Social Interaction Skills
Nearly all social skills are learned through observing people interacting with each other. While a small part of these interactions can be experienced auditorily, the majority of social exchanges are visual observational experiences. As a result, many social skills that sighted individuals observe and imitate may need to be explicitly taught to a youth with a visual impairment. Social interaction skills include personal space, facial expressions, gestures, turn taking, and body language. Lack of access to visual information as a result of a visual impairment can cause a student to feel socially isolated, impede typical social interactions, or limit social skill development. A learner with a visual impairment who cannot see facial expressions and subtle body language may be hesitant to participate in conversations and activities or experience awkward and confusing interactions when they do participate without the benefit of full access to the visual information of the interaction and the environment. Being taught appropriate social skills can lead to successful social interactions, development of meaningful friendships, and community membership. A speech-language pathologist can provide direct service for students and consultative services for team members who implement strategies across all environments.