This is the phrase that I often use to explain how much social communication encompasses. I use the term social communication intentionally instead of social skills. I think social skills at times becomes limited to being able to say hi/bye, take turns, look at someone when directed, and maintain a topic for multiple exchanges. All of these skills are important, but social communication isn't just about a collection of learned skills. It's about not only what marker of communication is used, but in what context and for what purpose. To say it simply--it's not simple.
One of the foundational layers of social communication is COMMUNICATIVE MEANS & COMMUNICATIVE INTENT.
Communicative Intent: Why we communicate (function)
Communicative Means: How we communicate (form)
At the core, many children with social communication deficits have unconventional or limited communicative means for the communicative intent they desire to communicate. For example a child who:
The absolute BEST time to model/teach communication is when the child shows the communicative intent for that communication (means). For example, when a child grunts to secure a mom's attention, that is the time to model calling, "mommy" while the mom is not looking. Once the child repeats "mommy", then the mom turns and comments, "I heard you say my name! I'm looking at you!". This reinforces the appropriate communicative means (calling name with one word label) with the communicative intent (securing attention).
When we look at the communicative intent, we can shape the means that is used (even unconventional). In that way, we are addressing the function instead of simply redirecting.
Jamie Cato is the founder of Holland Speech & Consulting and the mommy of two incredible kids, Sloan (5) and Jude (2), who unknowingly become the subject of many stories when it comes to the development of language, play, and emotional regulation.