People entangled in the criminal justice system commonly struggle with social skills. With this in mind, it makes sense that those who are assigned to help them navigate the criminal justice system be able to guide them and teach them a thing or two about social interactions.
Wes Dotson is back on the Justice Clearinghouse to share strategies on how to best teach individuals with social skills and ensure that they stick to impact the rest of their lives. Wes is an Associate Professor in the Special Education Department in the College of Education and the Director of Applied Behavior Intervention Services at the Thompson Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders at the University of Missouri. He has over 20 years of experience in special education and clinical practice working with people with developmental disabilities and those involved in the justice system.
Specifics of his discussion include:
- How people involved with the criminal justice system and human service tend to have difficulties in social interactions.
- How social skills and the ability to maintain relationships can predict life outcomes – including the ability to hold a job, access services, and likelihood to be involved in the justice system.
- The reality that social skills are context and culture-dependent, people want to be socially competent in general, and failures in social interactions are more likely to be due to ignorance.
- The fact that social skills are teachable and can make a huge difference in how people deal with different situations.
- The goals of social skills instructions which center on creating a stable and predictable environment and instilling skills to effectively navigate these environments
- The two main considerations when aiming to teach social skills – knowing the interactions and the expectations within the environment.
- The three primary elements in social skills instruction – identifying expectations, asking the person being taught about their understanding of the expectations and what it looks like, and really targeting those that they struggle with the most.
- The five steps to teach a new skill and case examples that applied these steps in different scenarios and concerns.
- What it entails to effectively describe the routine, set expectations, provide needed support, and teach functional skills to ensure lasting effects on the person being taught.
- The three steps to address an immediate concern in the middle of an interaction and an example of how this is implemented.
- How teaching social skills builds rapport and trust with a client which then assists in steering them towards positive outcomes.
Questions from the webinar participants are about:
- How teaching social skills can help manage poor impulse control and outbursts.
- Applying the concepts discussed in the workplace setting and in navigating basic relationships.
- Getting buy-in from less-than-willing and uncooperative individuals by relating it to their goals.
- How these steps can be applied to a client where a source of friction lies in their poor hygiene.
Other Presentations with this Speaker
- April 12: What Criminal Justice Professionals Need to Understand about ASD
- July 14: Case Studies in Integrating Social Skills Instruction into Criminal Justice Interactions (this webinar)
- Nov 17: Ask Me Anything: About Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and the Criminal Justice System
- Feb 14, 2023: More Case Studies in Criminal Justice Interactions with Individuals with ASD
Resources and Handouts
- Handout: Steps When Teaching a Skill
- “That Hygiene question was the best. Never knew how to start out with a topic as sensitive as that. Thank you.” — Ann Marie
- “Excellent knowledge on topic, resources, and source material provided.” — Allen
- “Everyone is different; therefore, effective communication is very important.” — Antonio
- “How to have that uncomfortable conversation with subordinate about poor hygiene!! Thank you!” — Roseann
- “All the information was very helpful. The part where he breaks down the expectations. the scenarios were also very clear in our line of work.” — Elvita
- “His case studies were relevant to real-life incidents.” — Ginger
- “I appreciated the simplistic breakdown of a conversation describing expectations. Dr. Dotson does a great job explaining how to have conversations without sounding demeaning or condescending.” — Jennifer
- “Wes’s presentation was extremely informative, and by offering “role-playing” examples discussed in the different scenarios, it really helps professionals address a lot of their client’s fears, anxieties, and concerns without blaming them for their misunderstandings or behavior. It also helps professionals address their own concerns and frustrations through a sensitive and open-minded response.” — Sarah-Alexandra
- “I enjoyed hearing some new things/phrases to use with the clients that I work with. Very good reminders to meet them where they are at and not assume they have the same skills that I do. Thanks!” — Deanna
- “Encouraging practice of worst case scenarios.” — Gabrielle
- “Dr. Wes Dotson is a great presenter with really valuable knowledge and skills to share!” — Loren
- “I just really like this topic, and learning how to approach issues with clients in a way that increases the likelihood that we will actually be heard and understood is so valuable.” — Jill
- “The case examples are always so helpful and the “how to” and “what to say” examples are great!” — Joy
- “Social skills predict many life outcomes. This was very interesting to me.” — Julie
- “Awesome webinar!!! Making sure that my client is prepared for the meeting that they are going into so that they are not caught off guard and possibly responds negatively. And to clarify that my customer understands and can demonstrate what things mean (i.e. being respectful by not swearing, looking a person in the eye, etc)” — Micki
- “Excellent tips.” — Robert
- “Very few webinars cover the needs of the client with IDD in the Criminal Justice system. . Dr. Dotson has some great insights.” — Jessica