Social Skills Groups

Our age-appropriate social skills groups called PALS, which stands for Pragmatic Acquisition of Language Skills, help children and teens develop the skills to interact, communicate, and relate to others.

Thinking socially often comes naturally, but children and teens with social deficits need help relating to others. Our social skills groups help them learn skills like how to be part of a group, how to monitor and adapt their behavior in social settings, and how to understand and think of others.

These skills are important in forming and maintaining positive interactions, making and maintaining friendships, and being successful in school and other settings.

What to expect during the social skills groups

A speech-language pathologist with special training in social communication disorders leads the group with the assistance of a rehabilitation aide. Sessions begin in January and July each year. Each session runs for about six months. The group meets once per week for 90 minutes.

Before the program begins, we will evaluate your child to ensure it is the right program for them. During the program, families will observe each session, participate in a weekly post-group summary, and will receive feedback and homework assignments to help their child reinforce that week’s lessons.

We hold an orientation for families before each session starts. Families will meet the group leader and support staff; receive packets with the schedule of classes, permission forms and program overview; and tour the instruction and observation rooms.

We offer four levels for different age groups:

  • Level 1 for children ages 5-7
  • Level 2 for children ages 8-10
  • Level 3 for children ages 11-13
  • Level 4 for teens ages 14-17

Candidates for these programs are children who:

  • Have a diagnosis including level 1 autism (high-functioning), attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), auditory and sensory processing impairments, or social communication disorder
  • Have social language weaknesses and want to learn the skills to make and maintain friendships
  • Have speech and language skills in the normal range for chronological age as determined by an evaluation
  • Have only mild attention and behavioral difficulties
  • Are admitted on probationary status in the event of chronic disruptive behaviors

PALS Level 1

Our PALS Level 1 group teaches social learning to children through play and activities that reinforce the lessons and make learning fun. The Level 1 group equips children to play with others, learn in a group and consider their own thoughts and feelings, as well as the thoughts and feelings of others.

Participants will learn social skills such as:

  • Identifying and interpreting thoughts and feelings
  • Following the group’s plan
  • Social thinking and inferencing
  • Staying with the group
  • Whole body listening
  • Using flexible thinking
  • Identifying the size of a problem
  • Sharing an imagination
  • Using expected behaviors and decreasing use of unexpected behaviors
  • Playing with peers
  • Basic conversation skills

PALS Levels 2-4

Our PALS groups, Levels 2-4, provide opportunities for children and teens to get a better understanding of their own feelings and behaviors, and the feelings and behaviors of others.

Children and teens in the program are able to explore what is and isn’t going well for them in their social interactions. They can practice new behaviors that will enhance their social skills in a safe and positive environment. Some of the methods we use to teach these skills are: direct instruction, role-playing, video modeling, skill practice with peers, generalization activities, homework, naturally-occurring events, video self-review, reward systems and games.

Participants will learn social skills such as:

  • Making and maintaining friendships
  • Understanding others’ perspectives
  • Conversation skills
  • Teamwork skills
  • Interpreting facial expressions and body language
  • Conflict resolution and problem solving
  • Negotiating, compromising and being assertive
  • Dealing with bullies and teasing
  • Understanding hidden social rules
  • Managing stress and anger
  • Phone skills
  • Using tact
  • Understanding empathy
  • Playing games by the rules
  • Using social thinking and inferencing
  • Interpreting figurative language and idioms
  • Apologizing and accepting criticism


Our social skills groups are offered at:

Johns Hopkins All Children's
Child Development and Rehabilitation Center
880 6th Street South,
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Johns Hopkins All Children's Outpatient Care, East Lake
3850 Tampa Road
Palm Harbor, FL 34684

Contact us

For more information on our PALS social skills groups or whether the program is right for your child, call us at 727-767-4141.

Medical records may be faxed to 727-767-6743.