell them what
>everyone is talking about. The staff get students started on a
>topic and help them identify what they have in common. Soon the
>students are interacting on their own, forming friendships, and
>Sometimes students are used to socializing with mostly adults and
>may not know what other kids their age are interested in. Caruso
>said it can be helpful to give students a topic and conversation
>starter question to keep in their back pocket, such as, "What
>kind of music do you like?"
>Throughout the programs, students learn communication skills such
>as showing someone you're paying attention to them with your body
>language. They also go into the community, eating in
>restaurants, using public transportation, grocery shopping, and
>going to the YMCA.
>"We're out there in realistic situations and we want them to know
>what's socially acceptable," Caruso said.
>With the holiday season approaching, Cote and Caruso said it's
>important to include children who are visually impaired in what's
>going on around them. Instead of watching television or playing
>a game alone, they can be helping to set the table. Caruso said
>giving children information beforehand can help them make the
>most of the social experience. Parents can talk about what
>they'll be doing for the holidays, who is coming over, and what
>toys or games other children might like to play.
>Because we live in a social culture, people who can't interact
>with others become isolated and miss out on opportunities that
>arise from connecting with other people.
>"Our ultimate goal is to help students become well rounded
>individuals with a good arsenal of skills and experiences to
>bring with them wherever they go -- to employment, to college, to
>life in general," Caruso said.
>acb-hsp mailing list
>acb-hsp at acb.org
>No virus found in this incoming message.
>Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
>Version: 9.0.872 / Virus Database: 271.1.1/3291 - Release Date:
>acb-hsp mailing list
>acb-hsp at acb.org
More information about the acb-hsp