Social Skills Specialist

Speech Success

Jacqueline Ahrens, SLPD, CCC-SLP

Pediatric Speech Therapist located in Emerson, NJ

People who find it easy to socialize may not realize that social skills do not come naturally for many children. When children need help learning social skills, parents quickly discover that many issues can interfere with socializing. At Speech Success, Jacqueline Ahrens, SLPD, CCC-SLP, specializes in helping children learn social skills, especially when their skills are hindered by speech and language delays, and developmental disabilities like autism. Dr. Ahrens doctoral work included differential diagnosis of social skill disorders based on cultural and family norms. If your child struggles with social skills, don't wait to schedule an appointment. Call the office in Emerson, New Jersey, or use the online booking feature today.

Social Skills Q&A

What are social skills?

Social skills include the many abilities children must learn so they can interact appropriately with other people.

To navigate their social world, children need:

  • Age-appropriate speech and language skills
  • The ability to understand nonverbal communication
  • Theory of mind (ability to understand that other people have different thoughts)
  • Empathy (ability to understand others' feelings)
  • Ability to coordinate their behavior with others
  • Ability to regulate emotions, feelings, and behaviors
  • Problem-solving skills

Any problem that interferes with achieving even one of these skills affects a child's ability to make friends, socialize, and achieve success at school.

What interferes with learning social skills?

Children pick up many social skills naturally. They learn other skills, as well as social and conversational rules, from parents, teachers, and caregivers.

However, they may experience more difficulty learning social skills if they have a challenge such as:

Speech and language delays

To learn social skills, children must be able to speak clearly so others can understand them, comprehend what others are saying (receptive language), and communicate their thoughts effectively (expressive language).

Social (pragmatic) communication disorder

Social communication disorder (also called pragmatic disorder) occurs when children can’t communicate well in a social setting. They may not know what to talk about or when to talk, and they struggle to follow the rules of conversation (like not interrupting).

Developmental disabilities

Developmental disabilities such as autism and ADHD include components that affect their ability to learn social skills.

For example, children with autism often:

  • Have speech delays
  • Struggle with receptive and expressive language
  • Lack pragmatic (social) language skills
  • Have a hard time paying attention
  • Don't share others' interests
  • Lack theory of mind
  • Can't engage in make-believe play
  • Can't pick up nonverbal communication
  • Struggle to control emotions and behaviors

Children with autism and ADHD may have other issues that interfere with social skills, such as social anxiety disorder.

Social anxiety disorder

Social anxiety disorder causes an intense fear of any situation where a child is in a group or watched or judged by others. This anxiety severely affects communication and social skills.

How can children improve social skills?

Speech therapists offer many services that help children learn social skills. Dr. Ahrens specializes in treating speech and language disorders, problems with receptive and expressive language, and social communication disorders. 

She also has years of experience helping children with autism learn the skills they need to socialize.

To learn more about therapies at Speech Success that can help your child gain better social skills, call the office, or book an appointment online today.