The hierarchical approach to teaching social skills is based on the clinical work Alex did in the early 90s. She found that people with intellectual disabilities progressed more in social skills work if they developed foundation skills and nonverbal skills before the more complex ones such as verbal skills and assertiveness. These findings were then tested on different client groups around the UK and the resulting programme was published as ‘TALKABOUT: A Social communication skills package’ (Kelly, 1996).
The hierarchy means that you may start by developing a child’s self-awareness and self-esteem before progressing onto body language. You will then move onto conversation skills and then onto friendship skills and assertiveness.