Socializing with Friends and Resolving Conflicts

Secondary students with autism and other developmental disabilities encounter social conflicts with others, just like their neurotypical peers. As with general education students, our students receiving special services also need explicit instruction on how to socialize effectively with others and resolve conflicts. Using social scripts (Gray & Garand, 1993; Doody, 20015), video modeling (Bellini & Akullian, 2007; Delano, 2007), and providing repeated practice opportunities are good instructional strategies with documented research support. 

Simple social scripts contain the following three key elements:

  • A brief description of the problem (e.g., Johnny has the iPad game on too loud)
  • A simple expectation of what we want the student to do
  • A short script written in the students' perspective (e.g., I walk over to Johnny ask to talk to him, state my concern). For a more detailed task analysis for conflict resolution, please see the Resolving Conflicts with Peers Observed Routine Assessment (ORA). 
  • Have the student help create the social script whenever possible. Scripts may be created using written text, pictures, magazine clippings, or other graphic media. Several Apple and Microsoft applications are available to assist with this process. Please see Doody's (2015) article for a listing of resources.
  • Remember, social scripts should also include the reinforcement that the student will receive for resolving conflict (e.g., Johnny turns down the iPad and my headache goes away). It's always important to highlight the students' payoff!

Once you have a social script ready, review it with your student, print out his or her Resolving Conflict ORA, and use it to create a video modeling example. The video models should show a student or adult completing the skills independently, so if you're not ready to edit out any prompting that your target student might need, ask a peer helper or another adult to be the model. Refer to Links lesson 131 Video Modeling and 132 Social Scripts for more information. 

Have fun and watch as your student's level of independence increases as measured on the Resolving Conflicts with Peers Observed Routine Assessment!

Click the image below to download the sequence strip for Socializing with Friends! 


Bellini, S., & Akullian, J. (2007). A meta-analysis of video modeling and video self-modeling interventions for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. Exceptional Children, 73, 264-87.

Delano, M. (2007). Video modeling interventions for individuals with autism. Remedial and Special Education, 28, 33-42.

Doody, K.R. (2015). GrAPPling with how to teach social skills? Try tapping into digital technology. Journal of Special Education Technology, 30, 122-127. 

Gray, C.A., & Garland, J.D. (1993). Social stories: Improving responses of students with autism with accurate social information. Focus on Autistic Behavior, 8, 1-10.