Teaching Social Literacy: The Social Skills Seminar

In 2003, I was asked by colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania to develop a program to teach young adults with Asperger’s Syndrome how to increase their social awareness and gain a better understanding of the social world around them. The result was the Social Skills Seminar, a twelve week course that meets weekly for three hours. Over the last seven years, more than 300 men and women with Asperger’s Syndrome, nonverbal learning disability, and social anxiety have participated in this program in Philadelphia and New York City. As the course has developed, there have been many opportunities to learn what works and doesn’t work with our participants. The instructors and social coaches who have contributed to the development of the course have helped me to evaluate the successful components of the program and we have reached the following conclusions.