When Social Skills Are a Struggle: How the Primary Care Pediatrician Can Help

Friendships and social bonds are integral to children’s health. How can a pediatrician help those struggling with social skills? Emily DePaul, BS, MPH, MA, who is a clinical research coordinator for the PriCARE Parenting Program and runs group social skills training for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), provides an overview of the importance of social skills and possible diagnoses in children who have delays or deficits (consider ADHD and anxiety, in addition to ASD). She explains group social skills training, why these programs are valuable, and how a caregiver or pediatrician can find them; and provides tips and real-world advice pediatricians can use in practice (for example, how to help with issues like volume control and personal space, simple coping strategies, and how to encourage “perspective-taking”). If you’re searching for reasons to be positive and hopeful, hearing DePaul will help: A believer in social skills training at a very young age, she has received funding to start a social skills program (called First Friends) for toddlers and preschoolers. And her description of the resiliency of the ASD children in her groups during the pandemic – they had to do group social skills training on Zoom! – is inspiring.

Listen in as Katie Lockwood, MD, a primary care pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, discusses hot topics in primary care with CHOP subject-matter-experts as they weigh in on issues affecting the daily practice of pediatricians. This podcast is for general informational and educational purposes only and is not to be considered as medical advice for any particular patient. Clinicians must rely on their own informed clinical judgment in making recommendations to their patients.

This Primary Care Perspectives Podcast episode was originally released on March 16, 2022.

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