Having established social skills is linked to a better quality of life and success. If a person is well-adjusted and adept in social skills, it is highly unlikely that they’ll be experiencing trouble with the justice system. Those that weren’t as fortunate of being raised in an environment that fosters healthy social skills can be trained to learn them so that even if they’re already entangled in the justice system, they still get to have positive outcomes.
Wes Dotson leads this webinar to talk about helping clients navigate the justice system better through social skills. 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 20 years of experience working with individuals with developmental disabilities.
Specifics discussed in this session include:
- The importance of social skills and how it plays a key role in establishing relationships and determining outcomes in life.
- Recognizing that breakdowns in social skills are a result of ignorance and not knowing what the expectations are, not intent.
- The common mistake of assuming that the people we interact with have the capacity to recognize social cues, when in reality, they may not be adept with it as it was not taught or modeled to them.
- Overcoming this disconnect by expressing, describing, and explaining expectations explicitly and viewing problems with social skills as an opportunity to teach.
- How to effectively teach social skills to clients by focusing on the goals of creating a predictable environment and teaching the skills that help effectively navigate the environment.
- Teaching and managing expectations in actions, conduct, language, and hygiene.
- Articulating the expectations and routines to help the client familiarize with the system and its services and processes.
- Going into specific details and focusing on the positive when teaching the skills that must be learned.
- How a predictable environment causes less stress which helps the client remain calm and have more successful outcomes.
- A step-by-step guide on how to teach new skills to clients.
- Identifying the target skill by looking into what the client is struggling with and understanding the client’s familiarity with the skill.
- Determining the setting and the time to teach the skill for it to be effectively learned.
- Describing the skill in detail, when it should be used, why learning the skill is valuable, and how it can help the client.
- Practicing the skill by utilizing modeling, role-playing, and feedback to create recall, change, and success.
- Adjusting the skill as needed based on the outcomes of practice and interactions using the skill.
- The advantages of teaching social skills in terms of building rapport and trust which ultimately benefit the client’s outcomes.
- A deep dive on the concepts discussed by providing guidelines, scenarios, and verbatims to demonstrate and help facilitate the process of teaching social skills.
Questions from the audience were about:
- Teaching skills that are not necessarily aligned with the norms is a specific culture or behavior that are a result of mental or developmental disorders.
- Providing clothes and other supplements for clients who don’t have the means to dress up for court.
- Biases relating to gender, race, or socio-economic conditions that influence interactions with clients.
- Managing individuals who refuse to put in the effort to improve their social skills.
Other Webinars with this Speaker
- Sept 23: Helping Clients Navigate the Justice System: Integrating Social Skills into Daily Interactions (this webinar)
- Nov 4: Case Studies in Law Enforcement Encounters with Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Resources and Handouts
- Handout: Steps When Teaching a New Skill
- Boystown Press Resources
- National Institute of Corrections: Thinking for a Change
- “Helping my clients on supervised parole & probation understand and how to navigate the realities of the situation they are dealing with and how to stay focus on the positive. Thank you so much for all the good information.” — Yvette
- “The entire webinar was very informative and i like the interaction with answering questions during the webinar.” — Peggy
- “I loved the question polls and the presentation was phenomenal.” — Juan
- “The presenter was very knowledgeable and shared a lot of great information that will be very helpful.” — Heather
- “I enjoyed this webinar. The most valuable thing I learned was to meet people where they are at and allow time to reverse roles so that they can see a different way of responding or reacting. I like how at the beginning, Wes said that many breakdowns in social skills are a result of ignorance, not intent.” — Nilieka
- “The tone and flow of the information and presentation was on spot! I appreciated the modeling of the skills and scenarios. This has been my favorite presentation thus far. Nice work!” — Pamela
- “I am always looking for better ways to communicate with clients that is more effective, especially with the stubborn ones. This gave me some new ideas of how to do that.” — Megan
- “I loved this webinar. I appreciate the perspective on how to talk to people about difficult subjects.” — Kathryn
- “Information was helpful for advocates for victims as well. Many victims of domestic violence have had prior experience with the criminal justice system and are hesitant or hostile when working within the system.” — Tracey
- “The very beginning when he stated something that we all forget or maybe never understood: When someone does something that offends us, we need to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume it is from a lack of understanding, not an intentional offense… or words to that effect! In other words: thank charitably about your neighbors.” — Abigail
- “I love how Wes gave examples of teaching the skills we want our clients to learn. He had real examples, real ways to break them down, step by step, and a no route is wrong type attitude. We need to be able to pivot, choose things that will give our clients the biggest bang for the outcome and ask them what they need. He did a good job of explaining the choice of doing / not doing a practiced action vs saying you should to do this… Great webinar. ” — Sheryl