Social Skills

  • Steven G. Little
  • Angeleque Akin-Little
  • Margaret Gopaul
  • Tom Nicholson
Part of the Autism and Child Psychopathology Series book series (ACPS)


Social skill excesses and deficits are a defining aspect of intellectual disabilities. Intervention targeting improving areas of deficit and decreasing excesses can aid in normalization and improve quality of life. This chapter reviews definitions of social skills both in general and in the context of intellectual disabilities. It further breaks down social skills into seven specific domains, communication, cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, engagement, and self-control, and discusses the importance of each. A number of approaches to social skills training are also discussed with specific emphasis placed on interventions for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Interventions range from discrete trials training which has been used to teach specific social behaviors to individuals with more severe intellectual disabilities to role-playing and video self-modeling which can be valuable treatment approaches for those with a higher level of functioning. Regardless of the approach used for social skills training, the importance of incorporating procedures to increase the likelihood of generalization and maintenance of the learned behavior is emphasized.

Social skill excesses and deficits are a defining aspect of intellectual disabilities. Intervention targeting improving areas of deficit and decreasing excesses can aid in normalization and improve quality of life. Researchers and clinicians recognize these issues and have developed an extensive literature on the treatment of these problems. Specific social behaviors which have been taught will be defined. In addition to treatment methods that have been developed to improve individuals’ social skills, this chapter will review and critique definitions of social skills and how they aid in our understanding of the behavioral manifestation of intellectual disability (ID).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven G. Little
    • 1
  • Angeleque Akin-Little
    • 2
  • Margaret Gopaul
    • 3
  • Tom Nicholson
    • 4
  1. 1.Walden UniversityMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Akin-Little & Little Behavioral Psychology ConsultantsMaloneUSA
  3. 3.Liberty UniversityLynchburgUSA
  4. 4.Massey UniversityAucklandNew Zealand

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