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Do:

  1. Encourage independence.
  2. Encourage leisure skills (both personal and group types).
  3. Learn survival skills (handling money, traveling, etc.)
  4. Practice reciprocal conversation.
  5. Learn acceptable manners.
  6. Learn to manage temper. (A sense of humor helps a lot!)
  7. Learn the difference between assertiveness and aggression.
  8. Learn the basics of good grooming.
  9. Develop a knowledge of the world of work.
  10. Develop helping skills.
  11. Learn coping strategies ("What do I do if .........
  12. Learn to show appreciation and reciprocal behaviors.
  13. Learn the vernacular.
  14. Conform to group mores until comfortable with the group. (Individualism is good, but not until it is appropriate.)
  15. During the learning period, keep anxiety at a minimum by making social situations brief.

Don't:

  1. Teach skills in isolation; they must be transferable.
  2. Expect to be like someone else; each person is unique.
  3. Over schedule activities; hurrying creates confusion.
  4. Monopolize conversations; listening is part of the game.
  5. Expect special privileges; "belonging" means fitting in.
  6. Expect others to solve your problems; learn to problem solve independently.
  7. Confuse aggressive and assertive; one feels angry, while the other is calm.
  8. Expect perfection; Rome wasn't built in a day!
  9. Accept withdrawal; social means interaction.
  10. Try to joke too early; humor is a useful tool, but can be embarrassing if used inappropriately.

Tips For Parents:

  1. Teach acceptable manners, in various situations.
  2. Teach practical skills.
  3. Encourage problem‑solving.
  4. Encourage independence.
  5. Encourage the development of interests/talents/capabilities.
  6. Discuss social situations, before and after...
  7. Provide structured activities that practice social skills.
  8. Encourage group participation.
  9. Help your child dress as his/her peers do.
  10. Explain visual cues/body language.
  11. Don't accept inappropriate behavior - EVER!
  12. Give family responsibilities, and expect performance.

The visually handicapped child has only others to teach appropriate social skills; silence does not teach these skills.

Adapted from a presentation about social skills at the CEC Conference in San Francisco, April 3-7, 1989.

Presentor was Olivia Schoenberger, Vision Consultant, ESC Region 19, El Paso