SocialEyes is a Social Skills Interaction Facilitation Programme. The SocialEyes learning resource has been designed to enable those who want to support people on the autism spectrum to facilitate their own SocialEyes programme.

What is SocialEyes?

Welcome to SocialEyes: exploring the social world with people on the autism spectrum

SocialEyes is a well established approach to facilitating social skills and social understanding with people on the autism spectrum. Launched by The National Autistic Society in 2010, this learning resource has been developed with autistic people and Asperger syndrome, along with leading professionals in the field. All SocialEyes resources have been extensively piloted and re-piloted with ongoing development and research since 2005.

SocialEyes does not ask people on the autism spectrum to change ‘inappropriate’ social behaviour, or to acquire social skills by copying the ‘typical’ behaviour of others. Instead, it gives people the option of learning social interaction skills or alternative social strategies. SocialEyes focuses on eight social skills that people on the autism spectrum can have difficulty with, including starting a conversation, eye contact and personal space.

The SocialEyes DVD and CD-ROM resource pack contains:

  • social scenario clips
  • a comprehensive user guide
  • materials for learners including adaptable PDF worksheets
  • session plan summaries
  • photo cards
  • and much more.

Who is SocialEyes for?

The SocialEyes programme is most suitable for adolescents and adults. However, it can also be adapted for children.

Running a SocialEyes programme

The SocialEyes learning resource contains the resources that will support running of a SocialEyes programme. A programme can be run on a one-to-one basis or for a group of individuals on the autism spectrum, is delivered in 45 minute to 2 hour sessions and can be delivered over a number of weeks or months. A SocialEyes programme is delivered though a five step process which can be adjusted to individual needs.

SocialEyes groups

The SocialEyes programme offers eight social skills, each skill is taught in a separate ‘module’.

Modules subjects range from:

  • understanding yourself and your autism
  • developing social and communication strategies
  • the social world and your community
  • starting a conversation
  • taking turns in a conversation
  • ending a conversation
  • sensitive topics
  • personal space
  • eye contact
  • volume of voice
  • active listening/interrupting
  • keeping on topic/interests
  • understanding emotions and body language.

If you are planning to run SocialEyes groups, then the facilitator training will enable you to explore one module in detail. Our training will explain how to build up your groups upon using social capital and resources from your community which will support successful running of your group.

It is recommended that SocialEyes groups run weekly for around two hours but delivery can be adjusted to your need.

Understanding SocialEyes

A two-day facilitator course is available from The National Autistic Society to support facilitators in using the SocialEyes learning resource. Those attending the training have found this has been very helpful in enabling them to use the resource effectively.

Principles of SocialEyes

SocialEyes aims to be an invaluable and innovative teaching and learning resource. It aims to recognise the need for consistency in delivery and implementation of social skills programmes and the need for individual tailoring. Facilitators using the SocialEyes programme will be encouraged to individualise lessons and learning to suit the idiosyncrasies and particular needs of each learner. Social skills training needs to be relevant to the person otherwise they may not be motivated to assimilate the learning.

The SocialEyes programme is innovative in its use of alternative social skill strategies that respect a person’s condition rather than a black and white/right or wrong approach. As an example, if a person cannot tolerate eye contact, then offering the alternative of looking at someone’s nose or forehead might be a happy medium. The project found that successful social skills programmes were ones that focused on helping learners cope with stressful social situations rather than focusing solely on specific skill steps.

Sensory integration difficulties can be a contributing factor to those on the autism spectrum, and their ability to take in and retain learning. We address this by allowing learners to attend classes in smaller, less noisy rooms with fewer distractions if this is a particular need for a student on the autism spectrum.

SocialEyes also encourages people on the autism spectrum to use of other appropriate resources for success in social interaction, and includes a comprehensive list of suitable resources for consideration.

How SocialEyes was developed

The SocialEyes programme was developed in Wales by a project team from NAS Cymru, the aim being to develop an effective Social Interaction Facilitation Programme to address the social interaction needs of those on the autism spectrum. The project team were called ‘SocialEyes’, and they started by looking to find out what social skills support was already available, how effective it was and what they could learn from it.

The project aimed to move away from the negative connotations of ‘Social Skills Training’ and adopt a solution focused approach to looking at social interaction. The team took advice and guidance from many professionals and experts, but most importantly from those on the spectrum themselves.

Working as consultants, individuals on the autism spectrum helped to shape the materials into tools that were more appropriate and effective for them. Materials were widely piloted with learners on the autism spectrum, specialist schools, colleges and learning centres, with the team always looking at ways to work with interested parties to make the materials more successful for all involved.

A more detailed summary is available on request of the team’s most important theoretical findings and how this literature research has underpinned their work to produce an effective and appropriate Social Skills Interaction Facilitation Programme.