Do Teachers Teach Social Skills to Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Students with Intellectual Disabilities?
Objectives: This study aims to answer these research questions: (1) Do teachers of students with ASD or ID teach social skills to their students? (2) Are there relationships between teacher characteristics and whether or not teachers teach social skills to these students? (3) Are there relationships between student characteristics and whether or not teachers teach social skills? (4) What are the student and teacher factors predictive of social skills of these students? (5) What kind(s) of social skills instructional strategies do teachers use? (6) What are the barriers that teachers face when teaching social skills to these students? (7) What resources or supports do teachers need?
Methods: Fifteen general education teachers and 51 special education teachers participated in this study. They were asked to complete a questionnaire about their use of social skills instructional strategies in their classroom, and a social skills assessment for their student. A total of 51 students with ASD (mean age = 10.85 years) and 15 students with ID (mean age = 11.9 years) who ranged in age from 5-18 years were identified by participating teachers.
Results: This study found (1) Of the 66 participating teachers, 71.2% reported that they taught social skills to students with ASD or ID. (2) There was no significant difference between special education teachers and general education teachers in offering social skills interventions to their students. (3) There was no significant difference between student characteristics and whether or not teachers provided social skills interventions to them. (4) No teacher characteristics were predictive of students’ social skills. (5) Having friends and showing more than 20 functional words were predictive of students’ social skills. (6) The three most frequently used strategies were prompting, reinforcement, and modeling. (7) The two most infrequently used strategies were Pivotal Response Training and video modeling. (8) Teachers tended to rank the strategies which are easy to use as effective. (9) The most common barriers for teaching social skills in schools were a lack of time for designing social skills interventions and a lack of appropriate curriculum. (10) Time and curriculum were reported as the most needed resources.
Conclusions: Teachers did provide social skills interventions to students with ASD and students with ID. However, not every teacher of students with ASD or students with ID did so. Lack of time and curriculum seem to be the reasons accounting for this. Thus, supports in relation to these two areas should be provided to teachers. Teachers tended to rank the strategies that were not easy to use as less effective. Thus, usability should be considered when developing new social skills interventions.